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The TSA Is Sending Reinforcements To Chicago's Hellish Airports

By Stephen Gossett in News on May 18, 2016 4:04PM

Photo credit: -Tripp-

The TSA is sending a rush of personnel and resources to Chicago to hopefully alleviate the hellishly long lines at O’Hare International Airport and Midway Airport.

The city announced that a hundred TSA part-timers at Midway and O’Hare will shift to full-time schedules; five additional canine teams will arrive by the weekend; and the agency has authorized triple the amount of overtime previously allowed. Also, 58 additional officers are to arrive in the next three weeks, with another 250 due by mid-August. The TSA also dispatched a team of “operational experts” to Chicago to analyze and counsel.

In the meantime, O’Hare is still recommending passengers arrive three hours in advance of departure. Maybe bring a copy of Remembrance of Things Past, too?

A combination of short-staffing, heightened security protocol, and rises in travel has created a perfect storm of endless lines and thousands of missed flights, the Tribune reports. Over the last three years, passenger volume has risen by nearly 100 million while, at the same time, the number of TSA officers has dropped by some 5000.

According to the Tribune, Illinois Senator Durbin said he pushed Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to expand participation in TSA PreCheck, an $85 federal service that promises (somewhat) expedited passage and doesn’t at all feel like a shakedown. (Irony of ironies: a rush to register has caused some, you guessed it, long waits at enrollment centers.)

Durbin: "Airlines must also encourage more travelers to check bags instead of hauling them through the main security lines, and I'll be calling on them to waive their checked baggage fees during these peak travel months."

Illinois Senator Mark Kirk, meanwhile, proposed an ultimatum: “If travelers do not have relief by Memorial Day, TSA Administrator [Peter] Neffenger must resign and be replaced with a leader who can provide fast and secure screening."

As of Wednesday morning, lines at O’Hare still appear to be mostly rough going:

A single positive note: next time you encounter a line at Xoco or endure the Bourbon County Brand Stout wait, it’ll seem downright pleasant in comparison.