AAAE Calls for Continued Action to Address Growing Wait Times at Screening Checkpoints

Alexandria, VA – The American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) today praised efforts by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator Peter Neffenger to focus greater attention on growing screening checkpoint lines at airports and urged the prompt adoption of additional steps to reduce passenger wait times.

“Growing lines at security screening checkpoints are a major concern, and many airports and their partners have already stepped up in significant ways to help TSA address increased wait times,” AAAE President and CEO Todd Hauptli said today. “The ongoing efforts of airports and industry and the recent action from Congress – through the leadership of Senators John Hoeven and Jeanne Shaheen and Representatives John Carter and Lucille Roybal-Allard – and the Administration to allocate $34 million to hire and provide overtime for additional TSA personnel are steps in the right direction, but it is clear that more needs to be done quickly to address what is becoming a serious headache and worry for travelers.”

Hauptli said that in the short-term, TSA needs additional front-line resources to meet growing traffic levels. He added that over time, the agency must take steps to grow enrollment in the PreCheck expedited screening program and to develop more innovative approaches to passenger screening in light of the fact that continued growth in TSA staffing levels will be extremely difficult to maintain.

AAAE and Airports Council International – North America, in a letter to TSA Administrator Neffenger, recently highlighted a series of immediate actions that can be taken to help alleviate growing wait times, including:

• Redeploy Behavior Detection Officers (BDOs) to staff the Travel Document Checker (TDC) position and put the TDCs at the checkpoint to perform screening functions
• Redeploy Divest Officers to the checkpoint to perform screening functions – in some cases, airports and/or airlines may be able to voluntarily assist with queuing and encouraging passengers to properly divest, as many already have
• Provide Federal Security Directors (FSDs) the ability to make local decisions about manpower resource allocation, including overtime, without having to consult with TSA headquarters
• Utilize Passenger Screening Canines (PSCs) to their greatest benefit in terms of both volume and mitigating excessive checkpoint wait times
• Conduct local training of Transportation Security Officers until after the busy summer travel season
• Ensure predictable and consistent TSA PreCheck operating hours and immediately initiate a marketing blitz highlighting the program and its benefits in coordination with airports

“The problems at checkpoints across the country are complex and not easy to resolve,” Hauptli said. “But, with the sustained focus of the Administration, Congress, and the industry, we can and will make progress, provided that we all keep our eye on the ball.”

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