Thousands of travelers are having their travel plans disrupted by long lines at the Transportation Security Administration’s security checkpoints in major airports across the country.
Multi-hour lines leading to missed flights have been reported in major hubs including Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, and Dallas. The disruption comes as the the TSA’s union calls for 6,000 new agency hires, most of whom will likely become union members.
With widely reported scenes of delays in Chicago and elsewhere, politicians are getting the message that the TSA wants more hires.
After encouragement from the airlines, travelers have adopted the hashtag #IHateTheWait to voice their displeasure with TSA.
@Derrickcyoung Get there yesterday for tomorrow
— Yogi768 (@falkgal2121) May 16, 2016
— JohnnyJet (@JohnnyJet) May 15, 2016
In response to the security nightmare, Congress is already shifting millions of dollars to the TSA. As the DailyMail explains:
Last week, Congress agreed to shift $34 million in TSA funding forward, allowing the agency to pay overtime to its existing staff.
The money will also go towards hiring 768 screeners by June 15 to bring numbers up to the congressionally mandated ceiling of 42,525.
The same DailyMail article points out that the Union isn’t satisfied with just 800 new members:
The TSA has pledged to add 800 new security screeners by June, but the union that represents these workers says 6,000 new hires need to be made to speed up the screening process.
The TSA put out a long-list of excuses in a statement responding to the delays, blaming budget cuts and passengers while accepting no responsibility:
There are several factors that have caused checkpoint lines to take longer to screen passengers than in previous years. They include:
A significant increase in the number of travelers;
More people traveling with carry-on bags, in many cases bringing more than the airline industry standard of one carry-on bag and one personal item per traveler;
A decrease in the number of budgeted TSA officers during the past several years; and
More robust checkpoint screening after last year’s covert testing pointed out a need for improvement.
The decrease in budgeted TSA officers amounts to only a 10 percent reduction over three years. But that decline was supposed to be offset by an increase in the number of people using TSA Precheck to skip the traditional lines.