Ninety-three passengers missed flights at Sacramento International Airport on Thursday morning due to long waits in security lines, officials report.
Airport spokeswoman Laurie Slothower said bottlenecks have begun at the federal Transportation Security Administration’s checkpoint in Terminal A in recent weeks, and could continue to be troublesome as the holidays approach.
The longer lines have forced some fliers to wait 48 minutes to pass through security, she said, far longer than recent average wait times. The problem mainly occurs in Terminal A during the early morning hours between 5 and 6:30 a.m.
The federal TSA introduced “enhanced” security checks several weeks ago, requiring passengers to take all electronic devices larger than a cell phone, such as iPads and Kindles, out of their carry-on luggage and place each of them in separate plastic bins.
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In a press release this summer, TSA noted, “This simple step helps TSA officers obtain a clearer X-ray image.”
Last year, the federal agency also began asking fliers, at times, to remove food and books from carry-on luggage, because some of that luggage was so densely packed it had become difficult for X-ray machine technicians to distinguish objects inside the luggage.
Sid Hanna, the federal security director for TSA in Sacramento, said his staff has, however, been able to incorporate the new procedures over the last few weeks and has gotten passenger through-put back to previous levels.
The main problem at Terminal A, he said, is that there currently is room for only five security checkpoint lanes, and those lanes have gotten more crowded as airlines add morning flights. Hanna said TSA and airport officials are talking about ways to reconfigure the checkpoint area to make room for more lanes.
Sacramento airport officials are urging fliers to get to the airport two hours before their flight. Notably, some of those who missed flights Thursday were arriving at the checkpoint only 15 or 20 minutes before their planes’ departure, Hanna said.
The security lines at Terminal A open at 4 a.m. and are typically uncrowded until about 5 a.m., when large numbers of fliers arrive for a series of early morning flights, the first of which takes off at 5:40 a.m.
The TSA PreCheck lines – which have fewer screening procedures – have been moving more quickly than the regular lines, Slothower said.
Take a look at five categories that define the Thanksgiving holiday. McClatchyVideo compiled by David Caraccio