The summer travel season isn’t even here yet and security checkpoint lines at airports have become a traveler’s nightmare.
From New York/New Jersey — where airport officials are contemplating hiring private security firms to conduct screening — to Atlanta, Chicago, and all points west, the appalling lines to get through security have the public in an uproar.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says the lines are “inevitable.” That’s debatable because the reason for the long wait times is that over the last two years, TSA has lost more than 5,000 employees while hiring fewer than 400.
The Daily Caller sounded the alarm late last month:
More than 100 of the Transportation Security Administration’s 48,000 airport screeners quit each week, and whistle-blowers told congressional investigators that “we remain an agency in crisis.”
The personnel losses affect airport screening times across the country.
Many airports are complaining that TSA is getting worse, not better,” said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz
TSA staffers testified Wednesday that senior employees are often not held accountable for misconduct and the TSA office created a hostile work environment by intimidating personnel by abusing integrity testing.
A dysfunctional agency that is critical to the security of the flying public is a tragedy waiting to happen. And if you plan to fly this summer, best you leave a lot earlier than you might have planned. Airline experts are predicting long lines at TSA checkpoints this summer as the agency remains in crisis on several levels
How long? Check out the video on the next page taken at an unknown airport. (Warning: strong language.)
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will immediately increase the use of overtime and work to quickly bring in more screening officers to help alleviate long lines at airport security checkpoints, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Friday.
But Johnson warned that wait times are inevitable during the busy summer travel season.
“We encourage people to have the appropriate expectations when they arrive at airports,” Johnson said at a news conference at Reagan National Airport outside Washington. “Contemplate increased wait times as you travel.”
The Transportation Security Administration also will move to accelerate the hiring of 768 new security officers it had planned to bring on during 2016, Johnson said. The agency hopes to have those officers in place this summer, possibly as early as mid-June, he said.
The TSA will take other steps, including deploying more dogs to assist in screening and seeking help from airlines with “nonsecurity” work such as moving bins, Johnson said.
But the government cannot take shortcuts that could endanger security. “We want to keep passengers moving, but we want to keep passengers safe,” Johnson said.
The TSA confronted a barrage of images this week from travelers documenting the hourslong checkpoint lines at U.S. airports.
“Never seen a security line this long at LaGuardia – what’s going on @united and @NY_NJairports ?? #hatethewait,” tweeted @LisaAkey on Friday morning.
Kym Jones waited in line for two hours Friday at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
“This line starts at the sliding departure doors by check in, zig zags through the baggage claim belts, though the lobby and finally to TSA,” Jones tweeted.
She said she only made her flight because a TSA officer told her to go to the international terminal, which had a much shorter security line.
Congress has underfunded TSA for years, but incompetent management led to a hostile work environment where employees were leaving in droves. While there’s plenty of blame to go around, ultimately the buck stops at Johnson’s desk. Since no one in the Obama administration has ever been fired for incompetence, expect Johnson to serve out the rest of Obama’s term.