Credit: Bailey Cheng/Flickr Creative Commons

Airport Security Is Turning Into a 'Perfect Storm' of Inconvenience

May 18, 2016

If you've flown recently, you probably noticed that the time it takes to get through a TSA security check in airports around the country is getting longer—and so is the list of complaints. But is our demand for speedier clearances going to compromise something we also value: our safety?

Juliette Kayyem, homeland security expert and host of the "Security Mom" podcast, says a whole slew of issues—not just with TSA—are to blame.

"It's a bad confluence of all sorts of aspects of airline security and airline travel that I'm calling a 'perfect storm of inconvenience,'" she explained.

The laundry list of aggravating factors is long. For one thing, an uptick in airlines charging for checked luggage has led to a 31% increase in the amount of carry-on baggage that needs to be processed through security lines.

At the same time, the federal government vastly overestimated the number of travelers who would opt into a new 'TSA Pre' advanced screening program, which could have cut down on the number of people waiting in line. (In 'TSA Pre,' travelers pay a fee, complete an online registration and in-person interview, and are then able to bypass some security procedures like removing shoes and pulling electronics out of carry-ons.)

Then, on top of that, is simple economics: fuel is cheap and the economy is good, so more people are flying—period.

But things may be looking up, said Kayyem. Last week, Congress approved a TSA request to re-allocate $34 million to hire new security officers and pay overtime and part-time salaries for others. 

"The good news is that, recognizing a problem, the government is trying to react and also promote TSA pre-clearance," she said.

But for the time being, you might want to keep building extra time into your travel schedule—just in case.

"The inconvenience is going to be on us," Kayyem said.

To hear more from homeland security expert Juliette Kayyem, tune in to Boston Public Radio above.


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