More than 200 TSA agents will be added to New York City area airports ahead of this summer’s travel rush, when already brutal lines are expected to grow even longer.
Sen. Chuck Schumer announced Thursday that 216 agents will join the TSA at LaGuardia, JFK and Newark Liberty airports. The agents are part of more than 750 new TSA officers who are being added nationwide.
The new agents will hopefully avert, or at least lessen the blow of the “flypocalypse” — the crush of passengers that will crowd airports during the busy summer travel season.
“These new agents are desperately needed to speed-up brutally long security lines now plaguing our airports. We need them on duty ASAP — especially at JFK and LaGuardia — to ward off the ‘flypocalypse,’” Schumer said.
This summer’s travel season is expected to be one of the busiest ever. More than 220 million passengers are expected to fly nationwide this summer, which could greatly impact wait times at local airports, Schumer said, citing reports. The Port Authority, which operates LaGuardia, JFK and Newark Liberty, says about 126 million air travelers use area airports each year.
The news of more agents comes less than a week after Schumer called on the TSA to increase its use of canine teams to "help speed up outrageously long security lines" at airports in the New York City area.
The senator said canine teams working with new TSA agents could allow passengers to walk through X-ray screening devices without removing shoes, belts and coats, cutting screening times by about half.
Anything's welcome to those waiting in the snaking lines, fearing they may miss their flights. Lines have become so bad in the U.S. that industry trade group Airlines for America encouraged passengers to post photos of their lines with the hashtag "IHateTheWait.
The TSA said earlier this month that it was reallocating funds to handle the crush of travelers coming into major airports during the summer. The agency said it would increase staffing at major air hubs like LaGuardia, JFK and Newark Liberty.
The agency said it is redoubling efforts to enroll travelers in its PreCheck pre-screening program and is asking airline workers to pitch in with non-screening jobs — like returning bins to the front of security lines.
The TSA’s decision to reallocate funds came the same week that management of the New York City area’s three major airports asked the agency to beef up its staff to reduce “dramatically” longer wait-times for passengers being screened for flights.
Wait-times have increased in recent months to the point that passengers are missing connections and some flights are being delayed, wrote Thomas Bosco, director of the Port Authority's Aviation Department in a May 4 letter to Neffenger.
From March 15 to April 15, there were 253 instances of wait-times exceeding 20 minutes at TSA screening points at JKF, Bosco noted. There were only 10 such instances during the same time period in 2015, he added.
"The experience at EWR (Newark) and LGA (LaGuardia) has been similarly abysmal, and the patience of the flying public has reached a breaking point," he wrote.