SEATAC, Wash. -- The long security lines for travelers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport may be about to get shorter.
Dozens of newly hired contractors will soon help tens of thousands of passengers get through security faster.
The Transportation Safety Administration said the root of the long wait times is that the agency is understaffed because of budget cuts.
Officials at Seattle’s the airport believe the 90 new non-screening contractors will help keep the lines moving.
“There is a need to help support TSA,” said Daniel Zenk, a senior manager in Sea-Tac’s aviation operations division.
The airport is spending more than $3 million to hire private contractors to make sure passengers are ready for security screening. What will they do?
“Prepare the passengers for going through the process of going through the X-ray machines,” said Zenk.
The long lines were supposed to be cut down by the TSA’s pre-check option but not enough travelers signed up.
“People don’t want to pay extra, especially for people like us who hardly fly,” said passenger Darion Marilin. “What’s the point in paying close to $100 for something you’re hardly going to use?”
For now TSA said it doesn’t have enough security screeners to keep the lines moving because of budget cuts.
The hiring of 90 contractors at Sea-Tac is an effort to keep passengers from being stuck in line and possibly missing their flights. Just recently, more than 100 people missed their plane during a one-week period.
Some travelers wonder why it took so long to get help.
“I think increasing the worker size for the increased volume of people going to be flying out of here is common sense,” said traveler Dradin Kreft. “I don’t know why they didn’t do this right away.”
Last year, the airport broke records moving 42 million travelers.
The goal this time to move people through security lines in 30 minutes or less.
The contractors will begin assisting TSA on Monday, just in time for the summer holiday travel season.