Lots of calculating and careful timing goes into planning a trip that involves airplane travel. There’s figuring out what and how to pack, how early flights should be booked, and perhaps most importantly, making sure you allow yourself enough time to make your flight. Take into account how far the airport is from your home, how long it takes to park in an overnight lot and shuttle to the terminal, and the most crucial factor: allowing time to wait in security lines.
Photo by Monika Kostera (urbanlegend)
The well-known phrase “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” really rings true here. We didn’t know how easy we had it going through airport security until post-9/11, when TSA screenings kicked it up a notch, or 10.
It all started in November 2001 with the Aviation and Transportation Security Act. With the passing of this it required “screening conducted by federal officials, 100 percent checked baggage screening, expansion of the Federal Air Marshal Service and reinforced cockpit doors.” The TSA was started and security was taken to another level in light of the tragedy of 9/11 that had just shaken the nation.
TSA screenings were helpful and necessary. It’s the security we needed, and still need, but now as of late, the TSA seems to have been causing more harm than good.
All over the country, TSA has been causing delays that are resulting in people missing their flights. Some passengers have waited as long as three hours in security lines. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is one airport that’s been dealing with this, as Sunday night American Airlines put up cots for at least 100 travelers that slept overnight in their airport after missing their flights due to “nightmarish” lines. That same day, about 450 passengers missed their flights at that airport and American Airlines had to delay 30 of their flights.
Photo by yoohoojuju
This isn’t the first time TSA has been problematic.
In 2013, Homeland Security’s Red Team undercover investigator went through a metal detector and pat-down at Newark Airport with a fake bomb hidden on him. He wasn’t caught. A similar investigation happened about a year ago when undercover officials smuggled in fake explosives and prohibited weapons. In 95 percent of the trials, they got through. This failure resulted in reassigning the acting administrator of the TSA. Not only is TSA screening slow, but looks like it isn’t too accurate either.
So it’s evident that there are flaws in the TSA system, but what’s causing them? Statistics show that a lot of the hold-up in lines is because of the shortage of TSA workers. TSA administrator Peter Neffenger reportedly told Congress that there are nearly 5,000 fewer officers today than there were a few years ago. More stats show that about 117 leave their airport jobs each week, and 35 percent within the first year. Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson said during a press conference, “We want the public to know we are working hard to alleviate wait times in partnership with airports and airlines and ensure that air travel remains safe and secure in this country.”
Efforts are being taken to correct all of the chaos by bringing in 768 new security officers this summer, but until it’s fixed, you better plan on getting to the airport earlier than usual.
McCall is an intern at Bold. She graduated with her Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism and loves all things media and communications. As a San Diego native, she thrives in the sun and enjoys being outdoors.