TSA Stepping Up Random Security Screenings For Airport Workers

There’s a good chance you’ve been waiting (patiently) in the airport security line, preparing to take off your shoes, your belt, remove your laptop, and place everything on the belt, only to see an airport employee breezily walk through the side gate with a quick flick of their badge. That scenario will likely be less and less frequent around the country as the Transportation Security Administration plans to increase random checks of airport and airline employees. 

The Associated Press reports that TSA plans to increase random checks of personnel holding badges that typically enable them to bypass security checkpoints starting next year.

Currently, U.S. airport and airline employees are allowed to skip security lines after undergoing a background check and obtaining a Security Identification Display Area (SIDA) badge. The system is designed to free up staff at passenger checkpoints and to clear individuals who are considered a minimal security risk, the AP reports.

A spokesperson for the agency didn’t elaborate on how often the random checks would be used, but cited a Dept. of Homeland Security memo from earlier this year that it would enhance such random screenings in secure areas and encourage airports to reduce employee access points.

“The TSA Administrator and I have recently concluded that we need to double-down on these airport security efforts and will be consulting with airports and airlines to do so,” Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh C. Johnson said in the statement from April.

The random screening changes come after airlines and airports have been dealing with security breaches of sorts in recent years.

In December 2014, a Delta Air Lines employee was arrested after allegedly helping to smuggle guns on a flight.

The AP reports that airlines have already begun warning their employees that they may be subject to more scrutiny at checkpoints.

American Airlines issued a memo to employees telling them that “we anticipate the random screening process to increase throughout December and during the 2016 calendar year.”

TSA increases screening of airport and airline employees [The Associated Press]