Murray Calls For Immediate Action to Reduce Wait Times at SeaTac

Jun 25 2003

In letter to TSA Administrator Loy, Murray calls long lines at security checkpoints “unacceptable”

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray today sent a letter to Transportation Security Administration Administrator James Loy, expressing concern over the brutal delays to get through SeaTac security checkpoints.

Murray called the lengthy waits endured by airport passengers “unacceptable” and a security risk in and of themselves. The situation “demands your immediate attention,” Murray wrote.

In her letter Murray requested that Administrator Loy personally look into the current conditions at SeaTac and to ensure that every conceivable measure is taken to clear passengers and end the current delays.

A copy of Senator Murray’s letter to Administrator Loy is attached.

June 25, 2003

The Honorable James Loy
Transportation Security Administration
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Admiral Loy:

I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the unacceptable wait times that air travelers are now encountering at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA-TAC). Over the past two weeks, security checkpoints delays of two hours or even longer have caused hundreds of passengers to miss their flights. Moreover, several flights have been required to delay their departure as they await passengers to clear your security checkpoints, triggering an escalating congestion problem at the airport as incoming aircraft cannot use their expected gates.

It is now not uncommon for the line of passengers seeking to clear your security checkpoints to extend over the skybridge that connects SEA-TAC’s main terminal with the parking facility across the street. This situation is unacceptable and demands your immediate attention. As we have discussed in the past, airport terminals that are crowded with passengers from end to end are, in and of themselves, a security risk.

You have testified many times as to the importance your agency attaches to high quality customer service. Indeed your agency has testified before our Committee that it will continue to strive to ensure that no passenger is required to wait longer than ten minutes to clear security. Even a twenty minute wait would be welcome respite for the passengers utilizing SEA-TAC in recent weeks. I understand that part of this problem stems from the fact that our airlines are starting to see a real improvement in load factors as we enter the summer vacation season. That is welcome news for our financially struggling airlines and their employees.

I’m sure that your agency does not want to undermine the financial resurgence of the airlines by fielding a security system that requires those returning passengers to endure interminable delays.

Clearly, an important part of the near term solution at SEA-TAC is to ensure that the maximum number of available TSA personnel is available to clear passengers during the early morning “rush” periods. I implore you to personally take a look at the current conditions at SEA-TAC to make sure that every conceivable step is being taken, not just to make the maximum use of existing resources but to bring additional resources to bear on the problem so that you can achieve your own customer service goals.

I would appreciate it if you would call me at your earliest convenience to apprise me of the measures you are taking to address the unacceptable conditions at SEA-TAC.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this critical situation.


Patty Murray
United States Senator