By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — While construction has resulted in the reassigning of security checkpoints at the airport, Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, as well as the Metropolitan Airports Commission, say the real problem is the lack of TSA screeners.

The construction project, which will widen the south screening area by 16 feet, has created a bottleneck that has led to confusion and some very long lines. All pre-checked passengers get checked at the south check points everyone else goes to the north screening points.

“When you look at the numbers, it’s pretty outrageous what’s going on,” Klobuchar said.

In 2012, MSP served 33.9 million passengers with 670 TSA agents. By 2017, the number of passengers jumped to 38 million, while the number of TSA agents dropped to 630.

“It’s simply unacceptable that authorized TSA staffing at MSP has decreased, while passenger traffic has increased,” Klobuchar said.

Klobuchar and Smith have appealed to TSA officials for help.

“We know that the number of travelers in this airport are going to increase and we need our security systems to keep up with the increase,” Smith said.

Passenger Scott Markeson, who went to the south checkpoint before being redirected, agrees.

“Having more screeners, having more opportunities to push people through would help,” he said.

The Metropolitan Airports Commission is also lobbying for more screeners.

“The bottom line is we just don’t have enough TSA screening agents here,” Brian Ryks, CEO of the Metropolitcan Airport Commission, said.

As for when the security checkpoints will be back to normal, it won’t be until mid-December — just in time for the holiday travel rush.

Early Wednesday evening, the TSA sent WCCO a statement.

“TSA’s top priority is to protect the nation’s transportation system as efficiently as possible. Similar to the national trend, Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport has seen an increase of people traveling through the security checkpoints. TSA at MSP is fully staffed at the authorized number for transportation security officers and brings new officers on board to fill any vacancies as quickly as possible. Additionally, TSA hosted local recruitment events earlier this year in preparation for this year’s summer surge of travelers and secured a pay raise for local TSA officers as a retention bonus.”

TSA advises passengers to arrive to the airport prepared and early — two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight — to ensure that they have ample time to account for traffic, parking and navigating through the terminal as the airport is very busy and under construction.

Esme Murphy

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