Security lines at Chicago’s airports significantly improve during one of the busiest summer travel seasons on record
CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–August 23, 2016. In the midst of one of the busiest travel summer seasons on record, Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced that Chicago O’Hare International Airport’s peak Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint wait times have improved by more than 90 percent. In the month of July, the average peak wait time at O’Hare was seven minutes as compared to 105 minutes in May. This reduction in checkpoint wait times is a result of the roundtable discussion in May between the Mayor, Senator Dick Durbin, federal officials, city officials, airlines and the TSA about ways to reduce wait times in a secure way at both O’Hare and Midway Airports.
“I want to thank our federal partners, especially TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger, for recognizing the impact Chicago’s airports have on the national aviation system and providing additional resources to address the unacceptably long wait times last spring,” said Mayor Emanuel. “These improved wait times, and the safety and security of travelers, must be maintained, which is why I urge Congress to continue to fully fund the TSA to ensure our airports have the staffing and resources required to operate safely and efficiently.”
The significant reduction in TSA wait times at both of Chicago’s airports this summer is a direct result of Mayor Emanuel’s collaborative efforts with Administrator Neffenger, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and other federal partners to secure additional screening officers and canine teams assigned to O’Hare and Midway. Beyond additional resources, weekly meetings between every agency involved were used to refine staffing schedules and identify necessary facility changes. Close sharing of flight schedules, staffing plans, and other data led to continued refinement over the last several months – with an emphasis on the safety and security of passengers – resulting in significantly improved performance.
Mayor Emanuel and the TSA today pledged to continue working together to secure additional resources and staff for Chicago’s airports in the coming fiscal year to ensure a safe and efficient travel experience all year-round for O’Hare and Midway travelers.
“After unacceptable security wait times in Chicago this spring, I was pleased to see TSA step up for the busy summer travel season. I thank TSA Administrator Neffenger for coming to Chicago and providing necessary resources like additional screening officers and canine teams at O’Hare and Midway,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. “I will continue to make certain that TSA has the necessary funding and proper plans in place to ensure security and efficiency at our nation’s airports in the long-term.”
“The wait times at Chicago’s airports continue to improve thanks to the Mayor’s efforts,” said Ginger S. Evans, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation. “The busy summer travel season has been a more positive experience for travelers because of the TSA’s increased staffing and use of canine units at security checkpoints. The TSA deserves credit for their approach to solving the crisis in May, and we hope that the progress will continue, particularly when Congress appropriates the necessary funds to continue this positive impact.”
“Moving passengers through O’Hare Airport quickly and safely, without compromising security, is a challenging balancing act,” said Congressman Mike Quigley. “As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I have consistently supported increased funding for the TSA and I’m pleased it was able to successfully cut security wait times across the country and in Chicago. Moving forward, Congress must lift the cap on the number of TSA screeners and continue to provide TSA the funding it needs to keep up its effort, so that the successful cooperation between city and federal officials, the TSA, and the airlines we see at O’Hare can serve as a model for the rest of the nation.”
“I’m pleased that the wait problems O’Hare was experiencing in May were resolved in time for the busy summer travel season,” said Congresswoman Robin Kelly. “I’d like to congratulate the TSA for a job well done. We need to consider federal legislation to prevent serious security issues from occurring in the future.”
The continued improvement in TSA wait times at both airports is provided in bi-weekly performance reports that have been released by the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) since mid-May. The improvement has come even as passenger volumes at O’Hare and Midway increased during the summer months.
Highlights from the latest TSA performance report are captured below.
O’Hare International Airport TSA highlights
• Average TSA wait time is now two minutes – down from 15 minutes in May.
• Average peak wait times are down to seven minutes — a reduction of 98 minutes at peak times in May.
• The number of canine teams has tripled since May to help expedite TSA screening.
• The TSA added 99 screening officers and more than 260 part-time screening officers were converted to full-time since May.
• Passenger volume at O’Hare was up nearly 4.5 percent in June 2016 compared to the previous year.
Midway International Airport TSA highlights
• Passengers are experiencing average wait times of four minutes – down from 11 minutes in May.
• Average peak wait times are down to 10 minutes, which is a reduction of 55 minutes since May.
• Since May, Midway has received two additional temporary Canine Teams for peak hours to help expedite TSA screening.
• The TSA added 53 additional screening officers and 29 part-time screening officers were converted to full-time since May.
• Passenger volume at Midway is up three percent in June 2016 compared to the previous year.
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