TSA says it can handle summer travel surge, union skeptical

U.S.

DALLAS (NewsNation Now) — Long lines, massive delays and widespread cancelations are causing headaches for passengers across the country, but officials argue it’s not because they’re lacking staff.

The Transportation Security Administration says a report from the Washington Post claiming they’re understaffed at 131 airports is incorrect.

“We have people showing up 15 minutes before their flight, and that can’t happen,” Mark Grose, deputy assistant federal security director of screening operations at the TSA, said. “You need to be here at least an hour and a half before your flight.”

While the TSA says reports of its bind are overstated, they admit this is crunch time for them.

“We’ve got a lot of overtime at this point in time,” Grose said. “We’ve got staff members that normally don’t do screening processes coming in to help out where they can help out.”

In a statement to NewsNation, the agency said, “The Transportation Security Administration is well-positioned to meet rising traveler volumes.” They added that recruitment efforts take place annually and are nothing new.

The regional vice president of the American Federation of Government Employees union, Becky Mancha, believes TSA is understating the problem.

“TSA makes it look like it’s all rainbows and sunshine,” she said. “But unfortunately it’s not.”

Mancha works at Dallas Love Field airport. She hasn’t seen the memo the Washington Post reported on, but thinks it’s a bigger issue.

“I believe there are more than 131 airports that are shorthanded,” she said. “If it wasn’t, then why are union officials getting reports that every airport is mandating overtime?”

The TSA says they want to hire 6,000 new officers to handle the summer surge, and they’ve filled a little more than 3,000 so far. They’re offering $1,000 recruitment incentives for those who join by the end of September.

Until then, get to the airport early.

“Just as passenger volume is increasing, so too will wait times throughout your travel experience,” TSA Executive Assistant Administrator for Security Operations Darby Lajoye said.

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