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Sea-Tac debuts private screeners at TSA checkpoints

KOMO

SEATAC, Wash. -- Security is getting a new look with the goal of shortening the lines that build at TSA checkpoints.

For the first time, private contractors will join federal agents to work security checkpoints through the summer. Passengers agree something needs to be done because boarding a plane is becoming unbearable.

"I travel here every week, and TSA pre-check is a joke," said Cathy Bloss, who often flies between Seattle and Portland.

Wait times can quickly stack up at security checkpoints as TSA agents struggle to staff them. The Port of Seattle's solution is to experiment with private security officers. The idea is for contract employees to free up TSA staff so more security lanes can open.

Industry experts predict a record-setting number of passengers will fly this summer. The forecast calls for 95,000 additional air travelers every day across the nation. However, in recent years TSA has lost 5,000 agents and seen its budget shrink by nearly $250 million.

The Port of Seattle is starting to train 90 private security screeners. TSA agents will still be in charge of reviewing monitors and handling pat-downs, but the contract workers can assist in less sensitive roles such as reminding people to remove their shoes and empty their pockets.

Senator Maria Cantwell joined 22 other lawmakers on Thursday in demanding more money for TSA from the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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