WASHINGTON — Travelers flying out of BWI Marshall Airport this Martin Luther King Jr. weekend faced a longer wait time than usual at times after the Transportation Security Administration closed a checkpoint “due to excessive callouts.”
On Sunday, BWI Marshall tweeted that the A Pier security checkpoint had closed. Travelers instead had to used the B and C Pier checpoints to access flights on A Pier. A similar closure happened on Saturday.
.@TSA in collaboration with airport authorities & servicing airlines will be exercising a contingency plan at @BWI_Airport due to excessive callouts. Checkpoint A will be closing at 5:35pm. Passengers should arrive early for evening flights. Contact airport & airlines for updates
— TSA (@TSA) January 19, 2019
— BWI Marshall Airport (@BWI_Airport) January 20, 2019
TSA said that it experienced a national average of 7 percent of unscheduled absences Friday compared to 3 percent a year ago on the same date. Employees reported that they were not able to go to work due to financial limitations, TSA said in a statement.
On Saturday, the percentage of unscheduled absences went up to 8 percent compared to 3 percent on the same day last year. Once again, employees said financial limitations were a driving factor for calling out.
The national average wait times — 30 minutes for standard lanes and 10 minutes for TSA Precheck — were within normal, but several airports “experienced longer than usual wait times” on Friday and Saturday.
Friday in Atlanta, travelers on standard lanes waited a maximum of 38 minutes, 32 minutes in Denver and 35 minutes in Newark, New Jersey. In D.C. area airports, the maximum wait times for passengers in standard lanes were 23 minutes at BWI Marshall, 19 minutes at Reagan National Airport, and 17 minutes at Dulles International Airport.
On Saturday, wait times were closer to normal. Atlanta travelers in standards lines waited a maximum of 29 minutes, 24 minutes in Denver and 25 minutes in Newark. D.C. area airports saw slight improvements in wait times on Saturday, though BWI travelers still had a maximum wait time of 23 minutes. Reagan National Airport had a maximum wait time of 16 minutes, and Dulles International went down to 15 minutes.
Despite the callouts, some travelers at BWI told WTOP that wait times were manageable and security screenings went smoothly.
On Friday, federal officials sent extra security screeners to beef up checkpoint in Newark, The Associated Press reported. The TSA predicts it will screen over 8 million passengers between Friday and Monday, up 10.8 percent from last year’s MLK weekend.
WTOP’s Melissa Howell contributed to this reoprt