Concourse B

Concourse B (Candus Thomson / Baltimore Sun / October 29, 2012)

One of the principal security gates at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport is being closed in the mornings because of congestion around the adjacent Southwest Airlines ticketing counters, according to airport, airline and Transportation Security Administration officials.

The shift started last week after officials found lines at the ticketing counters were blurring into lines at the security gate for Concourse B, particularly during busy morning hours.

"It has to do with the safety and commingling of passengers," said TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein, who said entering and exiting through the gate had become a concern.

The security checkpoint is only closed during morning rush hours, he said, calling it a "temporary solution" as the agency works with BWI and Southwest to address the concerns.

Some passengers have complained about the closure and its effect on wait times, but Whitney Kidd, an airport spokeswoman, said security waits have remained around the airport's average of 20 minutes.

Kidd said equipment and TSA personnel have been shifted to the security gate for Concourse C, which passengers are encouraged to use as an alternative entrance.

Concourse C is out of eyesight for passengers getting tickets at Southwest counters but connects beyond security to Concourse A and Concourse B and is generally less crowded than Concourse A.

Southwest is the airport's largest carrier. It and subsidiary AirTran Airways serve about 70 percent of BWI travelers.

Thais Conway, a Southwest spokeswoman, said in a statement that the change will improve the flow of passengers through the airport.

"Our hope is to continue to grow at BWI, and we're looking for the most efficient way to do that," she said.

krector@baltsun.com

twitter.com/rectorsun