The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is so understaffed that it is offering a $1,000 bonus to lure new airport security screeners into the federal agency. Acting TSA Administrator Darby LaJoye recently warned it was short-staffed by as many as 2,500 officers just as passenger numbers are set to peak heading into the busy summer season.
Around 131 airports across the United States are projected to experience staff shortages through June and LaJoye has put a call out for office staff to volunteer on the frontlines for up to 45-days at a time.
Office staff would help to direct passengers and prepare them for the screening process because they don’t have the necessary credentials to actually carry out the screening process themselves.
Passenger numbers have been steadily rising over the last few months after demand was decimated by the pandemic. On Sunday, the agency screened nearly two million passengers at airport checkpoints across the U.S. but a TSA spokesperson maintains the agency is “well-positioned to meet rising traveler volumes.”
Despite having recruited more than 3,000 new employees in the last few months, the TSA has lost around 2,000 experienced officers and some estimates suggest the agency requires a further 3,000 by the end of the summer.
The TSA insists the offer of a $1,000 recruitment incentive isn’t out of the norm.
“As in years before, the agency began a concerted recruitment effort this past winter in anticipation of increasing volumes and is on pace with established benchmarks to meet hiring goals,” a TSA spokesperson explained.
“The agency continues to leverage established, creative recruitment strategies to meet personnel needs, including nationwide recruitment incentives and targeted retention incentives in strategic markets.”
New Transportation Security Officers are set to receive $500 when they first join the agency and a further $500 if they successfully complete 12 months in the job.
“After six months, TSOs are eligible for pay increases and those who work early mornings, evenings and Sundays receive a shift differential. Overtime opportunities, which are paid at time and a half, are frequently available,” the agency said during a recruitment blitz in Las Vegas.
The recruitment campaign seems to be working – a spokesperson says the agency is receiving as many as 5,000 applications per week.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently used by some of the biggest names in journalism.