With budget cuts at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) leading to staff reductions and checkpoints being closed, lines at TSA checkpoints at the nation’s airports have lengthened and disrupted travel plans for travelers.
After reporting that 6,800 of its customers had missed their flights during the week of March 14 – 20, American Airlines joined the growing list of TSA critics calling the organization’s performance “unacceptable.”
Ross Feinstein, spokesman for American Airlines, released a statement: “The lines at TSA checkpoints nationwide have become unacceptable,” adding, “our customers are waiting in TSA lines greater than one hour.”
He said the company is “concerned that these lines will grow even longer” as the busy summer travel period draws near.
Peter Neffenger, TSA administrator, signaled no relief was in sight. He warned of longer waits as more security checks are planned in response to the recent bombings in Brussels.
“This is one of the highest volume travel years we’ve ever seen,” he said. “That means we’re going to have lots of people moving through the airports. Get to the airports early, because even if I can more you efficiently through the line, you’re still going to find long lines there.”
More Inconvenience Than Deterrent
The beleaguered organization with the dubious reputation and closely-held list of security accomplishments has come under increasing criticism. While the agency herds passengers like cattle through its checkpoints, purporting to ensure public security, checkpoint screeners failed to detect mock explosives and weapons 95 percent of tests carried out by undercover agents. This led to the reassignment of the previous acting TSA administrator, Melvin Carraway, who was replaced by Coast Guard Vice Admiral Pete Neffenger.
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are exploring the replacement of the TSA with private firms and dropping TSA entirely, which is allowed under the Screening Partnership Program (SPP.)
Hartsfield-Jackson Airport’s General Manager, Miguel Southwell, complained in a letter to Neffenger that TSA performance at the airport was, “unacceptable as reflected in the customer service surveys of our hub carrier Delta Air Lines.”
Southwell also expressed fears of conditions deteriorating further during the busier summer travel season.
According to NBC, the TSA has requested funds to hire 300 additional screeners to the current force of 42,525 to help relieve the anticipated summer crush. It also intends to use sniffer dogs to check passenger lines for explosives and to increase overtime scheduling of current staff.
Join the discussion in the chatroom –
[flyzoo-embed-chatroom id=’570fe6d5bb547e2a8cb4c8f5′ width=’auto’ height=’640px’]