United Press International reports,

Travelers hitting the airports this holiday season can expect longer trips than a year ago, U.S. travel industry experts say, as a significantly larger number of people flying this winter will be met with at least 7,000 fewer baggage screeners than processed airline passengers last year.

“Every holiday season travelers should expect a longer experience,” Brian Turmail, of the Transportation Security Administration, told United Press International, but evidence indicates this year’s trips might be longer than most.

After a long slump following the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, air travel is picking up. Turmail said 5 percent to 10 percent more passengers will fly out of Washington-area airports this year than last, taxing every area of airport infrastructure.

Overall, U.S. air travel is projected to be up around 1 percent this year, but popular destinations like Phoenix and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and major hubs like Washington might see much larger increases, Turmail said.

That extra travel comes as funding cuts have led to severe cuts among baggage-screening staff. Last December the TSA employed 55,600 screeners. TSA Deputy Administrator Stephen McHale told the House Governmental Reform Committee in a hearing Thursday that his agency currently employs between 47,000 and 48,000 screeners. TSA will only receive funding for 45,000 screeners in fiscal year 2004.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Paul says:

    Ya know– I DISTINCTLY remember the Democrats saying that all the trouble with baggage screeners boiled down to the fact they were not federalized.

    When flight 587 crashed in Queens New York, I remember Dick Gephardt getting on T.V. while the bodies were literally still burning and saying it never would have happened if we had federalized the baggage screeners. (it was later found to be caused by mechanical failure.)

    We federalized the screeners where is the big government panacea?

    Will anyone admit we federalized them and they are less efficient?