Security checkpoint wait times at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport have become so consistently and ridiculously long that its general manager is threatening to fire the TSA and hire its own security staff.
A reporter at the local ABC affiliate WSB-TV, “obtained a letter from a source written by the airport’s general manager [Miguel Southwell] telling the TSA to get their act together or we’re going to get rid of you,” according to the station’s website.
The problem appears to be with staffing. When WSB cameras were rolling at the airport, and lines were lengthy, only eight of 18 screening lanes were open, leading to 30-60 minute backups.
And PreCheck security checkpoints don’t offer much of a respite from the crowding, according to recent emails from TravelSkills readers. For example TB wrote: “This past Thursday at 3 pm, at the usually more quiet ATL North checkpoint there was a 35 minute wait at PreCheck. It was significantly longer than the regular line.”
TravelSkills reader BJ sent this photo, saying, “This is the end of PreCheck line at Delta ticket counters and from here goes all way to baggage claim and then wraps around. It was so long I opted for regular line.” A subsequent email from BJ said that he ended up losing his first class seat due to the delay, but the airline accommodated him at the last minute– in a middle seat in coach.
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You may recall that ATL broke records last year in terms of passenger count— a stifling 100 million passengers passed through. That was a stat airport management was very proud of, but clearly there’s a flipside: longer lines.
WSB reports that the airport GM Southwell has “put the TSA on notice stating the agency has 60 days to get its act together or the airport will bring in its own qualified private contractors to man the checkpoints.” See full letter from ATL to TSA here. We should note that several airports, including SFO use private contractors instead of the TSA for security screening.
It will be interesting to see how the TSA responds, especially as spring break approaches and thousands of students jam the airport on weekends. Word of warning: watch out for late March. Why? Read this.
Have you experienced significant delays when flying from Atlanta in recent months? Please leave your comments below.
NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: Boeing 747 nearing its end? + “Targeted” for an upgrade? + 5 newest biz class hotels in New York + TSA PreCheck is exploding + Bargain hunters travel guide for 2016