TSA Hires 1,600 More Officers Before Record-Breaking Summer Travel Season
The Transportation Security Administration is preparing for a record crush of flyers throughout the peak summer travel season.
On the busiest travel days (like holiday weekends) the agency expects to process about 2.7 million passengers through security checkpoints, which would match its all-time record for most passengers screened in one day set on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2004. TSA expects to screen a total of 243 million travelers between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The agency announced Thursday that it would be hiring an additional 1,600 officers and 50 more canine teams to help expedite the record-setting deluge of passengers and avoid painfully long lines at airport security checkpoints. The new measures were revealed in a Congressional hearing for the House Homeland Security subcommittee on transportation.
The lawmakers criticized the TSA for one measure it's taking to help speed along passenger lines: funneling passengers from regular security lines into TSA PreCheck lines if bomb-sniffing dogs have screened them. TSA contends that if that policy ends, the airport lines could snarl passengers into waiting for hours.
Last week, TSA Administrator David Pekoske said the agency was taking additional steps to deal with the massive wave of travelers, too. Pekoske said TSA would be testing 3D scanners, called computed tomography, in Phoenix (PHX) and Boston (BOS) that let officers rotate images of the inside of the bag to get a better look without having to pull it out of the x-ray machine and perform a hand search. Thursday's hearing revealed at least 35 of the 3D scanners would go into airports this summer.
Additionally, to more efficiently screen bags through x-ray machines, agents are asking passengers to remove more items from their carry-ons, in addition to traditional items like laptops and other large electronics to get clear views of the bags. This would reduce the number of additional scans needed. Earlier this year, flyers noticed the TSA asking them to remove items like snacks that might clutter the bag’s scan image.
H/T: USA Today