Closed TSA pre-check lines upset SWFL holiday fliers

Reporter: Sam Smink
Published: Updated:

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Long lines during the holiday season at Southwest Florida International Airport are expected, but not for those who paid to skip them.

“I’m thinking this is a waste of money,” passenger Stanley Aranowski said. “Makes you wonder why we did it.”

Most of the more than 100 people waiting in a line at Terminal B on Tuesday said they paid for a TSA pre-check, a government program that lets passengers bypass certain security checks to avoid long wait times.

But the line was closed Tuesday afternoon.

“It makes no sense. We got a pre-check ready to expedite our process, and we got 150 people ahead of us,” said Bonita Springs resident Don Pilgrim.

Aranowski, who flies at least four times a month, said the pre-check line has never been open.

“I travel morning, night, evening, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “I’ve got various excuses as to why. They say we open it only during peak hours at flying times.”

A TSA spokesperson said the pre-check lanes are open about half of the time, based on peak travel times.

Airport security director Marty Robinson said the airport is constrained by the number of officers available at any given time.

Robinson said staffing is planned one day in advance to ensure the most officers are available during peak times. Staffing is also adjusted during the day based on passenger traffic, he said.

Despite Tuesday afternoon’s lines, Robinson said the pre-check line was open during other hours of the day due to more passenger traffic.

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