Tags: TSA | Airport | Security | Checkpoint

TSA Administrator: Long Airport Lines Will Go on This Summer

(NBC/"Today")

By    |   Thursday, 26 May 2016 08:37 AM

Long lines will likely continue through the summer months at the nation's airports, TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said Thursday, as record travel volume is expected, but he believes the issue of airport security should remain under the federal government's control.

"We're going to see record travel volume again, more than in 2013," Neffenger told NBC's Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie on the "Today" show. "Most airports are really good. It's the top 20 airports where you're seeing the biggest challenge. We're putting a lot of resources in those airports and I hope you'll see long lines, but move efficiently through the system."

On Wednesday, Neffenger testified to the House Homeland Security Committee that there are plans underway to make screening times faster, including adding 768 new screeners to the TSA lines by the middle of June, reports NPR.

But still, he testified, the TSA is projecting the nation's checkpoints will screen some 100 million more people this year than it did in 2013, but the TSA workforce was reduced by 12 percent during that same time period.

Earlier this week, the TSA's top security official, Kelly Hoggan, was replaced following a separate congressional committee hearing.

On Thursday, Neffenger said that when he named TSA administrator in 2015, the agency was in a "real crisis" following findings that there were security gaps at airport checkpoints where an internal report showed 96 percent of undercover tests had failed.

"We had to slow down a bit," he told Lauer and Guthrie. "We weren't paying close enough attention. And I shifted a lot of people back into the standard lines following an unsafe practice of moving people in."

There has been some call to for airports to hire private companies to handle security, but Neffenger insisted that the nation's security is a "federal responsibility."

"No matter how you do it, you need federal oversight of the system to ensure consistency and high standards," he said. "We currently have a system that allows an airport to request a private contractor. It's important to remember that contractor is still contracted to the TSA, to the federal government, and that goes back to that need to have federal oversight."

Neffenger said he'd also like to see pay and benefits reform across the system, as the average TSA worker earns about $30,000 a year.

He has also been working with the nation's airlines, and said they have done a lot to help in recent weeks, including hiring contract staff for duties not related to security.

But Neffenger said he does not know if there is a "direct correlation" between airlines charging baggage fees and the increased luggage that needs checked in the TSA's lines.

"If they could help us enforce the one-plus-one rule that's very important," said Neffenger. "There is a direct correlation between people carrying prohibited items through the checkpoint and long lines at the checkpoint."

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Long lines will likely continue through the summer months at the nation's airports, TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said Thursday, as record travel volume is expected, but he believes the issue of airport security should remain under the federal government's control.
TSA, Airport, Security, Checkpoint
481
2016-37-26
Thursday, 26 May 2016 08:37 AM
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