A group of Chicago aldermen have called for the privatization of the security screening process at Chicago airports, citing long lines and delays for travelers at the major Midwest hubs.
The group, which included powerful Ald. Ed Burke, Ald. Michael Zalewski, Ald. Danny Solis and Ald. Margaret Laurino, discussed the potential change in security screening at O’Hare and Midway international airports during a City Council meeting Wednesday.
“The TSA has failed us,” Burke said. “Chicago is a world-class city and passengers should not have to be subjected to these long and agonizing delays.”
“We need to put a system in place that is not only more flexible, but more accountable,” he added.
On Wednesday, Burke pushed for private screeners to augment the TSA, noting that he wants the federal government to foot the bill for the additional assistance.
According to the TSA’s Screening Partnership Program, airports are permitted to use qualified private contractors to screen passengers and baggage under federal oversight that complies with TSA security procedures.
Twenty-one U.S. airports, including San Francisco International Airport and Kansas City International Airport, currently use their own screeners under the program.
Although TSA has claimed to be hiring 800 officers this month, the total number of screeners has fallen from 45,000 in 2011 to 42,525 currently.
Yesterday, federal officials apologized for long security lines at the airports after some travelers were forced to miss flights.
Additionally, TSA vowed Tuesday to add 58 new security officers and five new canine teams to O’Hare within the next three weeks. A special TSA team was also dispatched to the airport to find and fix what went wrong.
On Sunday, roughly 450 American Airlines passengers missed flights due to over two hour security lines at O’Hare. Three hour security lines have also been reported at Midway International Airport.
Chicago isn't the only major city that has been affected by long TSA lines. Passengers in Portland, Los Angeles and Atlanta are also voicing frustrations about wait times, many of which are tweeting using the hashtag "#IHateTheWait."