USA Flag

Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Transportation Security Administration

TSA Myth Busters: Is TSA Slowing Down Lines to Increase TSA Pre✓® Enrollments?

Friday, May 20, 2016
Myth stamp image

We’ve been seeing claims suggesting that TSA is intentionally slowing down lines around the nation in order to profit from increased TSA Pre✓® enrollments.

Let us set the record straight. The $85 application fee (valid for five years) covers the administrative cost of the program, including FBI background checks, application analysis, associated technology and enrollment center costs.

In fact, we're doing everything we can to ease wait times while maintaining the most effective security to protect air travelers:

  • One option for getting through the screening process faster is for travelers to enroll in TSA Pre✓®. In the month of March (2016), 95% of those enrolled in TSA Pre✓® waited five minutes or less.
  • Hiring more Transportation Security Officers.
  • Increasing overtime funding to help keep more security lanes open during the busiest hours.
  • Deploying additional K-9 teams to screen passengers at security checkpoints, which means a faster and easier screening process.
  • Working closely with airlines and airports to develop specific plans to manage queues and support screening operations at the nation’s busiest airports.
  • In partnership with the airlines, working to reduce the size and number of carry-on luggage.

We appreciate your patience at our checkpoints. Airports are busier than ever and this could impact your travel from curb to gate. We recommend arriving up to two hours ahead of departure. Your security is our top priority.

Follow @TSA on Twitter and Instagram!

Bob Burns
TSA Social Media Team


Submitted by Rufus on

Nah, pretty sure this is just the beginning of an uprising against the bureaucratic stupidity which the TSA has become. If the individuals really had security in mind, rather than fulfilling a desire for undeserved power, and justifying a paycheck, then there wouldnt be such an uproar.

Submitted by Chris Boyce on

Admiral Neffinger: No, we aren't patient. What part of that don't you understand?

Curtis Burns: I challenge you to cite a source for your assertion in the first paragraph. We, the People, have accused the TSA of slowing down the lines for these reasons:

1. Embarrassment about your pitiful failure rate;
2. A way to extort more money from Congress;
3. A completely incompetent strategy of decreasing the number of screening clerks based on projections of ExtortionCheck enrollments;
4. A deliberate slowdown by the union to get more members through additional hiring.

Nobody EVER said that the reason for the slowdown was to get more people to sign up for ExtortionCheck. Prove me wrong with a reputable source.

Submitted by Meyers66 on

Gee pay $85 or wait 2.5 hrs and miss the flight. That's the way to frame the decision. Why is ammunition allowed at all on flights?

Submitted by Anonymous on

The backups are entirely your fault.

You chose to implement a scientifically illiterate liquids restriction in response to a purely aspirational plot.

You decided to force everyone to remove their shoes, a policy replicated nowhere in the world.

You decided to implement the use of naked body scanners even though they are slow, invasive, and ineffective, and even though you knew all of these things to be true.

These lines are your fault, and no one else's, and making a red jpeg that says "myth" does not change that truth.

Your agency is dangerous and an embarrassment.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Oh, that's rich. In the "We're not slowing things to force people into pre-check' post, the very first 'thing we're doing' to ease lines is... pre-check. "We're not forcing people into pre-check, we're... uh... well, um, have you joined pre-check yet?

Submitted by None Ofyours on

Forgive me in advance, my comments might be uninformed, considering I haven't flown since before 9/11. I am emphathic to all who have been abused, mistreated, stolen from, harassed or disrespected by Officers of the TSA. From what I see, they appear to be the Federal version of the Department of Motor Vehicles. When tested they are a dismal failure. However, since 9/12, not a single American Airplane has been hijacked or blown up. That is over 15 years. They must be doing something right.

Submitted by Mtn Lvr on

Global Entry was the best $100 I have ever spent...both domestically and internationally.

Submitted by Elias on

Bob, thanks for the post.
I think the most interesting point is the last one: "In partnership with the airlines, working to reduce the size and number of carry-on luggage."

Why? Because the airlines have felt entitled, amidst what appears to be chaos sometimes at TSA security lines recently, to make an extra $25 a bag.

If we can reduce the number AND size of carry-ons by let's say 25%-30%, the problem is pretty much gone. How many times we see carry-ons having to be re-screened and re-screened and how many times we DON'T see carry-ons being checked to see if they fit the airlines' dimension requirements.

Submitted by Laura Monteros on

It does seem to come down to staffing, though I also wonder if TSA screeners could be trained better. I don't travel much, but I do question why all of a sudden lines are so long. One reason I've heard is that people are taking more carryon baggage, but the cause of that rests completely with the airlines who are charging for checked bags. Maybe in addition to asking for more staff, TSA could lobby for a law to make the first checked bag free on all airlines. The current policy is only a moneymaker for the airlines. There is no compelling reason to charge for checked bags.

Submitted by Mike Toreno on

Clerk Bob, all the steps you're supposedly taking involve playing with toys and getting more money, and none of them will speed up screening. What people have observed is that the clerks are doing everything even slower than usual, paying even less attention to their jobs. You are just begging for terrorists to attack the queues. The only myth is that the TSA cares anything about aviation security.

Submitted by RevZafod on

I wouldn't be too sure that the rumors of a slowdown are false. TSA needs a complete makeover, and disgruntled employees have a way of showing dissatisfaction.

Not to mention that the agency is Security Theater,not real security. I speak as a retired DEA Senior Forensic Chemist.

Get your stuff together, if you want to stop being the most hated Federal Agency.

Submitted by Susan Richart on

Bob, there are two definitions for the word "profit" and yes, the TSA will profit from more passengers enrolling in PreScam, oops, I mean PreCheck.

screen shot/DHS OIG statement

Submitted by Mike Toreno on

Clerk Bob, the first point you make in refuting the so-called "myth" that the TSA is slowing down lines to increase TSA Pre enrollments is that passengers can get through screening faster by enrolling in TSA Pre.

Submitted by Fix The TSA on


Bob, who really wrote this blog post?

West, please provide a link to a real TSA public relations team member commenting on the TSA work slow down issue. Let's see an official TSA statement, not Bob's opinion.


Submitted by Hampton Stewart on

I am not blaming the TSA, but the airlines. It seems that the airlines don't want to enforce the carry on policy, so maybe thr TSA should. Passengers with a lot less stuff would move thru the TSA security much faster and TSA would not have as many bags to check. Another benefit would be much faster loading of passengers on aircraft.

Submitted by Matt Scholz on

I don't see this as a TSA problem. In my experience the local port authorities or other municipalities that operate our airports are making stupid deals with for-profit companies and making everyone who do not pay suffer by reducing the lines for processing security checks. Multiple times leaving San Jose I have had mind-boggling long times because the airport dedicated more resources to the stupid "CLEAR" profit grubbers. I will avoid San Jose airport at all costs and every airport that is sacrificing both TSA Pre-check and other travelers for this extra extortion.

As an example San Jose reduced the line for security checks to a single agent to forcibly promote the stupid "CLEAR" crap during the busiest time when me and many others were trying to board flights back to LAX.

TSA pre-check has been fantastic for me at major airports that are not letting the greedy for-profit orgs further reduce the flow of ticketed passengers from getting quickly checked. I have no complaints about the price and use this and Sentri with great satisfaction. I will renew without a doubt.

Submitted by Susan Richart on

Bob, just how do dogs make the screening process faster and easier? So far, no one has given concrete example of dogs=faster/easier.

Have heard reports of dogs being seen working in airports but no one who has reported this also says that the screening process was faster.

Now if TSA allowed people to keep their shoes and belts on, laptops in their cases and stopped doing ETD tests, then the lines would speed up. But again, no reports of this.

And speaking of belts, why are belts triggering a new groin pat-down?

screen shot/DHS OIG statement

Submitted by Anonymous on

Sorry, but this explanation does not come close to refuting the assertion. I am not saying the claims of slow down for PreCheck-bolstering purposes are true. Only that Bob saying they are not true without specific evidence does not cut it (e.g., during the last X months the total number of TSA screeners has increased from A to B, or the number of TSA screeners on duty during peak hours has increased from C to D). You can do better than that, I expect. Or we are left feeling that perhaps there really is something to the claims. Looking forward to hearing more...

Submitted by Anonymous on

People need to understand that they will not be eligible for TSA pre-chk if they are traveling on airlines that do not participate in the program, such as Spirit.

Submitted by Anonymous on

" In the month of March (2016), 95% of those enrolled in TSA Pre✓® waited five minutes or less."

How did the TSA come up with that number?

I flew recently, I am pre-check, the pre-checked lines were closed 4 our of 4 flights.

Submitted by Wintermute on

Or, you know, it could be a rare event to begin with. Considering their published failure rates, I find that much more likely ;)

Submitted by Unknown on

Maybe u should stop and get your facts correct. Naked figures on the machines went away a long time ago. They use avatars now and the screen is right there in the open not in a back room! Also how about the airlines culpability in this damn mess . Charging bag fees to offset fuel costs that bottomed out months ago and reaping the profits plus stacking their flights without any regards for the consequences on wait times. The biggest joke is dopes like John Mica of Florida calling for privatizing screening . Where wil these new folks come from? Well from the TSA ranks changing from 1 uniform to another. Plus anybody remember that Mr. Mica had

Submitted by Anonymous on

If TSA wants more people to sign up for Pre-Check, they could make more locations available. I live in a demographic area where there are a quarter of a million people and I would have to drive an hour each way to be seen in person. The money is no problem. The documentation is no problem. My driving an hour (or more, depending on the time of day) each way IS a problem.

Submitted by Anonymous on

As you reduce the size and number of carry ons, you: (1) trade time spent in a TSA line for even more time to check baggage and to wait for it at the end of the flight and, (2) cost the traveler more because of the baggage fees we must pay the airlines.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why are foreign countries able to screen passengers quicker and more efficiently?

Why are the body scanners still being used for primary screening? 90% of the time I fly, it alarms on nothing. I get pulled out of line and have to wait for someone to pat me down. The screener pats down the areas on the screen, but there is never anything there. My pockets are empty and I've even had it alarm on my bare arm. That slows the lines considerably when people have to wait for a patdown because your technology appears to be flawed.

Submitted by Chris Boyce on

Re: Anonymous questioning the made-up figure of 95% of ExtortionCheckers waited five minutes or less:

If the ExtortionCheck lines weren't open on the last four of your flights, you, in fact, waited zero minutes in the ExtortionCheck line. So, you were one of the 95%.

Submitted by Fix The TSA on

Funny how @AskTSA is telling ALL passengers to be at the airport two to three hours before their flights, even Precheck people, and the work slow down started in March, during the Final Four and Spring Break.

There is no way March stats for precheckers is five minutes.

Show us the raw data, Bob

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm very disappointed over some of the ignorant comments made to this post.Over the past 5 years I've flown in excess of 50 times during each of these years. Over the past few months the general lines have slightly increased at the airports that I've gone through but not hugely. In Charlotte last week, the delay was less that probably the last 20 times I've checked in there. The TSA folks are always courteous and professional. In the distant post 9/11 past I remember taking my ribbon bar off to get through screening so things are much better today. Some people are always going to be unhappy no matter what, I think that you're doing a great job. Keep it up and ignore the unemployed posting trolls; note I don't have a Google account so I have to post anonymous.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I tried to apply for TSA Pre Check in New Haven last Friday. According to the TSA website, this location takes walk-ins. Drove and hour to get there, and when I arrived I was told that they aren't taking walk-ins at this time because of the increased demand. I complained that there was no way to find out this information without coming down there, and that I'd had to come some distance. They said that "They won't put the information on the website."

I asked if I might be able to get Pre Check done at another location. They said they didn't know. Maybe, but the other places were likely in the same situation. They gave me the general TSA phone number to call so I could find out. I was on hold for about an hour before I finally gave up. Terrible.

Submitted by RDS on

TSA PreCheck only helps if you are actually allowed to go thru the PreCheck lane. As a business traveler, I often need to change my flight(s) the day before or even the day of when I cannot make my scheduled return. Without fail, whatever system used by PreCheck "randomly" selects that ticket as not PreCheck eligible. This has happened on both of my last two trips to NY. So, now after paying for PreCheck i am both not PreCheck and have packed in a way that is not great for regular security (different shoes/belt, etc. and no 3-1-1 bag). PreCheck is negative helpful.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Wait time could be shortened if they removed ridiculous, ineffective rules that slow things down and distract from real threats. With a 95% failure rate at finding actual weapons, maybe the TSA should stop focusing on tossing out people's water bottles and toothpaste and focus on the real loopholes. Allow liquids, allow SHOES to be worn through (like every other country in the world), and use a basic metal detector instead of some cancer-causing, ineffective body scanner that violates basic human dignity. If people can toss their bag onto the conveyor to be scanned and walk through a metal detector, then things will move much faster. Do less arbitrary pat-downs too. They pat down around every other person, and it is mostly for show (someone hiding contraband is not going to just jam it in their pocket or strap it under their bra). Only stop people where there is legit concern.

There is nothing the post 9/11 rules can catch that the pre 9/11 rules could not have caught. Weapons slip by because there is too much distraction over insignificant things. Wait time is increased when all these little things cause interruptions in the flow of people. Remove the silly rules and simplify the procedure.

Submitted by Capt Robert Trapp on

Why isn't the TWIC card accepted at the TSA Pre✓? The TWIC card not only cost ($135.00 vs $80.00) more, but we're told it has much more detailed investigation by the FBI than the TSA Pre✓.

Now how can this be anything more than, it's all about the money!

Submitted by Anonymous on

I wouldn't be too sure that the rumors of a slowdown are false. I guess that depends how you define slowdown. Slow down to intentionally create wait times? Ridiculous. Slow down to insure the job is done completely and more effectively? Ya, after the test results that everyone panicked about, I could see that happening. And I'm OK with it. TSA needs a complete makeover, and disgruntled employees have a way of showing dissatisfaction. seems like that is happening

Not to mention that the agency is Security Theater,not real security. I speak as a retired DEA Senior Forensic Chemist. well a chemist is certainly qualified as a security expert

Get your stuff together, if you want to stop being the most hated Federal Agency.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Last year, very few people were complaining about TSA wait times. Then OIG releases the results of covert testing that showed very negative results for TSA's screening processes. People demanded action.
TSA took action by having more enhanced training and changing some of their screening processes. Officers have been directed to focus more on the clearing the threat than clearing the line. All this is happening when staffing is at very low levels, and the summer rush begins. Not to mention lower air fares.
The result of what people demanded is longer lines.
However, these lines only seem to be an issue at 2 airports, Chicago and Atlanta. Most airports, including the airport near me have wait times of less than 15 minutes even during peak periods.

People cant have it both ways. There is Cheap, Fast, and good. You can only pick 2, which is it? Right now, TSA has picked cheap and good. The cost is speed. Before it was cheap and fast and the cost was good.

So you say privatize is the answer? Private airport security uses the exact same staffing models and SOP as TSA. Assuming TSA disbands and goes private, who do you think they will hire, most if not all the now unemployed TSA officers.
Nothing changes.

I realize most people here just like to complain with no real answers. Most just want to hear their own voices. The reality is, TSA is working on the problem, they are doing well as an agency. They (the officers) have a very tough job and I applaud their efforts in spit of the constraints TSA puts on them.

Think about it, they get hired as part time employees, they get paid in most cases less than they could make on welfare and they have no real job security and they work horrible hours. They are the lowest paid federal agency and have the lowest moral. What they have to put up with to do their best to keep us safe, I applaud.
Management needs a make over.

Submitted by FrequentFlyerSF on

This propaganda is pathetic and transparent. Sure, obviously it's because "airports are busier than ever before" and not because TSA agents have decided to respond to increased public criticism and threatened budget cuts by flexing some muscle in the check lines.

I saw the obvious intentional slowdown in Chicago last week, and it very clearly wasn't because lines were unusually long or because the TSA lanes were short staffed. Agents were deliberately and conspicuously standing idle for minutes at a time between individual inspections. When I specifically asked two of them why, one said "maybe now you'll have a little more appreciation for what we do to keep you safe."

Submitted by Wintermute on

Note, not having a Google account does not mean you have to post anonymous. You csn type a name without having an account. Also note that I am not unemployed, and neither are the majority of critical commentors. Who allowed the insults through moderation, West?

Submitted by Susan Richart on

"Keep it up and ignore the unemployed posting trolls; note I don't have a Google account so I have to post anonymous."

I don't have a Google account and I post using my name. You can, too. Your inaccurate statement throws the rest of your comment into question as to veracity.

Submitted by Fix The TSA on

Funny how TSA screeners, government websites, come on here, a government website, anonymously and downplay and dismiss privatizing screening services. Perhaps this screener is worried he wouldn't be hired by a private screening company due to his poor attitude and work skills? We already know he is unethical because he is a government employee working for the very department who runs this website.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Since the TSA has become unionized under the Obama administration it is a total power grab by the Union to extort more money from Congress. Don't let them fool you there are many TSA agents just standing around looking important. Next time you're at airport just see for yourself don't forget all travelers are paying a security fee for their incompetence. I expect this fee to go up to pay for their ever expanding $7.1 billion dollar budget.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Wintermute said...
Note, not having a Google account does not mean you have to post anonymous. You csn type a name without having an account.

why is posting as "wintermute" any different than posting as "anonymous"?

Submitted by Unknown on

I have an artificial right knee. The pat down after going thru the body scanner is left knee, maybe 2/3 of the time. Quality work TSA.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Regression to the mean". Terrorism is rare, the TSA has done nothing (not ONE thing) to even put a slight damper on terrorism. They're a jobs program for those too inept to flip a burger.

Submitted by Wintermute on

Note: I'm not the one complaining about anonymous comments. I was simply pointing out that one does not need a Google account to post with something other than anonymous, for those who have claimed that as their reason for doing so.

But since you asked... It allows my to remain somewhat anonymous (as much as a pseudonym would allow) if I so choose, without you having to guess which comments are mine. And I haven't gone to any effort to remain anonymous. 5 minutes (less, actually) of research would reveal not only my real name, but my current mailing address and phone number as well. But that's only because I have chosen leave it out there, not because it is inherently easy to find someone based on a pseudonym. It makes it easier for some to follow the conversation and not have to guess which anonymous person is which, or if they are all one person.

Submitted by Fix The TSA on

West, where is my reply to Bold TSApologist's comment?

Submitted by Wintermute on

Anyone else find the TSA using "Mythbusters" in this post ironic? Especially given that Adam Savage smuggled razor blades through the nude-o-scopes to prove a point. And before someone cries "those were backscatter," your point is? AIT have the same blind spot that was exploited, which has been demonstrated by others several times.

Submitted by Anonymous on

re: Anonymous said...
Why are foreign countries able to screen passengers quicker and more efficiently?

Because they then allow people into the airport carrying/possessing firearms and explosives.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"Regression to the mean". Terrorism is rare, the TSA has done nothing (not ONE thing) to even put a slight damper on terrorism. They're a jobs program for those too inept to flip a burger.

Approximately 1 0f 7 TSA security officers has prior military service. Many are retired law enforcement or US military. I strongly disagree with your statement, "They're a jobs program for those too inept to flip a burger".

Submitted by Anonymous on

LAX terminal 3 had one security line open for pre check and one for everybody else today. The problem isn't us it's your chronic understaffing. It's ALWAYS packed at LAX on Saturday, or rather it's packed with passengers, not TSA...

Submitted by Anonymous on

There is nothing good about TSA, it's cheap and cheap. They fail just about every test they are given. It's security theater plain and simple. Give the sheep a show so everybody can feel better...