(WTVM) - If you're planning on flying anywhere this summer, you already know you'll have to get to the airport early.
The Transportation Security Administration says the long lines are finally getting shorter, but the screening process for fliers is still a hassle.
As usual, the real reason behind the problem is the misdirection, if not the outright waste, of our money.
When aviation security fees were hiked in 2013, it raised an extra $1.2 billion to make the screening process go faster.
The money was definitely spent – but nothing changed. And we are still paying those fees – because as we know, once a fee goes up, it rarely goes down and never goes away.
So where did that money really go? It turns out some of the billion dollars in fees was diverted, supposedly for deficit reduction and other things, but it didn't go toward making things smoother at the airports.
During the same time period, the number of TSA screeners was reduced by 5,000. At the same time, the volume of passengers rose 15 percent, to 740 million.
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics expects that number to pass 800 million this year. The TSA thought millions of Americans would pay $85 each for TSA Pre-check, a program to exempt known travelers from some security steps, thus speeding up the process.
But that didn't work, and that's why the lines have been so ridiculously long. Congress even gave the TSA an extra $34 million to hire more screeners, but that's just a band aid on a deeper wound.
The TSA admitted just last week that undercover attempts to get fake weapons through security is still a problem – one full year after reports that undercover agents succeeded 95 percent of the time in getting knives, metal and even fake bombs through the checkpoints.
Once again, Congress has failed to act on behalf of the people to hold the TSA accountable.
Long lines do not mean more thorough security checks.
We should demand that we get real security and reasonable screening speed, in that order, from the TSA. But be prepared to wait.
General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to:
WTVM Editorial Committee
1909 Wynnton Road
Columbus, GA 31906