Long checks call for long lines

Lengthy waits to accompany upcoming summer travels

TSA.GOV

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As the year comes to a close, students are counting down the remaining school days and families are finalizing summer plans. Aside from the adventures, beaches and journeys, families should also prepare for the long and tedious airport security checkpoints.

It is commonly known that airline checkpoints are time consuming; however, in recent years airports both around the nation and the world have seen a dramatic increase in their security checks.

Just in the past few weeks, thousands of people have missed their flights due to timely screenings, which has taken over two to three hours to complete.

“I will be flying to Lebanon for the summer with my siblings and we also will have a pit stop in Paris,” sophomore Michelle Akl said. “I really don’t want to wait extra hours just to get my bags inspected.”

In late May, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport had over 450 people miss their flights on American Airlines alone due to long screening time.

Locally, at Dulles International Airport, passengers have also seen growing lines. This was not the situation just a few months prior.

“When I traveled to Ethiopia this past summer,” sophmore Heaven Lemma said, “It only took me about 30 minutes to get through TSA.”

The increasing wait is a problem as many passengers already show up hours prior to their departure time.

With these additional hours piled on, flyers are practically forced to spend an entire day at the airport. Standing in line at a crowded airport is definitely not how anyone would like to begin their holiday.

According to Forbes Magazine, The largest contributors to the long waits are tightened procedures in response to terrorism, budget cuts and higher passenger loads. Low budget given to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) by Congress has significally impacted the size of its workforce.

TSA’s staff has been reduced by 12 percent in the last year alone, and 1,600 workers are scheduled to leave the agency in the 2016 fiscal year. These leaves will cause the security lines to go on for even longer.

In response to the heavy criticism, TSA’s chief Peter Neffenger announced a 10-point plan to reduce the wait time at security checks. He testified his ideas and resolutions before the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee.

In his plan, Neffenger said that an additional 768 workers will be employed by June, bomb sniffing dogs will be used and part time workers will transition to full time.

For travelers like Akl, who will be spending over 15 hours in the air, there is little that they can do to speed up the process without spending extra money. However, the best way to avoid prolonged security waits is to just enroll in TSA’s Pre-Check program.

Through a series of tests and a fee of $85, passengers who are considered “low risk” will be able to be alleviated of the long wait and pass through expedited screening.

Even though there is an application process and a fee, going through trusted-travelers is worth the effort. Since travelers are already splurging on other traveling costs such as hotel arrangements, tour tickets and gifts; spending an extra $85 will not be a significant monetary toll.

With an estimated 740 million people projected to be screened this year, TSA seriously needs to find an effective way to shorten security lines. In the meantime, frustrated customers and future travelers should give the Pre-Check program a try.

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