Sky Talk

DFW Airport to get more TSA agents for the summer


Dallas/Fort Worth Airport will get more TSA agents to staff checkpoints during the busy summer travel season.

The airport’s chief executive, Sean Donohue, said DFW is one of seven airports in the U.S. that will receive additional staffing from the Transportation Security Administration. He did not disclose how many extra agents will be deployed at DFW.

“While our average line wait is probably in the 5 to 10 minute range, there are times in the peak [hours], especially in the afternoon, when they can get up to 20 to 30 minutes and that is really not acceptable from a customer service perspective,” Donohue said at the airport’s monthly board meeting Thursday.

Last month, TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said 768 security agents would be added to airports by mid-June. Most of the new screeners will be sent to the busiest airports, such as Chicago, New York and Atlanta, he told a House committee.

Donohue said DFW Airport is working with the TSA and carriers like American Airlines to find a long-term solution to the wait times while continuing to focus on security.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, the airport received 202 tweets regarding TSA lines. Fifty-three percent were positive, 37 percent were neutral and 10 percent were negative.

At the meeting, the board also approved a $600,000 contract with AT&T for the wireless company to provide data to help the airport track passengers as they move through terminals. AT&T, which provides free Wi-Fi at the airport, can anonymously track phones that are connected to the wireless network.

“It will allow us to provide real-time data to our customers through the DFW app where customers can make the choice as to manage their time and what checkpoint they want to go through,” said Ken Buchanan, executive vice president of revenue management. While the airport expects to receive the data in about a month, it likely won’t be ready for the mobile app until early next year.

Buchanan also outlined customer service initiatives planned at the airport this summer to improve the travel experience for passengers. DFW will focus on “clean, working and friendly” by testing out two new custodial programs and making sure power charging outlets and water fountains are working throughout the terminals every day.

“With 18 million customers coming through the airport this summer, we know we have to be on our game,” Donohue said.

Separately, the airport board authorized its legal department to sue Chesapeake Energy for failing to drill additional gas wells per its agreement. As of 2009, the energy company had drilled 112 wells at the airport but stopped drilling due to low gas prices. The airport previously received $5 million from Chesapeake Energy as part of a lawsuit over gas royalties in 2012.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk