CHARLOTTE Local Charlotte News — Passengers flying out of Charlotte-Douglas over the weekend were met with long lines at TSA checkpoints. According to one family traveling through out of Charlotte, the lines reached from one end of the ticket lobby to the opposite end of the airport.
“The lines to get to the checkpoints were so long that they actually crossed each other at the American airlines ticket counter,” said Nathan Roberts. He says hundreds of people were waiting in a line to be screened by the TSA. He remembers a ticket agent explaining to him the TSA was having issues keeping up with the line.
“The ticket counter agent mentioned that TSA was short handed and had gotten overwhelmed and were unable to process the passengers as quickly as they used to.”
This slowdown comes as the administration tries to speed up employee vaccinations ahead of the bust holiday travel season. COVID vaccine mandates for federal employees happen November 22.
Administrator David Pekoske said in an interview that 40 percent of the TSA workforce still needs to be vaccinated. For the Roberts family, they say this issue is unique to Charlotte as other large airports handle lines normally.
“We flew out of Phoenix earlier this week and their lines were normal — 15 to 20 minutes you’re in and out of security. I think the concerning part for me was on the charlotte airport app it showed 10-15 minute wait times.”
TSA responded to FOX 46’s request for comment regarding the lines at security on Sunday morning. A spokesperson says the lines were partially created by the Panthers football game going into overtime that evening. The full statement is below.
“For starters, the terminal in under a major renovation and the result is that passenger entrance doors are now limited to only three doors. Passengers are dropped off at about the same location in the terminal, at the ticket counter, which then clogs up the lobby so that passengers cannot move readily to the checkpoints. For passengers who are not familiar with the airport, this becomes something that typically causes delays as they search for where to go. There is a new lobby management group that is working to try to help move passengers, but if travelers don’t follow the guidance offered, then we are going to have longer checkpoint wait times.
Travelers who are not familiar with the airport don’t know that they can get to any gate through any checkpoint, and some would prefer the wait to walking to another checkpoint.
Then we had the football game on Sunday that caused a longer than expected rush to the airport because the game went into overtime and many travelers stayed at the game longer than they originally planned. The average NFL game is about three hours long. Sunday’s game was nearly 4 hours long and it was an exciting game, so people stayed instead of leaving for the airport. This resulted in a rush of travelers who showed up at the airport with little time to spare prior to their flights. Had the game lasted the average three hours, most out-of-town fans would have headed to the airport an hour earlier than they did. Instead, they arrived with little time to spare and this resulted in an unexpected crunch of people who came all at once to the checkpoints.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the more people who come to the airport in the last minute, the more baggage shows up at the checkpoint, meaning more bags to screen because these travelers didn’t allow themselves enough time to check their bags with their airline.
So those were some of the major factors related to the checkpoint delays.
You mentioned that people missed their flights. The airlines did not alert TSA that travelers missed flights.”
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