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Airlines speak out against ‘unacceptable’ TSA lines

April 19, 2016
Shots fired.

After years of passenger suffering in hours-long queues at airport security checkpoints, the airlines are finally speaking up for their customers.

American Airlines fired the first shot last week when they blamed the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for unacceptable airport delays.

Now more airlines are joining the chorus of criticism against TSA for security delays plaguing airports across the country. 
“The lines at TSA checkpoints nationwide have become unacceptable,” said Ross Feinstein, an American Airlines spokesman.

“We all want security at airports, but TSA has an obligation to be properly staffed to handle the traffic. Currently, they are well understaffed, and there doesn’t seem to be any plans in place to address the shortage.” 

Did you miss your flight? You aren’t alone

The Chicago Tribune reported that 1,000 American Airlines passengers missed flights at O’Hare International Airport in March because of long security lines.

American says 6,800 of their customers missed their flights during spring break this year due to long TSA lines.

Travelers have suffered long waits at airport security checkpoints in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and other cities, up to two hours in some places. Credit, Arina P Habich,

Also, the director of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport threatened to replace TSA personnel with private security contractors, as did Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Is this any way to run an airport?

Between airline delays and nonexistent services, flying can seem like the modern day version of maritime steerage.

And what’s made things worse are the long lines of rumpled and beaten-down travelers at security checkpoints, dumping their change into plastic tubs and submissively shuffling along in stocking feet.

This is not merely an inconvenience but also a security risk, experts say.

Last month’s terrorist attacks in Brussels highlighted the dangers that can be wrought on an airport without an attacker even crossing through the security lines.

Even before the attack, security experts had warned about the risks of the snaking lines at checkpoints and ticket counters – known as the vulnerable “soft side” of the airport. 

Your Letters:

Dear FlyersRights:

Attached is my letter to Sen. Rubio expressing my outrage over his vote on the amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill. I was surprised he finally showed up to even vote. I’ll be glad when he is gone. FYI. Thanks. 

Larry Hardee
Dear Mr. Hudson:
I came across your name on the internet. You might not have the time or interest to respond to me, but I figured I try to write you anyway.

My situation is the following, before any of the current turmoil, I bought 3 tickets for my sister’s family to fly from Hungary to Los Angeles through Istanbul by Turkish Airlines. The tickets are for July 2016; thus, the trip has not happened yet. I contacted the airlines and requested a re-routing due to the current political unrest in Turkey, the terrorist bombings in Istanbul and Ankara, and the State Department’s recent action to evacuate Americans.

The airline has not responded to my request. Is there any law or Passengers Bill of Rights  that I could quote when I am dealing with their legal department? What are the passenger’s rights when it comes to this situation?

I would greatly appreciate any advice that you could share with me!

Melinda Gagyor,
Dear Ms Gagnor,
You pose an interesting question on an important issue: what can a traveler do to avoid conflict zones when traveling by air.

As terrorism and armed conflicts have multiplied so have the threats to airline passengers, most recently the bombing of a tourist laden jet over Egypt, the shoot down of an airliner over the Eastern Ukraine killing all on board, and the terrorist bombing attacks at the Brussels Airport and train stations.  Turkey borders on Syria, and has had so many bombings and threats against Westerners and tourist sites in Istanbul that the US State Department has issued travel warnings and evacuated all but essential personnel from its facilities in Turkey. has called on aviation authorities and the airlines to post and advise passengers of flights that go over conflict zones so passengers can decide for themselves whether they want to take such flights .  In general they have declined to act.

Airlines should accommodate passengers to change their reservations without penalty to avoid areas that have been deemed unsafe for US travelers and it may potentially be deemed an unfair practice or unreasonable fee for an airline to impose a change or cancellation fee in such circumstances. filed a Rulemaking petition still pending to cap change fees at $100 on international flights.  However there is no specific US rule.

Our checking indicates that flights on this airline to LAX from Budapest go through Istanbul so you may have to cancel and rebook on another airline. 

Suggest you first contact these people listed to see what accommodation the airline will make and if that is not satisfactory you can file a complaint with the DOT and US Dept of State Office for travel advisories and Consular Affairs for an unfair practice or unreasonable practice.
Cenk Ocal
General Manager
(212) 261-0470  
Begum Dernek Kapusuz
Genel Mudurluk Binasi
Ataturk Havalimani
Yesikoy, Istanbul, Turkey 34149 

Suggest you also keep us advised as many others may be similarly situated
And you may also contact our very knowledgeable hotline director Joel Smiler joel@flyersrights.orgfor further assistance or questions.

Paul Hudson

PS – if this information has been helpful consider a membership and donation to as we depend solely on individual contributions.
I’ll just say that in the four times since 1999 that I’ve been to Turkey thru Ataturk airport in Istanbul, I’ve felt safer there, where there are visibly armed police and military in the entrance areas, than I ever have at any US airport.  If you don’t leave the airport between flights you should have nothing to worry about.  You’re probably in much more danger driving to LAX.

The travel warning is for southeast Turkey, which is about the same distance from Istanbul as Budapest.

Dan Prall
FlyersRights supporter and volunteer

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