Since the inception of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), airport travelers have complained about the treatment they receive at the hands of the public servants there for the nation’s protection. Privacy concerns, especially with regard to the full-body scanner some security checkpoints employ, have been just one of a number of complaints levied by airline passengers who feel their methods are too invasive.
Now, twelve years after the terrorist attacks that saw the nation’s airlines turned into weapons of mass destruction, the TSA is finally giving frequent travelers another option than the congested security gates they’ve grown used to. According to Business Week, the TSA Pre-check application center opened for business today to in Atlanta, one of 300 planned facilities of its kind. U.S. citizens (and legal residents)—after paying a non-refundable $85 fee—can apply for the Pre-check service, which will feature relaxed screenings.
Yet, for some lawmakers this is not enough.
At a recent hearing on Capitol Hill, Democratic Representative from Virginia Gerry Connolly scolded TSA official Kelly Hogan for the agency’s lack of courtesy with travelers.
According to the New York Daily News, while describing a recent trip to Las Vegas, Connolly said, “I counted — in one encounter — 20 barked orders,” Connolly said. “‘Take that off … Move over there … Back up … Put your hands up … Take your shoes off.’ Not once was the word ‘please’ used. I don’t understand how hard it is to teach people: make sure you use the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when you’re interacting with our public.”
Manners aside, the TSA may have no choice but to get out of the airport screening business. During the same hearing, Republican John Mica of Florida said that he plans to ensure that all airport screening is privatized. Stopping short of completely disbanding the agency, Mica says they would remain “in charge of gathering intelligence, setting standards and running audits,” according to USA Today.
The hearing was held to debate a spending bill that caps the total number of airport screens at 46,000 (the current number is around 48,000) and further cut spending by $225 million.