Ready to fly? The TSA awaits

ATLANTA — As Americans prepare to travel this Thanksgiving, there are a number of challenges awaiting: traffic, stepped up patrols by law enforcement and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), at least according to some travelers.

Nationwide, the number of travelers this holiday is projected to increase by 4 percent, the organization predicts. Travelers hitting the road will account for approximately 90 percent of all travelers this holiday.

The number of Georgians traveling at least 50 miles this Thanksgiving is expected to increase by 3.3 percent compared to last year, AAA said. In Georgia, the number of travelers driving this holiday is expected to increase by 3.3 percent, while air travel is expected to rise by 1.2 percent. Others means of transportation — such as by bus or by rail — is projected to see a 14 percent increase.

“We are excited to welcome another holiday season and are well-prepared to get passengers to their destinations,” Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Aviation General Manager Louis Miller said in a news release.

According to a recent survey by the U.S. Travel Association, travelers chose the following as their top frustrations:

  • 72.4 percent said “people who bring too many carry-on bags through the security checkpoint”
  • 68 percent selected “the wait time to clear the TSA checkpoint”
  • 62.3 percent picked “having to remove shoes, belts and jackets at the TSA checkpoint”
  • 42.5 percent named “TSA employees who are not friendly”

The federal agency has its share of detractors in Congress as well. The TSA, created in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, suffers from mismanagement and should be drastically overhauled, say Republicans on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee who issued a scathing report of the federal agency.

“Instead of worrying about ‘political correctness’, TSA should be putting our resources into intelligence and technologies that could be more effective when it comes to catching highly elusive and dangerous terrorists,” U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., said in a recent news release. “We should know about terrorist attacks before they materialize on U.S. soil, and I have yet to see that kind of progress come out of TSA.”

For its part, the U.S. Travel Association made three recommendations:

  • “Airlines must allow more opportunities for enrollment in PreCheck and not discriminate against consumers who are not members of their loyalty programs”
  • “Airlines must work with TSA and the travel industry to decrease the number of carry-on bags going through passenger checkpoints, which is a top frustration for passengers and a major security concern of TSA”
  • “TSA must continue to focus on traveler facilitation because travelers are more willing to fly when the hassle is reduced”
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