If you watch the news, you have probably been hearing a lot about crazy airport lines and problems with TSA. Just this week, security lines at Chicago O’Hare were so long, that over 450 travelers missed their flights Monday night!
An inspector general testified before Congress last year that the agency has problems with technology, procedure and human errors and that “layers of security were simply missing.” Needless to say, while 200 TSA agents are released from training into the workforce each week, 120 are quitting, that’s about 35% turnover. Low employee morale and high employee turnover are at the root of the problem. This is exacerbated by travelers bringing on the maximum amount of carry-on bags; more bags make for slower progress through the screening system. Lastly, there has also been a budget cap on the number of TSA screeners the agency can hire and train. All of these factors have created a perfect storm and a long long line at many airport security checkpoints.
This problem will not be solved overnight, and reports indicate that we should expect these lines to last through summer, especially at major hubs such as O’Hare. With wait times of 3 hours or more, for now, it is prudent to arrive more than 3 hours before your flight at some airports.
So what is the solution? “We’re going to investigate what it would take to privatize, we’re looking at other airports that have privatized,” said SEA-TAC Managing Director Lance Lyttle. Twenty-two US airports including San Francisco and Kansas City International use private firms for security screening. Transitioning will present a whole new set of problems.
Until this problem is solved, Swift suggests checking the wait time at your airport ahead of time on the TSA website. Minimize the amount of bags and stuff that you carry onto the plane, and look into a trusted traveler program to avoid the main security line. Best of luck, and let us know what you are seeing out there for wait times at your airport!