Airlines Have Spent More Than $12M To Cut Airport Security Lines

Image courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski

The unofficial start of the busy summer travel season kicks off this weekend, with more than 231 million passengers expected to crowd the nation’s airports. That is, if they don’t miss their flight because of long security lines. In a bid to ensure that doesn’t happen, the country’s largest domestic airlines are shelling out big bucks — think $12 million and up — to alleviate congestion at security checkpoints. 

Bloomberg reports that American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines have each spent at least $4 million to hire extra workers at their busiest airports to help manage TSA checkpoints.

The employees have been used to handle non-security aspects of the checkpoints, including moving bins from one end of the line to another.

In addition to the legacy carriers, JetBlue has hired third-party staff to assist in tasks, while Southwest Airlines and others have assigned their own employees to work security duty, Bloomberg reports, noting that it’s unclear how much those carriers have spent.

“At this point it’s all hands on deck, and we’re thinking about everything we can do to help our customers make their flights on time,” Southwest Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly said last week.

While the Department of Homeland Security oversees the TSA, airlines are likely lending a helping hand in order to appease customers and avoid losing even more money.

A survey of 2,500 passengers by the U.S. Travel Association found that 22% of them said long airport lines would prompt them to avoid air travel or delay trips this summer.

If those customers followed through with that notion, Bloomberg reports, that lost travel spending would total an estimated $4.3 billion for the three months of June, July, and August.

Airlines aren’t the only group that would lose out if customers delayed trips or opted to drive on their travels, airports would also be affected.

As a result, some airports have ponied up their own funds to help ease TSA lines.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport spent $3.3 million to hire 90 contract workers to handle security checkpoints until September, Bloomberg reports.

In North Carolina, the Charlotte Douglas International Airport has teamed up with airlines to hire 30 additional contract workers who will check carry-on bag sizes and boarding passes.

Airlines Spend Millions in Bid to Cut TSA Lines in Record Summer [Bloomberg]

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