By Emily Crane for DailyMail.com
A summer of travel chaos may be looming across the United States given the Transportation Security Administration has yet to hire for 3,800 of the 6,000 security screening positions it’s aiming to fill.
Checkpoint waiting times at airports already are spiking to pre-pandemic levels.
The TSA had planned to hire the 6,000 security checkpoint officers by summer due to the expected increase in travel due to the number of Americans being vaccinated and decreasing COVID-19 infections.
A summer of travel chaos may be looming across the United States given the Transportation Security Administration has yet to fill 3,800 of the security screening positions they are aiming for. Pictured above is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia
Since announcing the job drive back in February, the TSA has only filled 2,200 of those positions.
According to internal agency bulletins obtained by the Washington Post, wait times at some TSA checkpoints across the country are currently more than 45 minutes.
These pre-pandemic wait times at some airports may be an indication of staffing issues and increased passenger numbers.
Already so far in April, the TSA has screened an average of 1.4 million people per day, which is a significant increase compared to this time last year when the number was just over 106,000.
The current travel levels are still down dramatically from 2019 when the average number of people being screened was 2.4 million.
The TSA has screened an average of 1.4 million people per day so far in April, which is a significant increase compared to this time last year when the number was just over 106,000
It is only expected to increase over the summer, however, when even more Americans are vaccinated.
The TSA had tried to entice recruits by offering a $500 bonus at some airports if the job candidates filled out their applications within five days, according to the Post.
For much of last year, TSA officers were kept home and the agency slowed hiring during the pandemic; 16 workers have died of COVID, the Post reports.
Although TSA officials say they’re confident they’ll be able to ramp up hiring, the starting salary starts at $16.51 an hour – leading the TSA officers’ union to have long complained about relatively low pay, according to the Post.
Currently, 42.7 per cent of the US population has received at least one vaccine dose.
With Memorial Day approaching next month, a TSA spokesperson said the agency – which employs about 47,000 officers – was ‘well-positioned to support increased travel volumes through the summer’.
‘Travel patterns changed somewhat during the pandemic and some passengers may have grown accustomed to walk-up screening,’ a TSA statement read.
‘Passengers should anticipate that wait times will begin to return to pre-pandemic levels.’
They said the goal for 6,000 officers is actually target for the budget year.