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Passengers face long wait times at airports for spring break as TSA freezes hiring

Passengers flying out for spring break could face longer wait times at airports as the Transport Security Administration experiences a staffing shortage after putting in place a hiring freeze.  

A temporary hiring freeze has been put in place until April, or May, which will lead to staff shortages at security checkpoints, according to Union President Hydrick Thomas. 

It comes as the TSA attempts to address a living-wage pay rise across the board for all staffers.  

A TSA hiring freeze could mean longer wait times at airports during spring break

A Democratic congressional aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the TSA House oversight committee was forced to put the freeze in place as it addressed the pay hike of 3.1 per cent for federal workers.

The hikes will be put in place in accordance with a Congressional spending agreement announced in late 2019. 

Union head Thomas said he hasn't received official word on the freezes but he said regional TSA security directors did get word last week during a phone call.

A temporary hiring freeze has been put in place until April, or May, which will lead to staff shortages at security checkpoints, according to Union President Hydrick Thomas

Airports are already feeling the impact of the overtime and hiring freezes, for example, wait times (not pictured) at wait times at Honolulu's Daniel K. Inouye International Airport have stretched to 40 minutes

In a statement, TSA said: 'In anticipation of another record-breaking summer travel season, the Transportation Security Administration is managing resources by prioritizing overtime to the busiest of travel periods. 

'Additionally, TSA will continue to assess applicants for entry into TSA, and will conduct two extended hiring windows to coincide with the busy summer travel season.'

A TSA spokesperson said the freezes won't negatively impact spring break travelers because the agency has already hired additional agents prior to the freezes.

'The pause in hiring will be lifted in late April to ensure that additional TSA officers are hired, undergo training, certification and go through some on-the-job training by the time summer travel season arrives,' the spokesperson told the Washington Post.

But according to the Washington Post, an internal TSA memo read that airports are already feeling the impact of the overtime and hiring freezes. 

For example, the memo reads that a checkpoint at wait times at Honolulu's Daniel K. Inouye International Airport have stretched to 40 minutes. 

The memo said the long wait is, 'due to a large amount of passenger build up with national overtime revocation resulting in restricted checkpoint capabilities.' 

TSA union vice president Joe Shuker represents airport workers in the Washington, D.C. area. He said TSA workers depend on overtime pay to compensate for already low wages.

'We can't keep people,' he said. 'They spend so much money training people and then they leave. . . . We're losing people to Chick-fil-A in the airport,' Shuker told the Washington Post.

However, the American Association of Airport Executives said that airports with heavy spring break crowds may be excluded from the hiring freeze, according to the Washington Post. Although, the organization has yet to get confirmation from the TSA.