CLT Airport, American Airlines take aim at TSA

- Charlotte Douglas International Airport Aviation Director Brent Cagle wrote a letter to TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger regarding TSA lines Wednesday.

Cagle said in the letter it is well known TSA has made changes recently that has created longer wait times at passenger screening checkpoints and he has seen the same issues happening in Charlotte.

"It is imperative that TSA make the appropriate staffing adjustments to provide an acceptable level of customer service while ensuring the safety of the traveling public," Cagle said.

In the letter Cagle said in 2012 CLT added five more screening lanes, bringing the total to twenty. 

"The project was driven in large part by the request of TSA to expand the number of screening lanes available," Cagle said.

Cagle said in 2014 the TSA got rid of three of its eleven Advance Imaging Technology (AIT) for repositioning, bringing the total to seventeen. The TSA recently notified CLT they will reduce local staffing by 60 personnel due to the airports' in-line explosive detection baggage system.

"As a result of the TSA's actions the airport, airlines and our passengers have witnessed a steady decline in customer service and wait time," Cagle said.

Cagle said the Good Friday TSA traffic highlighted the problem and need for the TSA to find better solutions immediately.

"Leading up to Good Friday and the start of spring break in the Charlotte area, the airport, airlines and TSA projected record-breaking passenger traffic exceeding 29,000 local enplanements," Cagle said.

Cagle found out the TSA was only staffing seven screening lanes the morning of March 25. Security wait times were over three hours and six-hundred passengers missed connections, according to Cagle. He said some employees were not able to report to work due to the delay.

The airport, airlines and TSA met the same day and requested additional sources allowing thing to recover mid-afternoon.

"I formally request that the TSA halt further staff reductions at CLT due to the implementation of the Checked Inline Baggage System," Cagle said.

View the full letter, here.

Statement from American Airlines regarding TSA:

"At American, the safety and security of our passengers, employees and aircraft is always our top priority.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) continues to play a vital role in protecting the traveling public. At American, we support TSA risk-based initiatives which enhance aviation security worldwide. However, the lines at TSA checkpoints nationwide have become unacceptable.

We regularly monitor the wait times, and times are increasing. Due to the length of the lines, hundreds of flights have been delayed due to customers stuck in line at the TSA checkpoint. Delays have also grown for checked bags: thousands of bags have been delayed in TSA resolutions rooms due to their staffing issues.

We all want security at airports, but TSA has an obligation to be properly staffed to handle the traffic. Currently they are well understaffed, and there doesn’t seem to be any plans in place to address the shortage."

A spokesperson with the TSA said the following:

“The number one challenge, for any airline, is the current threat environment as evidenced by the recent attacks in Brussels and Egypt and the fact that American transportation systems remain a high value target for terrorists.  The good news is that a strong economy means American Airlines and other carriers are enjoying record travel volume, which is resulting in large crowds at the nation’s airports – some with double digit increases in volume over last summer.  We encourage frequent travelers to enroll in TSA Pre✓® or other trusted traveler programs such as Global Entry, Nexus, or Sentry, which improve security and reduce wait times. While TSA has a robust plan to address the growing volume, to include more canine use, overtime, and accelerated hiring, we are appreciative that our airline partners are working with us by asking travelers to arrive at the airport two hours early for domestic flights, which will help to alleviate some of the expected summer congestion.  Traveler security is TSA’s first priority and we will remain intensely focused on this important mission.”

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