BTC Warns Long Airport Lines Could Pose Security Risk

Photo by Niemwongse

Long airport security lines that have made headlines this summer could pose a security risk if the current situation is allowed to continue, the Business Travel Coalition (BTC) warned in a statement to the U.S. Congress and the Administration

“Huge masses of travelers are now stuck on the non-secure sides of airports, which is an alarming Brussels Airport-like invitation to those seeking to cause harm and destruction,” the BTC said in a written release. “We urgently require leadership, competency and unity.”

The statement echoes a point made by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) during a series of Congressional hearings May 25 and 26 on the issue. During the hearings, the GBTA released a statement warning that long airport queues could act as “soft targets” for terrorists, as those lines did during the Brussels attacks. 

The BTC is calling on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to reform the PreCheck enrollment process, which currently requires a two- to three-week wait for an in-person interview at an enrollment center, into an online-only process. Such a move would boost PreCheck enrollment by making it easier for travelers to go through the process, which could decrease wait times since PreCheck lanes average three times the passenger throughput as regular security lines, the BTC said. 

“Third-party security firms that offer online enrollment use felony records and all manner of terrorist watch lists, which are just as predictive as FBI checks,” the BTC said in a written release. 

Changes at the TSA

In recent weeks the TSA has made several moves to address long wait times. TSA Assistant Administrator for Security Operations Kelly Hoggan has been removed from his position to be replaced by his deputy on an acting basis. 

Additionally, TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger has established a National Incident Command Center to track screening operations nationwide and shift resources to accommodate predicted passenger volumes. 

Neffenger has also told USA Today that the TSA would be working to make long wait times easier on passengers by posting up-to-the-minute wait times in its myTSA mobile app. While the real-time data won’t alleviate long wait times, it will allow travelers to plan earlier arrival times to avoid missing flights or to choose a faster checkpoint at terminals. 

The changes come ahead of a busy summer travel season for the TSA. AAA is forecasting the busiest Memorial Day travel weekend since 2005, with 2.6 million Americans set to travel by air over Memorial Day weekend — an increase of 1.6 percent over last year. Overall, Airlines 4 America predicts a 4 percent increase in air passengers this summer over 2015, which was already a record season. 

Have your clients been complaining about long waits at airport security? Have any missed their flights? Let us know in the comments below.