TSA staffing shortages plague airports amid partial government shutdown
New worries over airport security amid shutdown; reaction and analysis from security expert Aaron Cohen.
The Transportation Security Administration says the majority of passengers passing through screening checkpoints at U.S. airports experienced wait times within the “normal” range, while also acknowledging that “some airports experienced longer than usual wait times.”
The TSA’s press release issued Tuesday comes amid reports of passengers experiencing long lines and hectic crowds at airports across the country, allegedly due to staffers calling out of work as a result of not receiving paychecks during the partial government shutdown.
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“Nationwide, TSA screened 1.89 million passengers yesterday (Monday, Jan. 14). Overall, 99.1 percent of passengers waited less than 30 minutes; 94.3 percent of passengers less than 15 minutes. In TSA Pre✓®lanes, passengers on average waited less than 10 minutes,” the press release reads.
The TSA also confirmed that on Jan. 14, the agency experienced an unscheduled absence rate of 6.8 percent, as opposed to an unscheduled absence rate of 2.5 percent the same date one year ago.
Despite this, the TSA says “aviation security remains an essential priority, and TSA does not want to create any perception that an adversary could use specific information to determine possible vulnerabilities.”
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The TSA confirmed that some airports would also be “exercising contingency plans” in order to ensure effective security.
The announcement comes just days after Miami International Airport closed down a terminal and diverted passengers through other security checkpoints over the weekend, and as Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport is shuttering the Terminal B security checkpoint over what they have described as "staffing issues.”
Along with the press release, the TSA shared data gathered on Jan. 14 that appears to show the passenger wait times at 42 different airports across the country, many of which were below the TSA’s average of 30 minutes for standard, and 10 for PreCheck passengers — Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson being one of only a few exceptions.
The TSA’s press release, issued Tuesday, comes amid reports of passengers experiencing long lines and hectic crowds.
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“On a daily basis, the dedicated TSA men and women across the country who continue to report for work at airports across the nation demonstrate commitment and professionalism at the highest levels,” the press release continued. “Public support from passengers to airport personnel, and others making their way through terminals across the country, underscores the importance of TSA’s work in securing air travel.”
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