TSA adding new security officers amid heavy summer travel

COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – As TSA checkpoint lines at U.S. airports continue to grow, 220 million people are expected to travel this summer. But help is on the way.

At the nation’s busiest airports, security lines snake up and down escalators making for a frustrating travel week. After experiencing the nightmare himself, Levi McCallister, a member of the U.S. Navy, enjoyed the solace of Albany International Airport’s Military Courtesy Room.

“It was actually estimated a four hour wait in San Diego,” he said.

Sashana Murphy made the journey to Albany from Jamaica.

“It was not a nice experience this time,” she said.

The reason: low airfare prices and a recovering economy are pushing more people to fly while TSA staffing has been cut.

Chicago’s two major airports – O’Hare and Midway – felt it the most. They suggested travelers arrive at least three hours before their flights.

“What happened in the airports in Chicago over the last several weeks is absolutely unacceptable,” Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said.

But help is on the way. The TSA is trying to have 768 new security officers in place as early as mid-June. Existing officers are being offered overtime to shorten security lines.

Sen. Charles Schumer said New York City’s three major airports will each get an additional 72 officers. The White House said security will remain the priority.

Until the additional staffing is in place, the TSA said flyers can help move the lines along by being prepared such as not bringing bottled water, pocket knives and other prohibited items through security.

It’s also encouraged to sign up for TSA Pre-Check. The lines are five times shorter, and it lasts five years, though it costs $85.

Despite the travel headaches, both McCallister and Murphy stayed positive. They were both happy to be in the calm confines of the Albany airport.

“It’s fantastic to be here,” McCallister said.

“I just really love America,” Murphy said.

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