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Longer TSA Lines Cometh, Just in Time for Summer and Spring Break

Longer TSA Lines Cometh, Just in Time for Summer and Spring Break
Jennifer Billock

It’s about to be another busy travel season, with spring break creeping up on top of the annual year-over-year increase in air travelers. But even with that on the horizon, the Transportation Security Administration has made a puzzling decision: to both cap overtime and institute a hiring freeze.

“In anticipation of another record-breaking summer travel season, the Transportation Security Administration is managing resources by prioritizing overtime to the busiest of travel periods,” the agency said in a statement to KUER. “Additionally, TSA will continue to assess applicants for entry into TSA, and will conduct two extended hiring windows to coincide with the busy summer travel season.”

The hiring freeze and overtime caps will be in place until April 26, according to a TSA announcement to federal security directors.

Why the Change?

It’s an unfortunate turn of events that are going to put both TSA agents and passengers in stressful situations, but fiscally, the move appeared to be necessary. Congress approved a 3.1 percent pay increase for federal employees last year, and as a result, the TSA had to reshuffle where its funding is going. Plus, the Trump administration has cut the agency’s budget for 2021 by $10.5 million.

It’s Going to Cause Problems

The overtime cap and hiring freeze couldn’t come at a worse time. TSA employees already suffer from incredibly low morale and job satisfaction levels—and this is going to add longer lines and more ornery passengers to their plate.

“You always have overtime — no matter how much staff you hire. This agency has large turnover every month,” Hydrick Thomas, the head of the TSA union, told KUER. “What are you going to do when you have no staff to process passengers?”

Douglas Kidd, executive director of the National Association of Airline Passengers, agrees with Thomas, noting that the changes are “like stepping on the accelerator and the brakes at the same time. If they’re dealing with growth, they need more people. It’s foolish to say ‘We want you to do more with less’ when we know they can’t do their job as it is now. Some people need to go back to the drawing board.”

View Comments (3)


  1. jamesteroh

    February 26, 2020 at 12:26 pm

    Glad I have clear. They need to stop giving out Precheck to people at random and only give it out to people who have a TTN number and that would help out a lot

  2. kkua

    February 26, 2020 at 7:25 pm

    Model the jobs like Singaporean companies: insure and bond the newly hired staff to an exit clause of 18 months. Breaking the contract early will mean employee must re-imburse the employer the same amount of money spent to train them, plus the extra time required to train a new member to take their position.

  3. MRM

    February 29, 2020 at 8:04 am

    kkua: If that happens then more of TSA’s budget will go towards legal fees suing all the folks that break their contracts, thereby taking away even more funding from hiring more people, which will drive morale down even further as the number of lines dwindle and lines increase along with travellers’ tempers, which will then drive out even more workers, which will drive up legal costs even more, which will….

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