MIDWAY — Remember those reported milelong security checkpoint lines at Midway International Airport during Thanksgiving?
OK, they weren’t that long — airport officials say the lines were only about a half-mile long — but if you were caught in one of those lines, how could you ever forget?
But take heed, travelers: The Transportation Security Administration said it’s planning for a smoother operation during this holiday travel season, and the city’s airports are offering perks like free gift wrapping, hot cocoa samples and live music to help ease the traveling burden.
The TSA earlier this month admitted to the Nov. 30 mistake at Midway, saying airport agents didn’t open checkpoints until 30 minutes after many ticket counters opened, “which resulted in a surge of passengers as the checkpoint opened” on what was the busiest travel day of the year.
This time around, the agency “seeks to screen passengers in the most efficient and effective manner possible,” with a goal of wait times of 20 minutes or less. The agency also adjusts its staffing levels based on the number of scheduled flights.
That’s likely good news, as city aviation officials say both of Chicago’s airports are expected to handle more holiday passengers than last year.
Midway’s airlines anticipate a 9 percent increase in passenger volume compared to 2013, and about 1.1 million harried travelers are expected throughout the 18-day holiday period that started Saturday and runs through Jan. 6, officials said.
The busiest day at Midway is expected on Wednesday, which could draw more than 66,000 travelers.
A 3 percent increase in passengers is expected at O’Hare International Airport over the same period, when roughly 3.1 million travelers will pass through the airport.
And here’s even more good news — transportation officials say O’Hare’s busiest projected day of the season — when an estimated 200,000 souls passed through the airport on Saturday — is already behind us.
There, don’t you feel better already?