Published on : Saturday, March 5, 2016
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is unable to manage its passenger inflow with long waits at security checkpoints. The number of screeners in this airport is much less compared to the rising travelers. Security officials are having a busy spring break and summer travel session with no relief.
Passenger traffic in the airport has increased by 10.5 percent since 2011, while the number of screeners nationally has fallen around 15 percent over that period and this is frustrating for the Metropolitan Airports Commission running the airport. They feel that this is leading to unacceptable customer service with declining federal screeners.
The waits are exceeding 40 minutes in the main terminal from six smaller checkpoints to two bigger stations with the same total number of lanes last month. But the problem isn’t unique to the Twin Cities airport, a major hub for Delta Air Lines. Similarly long waits have cropped up in Seattle, Chicago-O’Hare and Atlanta.
Airport workers are helping travelers to navigate the new system which has helped the local situation somewhat. Uniformed screeners have been capped owing to budgetary reasons; there are about 42,800 screeners nationwide now, compared with a peak of about 50,000 a few years ago.
TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has been conducting closer inspections of people and carry-on luggage since last summer’s revelation of startling security gaps at U.S. airports. Auditors for the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general were repeatedly able to sneak mock explosives and weapons through checkpoints.
The TSA has been accused of disproportionate focus on efficiency over effectiveness before it refocused on its primary mission of protecting passengers from terrorists. But the $7.6 billion budget proposal presented calls for only a modest increase in screeners. Airport spokesperson feels that this disproportionate figure is making it impossible to handle increasing passengers and the decreasing number of screeners. Additional funds need to be appropriated for more screeners.
Passengers need to be at the airport at least two hours in advance and a number of other services like enrolling in TSA PreCheck expedition screening program, trusted travelers five years status are good way of beating the rush.