In business, being busy is a good problem to have, as long as that “business” comes from paying customers. But, when you are dealing with the consumer public, you can get too busy… and that’s the danger United States airlines are facing come summer time.
A Long Wait
Already the butt of endless jokes and the focus of nonstop frustration from fliers who are grounded, delayed or otherwise inconvenienced, the expected uptick in air travelers is creating a potential public relations issue for most American carriers. Thanks to lower prices and an improving economy, more people are flying, but the current logistic setups are already strained. What happens when people have nothing to do but wait in line and complain on social media?
Cause of Long TSA Lines
Making matters worse, some agencies are reporting the TSA is already overburdened and understaffed. Not enough agents means longer lines, longer waits, and increased frustrations – and all that before the passengers even get to the terminal. In the meantime, TSA officials are recommending passengers arrive at least two hours before their scheduled flights just to make it through security before their planes take off.
CNN is reporting that the TSA has gone to Congress asking for up to $34 million to invest in new staff and open up funds to cover overtime for current staff while the rookies are being trained. So far, not a peep from a recessed Congress about what they plan to do to help stave off travel frustrations.
According to CNN, some airports are even telling TSA officials they plan to take matters into their own hands, hiring private security contractors to pick up the slack until Congress acts, if they ever do. Now both the TSA and the airlines would be on the hook for any actions committed by that private security.
No Respite in Sight
This is because travelers aren’t differentiating who’s frustrating them at the airport – it’s specific frustration channeled at a general target: traveling by air. That reality puts the onus for solving the PR problem squarely on the shoulders of the airlines, already struggling to keep their passengers happy.
And The Blame Shifting Continues…
Airport managers at many airports aren’t helping much either. Several have simply punted and pointed in the general direction of the TSA, blaming them for staffing problems. Meanwhile, the agency is pointing fingers at a slow-to-act congress. Once again, airlines are left to solve the puzzle of unhappy, harried and frustrated passengers. And it looks like it will get worse before it gets better.
David Milberg is a financial expert in New York City.