Janet Napolitano, the nation’s director of Homeland Security, says airport security lines have been running nearly twice the normal amount at some airports.
She mentioned Los Angeles International and Chicago’s O’Hare, but said she’d have to doublecheck which ones she’s talking about specifically.
“If you’re traveling, get to the airport earlier than you otherwise would,” she warned. “There’s only so much we can do with personnel, and please don’t yell at the customs officers or the TSA officers, they are not responsible for sequester.”
Hers is the latest call that sequester is going to be a nightmare for airport travelers.
But the security checkpoint woes have been hard to spot.
CBS News says it’s not the airport security checkpoints that are the problem Napolitano cites, it’s customs, which makes her advice particularly curious for someone in charge of the system, since people don’t go through customs on the way out of town..
At John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York, CBP said there were approximately 56 flights with wait times in excess of 2 hours, and 14 flights over 3 hours. Miami International Airport (MIA) reported 51 flights over 2 hours, and 4 flights approached/exceeded 3 hours. According to the CBP, those wait times are uncharacteristic and a result of reduced staffing.
“Due to sequestration, CBP reduced overtime this weekend at Ports of Entry around the country and effects are already visible,” the department said in a statement. “Lanes that would have previously been open due to overtime staffing were closed, further exacerbating wait times at airports with typically longer international arrival processes.”
UK’s The Telegraph reports that officials at the three airports cited by Napolitano suggest everything’s fine:
“We haven’t had any slowdowns at all,” said Marshall Lowe, a spokesman for LAX. Mr Lowe said that he had been on duty over the weekend and received no reports of unusual security delays.
DeAllous Smith, a spokesman for Hartfield-Jackson, said: “There have been no abnormally long lines at the security checkpoint nor unusual aircraft delays at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as a result of sequestration.”
Their comments were echoed by Karen Pride, the director of media relations at Chicago Department of Aviation, who described operations at O’Hare as “normal” with “no unusual delays or cancellations”.
If you’ve been traveling via airports, please report your experiences in the comments section below.