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Homeland Security Cuts Causing Extreme Delays And Missed Flights

An anonymous reader writes: The Chicago Tribune reports on “a growing backlash over extremely long airport security lines,” which the Transportation Security Administration is blaming on a loss of 4,622 screeners. “In the past three years, the TSA and Congress cut the number of front-line screeners by 4,622 — or about 10% — on expectations that an expedited screening program called PreCheck would speed up the lines. However, not enough people enrolled for TSA to realize the anticipated efficiencies.” Passengers in security lines waited one hour and 45 minutes at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, with other airports reporting wait times of 90 minutes, and crowded lines “snaking up and down escalators, or through food courts, and into terminal lobbies.” Some flights have even delayed their take-offs just to wait for more of their passengers to clear security. (One Dallas-Fort Worth flight waited 13 minutes, resulting in 23 more passengers who made it onboard — while another 29 passengers still had to be rescheduled for later flights.) “We encourage people to have the appropriate expectations when they arrive at airports,â said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Friday, saying the screenings were necessary to ensure passenger safety. “Contemplate increased wait times as you travel.”

Johnson also said the TSA would increase the use of overtime, hire 768 new officers as soon as mid-June, and use more threat-sniffing dogs. Meanwhile, a TSA computer glitch caused 3,000 pieces of luggage to miss their flight in Phoenix, prompting city officials to investigate replacing the TSA with a private security contractor.

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