It may be the single most trying experience of your summer — attempting to catch your flight and take that much needed vacation, only to be foiled by a security line that stretches on for much longer than the two hours you’ve allotted yourself at the airport. And you’re not alone. Misery loves company, and when it comes to the TSA, company it certainly has — according to an executive with American Airlines, a stunning 70,000 flyers with this one airline alone have missed their flights this year due to airport screening delays. Worse yet, 40,000 checked bags were not loaded onto scheduled flights thanks to the same problem.
At Thursday’s congressional panel on transportation security, American Airlines Senior Vice President of Customer Experience Kerry Philipovitch spoke to the “excessive wait times” frustrated travelers have undergone in the first five months of 2016.
“We have never seen TSA wait times that affect airlines and passengers throughout the United States like we have seen in recent months,” she said.
Much of the infuriating waiting game has been blamed upon the brutal combination of staff shortages and traveler increases. And during holiday weekends like this Memorial Day, results can be beyond frustrating. TSA admitted that it does not have the numbers it needs to deal with peak travel times. As such, during Thursday’s hearing, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson requested another $28 million to aid in staffing efforts across 20 of the busiest airports in the country.
While 70,000 may not sound like a large number when considering the 63 million passengers who have taken flights on American Airlines this year, Reuters notes that this figure doesn’t even include passengers on other airlines who likely suffered the same missed flight fate as a result of TSA delays.
“To say customers are agitated is putting it mildly,” Philipovitch said. And with more and more customers coming through security lines (the TSA projects a total of 740 million travelers this year, a 15-percent increase from 2013), that agitation only seems likely to grow.
So if you’re traveling this Memorial Day weekend, or at all this summer, we wish you luck and patience.