The impending sequester did not prevent the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from acting in late February to seal a $50-million deal to purchase new uniforms for its agents--uniforms that will be partly manufactured in Mexico.
Soon after this new investment in TSA uniforms, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned Americans that the lines are already lengthening at airports due to the sequester.
"We are already seeing the effect on the ports of entry, the big airports for example," Napolitano told Politico on Monday. "Some of them had very long lines this weekend."
"Look people, I don't mean to scare, I mean to inform," Napolitiano said."If you're traveling, get to the airport earlier than you otherwise would. There's only so much we can do with personnel and please don't yell at the customs officers, the TSA officers. They aren't responsible for sequester."
On Feb. 27, the agency announcedthat on Feb. 22 it had awarded a one-year contract to VF Imagewear, Inc., which owns the Lee brand and Wrangler Hero, to provide the uniforms. “This contract will address the requirements of the TSA, Office of Security Operations, TSA Uniform Program,” the award states.
TheTSA employs50,000 security officers, inspectors, air marshals and managers. That means that the uniform contract will pay the equivalent of $1,000 per TSA employee over the course of the year.
The travel industry is warning that airport security line wait times could stretch to three hours after mandatory funding cuts kick in March 1.
Top congressional aides and the U.S. Travel Association tell Secrets that under the looming budget sequester, an hour will be added to security waits at the nation's largest and busiest airports due to necessary Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Custom and Border Protection furloughs required to meet the funding cuts.
And once travelers pop out of those security lines they will likely face even longer waits since cuts in Federal Aviation Administration staff will result in reduced air traffic control and longer delays.
"The indiscriminate sequester cuts threaten to derail the travel-led recovery," warned Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association. "There is absolutely no excuse for travelers in one of the world's most advanced nations to suffer through a travel process that wastes their precious time and resources," he said.
To press Congress to restore funding, the travel association said it is creating a mobile messaging campaign to let delayed travelers text complaints to their House and Senate representatives.
"It is time for Washington to solve problems rather than create potentially devastating new crises. The 14.4 million Americans whose jobs depend on travel, the two million Americans who fly each day and the millions more who take to the roads and rails to drive the American economy are counting on our elected officials to deliver results that keep our nation competitive and attractive to travelers around the globe," said Dow.
Hope and Change! Thanks Mr. President, for creating this crisis!
Seating in airline cabins hasn't changed too much since the Sixties-I'm not talking about the addition of TV sets and Wi-Fi, but the actual seats themselves. Sure, a few carriers have removed a row or two of seats, creating "stretch" seating, allowing additional legroom for frequent fliers or for a fee. I'm not talking about that, but improvements to the seat. Check out this design:
Pretty slick, using the real estate above the seating area for TV and tray, and redesigning the chair and materials it is made of. I do wonder what the "pain in the ass factor" is, when the guy sitting in the window seat needs to use the restroom. How long does it take to fold up the tray and TV to allow an exit? I also wonder about the emergency oxygen masks-could they get caught in the TV/tray?
Pretty cool to see someone come up with a better mousetrap. Which airline will be the first to try it out?
People that aren't aware of their immediate surroundings.
People that think that they are the only person on the planet, that all that matters is in their immediate personal space, and are oblivious to others in their general vicinity.
I'm in the airport this morning, heading off to Seattle and Los Angeles for business, going through the TSA line. Bags are on the conveyor belt, walk through the x-ray machine, and get to the other side, where 4 people are waiting behind the one guy who has decided he is the only one traveling today, and is getting dressed right at the "mouth" of the baggage x-ray.
Doesn't move his stuff down 6 feet to the left, so that the rest of us in line behind him can get our stuff. Doesn't recognize that more bags and tubs are continuing to slowly push his stuff out of the way.
Stands there like an idiot, no sense of urgency, takes his sweet time. I move past the other sheep waiting for this clown, pick up my bags and tubs, and move to a quiet spot down the way to reassemble my possessions.
My plane lands in Seattle, and the flight waitresses ask us all to remain seated, as there has been a mild medical "emergency" on the flight, and ground-based paramedics are coming onboard to help this girl off. They do their job, and the announcement is made that we may now deplane.
As is normally the case, some of the folks sitting in rows 1-4 don't have their bags in the compartments over their seats, so the "upstream spawn" begins, with a few of these people (instead of waiting for a few rows to clear out), begin wading against the flow to retrieve their precious suitcase from 10 feet away.
IF YOU WAIT FOR A MINUTE, OR ASK ME TO HAND YOU YOUR BAG, I WILL DO IT WITH A SMILE ON MY FACE.
But no, YOU have to elbow and force your way back, grab your stuff, and then for some reason, fight your way back downstream to recover your "spot" in line. Keep in mind that your "spot" was about 4 feet away. You will wind up getting off the plane a whopping 6 seconds faster than me.
Tom Stuker is looking forward to scaling back his flying a bit in 2013 and getting back to his normal routine: half a million miles sounds about right.
As one of the world’s most frequent fliers, Stuker will receive an annual mileage statement many travelers won’t see after a lifetime of globetrotting – he is the first passenger to fly 1 million miles on United Airlines in a calendar year, reaching the milestone earlier this month.
The feat comes about a year-and-a-half after the carrier threw him a party for earning 10 million miles in flight, a celebration that included naming a Boeing 747 in his honor.
How does Stuker feel after flying the equivalent of 40 trips around the world in less than 365 days?
“Tired,” he said, laughing. “I know I’ll never fly this much again in a year.”
Under their new collective bargaining agreement, Transportation Security Administration officers get to spend more taxpayer money on their uniforms every year than a United States Marine Corps lieutenant can spend in a lifetime.
“TSA employees will see their uniform allowances nearly double to $446 per year,” the House Transportation Committee noted in a press release on the TSA’s new collective bargaining agreement. “By comparison, a combat Marine Lieutenant receives a one-time uniform allowance of $400. The cost of the increase in TSA uniform allowance is an estimated $9.63 million annually.”