U.S. Boosts TSA Staffing to Combat Summer Travel, Long Lines

May 9, 2016
To keep up with the increase in airport traffic the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has plans to add more officers and canine teams at airports expected to have the highest passenger volumes.

With low airfare prices and economic upturn, airports are expected to be flooded with seasonal travelers and longer wait time, according to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.  

To keep up with the increase in airport traffic the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has plans to add more officers and canine teams at airports expected to have the highest passenger volumes. 

"As we look ahead to the surge in summer travel, we will continue to consider a number of other steps to ensure enhanced aviation security while also maximizing efficiency at check points," Johnson said in a May 4 statement  

The TSA will also expand outreach and enrollment efforts for the TSA Pre√, which allows eligible travelers to apply for expedited screening at select airports without having to remove shoes, belts, outerwear and laptop bags.  

The program application costs $85 per person to cover background checks. For information on how to apply for this program, visit tsa.gov.  

Johnson called Congress to approve more funding to pay overtime for TSA officers this summer, according to a CNN report.  

But travelers have already begun feeling the effects of increase summer travel plans, and the efforts being made to handle them.   

On May 6, people traveling through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport experienced long security lines as one of three domestic TSA checkpoints was closed for three weeks. 

The checkpoint was undergoing a calibration to the automated screening equipment as part of a collaborative project between the airport, TSA and Delta Air Lines, which aims to install the same equipment in two of the four lanes.  

Automated screening would allow bins and trays, which passengers use to place their belongings in going through security checkpoints, without having to utilize TSA workers.  

"TSA has formed Optimization Teams and closely partnered with airlines, airport authorities and industry to deliver innovative screening procedures," Johnson said in a statement. " [TSA] Administrator Neffenger and I are working with the aviation industry to develop airport-specific actions plans for the nation’s busiest airports." 

 Hartsfield-Jackson was at full staff when passengers were seeing waits upwards of 30 minutes.  

This isn't the first time the busiest airport in the world has seen long wait times.   

In February, Atlanta's General Manager, Miguel Southwell, sent letter to the TSA warning about "inadequate" staffing and said he is "dreading the outcome of summer 2016." 

Southwell said the airport was "working hard to do [their] part," but that  
things appear to be only getting worse." The letter then threatens to abandon TSA in favor of privatized passenger screening called Screening Partnership Program (SPP).