Long lines greet travelers at MSP security ahead of holiday weekend

MSP Airport said the holiday weekend, and not the government shutdown, is to blame.
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Travelers flying out from MSP Airport for the MLK Day weekend were greeted by long lines at airport security.

WCCO's Mary McGuire was among those in line, noting that the lines at the North and South security lines were so long that they met in the middle of the ticketing hall.

There has been extra scrutiny on airport security since the start of the government shutdown, with the Transportation Security Administration noting its absence level across the U.S. on Thursday was 6.4 percent.

This compares to 3.8 percent on the same day a year ago, with "many employees ... reporting that they are not able to report to work due to financial limitations" as they go unpaid amid the shutdown.

MSP Airport on Twitter said the lines on Friday morning was more the result of the holiday weekend, with the TSA itself saying it's expecting to check more than 2 million passengers across the U.S. on Friday alone.

Spokesman Patrick Hogan said: "Our terminals were very busy early this morning with travelers taking advantage of the long holiday weekend. During peak travel days it is not uncommon for the lines to get long during certain periods of the day (early morning and again late afternoon)."

He added: "When I came into the terminal at 7:50 this morning, lines at some of the airline check in counters were also long. There was just a lot of demand due to the holiday."

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Nonetheless, MSP Airport had among the longest security wait times out of America's biggest airports on Thursday.

TSA said that the average wait on Thursday was 36 minutes at the Twin Cities airport, with only Atlanta airport experiencing longer wait times, at 47 minutes.

MSP Airport has otherwise been relatively untroubled by the shutdown. On Wednesday, the average wait time at MSP was just 17 minutes, while on Tuesday it was 20 minutes.

Thursday's longer wait times were once again put down to the holiday, but Hogan also concedes that the TSA has been "running lean" at MSP for months due to "recruiting challenges in a strong economy."

That's why the TSA announced this week that it will be holding a hiring event to fill a number of positions at MSP this Saturday.

It's offering "fast track" full-time and part-time partitions to work the airport, with the hiring events starting at 8 a.m. at its administrative offices at 2001 Killebrew Drive, suite 400, in Bloomington.

Starting pay is $18.38 an hour rising to $25.55 per hour depending on their shift and overtime opportunities. It also includes paid leave, health care, free transit and a matching 401K.

As for the shutdown, Hogan said: "Every indication we’ve had from the TSA is that employees continue to show up for work and do their jobs."

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