ATLANTA - The general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is calling out the TSA over too few screeners and growing passenger wait times at the airport’s checkpoints.
Anyone who has flown out of Hartsfield-Jackson lately understands passengers' frustration.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant obtained a letter from a source, written by the airport's general manager, telling the TSA to get their act together or we're going to get rid of you.
"As much money as comes through this airport, I think it's ridiculous," traveler Jappara Brouchet told Diamant.
Brouchet was just one of thousands Diamant found Thursday feeling the pain of growing wait times at the airport’s TSA screening checkpoints at the height of the afternoon rush.
Diamant said he saw the main checkpoint slammed with lines backed up quite a distance, but up front, only eight of the 18 screening lanes were staffed with TSA agents, while the rest sat empty.
With 30 to 60 minute backups becoming more common, the airport's boss says he’s is totally over it.
Through Diamant’s sources, he obtained the terse letter airport general manager Miguel Southwell fired off to TSA's top brass in Washington this week.
He wrote that the airport, "struggled with TSA staffing shortfalls in 2015, and the airport is dreading the outcome of summer 2016."
With record-breaking passenger counts this year, TSA did beef up staffing by more than seven percent but in his letter, Southwell said, "This increase --while appreciated--was late and inadequate," and "things appear to be only getting worse."
Southwell then put the TSA on notice, saying the agency has 60 days to get its act together or the airport will bring in its own qualified private contractors to man the checkpoints.
"Are you on board with this plan?" Diamant asked Sen. Johnny Isakson.
"Oh, yeah, absolutely," Isakson said.
He told Diamant he flies out of Hartsfield at least once a week.
"It's frustrating to you, isn't it?" Diamant asked Isakson.
"It is and when you're on a tight schedule and you think you're going to take 20 minutes to go through or 10 minutes to go through and it's 40, it can mess up everything," Isakson said.
And it’s not just in Atlanta.
"But really when Atlanta goes down, the airline system around the country goes down, or at least it's slowed up."
The letter notes the wait times have showed up on Delta's customer surveys.
Meantime, the airport says it's done what it can, even with big campaigns to get people to sign up for TSA pre-check, but they say they're out of options.
Diamant asked the TSA for a response to the airport's ultimatum, but has not received a response so far.
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