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Statement By Secretary Johnson On Latest Actions To Address Wait Times At Airports

Release Date: 
May 26, 2016

For Immediate Release
DHS Press Office
Contact: 202-282-8010

The TSA Administrator and I both appreciate the recent support we have received from Congress to aggressively address increased air travel and reduce wait times at TSA screening points in U.S. airports.  In the face of increased air travel volume, we will not compromise aviation security.  We are quickly and aggressively surging resources to keep travelers moving through airports, and to keep them safe.

Two weeks ago Congress approved our request to reprogram $34 million.  This has enabled us to expedite the hiring of 768 new TSOs, which we expect to have on board by mid-June, and to pay additional overtime to the existing TSO workforce. This action alone will enable the screening of 220,000 additional passengers per day.

Today I sent to Congress a second reprogramming request for $28 million.  This money will fund the immediate conversion of 2,784 TSOs from part-time to full-time at the Nation’s 20 busiest airports.  This will enable us to screen almost 82,000 additional passengers per day.  I hope Congress will act on this request soon.

These actions are in addition to a number of other immediate steps we are taking, in partnership with the airlines and airports, to address wait times.

  • TSA has brought on and moved more canine teams to assist in the screening of passengers at checkpoints.  This has helped screen an additional 40,000 passengers a day at the Nation’s seven busiest airports.
  • TSA has given Federal Security Directors at airports added discretion to assign TSA personnel at airports to directly support screening at checkpoints.
  • TSA has solicited approximately 150 volunteers from among its TSO workforce to accept temporary reassignment from less busy to busier airports. TSA headquarters personnel have also volunteered to work at airports.
  • TSA has deployed optimization teams to the Nation’s 20 busiest airports to address, at the local level, any excessive delays.
  • TSA has stood up an Incident Command Center at its headquarters to monitor checkpoint trends in real time.  This will allow TSA to quickly and aggressively trouble-shoot any issues that may arise at the busiest airports around the country.
  • We continue to encourage the public to join TSA Pre✓®.  The public is responding.  While enrollments a year ago were at about 3,500 daily, now enrollments are exceeding 16,000 a day.  For 90% of those who are enrolled and utilize TSA Pre✓®, the average wait time at TSA checkpoints continues to be five minutes or less. 
  • Airlines are assisting in addressing wait times.  We appreciate that major airlines have assigned personnel to assist in the non-security duties at TSA checkpoints, and are providing support in a number of other ways.  Longer term, we are working with airlines and airports to invest in “Innovation lanes” and other technology to expedite the screening of carry-on luggage and personal items.
  • Nationwide, 90% of the traveling public is waiting 30 minutes or less.  Still, as we approach the Memorial Day weekend and the beginning of summer, the public should expect longer wait times at some of the Nation’s busiest airports, at certain times of the day.  In general, we encourage travelers to arrive at airports two hours before flight time, and pack responsibly.  Prohibited items in carry-on luggage delays checkpoint screening.  Visit TSA online (www.tsa.gov) or on Twitter (@AskTSA) to learn more.

With the help of Congress, we are working quickly and aggressively to add resources to keep air travelers moving at airports, and to keep them safe.

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Last Published Date: May 26, 2016
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