TSA Head: Lines Won't Make for 'Summer of Misery'

Neffenger is "cautiously optimistic" about TSA lines.

ByABC News
May 27, 2016, 2:50 PM

— -- While holiday travelers enjoy their time off this Memorial Day weekend, crowding highways and airports across the country, aviation security will be put to the test.

"I don't think it'll be a summer of misery," Transportation Security Administration Administrator Peter Neffenger told ABC News' David Kerley today.

Despite the record number of passengers expected to take to the skies this summer, the TSA head says he's "cautiously optimistic" that the 768 new officers -- combined with a new command center that monitors checkpoint volume in real-time, airport by airport – should help the long lines passengers have been seeing at TSA checkpoints across the country.

Existing TSOs (Travel Security Officers) will also take on more hours: Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson on Thursday submitted a request to Congress to transition 2,784 Transportation Security Officers from part-time to full time -- a step that Johnson said would allow an additional 82,000 passengers to be screened per day.

Lawmakers have been calling for airlines to help ease wait times by eliminating bag fees, which they say force passengers to travel with carry-on bags, rather than checking their luggage.

In today's interview, Neffenger said “that option has to be on the table,” but clarified that “it’s unclear to me how much that impact would be.”

Lawmakers say TSA data indicates that checkpoints serving carriers that charge for bags see 27 percent more roller bags than checkpoints serving carriers that allow passengers to check bags for free.

“Extra carry-on bags is a challenge,” Neffenger acknowledged.

His No. 1 tip to travelers looking to avoid long waits? Enroll in PreCheck or another "trusted traveler program." Roughly 92 percent of PreCheck members stand in line five minutes or less.

ABC News' Jeff Cook and Mike Levine contributed to this report.