Passengers stranded at O'Hare Airport due to long TSA lines

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Security lines at airports in Chicago and across the country are longer than ever. Now airlines are fighting back.

About 450 American Airlines passengers trying to fly out of O'Hare International Airport Sunday night couldn't get to the gate on time. Airport employees offered them cots to sleep on overnight.
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TSA lines at airports in Chicago and across the country are longer than ever. Now airlines are fighting back.

"Got here two and a half hours before my flight and security took two to three (hours) to get through," said Kevin Revis, a stranded traveler.

"I'd never seen this before. Completely unexpected," said Adnan Ahmed, who was also stuck in Chicago.

Video shot at 5 a.m. Monday shows hundreds of passengers slowly making their way through an hours-long security line in Terminal 3 at O'Hare.

ABC7 Eyewitness News viewer Kim Adele Serritos shared video of lines at Midway International Airport Monday morning on the ABC7 Chicago Facebook page.

American Airlines spokesperson Leslie Scott said over the next week, the company is deploying its own employees to help TSA workers with non-security functions.

"(They will be)standing in line, telling people to take shoes off, take electronics out and bag of liquids out," Scott said.

The chronically understaffed Transportation Security Administration promises to hire 800 new screeners next month and offer more overtime opportunities for existing employees.

Until the TSA can get more screeners hired and trained, travelers' only relief is the paid PreCheck program.

MORE: How to sign up for TSA PreCheck

After seeing news coverage of long lines at the airports the last couple of weeks, travelers have been flooding the eight or so Chicago area offices to get approved for TSA PreCheck. But most area locations have no appointments available for several weeks or months. It costs $85 to $100 depending on the level of clearance you apply for.

"We came down here to pre-enroll for TSA PreCheck. Get through the lines a little faster, hopefully," traveler Mike Mancuso said.

You can show up without an appointment, but as Lorraine Boyer discovered, the wait could be several hours. She gave up.

"It's insane. It's ridiculous. Just pay them the overtime, get more people. Do what you have to do," traveler Lorraine Boyer said.

Otherwise, airlines are recommending passengers arrive two or three hours before their flights are scheduled to depart.

Travelers can download the "My TSA" app, which lets you check TSA wait times at airports around the country. It's available for download in the App store and on Google Play.

Airlines also asked passengers to tweet about how frustrated they are using the hashtag #ihatethewait to put pressure on the TSA to fix this problem.

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