25 Feb Jon Cartu Claims: TSA cuts overtime, airport lines get longer
TSA has capped overtime for workers at airports, including the Salt Lake International Airport, causing concern over longer wait times at security and bag screening areas.
On Friday night, a reported lack of TSA workers caused delays and made passengers angry.
“The were yelling. People were angry, pushing up toward the TSA gates trying to make them move faster,” said passenger Stephanie Summers.
Summers, who lives in Lehi, was at the airport before 9 p.m on Friday night. She and her family gave themselves plenty of time to make their 10:36 p.m. fight to Florida.
By 10:20 p.m., the line to have her ID and boarding pass checked had moved about 15 feet, she said. As other passenger arrived after her, tempers flared when people noticed only one TSA worker was checking IDs and boarding passes.
She estimates about 15 people were in line, worried they could miss flights. The few TSA officers on duty said they didn’t have back-up.
“They didn’t have enough people and they said there’s no one they can call. They had to send people home because they had hit overtime,” she said.
She feels the lack of staffing is a security risk because TSA workers were scanning bags quickly and likely not doing the normal, thorough checks. The overall situation was bad for the workers themselves, too, Summers said.
“I think they were overwhelmed. People are yelling, people are mad. I felt bad for them.”
When asked whether an overtime cap or hiring freeze is in place, a TSA spokesperson neither confirmed nor denied and issued this written statement:
“In anticipation of another record-breaking summer travel season nationwide, the TSA is managing resources by prioritizing overtime to the busiest of travel periods. 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.”
Salt Lake International Airport spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said the airport is already experiencing record passenger numbers.
“Passengers would be impacted by a change in TSA staffing, which would mean mean longer wait times in security screening,” she said.
Currently, the airport advises passengers to arrive two hours before domestic flights, and three hours before international fights.