The Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday that it is reallocating funds to handle the crush of travelers coming into major airports, just as one airline said as many as 6,800 passengers missed flights during one week in March due to mounting delays at airport checkpoints.
The TSA said it is planning to increase staffing and plans to add canine teams to major air hubs like LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark Liberty airports as the summer travel season ramps up.
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.
Still, TSA Director Peter Neffinger told NBC News that travelers should be prepared for lines at checkpoints in the upcoming months.
“If you haven’t signed up for a trusted travel program like pre-check or global entry, this is the time to do it,” Neffinger said. “It will dramatically improve through put and increase efficiency of the system.”
Still, passengers who are per-screened have complained to the I-Team about nearly missing flights at Newark Airport.
TSA's move comes after weeks of increased screening lines at airports across the country due to other policy changes at the federal agency – in some cases spiking as high as 90 minutes as lines wrap around terminals.
American Airlines, which has been critical of the wait times, said that during the popular college spring break week of March 14 to 20, more than 6,800 passengers missed flights due to delays at checkpoints. It also blamed the lines for flight delays.
“Lines grew exponentially in January, February, March and April, a low-season for air travel,” the airline said. “As we approach the spring and summer, we are concerned that
At LaGuardia, passengers were preparing for the worst on Thursday.
“We don’t know how long it’s going to be, so we'll see,” said John Reisch of Kansas.