OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — Airline passengers trying to leave the Emerald Coast got caught in long lines Thursday morning in Okaloosa County.
Flights across all four airlines were delayed at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport and many passengers waited in security lines for three or more hours.
VPS opened a new terminal this season for Allegiant flights. The new section of gates in the C concourse is part of a multi-million dollar expansion.
Many passengers Thursday morning balmed the expansion for the delay. VPS staff said the issue is not with the new terminal or gates, but with a lack of staffing with TSA.
April Sarver, public information officer with Okaloosa County said passengers have been calling all morning to report the problem. Sarver said the VPS staff is all hand on deck to get people through the lines.
After I spoke with airport leadership, what I found out is that there is a significant TSA staffing issue as and I believe it has started this morning. I haven’t heard anything about it until today, but it is so significant that they’re just not able to get people through those TSA lines smoothly or swiftly.April Sarver, Okaloosa County
Both the general and TSA Pre-check lines wrapped through the main building Thursday morning. VPS staff created a second waiting line to have room for the check-in counters.
Jacqueline Monnin waited for three hours on her way to Seattle to see her grandson. Monnin said once they made it through security, seating on the Delta flight became an issue.
People are upset it took so long to get through the lines. Others getting on are finding people are in their seats because some have been on the plane waiting for over an hour for us so they sat by loved ones. What a mess. Alot of frustrated people. I am just thankful I am sitting down on this plane and by 4:25 I will be showered in grandbaby kisses and hugs!Jacqueline Monnin
VPS online suggests passengers arrive at least two hours before the departure time. While staff works to get more TSA staff on-site, passengers should arrive as early as they can.
Long lines were also seen in 2021 on Saturday mornings, the vacation turnaround day. VPS staff said the staffing issue started on Thursday and they do not expect it to be a long-term problem.
I know that airport director Tracy Stage is working with TSA to try to find a solution. Of course, that’s not going to be an immediate solution, but they’re working to get it resolved as quickly as possible with TSA. That new terminal is tiny. It doesn’t have anything to do with the crowds that are out there today.April Sarver, Okaloosa County
To look at the departure flight list, click here.
To call the suggestion and complain line, dial (850) 609-4711.