Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport general manager John Selden said some passengers waited in security lines for two hours Monday, and more crowds are coming this weekend for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday period.
“We did have quite a problem on Monday,” Selden told the Atlanta City Council transportation committee at a Wednesday morning meeting. “I think some people were at two hours or a little plus two hours to get through the TSA checkpoint” Only 18 of 27 security lanes were open Monday in the Atlanta airport domestic terminal, he said.
Selden said on Monday night, the Transportation Security Administration flew 20 officers in — who are also not being paid — to help handle the lines at the Atlanta airport.
That helped keep lines shorter on Tuesday and Wednesday morning. TSA says maximum wait times at Hartsfield-Jackson on Tuesday were 25 minutes.
But as holiday weekend travel picks back up on Thursday, 70,000 passengers are expected to go through security, Selden said — even more than the 64,000 on Monday. Another 75,000 passengers are expected Friday.
Selden said for TSA officers working without pay who have child care and rent to pay for, calling in sick is a way to preserve funds — by not having to pay for child care or transportation, for example.
Hartsfield-Jackson is providing free parking and free lunch to TSA officers, with concessionaires chipping in, Selden said.
Selden said U.S. Customs and Border Protection is not able to use overtime to cover sick call-outs, and waits are more than an hour long for non-U.S. citizens and can be close to an hour for U.S. citizens.
Looking ahead, even bigger crowds are expected for the Super Bowl, when 110,000 to 115,000 people are expected to pass through TSA checkpoints on the Monday after the game.
TSA is bringing in an additional 120 officers and 12 additional K-9 teams for Super Bowl security, Selden said.
Still, the Monday after the Super Bowl “will be a very challenging morning,” Selden said.