Thanks TSA: Airport Security Lines Are Now 3 Hours Long [Updated]

90-minute waits at O’Hare yesterday. AP Photo/Teresa Crawford

Flying this week might make you reconsider your decision to ever leave home. While the federal government scrapes together the cash to hire the 6,000 new TSA workers needed to get the airline industry through the summer travel season, airports are telling passengers to suck it up and wait. And wait. And wait.

Why are security lines such a mess? It’s simple math, really. More people are flying—some airports are seeing up to 15 percent more passengers compared to last year. Meanwhile, TSA has been slow to allocate the funds needed to hire more staffers to shuffle everyone through those Rapiscans. New York airports are threatening to hire an outside agency to run its checkpoints.


At Chicago’s Midway, the home of the infamous TSA line video from last week, a tweet very early this morning warned of three-hour waits. O’Hare, Chicago’s larger airport, shared the same sentiments to social media.

So far this morning it appears that the waits might be that bad. Passengers at both Midway and O’Hare are posting their line photos to Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #IHatetheWait, which was started by a trade organization representing most major airlines. At O’Hare, security lines were as long as 2.5 hours on Sunday night, causing hundreds of passengers to miss their flights. American estimated that about 4,000 people had missed their flights at O’Hare since February.


It’s gonna be a great summer, guys!

Update, 2:02 p.m. EDT: Airlines are now emailing passengers to warn them about long lines. Here’s one that io9 staff writer Katharine Trendacosta got for a JetBlue flight she’s taking out of JFK tomorrow, with the subject “A note about your upcoming airport experience”:


“Experience,” indeed.

Update, 4:34 p.m. EDT: According to the Associated Press, TSA has sent 58 new officers to O’Hare to help shorten wait times.


Update, 8:05 p.m. EDT: TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger apologized for the breakdown at O’Hare: “We’ve got a team out there right now trying to figure out what the root cause of that were. We are not seeing that kind of problem throughout the system.”


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Alissa Walker

Alissa is the former urbanism editor at Gizmodo.