$50 million for TSA uniforms

You may have already read about the $50 million set-aside for new TSA uniforms. Some people, including on Capitol Hill, are objecting to this expense at a time when the nation is facing budget cuts through the sequester.

To placate lawmakers, the agency has just announced that it will not use that money on TSA uniforms, but rather on passenger uniforms.

Starting April 1st, travelers are being advised to arrive at the airport an hour earlier than they normally do to accommodate new procedures, which, the TSA believes, will make the security experience both more palatable and more productive. Once people become accustomed to these new procedures, the whole operation will be more efficient, getting passengers to their gates more quickly than they do now.

After travelers check in with their airlines, they will, as usual, proceed to the security checkpoint. But instead of standing in line, they will be separated by sex and directed to male/female locker rooms (children age six and under can be accompanied by their mothers in the female locker room). There, they will remove all their clothing and jewelry, locking it in a secure lock box with a non-metallic key, and don orange jumpsuits – small, medium, or large. These jumpsuits have Velcro closures instead of buttons, zippers, or snaps for ease of dressing. They also have only one pocket, for the lock box key.

Passengers will then proceed to the checkpoint with their lock boxes. The boxes will be x-rayed on the conveyor belt, as belongings usually are. All passengers will be directed through the scanners. Since they will all be wearing the same jumpsuits, it will be much easier for TSA agents to assess their images in the scanners. And the lone lock box key each passenger will have will be easily identifiable on the scanner image, thus obviating the need for the loathed pat-downs.

TSA Administrator John Pistole said he hoped to kill two birds with one stone: please lawmakers such as John Mica, Jason Chaffetz, and Marsha Blackburn, who are gunning for the TSA, and please passengers, whose checkpoint experience will now be less arbitrary, more predictable, and more uniform.

This new TSA policy is scheduled to go into effect on April 1, 2013.