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Earlier this month in an effort to bring visibility to growing security lines snaking through American airports, Airlines for America (AFA), the trade group representing the major U.S. carriers, launched a website and a hashtag called IHateTheWait.
Meant to encourage passengers to share their frustration over social channels, the #IHateTheWait hashtag has since turned into a grassroots movement, with thousands of thousands of social impressions on Twitter and Instagram sharing passenger frustration.
According to Hashtracking.com, the #IHateTheWait hashtag has so far garnered just under 1,000 original tweets with a potential reach of about 3.4 million users. On Instagram, the same hashtag has appeared on 173 posts at the time of publication, earning 4,570 likes and 435 comments.
— Michael Kuluva (@MichaelKuluva) May 13, 2016
Other airports across the country this weekend also didn’t fare well. Brandon Wall, a social media editor at BuzzFeed, waited in line for 90 minutes at O’Hare on Friday, though he didn’t use the AFA hashtag.
I spent about 90 minutes just in the TSA line at O’Hare for the record
— Brandon Wall (@Walldo) May 16, 2016
In encouraging passengers to use the hashtag, the Airlines for America group hopes to pressure the TSA — and if necessary, lawmakers — into releasing more staff and alleviate the crowds that are choking airport security checkpoints. Already, numerous weekly dispatches are reporting wait times of two-three hours or longer at some airports, disrupting both passenger travel and airline load management.
Last week, lawmakers took an initial step at stemming the problem by suggesting that airlines dial back on baggage fees while multiple airports including those within New York’s Port Authority have threatened to ditch the TSA and hire third-party security altogether.
And to some effect, the saber rattling is producing some results. Late last week the Department of Homeland Security announced at a press conference that it’s releasing more money to pay staff overtime while its security teams are working with airlines and airports to speed up security. The union that represents the screeners is also pushing for the agency to hire an additional 6,000 staff.
Despite the forecasted improvements, passengers may continue to experience long wait times at airports as the increased volumes from summertime travel continue to offset the number of security agents being deployed. Unless the TSA can get ahead of that tidal wave, the #IHateTheWait hashtag may have a long season ahead of it.