Air travellers endured more chaos at Auckland’s International Airport this afternoon as “mechanical issues” to security screening lanes left passengers with hour-plus delays.
The Government-run Aviation Security Service (AvSec) confirmed this afternoon’s delays were caused by mechanical issues with its screening machines.
Group manager of operations Karen Urwin said “two screening lanes were subsequently closed for a period of time” resulting in major queues.
Passenger Dr Michelle Dickinson, aka Nanogirl, told the Herald she waited in line for over an hour this afternoon and hundreds of people faced delays.
“Hundreds were in the queue. Lots of them [were] visibly and verbally stressed as they could hear their flights were boarding and they were still stuck in the line,” she said.
Dickinson took to X, formerly Twitter, to advise of the lengthy wait and voice her concern for elderly passengers who were stuck in the queue.
“I didn’t see any staff helping those who were older, although I did see some staff handing out bottle water to people at the back of the line,” she said.
Dickinson said passengers only received one announcement as they endured the long wait, saying it was due to “high passenger numbers.
“The staff were doing the best they could and were all really nice. Every single security station seemed to be running at full capacity so I think they were doing their best,” she said.
Urwin told the Herald AvSec was “not aware of any delays caused to flights nor any passengers who missed their flights”.
She said the queue had cleared by about 4pm.
AvSec is a Government border agency run independently from Auckland Airport itself - which Auckland Airport has no authority over.
Auckland Airport later replied to Dickinson’s tweet saying, “sorry your day of travel hasn’t been the best. Our team is there assisting travellers, and government agencies and Aviation Security are working to get everyone processed as quickly as possible.”
Dickinson said it would be great to get real-time information on delays in the airport or “have a way to find out if things are running slow so passengers can give themselves extra time as well as prepare if they are travelling with young children or elderly”.
Just over a week ago, AvSec apologised for an inability to cope with increased passenger numbers on departing flights to North America for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The apology came after passengers endured hour-plus delays.
A Herald reporter who was on a flight to San Francisco scheduled to depart at 3.50pm last month says passengers were still clearing security and boarding by 4.45pm.
“They didn’t say why it was taking so long. I had an express pass so I skirted the queue but it was slow moving,” he said.
A passenger stuck in the queue later told the reporter it had taken her a good two hours to get through.
The reporter said: “people were generally bad-tempered and annoyed”.
Benjamin Plummer is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He has worked for the Herald since 2022.