TSA checkpoints have never been a traveler’s friend—in fact, we’ve written plenty of stories about how to survive the lines and get to the gate on time (see here, here, and here). But the issue boiled over this spring, with lines stretching for seeming miles at the country’s busiest airports; senators calling for airlines to offer free bags for the summer (never gonna happen); and, most dramatically, the organization replacing its head of security Kelly Hoggan on May 24. So how’d we get here? Let us present a brief timeline:
01 of 12
2013-2016: the TSA Cuts 10% of Screeners
In anticipation of PreCheck’s expansion, the TSA culls about 5300 screeners nationwide over three years. This happens as traveler volume rises approximately 15 percent in the same time period.
02 of 12
June 2015: the TSA Fails Undercover Test
An undercover team takes 70 banned items—including weapons— through TSA checkpoints, and a whopping 95 percent of them fail detection. Acting administrator Melvin Carraway is reassigned.
03 of 12
After massively failing its security exam, the new TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger vows he will retrain all security personnel to properly screen passengers, rather than rushing flyers through the long lines. Security personnel say that priorities shift regularly in the organization, with original directions to focus on security and later directions to speed crowds through the checkpoints.
04 of 12
January 2016: Airfares Plummet
With the oil crash comes a major decrease in jet fuel prices. Ticket prices drop as much as 15 percent, with popular routes on JetBlue and Southwest showing even cheaper declines. Good news for travelers—some 740 million of them are expected to fly this summer—bad news for understaffed TSA stations around the country.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
05 of 12
The TSA asks Congress to reallocate funds to pay its employees overtime in an effort to relieve long lines.
06 of 12
The Airlines for American federation starts its #iHatetheWait campaign, encouraging travelers to post photos of their long lines at security and tag the TSA.
07 of 12
The Port Authority sends a scathing letter to the TSA for its long wait times, threating to bring in private security screeners to relieve the congestion at NYC’s three major airports
08 of 12
US Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), lobby airlines to lift baggage check fees in the summer, in the hopes of relieving congestion caused by overstuffed carry-ons. The trick? The TSA also screens check bags, so this wouldn’t necessarily solve the problem.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
09 of 12
10 of 12
Adding insult to injury, the TSA blames passengers for the long lines, citing passengers who overstuff their carry-ons and bring full-sized toiletries. The finger-pointing is a response to the Port Authority’s attack on its performance.
11 of 12
12 of 12
May 24, 2016: TSA Fires Head of Security
Neffenger announces a number of leadership changes at the TSA, including firing Kelly Hoggan, the organization’s head of security. The ousting follows not only complaints of long lines but also accusations that he received some $90,000 in unjustified bonuses between 2013 and 2014.