Trying to Get Past Airport Security Faster? Get in Line
Officials at the Transportation Security Administration thought they had the solution for long lines at airports: PreCheck, a program that allowed people to move through security without taking off their shoes or removing electronics from their luggage.It has not worked as planned.
Customers who apply for the program, which requires a fee of $85 and a background check, say they continue to face long waits to obtain the PreCheck clearance. Such delays could grow worse because the number of people signing up for PreCheck has more than tripled in the last few months, climbing to 16,000 a day on average in May, agency officials said.
That surge has led to long delays in processing applications. Dozens of passengers who have recently tried to sign up for PreCheck say they have been given appointments for the in-person interviews needed to complete the process that are weeks or even months away.
Vance Hiner of St. Louis said he was put on a three-month waiting list at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport to complete his enrollment.
“The process of looking at my face and verifying that my passport and driver’s license match could be done by literally any security-cleared airport staffer,” he said in an email.
Roger Golliver of Beaverton, Ore., a suburb of Portland, said his wife signed up for the PreCheck program in March. But she had to wait months for an interview.
“The earliest she could find was a July date in Seattle,” he said. Seattle is about a three-hour drive from Portland.
Officials at the T.S.A. and MorphoTrust USA, the company that handles all PreCheck applications, say they are aware of the problems and are working to increase the number of enrollment centers while hiring additional people to deal with the surge in applications.
“We are adding as much capacity as quickly as possible,” said John Sammon, the chief marketing officer for the T.S.A.
Charles Carroll, senior vice president for identity services at MorphoTrust, said the company was hiring additional staff to bolster its efforts at the 14 biggest airports, including in New York and Chicago, where 450 passengers at Chicago O’Hare International Airport missed their flights last month because of long lines.
“We’re in emergency response mode,” Mr. Carroll said. “T.S.A. was caught off guard by the size and amount of people traveling.”
They were caught off guard by the size of the people traveling? What does the TSA have to do with our obesity epidemic?