As air travel rebounds, TSA faces shortage of security officers

Lori Berger landed in Newark on a Thursday morning flight from Atlanta.

"The lines in Atlanta were absolutely horrific," she said. "Tons and tons of people backed up all the way through the entire terminal."

And it appears that backup extended far beyond Hartsfield-Jackson, the busiest airport in the world. A TSA memo obtained by the Washington Post projected staffing shortages in more than 130 airports in this country and called upon TSA office workers to volunteer to take airport jobs performing non-passenger screening duties for the next month and a half, while the TSA dangles $1,000 signing bonuses in its attempts to hire another 3,000 officers.

"This isn't just a TSA thing," The Points Guy travel analyst and senior reporter Zach Griff said. "This is across the travel industry."

Griff started flying again back in October and noticed a spike in crowds and lines starting earlier this spring.

"You should expect the airport to look a lot like what it did before the pandemic," Griff said.

Griff thought the speed at which this country vaccinated its citizens and the eagerness of those people to return to air travel caught airports, airlines, the TSA and the rest of the furloughed or short-staffed travel and hospitality industries by surprise.

"Hold times to reach Delta yesterday were over six hours," Griff said.

The TSA did not respond to FOX 5 NY's request for comment on the officer shortage in time for this story to make air.

Per that memo made public by the Washington Post, the TSA found some of this nation's largest airports short-staffed by as many as 100 officers each.

On Sunday, the TSA screened nearly 2 million people — a new pandemic air travel record and 90% of pre-pandemic traveler volume for this time of year.

"I'm here," Berger said. "Thank God I got there two hours beforehand."

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