WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The Wilmington International Airport says growing pains and new TSA rules are causing longer lines and waits for customers.
Customers said they waited for more than an hour to get through the security checkpoint over the weekend at ILM, and a Delta flight was held for passengers because so many were stuck in the line.
Julie Wilsey, Director at ILM, said the longer lines have a lot to do with the growth in the number of flights and a change in TSA rules that requires larger electronics to be taken out of bags.
"We have done this over the years, and we will adjust to it over time like when we transitioned from the metal detector to an AIT machine," said Wilsey. "We has to train ourselves and the staff, so what we are asking it that people get to the airport at least an hour and a half before their flight. Then they can get through the screening checkpoint and to their flight on time."
Wilsey said the lines at ILM can vary greatly depending on the time of day, and that the hour and a half is more of a cushion, not the actual time people will spend in line.
"You don't know what is going to happen along your day," she said. "We like when people get here. We like that you are not rushed to get through the checkpoint. When you compare it to other airports across the country, who have implemented this same training process, it is still a lot faster than other bigger airports."
The airport recommends travelers look into the TSA Pre-check program to speed up their process.
TSA Pre-check only costs $85 and lasts for five years. It also allows customers to go through their own line, which is usually shorter.
"You can use it at any airport in the country with a Pre-check lane, and it will certainly shorten your wait time," said Wilsey. "It is really worth it because you don't have to take your jacket off. You don't have to take your shoes off. You have to take one electronic device out of your bag, but it is the shortcut to the long lines in the standard checkpoint lane."
Many customers were frustrated with the long standard lines and the seemingly unused Pre-check lane.
Wilsey said due to prior vetting and screening process, the airport can't just open up the Pre-check lane to anyone.
"It is a streamlined process, so we want to make sure we protect the value of Pre-check and the vetting of Pre-check," she said. "You can't put standard customers into the Pre-check lane because that would bottleneck the system."