TSA's Security Check Delays Scrutinized: #iHateTheWait
This latest round of airport security check chaos has resulted in the trending hashtag, #iHateTheWait. This isn’t the first time the TSA has had people up in arms. The real problem is that the agency is once again more concerned with getting funding than it is with fixing itself. A lengthy wait in TSA security lines is something many frequent business travelers have been accustomed to for years. It was in part what drove the TSA to create the PreCheck and Global Entry expedited screening programs four years ago.
The agency had hoped that, after introducing the expediting programs, 25 million travelers would sign up for them. As it’s painfully clear, the TSA isn’t very good with numbers (even loose estimations). Approximately 7.25 million people have enrolled in these programs to date. Lest not forget that TSA PreCheck lanes don’t even exist where they should at some major airports like LAX’s Tom Bradley terminal.
Looking at more numbers, the TSA now has about 42,000 officers, which is 5,000 less than they had in 2013. Yet, between 2013 and 2016, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE the union that represents TSA officers) claims that travel volume has risen 15% from 643 million to 740 million.
Given these realities, it’s no surprise that the AFGE is now saying that TSA needs 6,000 additional officers to address the problem of long wait times. The response? TSA is allocating $34 million in funds it received last Friday from Congress to hire an additional 768 full-time screening officers (about one third of that workforce will be deployed to Chicago O’Hare), as well as providing increases to part-time staffing and overtime. They also plan to deploy more bomb sniffing dog units at major hubs – no surprise there’s a delay in this initiative as well.