Here’s some news that will make you squirm in your airplane seat: complaints filed against airport security workers have increased by 26 percent over the last three years, according to a new study the Transportation Security Agency released yesterday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
About half the cases—9,622 in all since 2010—had to do with attendance and leave (32 percent) and screening and security (20 percent). Shockingly, those screening and security offenses included allowing travelers or baggage to bypass screening, sleeping on the job, drug and alcohol use while on duty, mishandling of classified information, and inappropriate or sexual misconduct. The report also cited a case in 2011 where a transportation security officer at Orlando International Airport pled guilty of embezzlement and theft charges for stealing more than $80,000 worth of laptops and other electronics.
The report, released in advance of congressional hearings on the TSA that started today, acknowledges that the TSA “…has taken steps to help manage the investigations and adjudication process.” But it also says there are “procedural weaknesses” on how they monitor their misconduct cases. TSA’s response? We’ve heard you loud and clear and we’re totally working on it.
Let’s hope so. For my part, I can’t help feeling a little more vulnerable the next time I’m in the airport security line slipping my laptop out of my bag and into a plastic bin.
For the full GAO report, go here.
Jennifer Flowers is the Travel News Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.