Let Disney fix those long TSA security lines at airports: Former Sen Bob Kerrey

TSA sends additional agents to O'Hare: LeBeau
Logjam at the airports... bring a book
Brace yourself for TSA lines

The problem of one hour-plus security lines at Chicago's O'Hare International and other airports around the country should be solved by the private sector, not the government, said Bob Kerrey, a former Democratic senator who served on the Select Committee on Intelligence during his time on Capitol Hill.

Kerrey's comments come as a new airline industry report reveals that travelers will need to brace themselves for even bigger crowds at the Transportation Security Administration-run checkpoints this summer.

"I don't think the government can do this. If you went to Walt Disney and said, 'Can you reduce the size of the lines?' Nobody runs lines better than Disney," Kerrey told CNBC on Wednesday.

To help mitigate the crush at O'Hare, dozens of additional TSA officers were being deployed immediately, and travelers are being advised to arrive two to three hours in advance of their flights.

"It has been a challenging spring with flyers waiting in lines that take more than 60 to 90 minutes to get through security," said Sharon Pinkerton, a senior vice president with Airlines For America. "We encourage TSA to quickly hire and train new staff to help alleviate this problem."

Airlines For America, an industry trade group, said Wednesday that it expects the number of people flying this summer to outpace last year's record crowds. The group expects 232.1 million will fly in the U.S. between June 1 and Aug. 31, or 2.51 million people per day.

A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers watch over a line of people awaiting security screening
What TSA should do about those long airport lines
Passengers wait to clear security at Miami International Airport.|
Faster way to avoid long airport security lines

Airlines for America also predicts 30.5 million people will take international flights. Overall, the forecast is calling for a 4 percent increase in traffic compared to the same period last year.

One passenger who spent more than an hour in line Wednesday morning described the situation to CNBC as "brutal, straight chaos." Other travelers said: "They should divide the lines better, there's just one long line;" and "it's unbelievable, disgusting and uncalled for," and "somebody should be fired for this."

TSA did not immediately respond to a message from CNBC asking for an update. Previously, Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson told NBC News that TSA will hire more officers, increase overtime hours, ask airlines for help with tasks that are not related to security, limit carry-on items and use more canine teams.

"I think this is really an example where you've got to go to the private sector to figure this thing out," Kerrey said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "I don't think you're going to solve this problem by firing whoever [is] running TSA."

TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger and his boss, Homeland Security's Johnson, promised Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday that more than 300 extra TSA officers would be assigned to Chicago airports by mid-August.

Emanuel said 100 more part-time workers in Chicago will be promoted to full time to help deal with the problem that forced more than 450 American Airlines passengers to miss their flights over the weekend because they couldn't get through security.

Kerrey said a bigger, dangerous risk of the long lines is what happened in Brussels, where a terrorist blast at the city's main airport in March targeted passengers at a packed check-in desk.

"The problem as we learned in Brussels, what TSA is doing is creating more targets for terrorists, because they're creating these big populations of human beings waiting to get on the airplanes," said Kerrey, a former Navy SEAL and recipient of the Medal of Honor for service in Vietnam. He also served as governor of Nebraska and unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992.