Passing through the security checks is the most frustrating task at an airport, not just for the customers but for airlines as well.
At least it is for American Airlines, which just recently joined the ranks of critics who have been slamming the Transportation Security Administration for not making enough effort to ensure passengers board the plane on time.
Ross Feinstein, the American Airline spokesman, said Wednesday that TSA checkpoints all over the country have become unacceptable and customers have to wait for over an hour to get past security.
In just the first quarter of the month, normally a slow travel period, the delays have gotten “exponentially” worse, as people have been made to wait for up to three hours in the checkpoint queues.
The TSA is under pressure from a lot of angles. Not only did it have to reduce its staff to deal with a budget deficit, but it is also being called to increase safety measures in wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels.
Airlines are getting concerned the problem will only exacerbate, especially during summer, the peak period of travel. Last week, a frustrated Seattle-Tacoma International Airport threatened to fire all TSA personnel and replace them with private security contractors. Now Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is planning to do the same.
To be fair to TSA officials, not all missed flights are their fault. Earlier this week, American Airlines itself became the source of criticism, when a woman raged at the La Guardia airport staff about a flight that was delayed 12 hours by bad weather.
The TSA has now asked for more funds to hire about 300 screeners, yet this does not seem to be a sufficient enough solution, as the new employees will make up only a paltry 0.7 percent of its task force.
Overall, this has not been a good year for the security agency, whose acting head was ousted last summer, after 95 percent of undercover Homeland Security officials made through checkpoints carrying weapons.