Denver security lines can be among the worst in the country on a normal day. Peak holiday travel days aren’t normal days.
Via Reid F. the TSA didn’t forecast the volume of travel in Denver the Monday after Christmas. And weather delays meant that flight times bunched up. The TSA didn’t adjust staffing for either event. And that meant lines of 2 to 4 hours to clear the checkpoint.
Airport spokespeople apologized to frustrated travelers because of the massive wait times that began Monday night and went on through the morning that caused passengers to miss their flights. DIA tweeted that heavy security wait times were due to holiday traffic and blamed TSA for poor staffing levels at the security checkpoints.
Only one security line was open late at night. TSA “(T)housands (S)tanding (A)round” used to refer to the agency’s employees themselves, not the passengers.
The airport’s website showed a 90-minute wait just after midnight. However, some travelers told Denver7 that they had waited up to four hours to get through the security screening area and because of that, they missed their flights.
By late Tuesday, wait times were down to about a half-hour but many reported waiting in long lines at airline customer service counters to rearrange flights once they made their way into the terminals.
…TSA spoke with Denver7 early Tuesday and denied reports that wait times were three to four hours. A TSA spokesman said the security line wait was, on average, about to 2 hours max and blamed bad weather across the country for the delays.
The airport, though, disagrees with TSA’s assessements reporting “extended wait times at the TSA checkpoints of up to three hours.”
The crux of the problem is that the TSA doesn’t schedule staff based on changes in airline schedules and doesn’t use weather forecasts in scheduling either.
TSA spokesman Mark Howell said TSA staffs are based on projected number of passengers but when weather-delayed flights get pushed into the overnight hours, or if several later flights are added to compensate for the holiday demand, it can cause backup problems, as it did in Denver.
…The TSA admitted it did not anticipate the volume of travelers that had passed through overnight and was not aware of the added flights.
Passengers arriving at the airport two hours ahead of time were missing flights, but the TSA deflects blame “Travelers should contact their air carrier prior to proceeding to the airport, and schedule plenty of time to account for road conditions, parking and airport congestion.” (As though ‘road conditions’ or ‘parking’ were the crux of the problem — and only one security line open gets described as ‘airport congestion’.)
Even accounting for what I think of the TSA in general, it amazes me that the TSA doesn’t account for peak holiday schedules or weather forecasts in staffing.
Although in fairness the TSA was short staffed, having fired screeners who conspired to identify attractive male passengers to be sexually groped.