SEATAC, Wash. - Will long lines to return to Sea-Tac Airport now that dozens of security screeners hired over the busy summer months are about to go away?
Those extra workers were posted at pressure points, like the X-ray machines and ticketing checkpoints. But they were always meant to be a temporary fix - and funding for their contracts is running out.
The Port of Seattle hired 90 private contractors back in May when passengers were stuck in security screening lines that stretched for more than an hour, causing hundreds of passengers to miss their flights.
Once the workers stepped in, wait times dropped by 30 percent, and long backups all but disappeared during the busy summer travel season.
But the holidays are just around the corner just as the Port of Seattle is ramping down from a high of 120 workers to 50.
The Port of Seattle says travelers shouldn't be worried.
"We do plan ahead and have passenger forecasts, so this is not expected to ‘return to long security lines,.’ " said Sea-Tac spokesman Perry Cooper. "If we thought that would happen, we wouldn’t do it. We know by projections and planning that our traffic is down more than a quarter after the summer – 26 percent So, it’s appropriate for us to have fewer people at the checkpoints."
Some travelers don't think that's enough to handle the steadily increasing passenger load at the regional airport.
"We've seen lines several hundred feet long, so I think they're going to have to forecast on who's traveling," said one passenger, Jay Afflerbaugh, as he headed for an early morning flight out of Sea-Tac on Wednesday.
The extra staff is costing the port an extra $3 million, and officials there say they just can't keep that staffing up.
They say the federal government needs to come up with a more permanent fix, and they have asked for more Transportation Security agents and K-9 dogs.