The Transportation Security Administration is so short of bodies that it is asking desk clerks to help move things forward amid staff shortages at 235 airports across the country.
Office workers were asked to volunteer at checkpoints for at least 45 days on June 1, according to a May 30 memo issued by Washington Post.
The employees will not screen passengers, but will instead help officers manage the daunting lines plaguing airports across the country as travel picks up again after the pandemic.
TSA screened 1.56 million passengers on Tuesday, compared to 338,000 on June 8, 2020
Airports have been slammed as reopening and vaccines encourage people to travel again
Passenger numbers have skyrocketed with vaccines that allow people to travel more comfortably and gather in large groups, but current demand for air travel has stretched the TSA thin.
“With this increase in volume, TSA must remain operational and ensure that screening personnel are available to perform screening functions,” acting TSA chief Darby LaJoye wrote in the memo.
On Tuesday, the TSA screened 1.56 million passengers, up from a meager 338,382 on June 8, 2020.
But travel volume is nowhere near where it used to be before COVID.
On June 8, 2019, the TSA scanned the suitcases of more than 2.4 million passengers.
Passengers complain about long lines that make them annoyed and anxious.
TSA head Darby LaJoye said the new “increase in volume” forces the agency to “ensure screening staff is available,” according to a May 30 memo.
Passengers have been complaining on Twitter about shortages at TSA checkpoints in recent days
The Transportation Security Administration lost 2,500 officers en route to June
The agency plans to add another 3,000 employees by the end of the summer
“I have NEVER been happier with a TSA pre-check than today… holy smokes the rules at CLT,” NASCAR driver Garrett Smithley wrote Tuesday.
“At both ends of my journey (departing SAT and OKC) the security lines at the airport were huge. Pre has helped both times, but I hope staff capacity is increased before summer travel blooms even more,” wrote one user named Maiya CY Edelson.
On June 5, American Airlines said hundreds of people missed their flights because there were not enough TSA employees at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. WBTV.
A traveler told the station she is now “three hours early” at the airport to avoid drama.
Some travelers have said they are already arriving at airports three hours before their flight
The Biden administration has promised to raise wages for ‘essential’ TSA workers. Above, a TSA agent screens a passenger at Chicago O’Hare International Airport in October
The TSA was short of 2,500 officers en route to June.
The federal agency, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, says it wants an additional 3,000 employees by the end of the summer to meet an earlier goal of adding 6,000 new employees by the end of September.
They also identified 235 airports with a staff shortage of at least 5 percent.
At those airports, officers are eligible for $500 monthly bonuses as an “incentive” to “run their operations successfully,” according to a memo.
In a statement released on June 3, Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas . said promised to expand “collective bargaining” for TSA employees and increase their wages to “improve the morale and retention of these vital workers.”
In a statement, the TSA said it is “well positioned” to cope with the current uptick in travel.
“The agency began a concerted recruiting effort last winter in anticipation of increasing volumes and is on track with established benchmarks to meet recruiting targets.”