Departing travelers face long lines at Louisville airport

The line of passengers for TSA screening weaved throughout the third floor, stretching all the way back to the airline check-in counters.
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 1:31 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – Airline travelers were frustrated by long lines as they tried to leave Louisville on Thursday morning.

Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport is preparing for a record-breaking summer travel season. Airport officials say scheduled capacity for May to September 2023 is up 22% compared to last year. Since last summer, four new flights and one new airline began at SDF. The additional flights brought additional passengers.

WAVE News Sunrise was at the airport at 5 a.m. Thursday. The line of passengers for TSA screening weaved throughout the third floor, stretching all the way back to the airline check-in counters. Donna Kush of Louisville said she thought she was prepared by getting to the airport two and a half hours before her flight. She was stunned by the wait time for both TSA and airline check-in.

“I had my pre-check in, boarding pass, and my luggage was already checked in and paid for,” Kush said. “And those lines weren’t little either.”

Kelly and Robert were two of the passengers waiting in line for TSA. “We just waited probably 45 minutes just to get here, and we probably have another hour to wait just to get to the front,” Kelly said.

Kelly and Robert were still waiting in line at 6:30. Their flight was scheduled to board at 6:35. “A long line to me is not circling the entire building two times. ‘Long’ is not the appropriate adjective for that. ‘Insanity’ is probably the appropriate term for that.”

Natalie Chaudoin, Director of Public Relations for Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, said these long lines should be expected before early morning flights. Chaudoin said TSA is typically a congested area. She said it’s not because of staffing, but because of the space. She promises people that they’re actively working to resolve the issue.

“Plans are already in place that we’ll have a sixth lane. We have five lanes currently. We’ll have a sixth lane added in August. It should be up and running at that time,” she said. “We’re also hoping to start work within a year on the actual expansion of our TSA security footprint where we’ll go from five lanes to eight lanes and physically build out the area.”

Chaudoin recommends people explore TSA pre-check options for shorter lines. She says people should be familiar with the 3-1-1 rule for aerosols, gels, and liquids. This will help the line for TSA move quickly. She also warns that temporary parking closures are possible if the garage and surface lot are full. People are encouraged to use the Premier East and Premier West Lots as alternatives.

Airport officials say people should always arrive at least two hours before their scheduled flights. People who stood in line on Thursday morning recommend at least three hours for earlier flights.