With increasingly long TSA wait times and frustration with the current system escalating at airports across the country, Airlines for America developed a social media strategy to empower consumers to tell the TSA about their experiences directly and prompt positive change within the TSA to shorten lines, while maintaining a safe and effective screening process. Airlines for America wanted to encourage transformational change within the agency, including shorter lines and bolstered staffing numbers, while maintaining a strong partnership between the TSA, U.S. airlines and air travelers.
The 4 main objectives of the #IHateTheWait campaign were to:
1. Share wait time information with fellow travelers and allow adequate time for the security screening process.
2. Aggregate wait time information for TSA officials to pinpoint slow areas quickly with increased staffing.
3. Call attention to the problem and work towards a solution in partnership with the airlines and the TSA.
4. Encourage travelers to sign up for the TSA Pre✓® program.
Airlines for America developed a mobile website (ihatethewait.com) that empowered consumers to share their TSA wait time experiences. Geo-targeted web advertisements at major U.S. airport hubs encouraged passengers to tweet a picture of their security experience with the hashtag #IHateTheWait and the official TSA Twitter handle, @AskTSA, while in line. The site also provided a list of airport codes so passengers could use their location information to inform other travelers and a link to enroll in TSA Pre✓® for an expedited screening process.
Since the launch of the campaign on May 5, 2016, A4A has brought an incredible amount of attention to this issue and launched positive change in the TSA and at airports across the country. The campaign generated more than 94 million social media impressions, 8,048 uses of #IHateTheWait on Twitter and more than 1,600 news mentions, including stories from ABC News, CNN, Fox News, Conde Nast Traveler, and USA Today.
Since attention was brought to the issue through the campaign, average wait times have decreased significantly at major hubs across the country, even with a record number of air travelers during the summer months. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has reported an increase in TSA staff and has met their goal of a 20-minute or less average wait time. Chicago O'Hare, a major hub that made headlines for three-hour-long TSA wait times, has decreased average wait times to 10 minutes, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.
Because of the national attention, Congress also approved the TSA's request for $34 million in additional funding for new TSA officers, helping to alleviate major backups at airports across the country.
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