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TSA Budget Cuts: Passengers Might Be Spending More Time In Airport Security Lines

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Heads up to all last-minute travelers: It might be time to leave yourself a little more breathing room.

That's because the Transportation Security Administration's latest plan to cut its checkpoint support budget by 41 percent will likely increase the time passengers wait in airport security lines, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Since September 11, 2001, Americans have already started arriving much earlier to flights. A survey by the consulting service Resource Systems Group Inc. found the percentage of Americans arriving at least two hours in advance of boarding time rose to 40 percent from 20 percent in the three years following the tragic events.

Any extra time spent waiting will be of particular annoyance in airports like Chicago's O'Hare International or Newark's Liberty International, the two ranked highest on The Daily Beast's list of worst airports in America.

Yet the TSA told the Chronicle that almost all travelers get through security in less than 20 minutes. Of course, even a couple more minutes in line will be a burden to procrastinators.

The slash on checkpoint spending comes after both Republican and Democrat House members criticized the airport security agency last month for wasting time and taxpayer money on ineffective security methods, including faulty equipment and mistreatment of passengers. A Congressional investigative agency found that full-body scanners, which can cost $250,000 each, were not in regular use, and one lawmaker said the airport security agency treated Americans like "prisoners."

There are ways to combat long lines and extended wait times. As part of a screening program called TSA Pre-Check, eligible passengers that provide personal information before arriving at the airport can bypass some security protocol, such as taking out laptops and removing their shoes. The program has received early positive feedback, enough that it has recently been expanded to additional airports, including New York's La Guardia Airport just last week.

It's not as if the TSA has never changed strategy after outrage before. Following complaints of overly invasive screening methods, the airport security agency eased up on some of the screening rules for children last fall and relaxed security procedures for some elderly travelers under a test program announced last month.