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Klobuchar calls on TSA to send more screeners to help with long lines at MSP

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Transportation officials have plans to help address the long security lines at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has called for the TSA to send more screeners to help with the sometimes hour-long lines at the airport, saying the agency "didn't staff this airport adequately," according to WCCO.

Klobuchar says she spoke with Transportation Security Administration's Peter Neffenger about the problem, and he says there will be more TSA agents by the end of the week, and an additional team by the end of the month, the Pioneer Press reports.

The Star Tribune is reporting those teams will come in the form of bomb-sniffing dogs, noting it's not clear if or when the airport could see more security screeners.

These dogs help speed up security lines by allowing passengers who've been sniffed and cleared by the canine to skip the long line and go through the typically shorter TSA pre-check line.

Neffinger also has plans to visit Minneapolis in the near future to see the problem first hand, reports note.

Why the long wait?

Long wait times come after TSA recently consolidated security at Terminal 1 into two checkpoints. The hope was it would speed up lines, but instead travelers have been experiencing wait times that are about double what they were before, reports note. Travelers are waiting on average for about 48 minutes during peak travel times.

Airport officials say the biggest factor is the TSA has fewer people screening passengers and their carry-on bags, even as the number of travelers is growing.

Minneapolis is expected to see 4.5 percent more passengers this March compared to last year, a TSA news release says. This has the airport telling people to get to the airport at least two hours before, especially now that it's the busy spring break travel season.

Klobuchar, who is the chair of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus, said TSA has failed to anticipate a growing number of travelers – both here and across the country, MPR News says. (The Wall Street Journal details why security checkpoints are so understaffed. Read the story here.)

“This is not your classic government story about money,” Klobuchar told the Star Tribune. “They have money to hire more people. They need to take responsibility. They need to fix this problem.”

The senator and airport officials believe backups at the security checkpoints will gradually improve. But until then, people should get there early and be patient.

Something to keep in mind: The busiest times of day at the airport are between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m., 7:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., the Pioneer Press says.

The Metropolitan Airport Commission discussed the new security checkpoints and long lines at a meeting Monday.

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