U.S. summer air travel: Get ready to wait

Story highlights

  • Perfect storm: Higher demand, drop in front-line TSA staff
  • Thousands have already missed their flights
  • Long lines make consumers consider Pre-Check

(CNN)Think U.S. security lines are bad now?

Wait until everyone starts taking summer vacations.
More than 231 million passengers are expected to fly on U.S. airlines this summer, including more than 30 million travelers on international flights, according to a report from Airlines for America, a U.S. airline trade group, released Wednesday.
    That's a 4% increase from last summer's all-time high of 222 million passengers.
    That could translate into hours-long security wait times getting even longer at the nation's airports, and even more travelers missing their scheduled flights.
    Thousands have already missed their flights.
    "Due to the length of the lines, tens of thousands of customers have missed their flights and thousands of checked bags have been delayed in TSA resolutions rooms due to low staffing," American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein said.
    American airports and airlines have been predicting this perfect storm due to increased passenger volume, decreased TSA screener staffing and a TSA security system that slows down every time a screening machine shows potentially prohibited items.
    "It has been a challenging spring with fliers waiting in lines that take more than 60 to 90 minutes to get through security," said Sharon Pinkerton, Airlines for America's senior vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs, in a statement.
    "We encourage TSA to quickly hire and train new staff to help alleviate this problem, and we also encourage more travelers to enroll in TSA PreCheck as we move into another record-setting travel season."