TSA Seeking Internal Volunteers to Aid Staffing Shortages As Summer Travel Ramps Up

Volunteers from TSA offices would handle roles like onboarding new hires or managing the flow of security lines.

The TSA is seeking office employees to volunteer in the country's busiest airport as a heightened season of summer travel gets underway.

"TSA is experiencing an increase in passenger volumes at checkpoints, and anticipating a significant summer surge in travel," Acting TSA Administrator Darby LaJoye wrote in a memo to employees, ABC News reported.

The agency predicts that 131 airports around the country will experience labor shortages this summer, which could lead to increased wait times at security checkpoints.

TSA screening area at Los Angeles International Airport

According to The Washington Post, the TSA is short by at least 2,500 officers and some of the country's largest airports are missing more than 100 officers to meet their projected staffing needs. Some of the nation's largest airports - including Detroit Metropolitan, Boston Logan, and Washington Dulles - are down more than 10% of their projected necessary staff.

Volunteers from TSA offices would handle roles other than screening, such as onboarding new hires or managing the flow of security lines. They have been asked to work for up to 45 days at short-staffed airports around the country.

But publicly, the TSA says that they are prepared for the traveler increase and have been actively hiring new TSA officers, with a goal of hiring 6,000 new officers for the summer. So far, they have hired 3,100.

"We have been averaging over 5,000 Transportation Security Officer applications per week," a TSA spokesperson told ABC News and said that the agency was "well-positioned to meet rising traveler volumes."

In order to encourage more people to apply for officer roles, the TSA is offering perks like a $1,000 signing bonus for those who are hired.

TSA data confirms that travelers are headed back to the airport with stats over Memorial Day weekend showing that more than 7.1 million people passed through airport security checkpoints, a new pandemic record.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.

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