Accessibility links

Breaking News

Air Travelers' Delays Being Addressed, Says US Agency Head

FILE - Travelers wait at the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, May 16, 2016.

The head of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration admitted Wednesday that this summer would be a trying time for air travelers.

Peter Neffenger said at a congressional hearing that the agency was taking several steps to try to ease the congestion plaguing the nation's airports ahead of the Memorial Day holiday and summer travel season.

Neffenger told lawmakers the agency was sending new screeners to the nation's busiest airports in Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles and other hubs. The TSA also has increased the use of overtime, converted some part-time workers to full-time status and increased the use of bomb-sniffing dogs to help with security lines, he said.

Neffenger's appearance before the House Homeland Security Committee came just days after he ousted TSA's head of security, Kelly Hoggan, and put in a new management team to speed up screenings. Hoggan was replaced by Darby LaJoye, a former federal security director in Los Angeles and New York.

Neffenger declined to explain why he removed Hoggan, saying only that "I needed a new direction going forward.'' Hoggan, who received more than $90,000 in bonuses in 2013-14, remains at the agency on paid administrative leave.

Long lines have been plaguing major U.S. airports since early spring, but the issue came to a head this month when thousands of passengers in Chicago missed flights because of lengthy waits at security checkpoints.