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This year, leading up to the presidential election, we’ve seen how government gridlock can have an effect on angry voters. Now, we’re starting to see the results of government dysfunction on travel, too, due to problems at the TSA.
Long lines at security screening checkpoints have resulted in delays and massive numbers of travelers missing their flights. It’s thrown the entire system into chaos and has led to significant disruptions. A recent survey of 2,500 Americans conducted by the U.S. Travel Association found that of those planning air travel between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year, 21.8 percent will either travel by other means or delay or cancel their trips because of hours-long waits at airport security checkpoints. Overall, the data indicates that millions of Americans will either skip planned spending on travel or will spend less. All told, the lost travel spending will total $4.3 billion for the three-month peak summer season — a figure that would have directly supported 37,500 additional domestic jobs.
“We’re looking at convincing data that says hundreds of thousands of people are potentially reconsidering whether to get on an airplane every single day,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “Given the importance of travel to both our economy and our way of life, it is not an overstatement to call that a national crisis in need of a national solution.”
The U.S. Travel Association suggests making the pre-check program easier to join, among other remedies, but the fact is that any potential solution is weeks or months away. Now that the summer travel season is ramping up, all indications are that more people will be taking trips this year than ever before. And the travel agents we’ve heard from say that business is booming. In fact, for several years now, the travel industry has been an economic success story, even during the worst years of the recession. Now, that success is being threatened by forces that are entirely preventable.
We can only hope that this is the wake-up call Congress needs in order to act, before this becomes known as the summer of incompetence. But if legislators fail to act, come November, we should hold them responsible for creating this mess in the first place.