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Airport, TSA prep for rush

By Ed Brock

Marty Gregory of Wisconsin paused on his way to his homeward flight from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International to say that airport security lines around the country are moving pretty efficient.

"I usually fly out through small towns and there's not lines there at all," Gregory said.

In the next minute he returned after being denied entrance to the security check point because he only had his e-ticket receipt.

"They changed it so you have to check in at the counter to get in," Gregory said, irritation showing on his face.

One week ago about 400 passengers missed their flights at Hartsfield-Jackson when the wait time at the security lines was more than an hour. That incident and the upcoming summer travel season led airport general manager Ben DeCosta to make a statement calling for more Transportation Safety Administration security screeners to be assigned to Hartsfield-Jackson.

"Until the TSA can reallocate staff from less busy airports to more-busy airports, we will continue to have these problems as traffic comes back," DeCosta said on Tuesday.

Today DeCosta will meet with Congressman Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. and members of the Georgia Homeland Security Task Force to discuss airport security. He is expected to bring up the need for more screeners, Hartsfield-Jackson spokeswoman Lanii Thomas said.

TSA spokeswoman Yolanda Clark said the agency will use overtime pay to boost summer staffing nationwide and will "aggressively manage the leave and vacation times of the screeners."

"We're employing many of the same techniques that we did during Thanksgiving and Christmas," Clark said. "Everybody was expecting longer lines then and that didn't happen."

Congress has set a nationwide cap of 45,000 no the number of screeners, and in May the TSA raised the number of "full-time equivalence" positions at Hartsfield-Jackson from 1,023 to 1,082. There are still around 80 unfilled positions at the airport.

"We are actively working with Hartsfield-Jackson to aggressively resolve the issues in Atlanta," Clark said.

On the day of the back up, according to the TSA, all 18 main checkpoint lines were open at 6 a.m., but DeCosta said there were just 12 open at 6:15 a.m., 17 at 7 a.m. and 18 by 7:30 a.m.

All of the lines were open and flowing smoothly on Friday when Gregory and another traveler, John Cunningham of Seattle, were passing through. Cunningham also reported that the lines in other airports were "moving quickly and smoothly ? with the occasional fiasco."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.