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TSA cuts may mean longer security wait times; new technology at some airports will help

Even with the busy spring break travel period on the horizon, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) quietly ordered over time caps nationwide along with a freeze on hiring new security officers. Industry watchers fear the cost-saving move will cause airport security wait times to go up and possibly compromise security as screeners scramble to process long lines of waiting passengers. The hiring freeze could have long term effects that could extend into the summer as there is a lot of turnover for airport security workers.

Travelers may escape increased lines as several airports across the country will be implementing new technology that will eliminate the need for security officials to look at boarding passes. New Credential Authentication Technology allows security staff to quickly pinpoint passengers and their flight itineraries using only an approved government ID such as a passport or driver’s license.  Approximately 500 machines will be installed at airports in U.S. cities some of which include Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Sacramento and Seattle.

 

DHS says Real ID documents can be submitted online; TSA membership may be allowed

In an effort to streamline the process for obtaining a Real ID, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it will allow states to accept documents for Real ID applications electronically.

Many state agencies are experiencing long lines and wait times as they scramble to issue new Real-ID compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards.  Even if a state does implement the electronic pre-submission system, applicants will still be required to make an in-person visit to finish the application process. However, allowing applicants to submit the necessary paperwork online is expected to expedite service at departments of motor vehicles across the country.  

Congress is also considering a bill that would allow membership in TSA PreCheck to be a temporary alternative to having a Real ID for travel on domestic aircraft. If the bill is approved, PreCheck members would have until April 1, 2022 to obtain a Real ID.

As a reminder, the start date for full enforcement of Real ID is Oct. 1, 2020. Travelers are encouraged to check with their local departments of motor vehicles for the latest information and requirements for Real ID.

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