Airports – to one person it is a place that causes panic and to another, a place of comfort. It all depends on a lot of things when you are transiting an airport (and yes, having elite status can really help!) but there are two things that I have been finding increasingly annoying at airports – particularly because they are things that should be easy to fix.
Two Annoying Things at Airports That Could Be Easily Fixed
TSA Lines for PreCheck and Priority Customers Being Prematurely Closed or Unavailable
For those of us with TSA Precheck or priority customers (meaning, traveling on a business/first class ticket or with elite status), we have the timetable for how long it takes us to get through security pretty down pat. It makes traveling through TSA checkpoints not enjoyable but certainly more manageable.
My annoyance with this is when you get to a PreCheck or priority lane and the agent tells you “that lane is closed” and points to the regular line that has hundreds of people in it. This has happened quite a bit in terminals with international flights with foreign carriers and it always frustrates me – especially when I was coming from a tight connection.
Here is part of what makes this so frustrating – they know which flights are departing from the gates past that check point and they know how many people would likely be eligible for priority lanes! I mean, it really isn’t that difficult since our reservation information was made way ahead of time. Why would they close a priority lane (the Precheck lane I can maybe understand a bit) when there are 4 international flights departing within the next 120 minutes? They have one main line but there would be at least 200 people that would be eligible to use a priority lane – why don’t they just schedule the agents accordingly?
I realize this may come across a bit elitist but it is more about the expectations that are built up from a system that normally works a certain way. When TSA decides they will just close a lane that has an effect on hundreds of people (and even those in the general line are now waiting longer because everyone is in the same line), that just doesn’t make any sense.
Customs/Passport Control Lanes Not Being Sufficient
This one, I guess you could say, makes me even more frustrated! A country has the information ahead of time as to which flights are landing, how many people are about to enter their country, and how many are traveling on foreign passports. I mean, we have to put all that information in the system when we check in!
So, why does a country have 2 passport agents/police officers on duty when 4 international flights land simultaneously?! This is not a one-time thing but something I see in various countries (including the US, but thankfully, I have Global Entry! yet even this can be slow). On one such trip, there were planes dropping off in excess of 850 people, most of whom were foreigners. There was 1 agent working the foreign passport line!!!
WHAT?! Again, that country’s police/agent force knows how many people are about to enter. They should schedule agents appropriately to handle that. Instead, people stood in line for almost 3 hours (some missing their flights) because they had 1 agent handling it (eventually, the 2nd agent started having people come over as well but then would just stop for a while).
I have seen this in the US as well. There are hundreds of people in lines and windows available for up to 20 border patrol agents but only 4 of them are staffed. That is just ridiculous. I understand some people might say “budget” issues in some countries but there has to be a manager that is good with numbers in those offices that can look at an incoming flight manifest and figure out that they should schedule one more officer for two hours at the entry!
Maybe it is the fact that these two things happened on the same trip recently (different airports in different countries) that made me get so frustrated with it again! 🙂 I know, it can sound very whiney and maybe it is but when the staff of people managing these posts actually know how many travelers will be utilizing them in a certain space of time, it seems crazy and mismanaged that this overcrowding and dreadfully slow lines occur.
Have you experienced this in countries or airports in your travel? What was the longest delay you had as a result?