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LONG WAITS | Tulsa airport still facing delays over TSA issues

Long lines at TIA
Posted at 12:14 PM, Jun 10, 2024

JUNE 12 UPDATE >>>

Backups at Tulsa International Airport continued the morning of June 12 as the airport's security area has been experiencing technical problems for three days.

On Wednesday morning, lines briefly spilled out of the cordoned-off TSA waiting area into the main hall—a far cry from Monday and Tuesday mornings, when lines extended all the way to the other side of the building.

Issues with some TSA screening equipment are the root of all these backups.

The TSA's latest update was posted Tuesday night, saying three lanes were operating. The agency's technicians from Washington, DC, are still working on the equipment so they can open more screening lanes.

Morning is the busiest time of day at TIA, with the TSA advising flyers to arrive three hours before takeoff. Tulsa is not known for such long wait times, and these delays are something many have never witnessed at what’s usually a speedy airport.

"Insane,” one traveler named Mike told 2 News on Tuesday. “I've never seen it like this. I fly out of here a couple of times a week normally, and I've never seen it this bad."

One family was traveling to Cabo, Mexico, on Tuesday. Asked if they planned ahead of time for those kinds of delays, the mother, Lindsay, replied, "Uh, not these kinds of delays. I mean, we were planning to be here two hours before, but I'm not even sure if that's enough."

The TSA Pre-Check line has been open for the past few days, but the wait times there have also been longer than usual.

The agency and the airport keep emphasizing that this is not the "new normal" for TIA, saying this is merely a temporary equipment issue.

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The Tulsa International Airport advises travelers to get to the airport at least two hours early due to longer waits in TSA.

The issues started on June 10th and initially a TIA representative said they expected the lanes to be fixed by the end of the day. Now, they say there is no estimated time.

They told 2 News technicians are coming from Washington, D.C. to work on the machines. The airport said it is an all hands on deck situation.

2 News viewers reported long waits, and some missed their flights due to the delays.

"I usually come an hour (early at the) Detroit airport," flyer Sharon Bushong of Michigan told 2 News. "It's never like this there. I'm glad I did come (extra early) because I didn't expect this."

"We were told this was one of those simple airports where you just go in and go right to your gate and you're fine," Judy Nye of Virginia added.

The perfect storm of equipment issues caused the big headache, TSA Regional Spokesperson Patricia Mancha explained.

"This doesn't happen very frequently, but when it does, it impacts operations," Mancha said.

Airport workers started passing out free snacks to those stuck in line.

The Robinsons heading to Florida for a baseball tournament found themselves at the warning track, almost 300 feet from the usual TSA line.

"We knew based off other teammates, parents calling and saying, 'Hey, get up here.' But (we had) no idea this was happening today," Tyler Robinson of Jenks said.

Mancha said arriving early is crucial, especially in the summer travel rush.

"Regardless of whether you're in Tulsa, DFW, Denver, you're going to be busy," Mancha said. "There's going to be a lot of folks. So please arrive early. We can't say that enough."

But above all, Mancha said, safety has to come first.

"And we want to make sure that every person and every person's luggage that comes to tulsa international airport is screened and is screened properly."

Mancha added she is usually not in the Tulsa area, but was in town for TSA PreCheck enrollment events in Stillwater this week for those who want to sign up without needing to go fill the requirements at a major airport.

Click here to learn more about the enrollment for PreCheck.


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