Airport commission head complains to TSA on security line wait times

Passengers wait in line at MSP.
Passengers wait in line to go through the new north security checkpoint at Terminal 1 of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Feb. 26.
Leila Navidi | Star Tribune via AP

The head of the Metropolitan Airports Commission is complaining to a federal agency about long security screening lines at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Frustrated passengers at the airport have been facing long security lines at checkpoints for the past few weeks.

On Thursday, Jeffrey Hamiel, executive director and CEO of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, complained to the TSA about the delays and urged the federal government to find ways to increase the screening staff at the airport.

In a letter to TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger, Hamiel said passenger volume at the MSP airport has increased 10.5 percent, but there are not enough TSA screeners to process the record number of passengers at the airport.

"Increasing passenger levels and declining numbers of federal screeners," he wrote, "are a recipe for unacceptable customer service. We have reached that point at MSP."

Lines at north security checkpoint
Long waits at security checkpoints have become the new normal at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where officials say the ranks of screeners has fallen while the number of travelers is rising.
Leila Navidi | Star Tribune via AP

Waits of more than 40 minutes are common since the main terminal switched 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, the TSA acknowledges.

In 2015, more than 36 million people traveled through the Twin Cities airport, according to Patrick Hogan, spokesman for the airports commission.

"We are going to need to work with the TSA in Washington," Hogan said. "Congress has capped the number of screeners that the TSA can hire and the appropriation level for TSA screening staff is that its lowest level in five years."

Hogan said passengers will continue to see long lines as summer approaches unless the federal government appropriates more funding for TSA airport screening operations.

The Associated Press contributed reporting for this story.

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