U.S. Airport Lineups Should Be Enough To Keep Canadians Away. If The Loonie Didn't Already.

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Canadians may want to rethink any trips they planned to the U.S. for May Long Weekend.

That is, unless they enjoy waiting in long lineups for hours at a time. And paying with a dollar that's worth less than it was last year.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been pummeled online in the past week with images of lines stretching through terminals such as New York's LaGuardia and Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

tsa
Passengers at O'Hare International Airport wait in line to be screened at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint on May 16, 2016 in Chicago, Ill. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty)

The lines are happening for a number of reasons. For one thing, it's the the summer travel season, and lines during that period are always going to be long, CNN quoted Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson saying last week.

But the number of passengers has also gone up by 12 per cent since 2011, while at the same time, TSA screeners have dropped by a similar proportion, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Add to that the fact that security was tightened after travelers managed to bypass screeners with weapons and fake bombs, and you have a recipe for waits as long as three hours.

tsa
Passengers at O'Hare International Airport wait in line to be screened at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint on May 16, 2016 in Chicago, Ill. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty)

Johnson said the Department of National Security would have more screeners on hand and increase overtime in an effort to cut the lines. The U.S. Congress has earmarked $34 million to bring on more staff.

But for now, social media is lighting up with images of lengthy lines at airports throughout the United States.

Some are keeping a sense of humour about it.

And airports are finding ways to keep people entertained as they wait.

Lineups are just one more factor that could deter Canadians from travelling south of the border — on top of a loonie that was valued at US$0.77 on Wednesday, down from about $0.82 around the same time last year.

They come just ahead of May Long Weekend — and months after StatsCan observed Canadian trips to the U.S. dropping year over year.

The statistical agency released a report in February showing that Canadians made 3.4 million trips to the States in December 2015, down 1.7 per cent from November and down 20.7 per cent from the year prior.

Of course, back then the loonie was worth around $0.72.

So perhaps, with a higher dollar, Canadians might be willing to brave the airport crowds.

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