SEATTLE-TACOMA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT -- Relief is on the way for thousands of passengers at Sea-Tac Airport who have spent hours waiting in long security lines.
Hundreds of passengers have even missed flights, but now the country’s fastest-growing airport plans to make those long lines shorter.
If you travel through Sea-Tac Airport, you know how long the security lines can be.
“It’s a big pain,” said traveler Kate Edwards.
Those lines can take more than an hour to get through during peak times.
“Previously there’s usually only one lane open and everyone is feeding into so it slows everything down,” said Katie Misiewicz, a Seattle traveler.
The goal is to move people through these lines in 20 minutes or less.
Over the past few years the number of passengers has grown significantly, creating longer wait times.
In 2015, the Port of Seattle reported 42 million people moved through the airport.
“If current passenger traffic grows as projected, 50 million people will be passing through Sea-Tac within the next two years,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
On Friday, Transportation Security Administration chief Peter Neffenger and Cantwell announced plans to help alleviate the congestion.
“We will do everything we can to meet the high volume of passengers we expect,” said Neffenger, who took a tour of the security lines.
One way is to add more passenger screening by K-9 Teams.
The dogs are considered the best explosive-detection technology the TSA has to offer.
They’re trained to sniff out explosives as passengers walk by in line, which means passengers move faster through security because they don’t have to take off their shoes at the checkpoint.
“In the case of Sea-Tac we’ve added one additional team already and we’re bringing two more in for the summer months for a total of 7 passenger screening K-9 teams to work on the lines,” added Neffenger.
The Port of Seattle will also work with a private company to hire temporary workers, allowing TSA officers to open up to 28 screening lanes, almost double the normal amount.
“I mean, hopefully, they can get the people to help out. Just opening up more lanes is helpful and it obviously makes you feel better when you see all of them open,” said Misiewicz.
The TSA knows it needs a long-term solution and is already working on training new officers and K-9 teams.
“If it moves and it’s effective, then I’m all for it. That’s fine, but the way it is now it’s not working very well,” added Edwards.
Airport officials say that even with the extra staff expected this summer, they suggest passengers still arrive at least two hours early if traveling on a domestic flight and three hours early for an international flight.