Travelers taking off from the nation’s biggest airports aren’t facing longer security lines from federal spending cuts yet, but many of those arriving from overseas are.
A USA TODAY survey of airport officials and travelers at Atlanta, Chicago’s O’Hare, Los Angeles, Miami, New York’s JFK and Washington Dulles this week finds that lines at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints aren’t noticeably longer for most departing passengers a month after federal spending cuts were imposed.
However, customs lines for many people arriving on international flights are growing — prompting Los Angeles airport officials to hold passengers on planes for up to an hour at busy times before letting them into terminals.
“Those kinds of waits are unacceptable,” says Nancy Castles, spokeswoman at Los Angeles International Airport, where customs lines indoors could take an additional 90 minutes. “It’s annoying to passengers and unacceptable to us.”
Fliers in TSA lines haven’t suffered as much. At the world’s busiest airport in Atlanta, general manager Louis Miller says waits at TSA checkpoints continue to average about 10-20 minutes, which is normal.
Basketball fans flying out of Atlanta after this weekend’s NCAA Final Four men’s tournament shouldn’t face delays, he says, because the TSA has bolstered staffing. “They have overtime people they need to get it done, so they don’t anticipate a major problem,” Miller says.