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Delta Adds Staff to Ease Airport-Security Bottlenecks

In the latest no-confidence vote on the TSA’s ability to effectively manage security at the country’s airports, Delta today announced “up to $4 million” in additional staffing at 32 airports to augment TSA checkpoint personnel. The Delta workers will assist with non-security tasks, like managing lines and screening bins, freeing up TSA staff to open more lanes and process more passengers.

In addition to the extra manpower, Delta claims to have invested $1 million in the redesign of two security lanes at Atlanta airport, that “are expected to increase throughput.”

According to Delta’s news release, the efforts were discussed and coordinated with the TSA “months ago,” suggesting that the airline long ago foresaw the possibility of the security-clearance meltdown that has since become front-page news on an almost-daily basis.

Since Delta implemented supplemental staffing in early May, the airline has seen a 10 percent increase in throughput at TSA security lanes. Further shortening wait times, Delta’s staffing support at 32 airports has allowed TSA to open nearly 30 additional lanes across the U.S. that would have gone unstaffed.

That’s progress, to be sure. But it’s not a solution. It’s not Delta’s job to manage security clearance, and it’s not a problem that any airline or group of airlines can solve.

For now at least, airport security is the TSA’s job. The agency must lead, follow, or get out of the way.

Reader Reality Check

What grade would give the TSA for its handling of airport security?

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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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