“We had a significant challenge in Chicago yesterday,” Neffenger said. “I don’t know what that was, but fixing that, that is of great concern to me.
“I always tell people I won’t apologize for doing our job well, but I do apologize to the people who found themselves stranded in Chicago yesterday,” Neffenger said.
Neffenger and his boss, Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, promised Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday that more than 300 extra TSA officers will be assigned to Chicago’s airports by mid-August — 58 of them within the next three weeks.
One hundred more part-time workers in Chicago will be promoted to full time, Emanuel said.
“The TSA wait times at Chicago’s airports have been unacceptable,” Emanuel said. “There is no excuse for passengers to wait in line for hours.”
Other measures that Emanuel said the feds promised include the tripling of authorized overtime, the addition of at least five more canine teams and the diversion of operational experts to Chicago from airports around the country.
But that wasn’t good enough for Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois.
“The flying public is experiencing a high security risk and economic burden from unnecessary wait times and missed flights due to insufficient staffing at TSA,” Kirk said in a statement Tuesday. “If travelers do not have relief by Memorial Day, TSA Administrator Neffenger must resign and be replaced with a leader who can provide fast and secure screening.”
Even the White House weighed in, as press secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged that Chicago screeners face a “significant challenge.”
“They don’t want to inconvenience people,” Earnest said at the daily White House news briefing. But aviation officials “want to make sure [people] they can engage in travel safety.”
In the meantime, O’Hare advised travelers Tuesday to arrive at the airport three hours early — an hour earlier than the TSA’s standard two-hour guideline.
This story originally appeared on NBCNews.com.