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PreCheck closed because TSA does not have enough people to do their job

PreCheck closed because TSA does not have enough people to do their job

Old Nov 26, 18, 6:21 am
  #1  
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PreCheck closed because TSA does not have enough people to do their job

Two comments at @TSA this morning about high passenger volume and closing of PreCheck:


and


Obviously, TSA does not have enough people to do their job.
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Old Nov 26, 18, 9:03 am
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Originally Posted by petaluma1 View Post
Two comments at @TSA this morning about high passenger volume and closing of PreCheck:

https://twitter.com/AllanGarfinkel/s...43483280650242

and

https://twitter.com/SteveHofstetter/...77203173003264

Obviously, TSA does not have enough people to do their job.
Don't even think that.

TSA is over manned. Problem is the poor use of assets by doing things that don't add to screening passengers for WEI. Go to the airport and observe TSA for a while. Way to many idle screeners, wasted motion, and other aspects of poor planning. You'd think it was rocket science to screen people.

Last edited by Boggie Dog; Nov 26, 18 at 10:54 am
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Old Nov 26, 18, 10:38 am
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Technically, TSA is understaffed at some locations based upon throughput and equipment requirements. On the other hand, some locations are overstaffed based upon throughput and equipment requirements.

An interesting correlation that I have noticed is that most medium or smaller airports run in streaks. So, at some airports** from 0430-0700 everything is running wide open, then from 0700-1000 it is small pushes here and there, then from 1000-1200 it runs like a faucet. So, if you come at 0630, you can wind up in line for a while. If you show up at 0900, you can walk right up and go in and be done in 5 minutes or less. There may be a perception that there are a lot of overstaffing situations, but I can tell you that is probably just appearances for the most part.

** Times are completely made up and not reflective of any specific airport**
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Old Nov 26, 18, 10:43 am
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TSA is no different than CBP and many other government agencies. It also faces the same staffing issues as the carriers themselves.

One has to staff to the demand. That is known, at least roughly, in advance. A bit tougher at very small stations because one can hardly bring an Officer in for 30 minutes, send him home and then bring him back 3 hours later. But, at larger ones, the approximate throughput demand is well known and scheduling simply needs to meet that demand.
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Old Nov 26, 18, 11:15 am
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Originally Posted by gsoltso View Post
Technically, TSA is understaffed at some locations based upon throughput and equipment requirements. On the other hand, some locations are overstaffed based upon throughput and equipment requirements.

An interesting correlation that I have noticed is that most medium or smaller airports run in streaks. So, at some airports** from 0430-0700 everything is running wide open, then from 0700-1000 it is small pushes here and there, then from 1000-1200 it runs like a faucet. So, if you come at 0630, you can wind up in line for a while. If you show up at 0900, you can walk right up and go in and be done in 5 minutes or less. There may be a perception that there are a lot of overstaffing situations, but I can tell you that is probably just appearances for the most part.

** Times are completely made up and not reflective of any specific airport**
And this explains closing pre lanes in the face of volume..... How?
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Old Nov 26, 18, 12:07 pm
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Originally Posted by rickg523 View Post
And this explains closing pre lanes in the face of volume..... How?
TSA has certain staffing requirements for each lane. If TSA can not meet the minimum staffing required for the standard lane and a Precheck lane, which lane would you normally expect to stay open? Everyone can come through a standard lane, but only Precheck can come through a Pre lane. Some airports also have a minimum lane count that must remain open - like say lanes 1-10 must be open from 0800-1200 in order to accommodate the designated numbers scheduled. If they are unable to meet the basic mandated lane numbers, then I would presume that the Precheck lanes would suffer as well.

I work at small to medium to almost large airports, and each one has different programs in terms of what is to be staffed as priority, so YMMV.
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Old Nov 26, 18, 12:08 pm
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Originally Posted by gsoltso View Post
Technically, TSA is understaffed at some locations based upon throughput and equipment requirements. On the other hand, some locations are overstaffed based upon throughput and equipment requirements.

An interesting correlation that I have noticed is that most medium or smaller airports run in streaks. So, at some airports** from 0430-0700 everything is running wide open, then from 0700-1000 it is small pushes here and there, then from 1000-1200 it runs like a faucet. So, if you come at 0630, you can wind up in line for a while. If you show up at 0900, you can walk right up and go in and be done in 5 minutes or less. There may be a perception that there are a lot of overstaffing situations, but I can tell you that is probably just appearances for the most part.

** Times are completely made up and not reflective of any specific airport**
TSA employs 57,600 (2016) employees. If there are shortages then move people to fill the holes. Contracting is another alternative. No excuse for passengers to not have exactly the same service level at every airport, they all paid the same security fee, same at GSO, same at DFW.
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Old Nov 26, 18, 12:30 pm
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Originally Posted by gsoltso View Post
TSA has certain staffing requirements for each lane. If TSA can not meet the minimum staffing required for the standard lane and a Precheck lane, which lane would you normally expect to stay open? Everyone can come through a standard lane, but only Precheck can come through a Pre lane. Some airports also have a minimum lane count that must remain open - like say lanes 1-10 must be open from 0800-1200 in order to accommodate the designated numbers scheduled. If they are unable to meet the basic mandated lane numbers, then I would presume that the Precheck lanes would suffer as well.

I work at small to medium to almost large airports, and each one has different programs in terms of what is to be staffed as priority, so YMMV.
Adding pre's to the standard lane just slows the standard lane that much more. This is the same dynamic that happens when traffic lanes are closed ahead. Is it more efficient for everyone to abandon the closing lane as soon as they see the sign? Or is it more efficient to keep both lanes moving until the last minute and then merge in? This has been studied a lot and the latter is far better a strategy for efficiency, but also engenders significant resentment from those who think the "polite" thing to do is queue up immediately and force everyone to wait longer to get through the bottleneck.
Keep the lanes that move quicker, the pre lanes, open. If there's a lack of patronage in the pre lanes, move standard passengers into the pre lanes on an as needed basis. When pre's come in, stop sending standards in and revert to pre protocol.
Yes it requires a certain amount of nimbleness by TSO's. Surely a workforce standing in the front line against terrorist attacks can handle switching back and forth on an ad hoc basis. Can't they?
The whole idea isn't to meet management's staffing theories. It's to move passengers through screening as efficiently as possible.
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Old Nov 26, 18, 12:44 pm
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Originally Posted by Boggie Dog View Post
TSA employs 57,600 (2016) employees. If there are shortages then move people to fill the holes. Contracting is another alternative. No excuse for passengers to not have exactly the same service level at every airport, they all paid the same security fee, same at GSO, same at DFW.
There may have been situations beyond the norm that require those lanes being shut down, and additional people would not necessarily resolve the issue. Sometimes the equipment goes down. I am not arguing that the level of service should not be consistent, it should. Most likely, TSA foresaw some situations similar to this, and included the following disclaimer in all of the Trusted traveler programs "Expedited screening is not guaranteed" (or some variation of that phrasing).

At this point you have a few comments indicating that the lanes were closed, and I have not seen a response by TSA yet. I am not saying that they were unable to handle the volume, but there may have been something else that created the situation. As I mentioned in a different comment, there may have been a minimum lane requirement, there may have been a shift leaving, and that removed the personnel that could staff that lane, and if a TSM has to choose between running just a standard lane, or just a precheck lane, they are going to have to choose the standard lane.

Add to any of these situations the record numbers TSA saw over the last week, and you have more opportunities than usual to have a shortage of staffing - even with projected staffing models.

Originally Posted by rickg523 View Post
Adding pre's to the standard lane just slows the standard lane that much more. This is the same dynamic that happens when traffic lanes are closed ahead. Is it more efficient for everyone to abandon the closing lane as soon as they see the sign? Or is it more efficient to keep both lanes moving until the last minute and then merge in? This has been studied a lot and the latter is far better a strategy for efficiency, but also engenders significant resentment from those who think the "polite" thing to do is queue up immediately and force everyone to wait longer to get through the bottleneck.
Keep the lanes that move quicker, the pre lanes, open. If there's a lack of patronage in the pre lanes, move standard passengers into the pre lanes on an as needed basis. When pre's come in, stop sending standards in and revert to pre protocol.
Yes it requires a certain amount of nimbleness by TSO's. Surely a workforce standing in the front line against terrorist attacks can handle switching back and forth on an ad hoc basis. Can't they?
The whole idea isn't to meet management's staffing theories. It's to move passengers through screening as efficiently as possible.
I am not arguing your points at all, they are all valid and part of the thought process. The only point I will make is that sometimes other factors come into play and create a situation where the Pre lane has to shut down. I elaborated on that a bit in my previous comment. Just like with Boggie, he has a point that the service level should be the same across the board - the point I make there is the same, some situations simply do not allow for that to happen at all times.

Last edited by TWA884; Nov 26, 18 at 12:59 pm Reason: Merge consecutive posts by the same member
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Old Nov 26, 18, 1:09 pm
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Originally Posted by gsoltso View Post
There may have been situations beyond the norm that require those lanes being shut down, and additional people would not necessarily resolve the issue. Sometimes the equipment goes down. I am not arguing that the level of service should not be consistent, it should. Most likely, TSA foresaw some situations similar to this, and included the following disclaimer in all of the Trusted traveler programs "Expedited screening is not guaranteed" (or some variation of that phrasing).

At this point you have a few comments indicating that the lanes were closed, and I have not seen a response by TSA yet. I am not saying that they were unable to handle the volume, but there may have been something else that created the situation. As I mentioned in a different comment, there may have been a minimum lane requirement, there may have been a shift leaving, and that removed the personnel that could staff that lane, and if a TSM has to choose between running just a standard lane, or just a precheck lane, they are going to have to choose the standard lane.

Add to any of these situations the record numbers TSA saw over the last week, and you have more opportunities than usual to have a shortage of staffing - even with projected staffing models.



I am not arguing your points at all, they are all valid and part of the thought process. The only point I will make is that sometimes other factors come into play and create a situation where the Pre lane has to shut down. I elaborated on that a bit in my previous comment. Just like with Boggie, he has a point that the service level should be the same across the board - the point I make there is the same, some situations simply do not allow for that to happen at all times.

Your comment in post #/6 revolved around staffing requirements which is what I spoke too.
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Old Nov 26, 18, 1:16 pm
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Originally Posted by gsoltso View Post
I am not arguing your points at all, they are all valid and part of the thought process. The only point I will make is that sometimes other factors come into play and create a situation where the Pre lane has to shut down. I elaborated on that a bit in my previous comment. Just like with Boggie, he has a point that the service level should be the same across the board - the point I make there is the same, some situations simply do not allow for that to happen at all times.
If it was a rarity, it still might get brought up on FT, but I don't think the inefficiency and, frankly, the unfathomable Kafkaesque arbitrariness, of airport security would be such a large part of the general dissatisfaction with modern air travel.
Closed lanes while staff is visibly apparently unoccupied is in fact emblematic of bureaucracies expressing their disdain for the public they are paid to serve. They know how it looks. Frankly, like Rhett Butler, they don't give a damn.
TSA is simply another form of DMV in this regard. And consequently, TSO's are afforded exactly the respect for their occupation that DMV clerks receive.
And that's the dynamic. Management sees the whole operation as an exercise in meeting statistical goals, rather than providing a security service to passengers. Employees understand this and basically see passengers as impediments to achieving Management's goals.
And customers respond with barely disguised contempt for the employees for shouting, sneering, and bullying them.
Hell of a way to run a railroad.
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Old Nov 27, 18, 5:34 pm
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TSA challenge

A recent plane connection from Cabo Mexico through Houston IAH ran into an unexpected TSA challenge. We managed to get through immigration and the Custom checkpoint quickly, then picked up bags rechecking onward never leaving the secure area of the airport. But then the flow toward our connecting gates came to a standstill as a guard released a few people at a time up a stairway where we finally found we needed to go through an additional TSA checkpoint. They only had 2 check lines with 100s of people trying to get to their connections. TSA was being very careful to check every item even cutting open a clear plastic duty-free sealed package of vanilla which left most of us unable to make our connecting planes (many being the last of the day). When I asked why this bottleneck a TSA agent response was talk to your Congressman. Warning you need hours to connect.
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Old Nov 28, 18, 1:37 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
TSA is no different than CBP and many other government agencies. It also faces the same staffing issues as the carriers themselves.

One has to staff to the demand. That is known, at least roughly, in advance. A bit tougher at very small stations because one can hardly bring an Officer in for 30 minutes, send him home and then bring him back 3 hours later. But, at larger ones, the approximate throughput demand is well known and scheduling simply needs to meet that demand.
Very small airports (in terms of passenger enplanements) seem to have TSA screening run more smoothly and predictably in my experience than large airports.

TSA doesn’t have too few people; it just tries to do too much while being poorly managed with too large of a workforce of limited competency. And this is a worse issue at big airports because the potential labor pool around big cities usually have more employment opportunities than in areas with just very small airports, and so there is less bottom fishing for recruitment and retention involved in say rural areas with just very small airports than there is at airports serving big cities.

Last edited by GUWonder; Nov 28, 18 at 1:42 am
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Old Nov 28, 18, 2:20 pm
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post


Very small airports (in terms of passenger enplanements) seem to have TSA screening run more smoothly and predictably in my experience than large airports.

TSA doesn’t have too few people; it just tries to do too much while being poorly managed with too large of a workforce of limited competency. And this is a worse issue at big airports because the potential labor pool around big cities usually have more employment opportunities than in areas with just very small airports, and so there is less bottom fishing for recruitment and retention involved in say rural areas with just very small airports than there is at airports serving big cities.
Smaller airports *traditionally* have a bit more luxury when it comes to time. Here at GSO, we can talk to our passengers most of the time, building a better relationship with them. We also tend to self-police when anyone starts getting stressed both with passengers and co-workers. Most smaller airports operate similarly in my experience, as it is a bit of a more laid back atmosphere from the very beginning. We have rocking chairs in front of the checkpoint. At LAX is was all about the efficiency, while giving a little bit of customer service, here we have great efficiency, but we are allowed the benefit of more time to work with passengers that need it. I wish there were a way to translate that smaller place feeling and flow to the big airports, but I do not think that is achievable.
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Old Nov 28, 18, 2:33 pm
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Originally Posted by gsoltso View Post
Smaller airports *traditionally* have a bit more luxury when it comes to time. Here at GSO, we can talk to our passengers most of the time, building a better relationship with them. We also tend to self-police when anyone starts getting stressed both with passengers and co-workers. Most smaller airports operate similarly in my experience, as it is a bit of a more laid back atmosphere from the very beginning. We have rocking chairs in front of the checkpoint. At LAX is was all about the efficiency, while giving a little bit of customer service, here we have great efficiency, but we are allowed the benefit of more time to work with passengers that need it. I wish there were a way to translate that smaller place feeling and flow to the big airports, but I do not think that is achievable.
It takes zero time to be polite, respectful, and show empathy when dealing with passengers (or anyone else for that matter). Knowing the rules instead of making them up as you go would certainly not hurt either.
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