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American Airlines to hire outside help for security screening in Phoenix, other hubs

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PHOENIX — A month after complaining about the long wait times at airport security lines across the country, American Airlines has announced that it was hiring outside help for its major hubs, including Phoenix.

The airlines said Wednesday it was spending $4 million at Sky Harbor and airports in Charlotte, North Carolina, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, New York (LaGuardia and JFK) and Washington’s Reagan International.

In Phoenix, American Airlines flies out of Sky Harbor Terminal 4.

“Long lines are of concern to our customers and our employees, who are ultimately taking the brunt of passengers who miss their flights,” American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein said.

“We can’t eliminate TSA lines, that’s obviously a staffing issue on their end, but what we can do is put personnel (in place) who can assist them.”

The contract personnel will assist in nonessential tasks such as moving the personal-items bins at checkpoint screening lines, queue management and informing passengers what they need to do before stepping through scanners.

“It’s a temporary solution,” Feinstein said.

One of his bosses, COO Robert Isom, said in a press release, “We all agree that the TSA plays a vital role in protecting the traveling public and we’re not in favor of anything that jeopardizes that safety.

“However, tens of thousands of customers have missed their flights and tens of thousands of checked bags have been delayed in TSA resolutions rooms due to low staffing.

“This is unacceptable to all of us, and the federal government can, and should, do better.”

In April, the airline criticized the the long security lines and said they would be worse when the summer travel season began in earnest.

Some American Air passengers have had to wait in line for over an hour.

Some airports have been threatening for several weeks to replace the federal government’s TSA with private contractors.

KTAR’s Jeremy Foster contributed to this report.

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