Security checkpoint lines at U.S. airports have been getting longer and longer. They surged during the busy Spring Break travel period, and are expected to get even worse when the summer travel season begins. So the Transportation Security Administration is taking some steps to alleviate the problem – and it is offering some advice to employers.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson sees increased enrollment in TSA’s PreCheck program as a big part of the solution to long lines, and in a statement this week he urged U.S. companies to “follow Microsoft’s example in reimbursing its employees who enroll in TSA PreCheck.” He also urged travelers to sign up for PreCheck whether their employers paid for it or not. The PreCheck application fee is $85 for a five-year membership.
“This will help us enhance security while greatly reducing travel time for everyone,” Johnson said.
He said TSA is increasing security checkpoint staffing at the airports that have the highest passenger volume, and is also boosting the number of canine teams at checkpoints. The agency is expected to double the number of dogs on duty at U.S. airports this year; it uses them to screen non-PreCheck members for possible transfers to the PreCheck lines.
TSA will also seek help from airports and airlines in “non-security screening operations, such as returning bins to the front of waiting lines,” he said.
Johnson also called on Congress to let TSA reallocate funds so it can pay additional overtime when its officers need to extend their shifts at crowded airports.
The agency’s airport screening staff has been reduced by 10 percent over the past few years in anticipation of a surge in PreCheck memberships that hasn’t materialized. At the same time, the number of flyers has been growing, leading to waiting lines that sometimes extend out the doors of the terminals at airports like Seattle, Atlanta and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Some airline executives have complained that thousands of travelers have missed their flights because they were stuck in long lines at the security checkpoint.
Readers: Does your employer pay for your PreCheck membership? Has PreCheck been effective in getting you through security faster?
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