As the summer travel season gets under way, a slowdown in airport screening is causing wait times of as long as three hours, forcing some passengers to miss their flights and sometimes sleep on cots.
The Transportation Security Administration, already reviled for its notorious “naked body scanners,” isn’t able to get its job done in time.
And it’s your fault.
The government insists it takes longer to screen passengers because, among other factors, more people are traveling with carry-on bags and, in many cases, are bringing more than the airline industry standard of one carry-on bag and one personal item per traveler, reported the NBC affiliate in Columbus.
The statement said passenger preparedness “can have a significant impact on wait times at security checkpoints nationwide.”
“Individuals who come to the TSA checkpoint unprepared for a trip can have a negative impact on the time it takes to complete the screening process.”
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is asking fliers to be patient.
Experts say the problem is a result of several factors: More people flying, the TSA’s lower staffing levels for screeners and tighter security procedures imposed by the agency.
The Columbus station said government managers have laid off more than 4,600 screeners in the past few years because fewer passengers than anticipated enrolled in the PreCheck program, which allows pre-screened passengers to pass through security with minimal screening.
More money might already be in the pipeline, but it will take time to translate into more people on duty.
CBS in Chicago said Monday that American Airlines put out cots for about 100 travelers who missed their flights Sunday night due to long TSA lines.
“We are frustrated. We know our passengers are frustrated, and our employees are really frustrated,” American Airlines spokeswoman Leslie Scott told the station.
“Lines have been so bad at Terminal 3 in the mornings and afternoons that American Airlines workers have removed some kiosks to make room,” the report said.
The NBC affiliate in Chicago found lines stretching “further than the eye could see.” And the report noted that while hundreds of new workers are being trained, officials estimate they need 6,000 more.
The London Daily Mail reported Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wants to use security dogs to speed up the process, because the fee of up to $100 to enroll in the PreCheck program apparently is dissuading travelers.
Bloomberg reported complaints about courtesy and processing time hit their highest point in a year in March.
The Department of Transportation’s monthly Air Travel Consumer Report said “reports filed over the time it took U.S. Transportation Security Administration to screen passengers grew more than 10-fold, to 513 this past March from 48 in March 2015.”
“Concern about lack of courtesy by TSA screeners increased more than three-fold, to 1,012 in March from 294 a year ago.”
The DOT said complaints about travelers’ personal property also reached the highest level in the last year.
NBC News reported that in Cincinnati, therapy horses were being invited to visit the terminals, and in San Diego, there were clowns.
“They are creating content inspired by the traveler experience, so they will constantly be visible, trying out new ideas and interacting with passengers,” said airport spokesman Jonathan Heller. “We certainly think they will be at the checkpoints often, as people waiting in line are a great audience for them!”
The controversy over the scanners isn’t over either.
As WND reported, it has taken five years for the TSA to comply with the D.C. court’s order to “promptly” issue a final rule regarding use of the controversial scanners and allow public comment.
Now that the rule has been issued, parallel lawsuits have been filed against the TSA.
One of the petitions for review, filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, challenges the TSA’s decision to make full-body scans mandatory for some passengers. EPIC argues that denying passengers the right to opt out of the “Advanced Imaging Technology” is contrary to the agency’s previous statements and the court’s ruling.
The petition also “challenges the TSA’s failure to establish the effectiveness of AIT and the failure to adequately consider alternatives to AIT.”
EPIC noted that “public comments overwhelmingly favored less invasive screenings … but the TSA decided it may now mandate body scanners.”
The 789 full-body scanners in use in 156 airports now use a stick figure to depict the location of any item that requires TSA attention.
The organizations contend the TSA acted arbitrarily, capriciously and contrary to law in promulgating its rules on the use of the technology at airports.
“We are the unwitting victims of a system so corrupt that those who stand up for the rule of law and aspire to transparency in government are in the minority,” said John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute. “This corruption is so vast it spans all branches of government, from the power-hungry agencies under the executive branch and the corporate puppets within the legislative branch to a judiciary that is, more often that not, elitist and biased toward government entities and corporations. The whole body imaging scanners are a perfect example of this collusion between corporate lobbyists and government officials.
“‘We the people’ have not done the best job of holding our representatives accountable or standing up for our rights. But something as invasive and seemingly ineffective as these scanners certainly shouldn’t be foisted on an unsuspecting American populace without the absolute assurance that it will not harm our health or undermine our liberties.”