TSA officials address long lines in Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There is growing frustration over painfully long security lines at airports in Chicago and across the country, putting the Transportation Security Administration under fire and under the microscope.

The federal agency held a news conference Thursday at Midway International Airport, where officials shared tips on how passengers can help the lines move faster. They even set up a working security lane with volunteers to spell out how prohibited items slow everything down.

Using a stopwatch, TSA officials demonstrated the difference in time between passengers who go through the line with no prohibited items and passengers who go through the line with items like water bottles and knives.

"We are not here today to blame this on passengers. But this is one contributing factor to the lines. In preparation to coming to the airport, just take five minutes and look through your bag," said Mark Howell, TSA spokesperson.

More flyers, fewer TSA officers and tighter security because of test failures last year, have been driving wait times to unbearable levels for many travelers.

The scenes at Midway and O'Hare International Airport were chaotic in recent days. People are using the hashtag #ihatethewait to post photos of long lines and express their frustration on social media, hoping their posts will be the push officials need to fix the problem faster.

Charles Singer, a passenger at O'Hare, had a different perspective.

"It's not worth getting angry. It is what it is. Just hope that they improve it and just everybody work together to get through quickly," Singer said.

Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk has demanded the TSA administrator resign if delays at Chicago's airports aren't resolved by Memorial Day.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is scheduled to meet with the agency's director on Friday.
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