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Charlotte airport passengers told to arrive three hours early while hundreds miss flight due to TSA shortage

Updated: Jun. 5, 2021 at 10:57 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - With eased COVID-19 restrictions, more Americans are on the move, which means traffic and longer lines at the airport.

Traveler Lashandrea Rogers said she gets to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport at least three hours early before boarding because of long TSA security lines.

TSA officials tell WBTV the lines are longer due to more people traveling and construction at the airport.

American Airlines officials said hundreds of people missed their flights Saturday morning because there weren’t enough TSA workers.

Officials said one of the check lines was backed up in the hallway too.

Rogers said she’s not taking any chances after a close call at the gates.

“I’ve run the risk of missing my flight and had to rebook and it’s been a headache so I try and get here three hours early,” Rogers said.

Rory Reid was on his way to Toronto, Canada Saturday and said he’s waited twice as long recently.

“I’ve been in the airport probably three or four times recently and it seems like lately the lines are getting longer, exceptionally long and the duration is getting longer,” said Reid.

American Airlines is suggesting passengers get to the airport at least two to three hours early in the event of long TSA lines.

Reid is encouraging other flyers to also get here early.

“Be aware of the number of people that are traveling especially when you get into the weekend. You’re going to get more people traveling at that time and obviously with construction, it’s going to take more time and just be patient because there’s going to be a lot more people traveling now,” Reid said.

For those who don’t want to wait as long, you can apply for TSA pre-check and wait five minutes or less, and you don’t have to deal with the hassle of removing your shoes, jackets, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, or belts.

It’s something Reid’s added to his wish list as he’s getting ready to book his next flight.

“It’s definitely a consideration for sure now that I’ve seen what I’ve seen recently. It’s on my list,” Reid said.

As far as tips at the airport, this is what TSA suggests to get through the checkpoint quickly and efficiently:

  • Tip 1: Wear a face mask. Face masks remain mandatory for employees and passengers, regardless of vaccination status, throughout all domestic transportation modes, including airport security screening checkpoints. Since the implementation of the face mask mandate for travelers on Feb 2, there has been near-total voluntary compliance throughout the entire transportation system.
  • Tip 2: Pack smart; start with empty bags. Those airline passengers who begin packing for travel with empty bags are less likely to bring prohibited items through a TSA checkpoint. Technology and modifications help reduce the need for physical contact with TSA officers, but those who take time to come prepared for the TSA checkpoint are far more likely to avoid physical contact. Check for prohibited items by using the “What Can I Bring?” page on TSA.gov.
  • Tip 3: Consider other ways that might help avoid physical contact at the checkpoint. Prior to entering the line for the TSA checkpoint, take a few minutes to prepare. Place jewelry, keys and other pocketed items into your carry-on bag so they might be scanned with need for fewer bins at the conveyor belt. Have a valid ID card readily available and follow the liquids rule of 3.4 ounces or less, with the exception of hand sanitizer, which has a temporary 12-ounce limit in carry-on baggage.
  • Tip 4: Contact TSA for help if there are questions or concerns. Those who are preparing to travel and may have special circumstances, considerations or general questions about airport screening can get live assistance by tweeting questions and comments to @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST and weekends/holidays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST. You can also call the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673.
  • Tip 5: Enroll now in TSA PreCheck® to “Travel with Ease.” By enrolling in TSA PreCheck, airline passengers can avoid removing shoes, belts, liquids, food, laptops and light jackets at the TSA checkpoint. Most new enrollees receive their known traveler number within five days, and membership lasts for five years.

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