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Airports say security cannot handle longer lines

Posted: 2:25 PM, Mar 10, 2016
Updated: 2016-03-11 00:18:35Z

DENVER — This spring is expected to be a record-breaker at airports across the country, but some say security cannot keep up with the demand.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Thursday airlines broke records for number of passengers, filled seats and miles traveled in 2015. In March and April of this year, they expect 140 million flyers to pass through security checkpoints. Spring break and Easter travel are likely to contribute to the growing number of passengers.

"They [other passengers] came from Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama from other states," said Mary Anduro, who is using her spring break to visit family across the country. 

Airport managers worry TSA officers will not be able to handle the influx. In a recent leaked letter to the TSA, an Atlanta airport manager called security "woefully understaffed." Seattle's airport tweeted about slow security lines Wednesday with the hashtag 'pack your patience.' The tweet appears to have since been deleted.

"Just long lines," said Jake Paini, who is flying to his vacation destination. "Seems like you can get caught in a line for 45 minutes so you can go through security."

Paini joked he wore flip flops and shorts to speed up the security screening process.

The Obama administration asked Congress to approve a $3 billion budget for the TSA next year, almost $27 million more than they have right now. That would bring the number of officers to around 43,000, about 2,000 more than this fiscal year.

For now, the advice TSA is giving to travelers -- arrive early.

"Our flight is not until 12:30 so we're like two-and-a-half hours early," said Paini. 

This year, the average screening time jumped from three-and-half minutes to six minutes. TSA officers are doing more thorough checks after missing mock explosives and weapons during federal testing last year.