TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – The number of people traveling through the nation’s airports is up more than 8 percent this year.
And it will only increase with the busy summer travel season ahead. More people making their way across the country has led to more delays at airport security checkpoints. Tampa International Airport is not as bad as some other major airports around the country when it comes to how long it takes to get through the TSA security checkpoint.
Lee Kair with the Transportation Security Administration said, “We do our best to get people through as efficiently as possible but first and foremost that they go through securely.”
But air travelers coming through TIA have not noticed the same delays compared to their home airport. Chuck Williams is headed back home to Spartanburg, SC.
“I am in a really small airport so it is not fast at all like when I go through larger airports,” Williams said.
With long lines at the checkpoint and to avoid missing a flight, travelers are advised to arrive at least two hours before their departure time.
That’s advice Steve Stanley follows.
“I always do, if you don’t you will get surprised, especially early in the morning and peak hours, but I am always looking for it and I am here early,” Stanley said.
The delays started when the TSA didn’t anticipate a sudden surge in passengers, which is now more than 2 million people a day nationwide. The TSA is hiring more officers, but not in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota.
The TSA’s Kair said, “At all three of my airports here at TIA we have the number of people we are allocated, so we are not in a hiring mode. Right now we are where we are supposed to be.”
To speed up the checkpoint process, travelers may want to sign up for the TSA’s Pre-Check list, or the international Global Entry program. Kathy Giovanini is taking advantage of one of those programs.
She said, “I just signed up for the Global Entry, I have not been approved yet, but I just signed up today because I hear that across the country they are having some big lines.”
Of course knowing what not to bring in your carry-on bag can also speed up the process.
There is a list of prohibited items on the TSA’s website TSA.gov.