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Snowstorm Keeps TSA Agents Home, Causes Security Line Chaos At Newark Airport

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NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork)The all-day snowstorm Thursday created a traffic jam at the major Tri-State Area airports, canceling thousands of flights.

As CBS 2’s Don Champion reported, more than 6,800 flights were scrubbed nationwide Thursday, including more than 1,700 at Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia, and John F. Kennedy International airports.

At Newark Thursday night, there was even more chaos and confusion, with passengers stuck trying to clear security.

Some people had to wait more than an hour to get through security at the airport, because a number of agents from the Transportation Security Agency had trouble getting to work because of the weather.

Frustrated passengers took to Twitter, posting photos and complaining about their long waits.

To make up for the agent shortage, the TSA shifted agents from other places to Terminal C, and eventually stretched out lines if people on multiple floors of the terminal. Some passengers called the whole experience chaotic.

“I’ve been in line now for two hours, and I haven’t gotten to a checkpoint yet,” said traveler Ann Palmer. “This is more than abnormal. It is not even in order; no one knew where to go. And the reason, I was told, was because TSA employees did not show up to work.”

Palmer said the agents who were working “herded all the passengers like cattle.” She said many people couldn’t take it.

“They’re yelling, they’re screaming, they’re losing their patience,” she said. “Some people are trying to remain calm, and other people are just getting out of control and making a bad situation worse.”

The lines did linger throughout the evening, but have improved as the night has gone on.

It was not immediately learned how many TSA agents failed to make it to work Thursday night.

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