On Friday, Congress bestowed $34 million to the Transportation Security Administration to battle the infamously long—and worsening—lines during the summer travel surge.
With the additional cash, TSA intends to hire 768 additional employees (more than 250 of whom will be going to Chicago O'Hare) and offer overtime pay to current screeners. The TSA has already announced plans to deploy more bomb sniffing dogs to help keep lines moving along. Yet travelers should still expect extreme delays. After all, $34 million wont replace the thousands of employees let go during budget cuts—nor will it compensate for the rise in air traffic.
"I think you'll still see crowds in airports," said Peter Neffenger, head of the TSA. He called the $34 million transfusion a "good down payment," but not enough to solve the problem.
Already, travelers are enduring the results: according to ABC News, the TSA's part-time staff has already shrunk by as much as 28 percent. Waits at the busiest airports have soared to more than three hours. It’s no wonder travelers are missing their flights and stripping down to their skivvies in protest.
While the TSA and Congress butt heads about how to remedy the stagnant security lines—especially at major airports like Chicago O’Hare (which has the unlucky combination of both fewer security agents as well as eight percent more travelers) and Los Angeles international—we suggest you form a plan of attack before traveling this summer.
If you haven’t already, sign up for TSA PreCheck. After all, the number of TSA screeners was cut in anticipation of more people signing up for PreCheck (which guarantees faster screening lanes). And if you can’t avoid the most conjested airports, be certain to get there well in advance of your departure time.
For more tips, read up on everything you need to know about maneuvering the summer’s insanely long TSA lines.
Melanie Lieberman is the Assistant Digital Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @melanietaryn.