The TSA has decided to stop staffing airport exit lanes, saving the agency $88 million a year (out of an annual budget of $8 billion). It’s passing on the responsibility to airports. And the airports aren’t happy.
The exit lanes in question are the ones between arrival and baggage claim: you know, the corridor you pass through where you’re leaving the so-called “sterile” area. Up to now, there’s been a TSA agent sitting at a desk there, making sure people don’t inadvertently walk in that way. Remember the hullaballoo that ensued a few years ago when a lovestruck guy bounded past to give his girlfriend a farewell kiss?
Well, now the TSA is abandonding that post at one-third of the country’s airports and leaving it for airport security. TSA deputy administrator John Halinski says, “We firmly believe that exit-lane monitoring is not a screening function, but rather an issue of access control.”
Airport security has a different take:
Airport executives remain opposed to the change for its cost and responsibility. Mark Crosby, chief of public safety and security at Portland International Airport, said there was no collaboration on the rule, which was “crammed down our throat.”
“We disagree on that, and we’ll see where that ends,” Crosby said.
As an example of increased costs, Tim Bradshaw of Eastern Iowa Airport says it will cost that airport an extra $93,000 a year. The airports will pass that cost onto travelers. So not only will you be paying to get your privates poked, you’ll now be paying extra to prevent the privates-pokers from having to sit at the exit lanes.
Here’s a favorite line, from TSA representative John Sammon:
“We want to support travel, and we want to make it more pleasurable and safer over time,” Sammon said.
Oh, yeah, Mr. Sammon, it’s so pleasurable. Especially when your employees are stealing from luggage and sticking their hands down people’s pants.