This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, says he's personally seen security lines so long at Salt Lake City International Airport recently that people offered "upwards of $50 to other passengers" to move ahead in line and not miss their flights.
After complaining to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) about those lines, Chaffetz says he was told Tuesday that TSA plans to add as many as 20 full-time equivalent employees there to handle traffic that has increased by 11 percent this year.
"I applaud the decision," Chaffetz said after he and state Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, met with Ron Malin, TSA federal security director for Utah.
Chaffetz said in a statement that TSA told him "that staffing levels at the airport are down 7 percent compared to the first three months of 2014, but that wait times still average 20 minutes or less."
But Chaffetz wrote to TSA last month saying he personally waited 45 minutes or more to move through security checkpoints and that airlines had raised concern that inadequate staffing was causing delays. He said he had seen the express TSA "Pre-Check" line closed without explanation at busy times.
Chaffetz said Malin "is committed to making the TSA screening operation, including TSA Pre-Check, work consistently and effectively. His commitment to keep the Pre-Check lines open during advertised hours will ensure passenger safety and preclude a repeat of unexpected line closures and delays."
Chaffetz added "I am pleased to learn that the TSA seeks to add dogs to the screening process in Salt Lake. Experts in the Defense Department determined that no existing technology more effectively detects explosives than a dog's nose," and Chaffetz has pushed for using them.
It isn't the first time that Chaffetz has butted heads with the TSA. He had an infamous run-in in 2009 at the airport when TSA officials attempted to make him go through a whole-body imaging machine after he had attacked the devices in Congress as "strip search" machines because they essentially allow screeners to see through passengers' clothes. He refused to go through it and was given a lengthy patdown instead. TSA officers said in reports that Chaffetz demanded, "Do you know who I am," cussed at them and was abusive which Chaffetz said was exaggerated. He, in turn, accused the TSA of harassing him.