We’ve all had to awkwardly stand in line at airport security as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) herds hundreds of passengers to departure gates. Long lines only add to the already stressful event of flying.
Our current airport security process has become a running joke (along with long waits at the DMV or the “simplicity” of doing taxes).
Here are a few measures that could increase security at airports while shortening the wait time:
1. Expand the Screening Partnership Program
TSA’s current budget isn’t allowing it to meet the demand at airports but throwing more money at TSA won’t solve any long term inadequacies. As my colleague David Inserra has previously written:
Almost all European countries and Canada use private airport screeners. In the United States, airports have the right to opt out of TSA-administered screening through the Screening Partnership Program, which swaps out TSA screeners in favor of private contractors with TSA oversight.
The Screening Partnership Program’s ability to take advantage of private security companies is one way the TSA can meet high passenger demand without sacrificing security.
However, the Screening Partnership Program isn’t being used to its full potential. Burdensome regulations mandating the TSA hand-pick Screening Partnership Program contractors are limiting and slowing airports’ access to security vendors.
2. Enlarge and Strengthen TSA PreCheck
TSA PreCheck is a trusted traveler program that allows members to expedite the security process after going through a background check and vetting process.
The program allows TSA to move its resources towards a more risk-based approach by focusing less time on low-risk travelers. Congress and the TSA should be looking for ways to expand enrollment in TSA PreCheck.
3. Ensure Airports Screening is Subject to Risk Assessments and Red Team Tests
Waiting in TSA lines is partially alleviated because the TSA is supposedly providing extra security. That’s why it’s important to continue assessing the effectiveness of the TSA’s security measures. Red Teams, or undercover agents are one way to test that TSA security measures are working.
In the meantime, it’s up to passengers to also take personal responsibility in preparing themselves for security check points.
Checking wait times at the local airport before flying and making sure not to carry-through any prohibited items will help the TSA maintain order and alleviate waiting time—though this is no panacea.
It will ultimately be up to Congress to improve the TSA and better our airport security waiting times and security.