Why it takes so long to get through airport security
Security lines grow longer as passengers carry on more luggage. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
Although the TSA is expanding its popular PreCheck fast lanes this fall, the agency is under pressure to speed up screening for even more fliers, so all aspects of the checkpoint experience are being scrutinized.
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The bin backup can get so bad that the TSA has to pull non-screener staff away from desk jobs just to move the containers along—it simply doesn’t have enough officers to handle inspections and housekeeping chores. And bin-lackey duties don’t require any special training or certification. All it requires is some latex gloves and being fast on your feet.
Barbara Peterson works the bins. (Photo: Barbara Peterson)
Conveniently, Dulles checkpoints have a spacious refresh zone so passengers can pull themselves together before leaving security; but that's really just a zone for losing things.
Experienced screeners say on a typical shift during rush hour, frantic fliers routinely leave behind belts, watches and harder-to-replace items like laptops, cell phones, car keys—even boarding passes. A main fringe benefit for fliers signing up for PreCheck is that they get spared the security striptease: They get to keep shoes and jackets on and even leave their laptops in their carry-ons and thus are less likely to have to pay a visit to the TSA lost and found.