Photo by Ted S. Warren/Associated Press
You may have seen the recent news headlines about the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) wait times taking more than an hour at major airports. Are you planning a mid-summer getaway? Prepare to have an even longer wait time because security lines at airports are expected to get even longer this summer. With an approximate 220 million passengers expected to fly during July and August, TSA claims they are hiring and training new screening officers but admits that matters might not improve because of budgetary constraints.
TSA is asking for more money to be shifted into another account that will pay for new staff and training, as well as overtime for their current workers. They are currently short staffed and believe if they had enough staff working the lines would not be so long. However because they are short staffed and do not have the adequate budget, less screening officers are working at a time and lines at security are growing longer. The budget request is still waiting to be approved. Congress usually allows agencies to submit a written request explaining the shift in money from accounts but lawmakers are able to object, causing a block in the move. Jeh Johnson, the Homeland Security Secretary, did not discuss the amount needed for this new account in a recent press release.
Until the budget is shifted or passed into the new account, TSA officials are trying their best to reduce the wait time in lines. 28 teams of canines are being shared between airports with the longest waits, including Minneapolis, Seattle, and Charlotte airports. The dogs are trained to detect bombs, or the components of, by smelling the luggage of those waiting to pass though security.
If you have more than a few trips to make this year it’s worth considering enrolling in TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry programs. TSA Pre✓® is a paid membership ($85 for 5 years) that allows travelers to move through security more efficiently because when they enroll in the program they undergo a background check, provide their finger prints and some biographical information. Do you have an international trip coming up in the next 5 years? Definitely spend an extra $15 and get a Global Entry membership instead ($100 for 5 years), it includes TSA Pre✓® and allows you to skip the lines at passport control and customs when entering the United States. Do you have a travel rewards or frequent flier credit card? Check on the benefits that are included with it. We know that American Express Platinum cardholders are reimbursed for the cost of the Global Entry program, so your membership and the ability to avoid the lines is Free.99!