Hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day holiday travels this weekend. With the tributes to our military, BBQs and kick off to summer, come more reports of increased travel and long lines at security. It seemed like last summer that everybody was raving about how great a job the TSA was doing … said nobody.
The headlines include mismanagement at the top where TSA Director of Security Peter Neffenger was fired for doing a shitty job despite getting $90,000 in bonuses. With budget cuts, the crew of screeners have decreased to 44,900 from 47,000 in 2013 while the numbers of flyers have increased steadily since. You can thank the better economy and cheaper flights for that passenger increase.
My sarcastically favorite aspect of this story is that the TSA failed to detect fake explosives and banned weapon 67 our of 70 times. On the bright side, they are doing a hell of a job confiscating bottled water.
It’s a sad state of affairs for all involved — passengers are missing flights, working for the TSA is a thankless job with little advancement and airlines are losing money from delayed flights. Missing for the headlines are a couple of angles:
- TSA is a government agency along the lines of the DMV, Post Office, judicial system, the IRS and unemployment. All these agencies are needed, you don’t look forward to dealing with them and you have to live with it. The DMV is a soul crushing experience, the post office has one line with one person working the window, jury duty is a pain, understanding tax code is mind numbing and nobody wants to be on unemployment.
- Most airline passengers are idiots.
Let’s focus on the idiot passengers. I’ve pointed this out that people are bringing way too much with them. On top of that, they are unwilling to check their bag in because of airlines fees or fear of having their luggage lost. Thus, going through TSA screening is a shit show when they have shopping bags, carry-ons, strollers and support animals. Meanwhile, they have to take their shoes off and metal out of their pockets while trying to put all their worldly possessions on the conveyor belt.
While the TSA doesn’t prevent terrorism, the screenings are needed because 2,653 firearms were confiscated in carry-ons last year. I’m sure those 2,653 people were ready to prevent the next terrorist situation like Liam Neeson in Non-Stop. Sorry gun nuts, you can’t bring it on board. Boooooo, we know, blame Obama.
Here are my tips on how to get through TSA faster:
— Shut up. If you have TSA agent Jerky McJerkson giving you a hard time, just let it slide. I got picked for a random inspection once and the agent took out my passport case that keeps my currency and accidentally spilled all my money out of the floor. I didn’t flip out, I just said, “I got it” and picked up my cash.
— Get to the airport 24 hours before your flight. I joke, but don’t wait to the day of your flight to pack. Get to the airport as early as you can, check-in, get though security, find a bar and watch Netflix on your phone.
— Carry as little as possible. For families with small children, I get it. The rest of you, enough. Vacation is a not a trip to the mall. Put your stupid souvenirs in your suitcase and check it in. The airlines have never been better at getting your luggage back.
— Pack better. You’ll have more room for things you bought while traveling so you don’t have to cram it into your carry-on. Here is my guide.
— TSA Pre-check. Sure, but it’s not a cure all. I’ve had it for two years and I’ve been able to use it three times. The last time I got to use it, the line was 75 minutes long at JFK. I fly Virgin America and Atlantic out of Newark and pre-check is not set-up at that terminal. Most of the time, the TSA pre-check line is there but not staffed because there are not enough passengers or not enough staff. Weeeeeeeeee.