TSA Screeners Can Go Home, Get Paid For 14 Days At A Time “No Questions Asked”

Newark airport’s terminal A security checkpoint has been closed. Passengers will have to clear security at terminal C and get bused over to A gates. Try not to touch anything on the ride.

TSA screeners are calling out from work by the hundreds, in a challenge that’s expected to get significantly worse, after the agency announced that screeners are now allowed to take paid time off, no questions asked under “weather and safety leave” if they feel at all uncomfortable reporting to work. In fact, it’s expected that thousands of screeners will begin calling out from their jobs.

Top regional officials are now sounding the alarm that hundreds of employees are staying home, and with little incentive for screeners to continue working when they can simply request leave with no questions asked, the officials expect the problem to only get worse. And while airport traffic has greatly diminished as a result of the pandemic, officials say there is still a small surge of travel occurring during the spring break period.

There is “absolutely nothing” to stop the situation from growing to thousands of officers declining to come to work, one senior executive said. As more and more employees see their colleagues taking unlimited safety leave without missing a paycheck, the executive speculated those employees would stop seeing any point in coming to work. “Why am I coming to work?” the official anticipated employees would ask themselves.

So-called ‘safety leave’ is being offered in 14-day increments. According to the agency, “This applies to employees, regardless of whether or not they are symptomatic for COVID-19.” One TSA executive admits, “We’ve just opened the floodgates for people to exploit it.”

“If they show up and say ‘I’m scared to go to work’, we are not allowed to challenge them,” one senior executive said. “We are not allowed to ask why. They can just go home.”

Here TSA employees can be seen eating from a shared platter, Failing to social distance (HT: Reid F):

Of course since TSA screening did little to deter actual threats, and by the agency’s own admission the lack of incidents in U.S. commercial aviation is the result of a lack of active plots, there’s likely little lost as a result of this policy – except that anyone proceeding through a TSA checkpoint may face longer lines making social distancing more difficult.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This is why it’s incredibly important to teach ethics, morality, the importance of taking pride in your craft, and the concepts of right vs. wrong when kids are young.

    I would be fundamentally uncomfortable exploiting any policy. It’s just wrong.

  2. Gary, you do realize that them working the checkpoint isn’t social distancing either. Once again,you stupidly blame the screeners for the foolishness that the administrators and managers have created. Don’t be an ass just for the sake of being one.

  3. The problem is that when your “craft” is patting down toddlers, and fondling people’s junk – It’s just extremely hard to have any form of pride.

  4. All TSA management needs to be canned immediately. TSA workers are minimum wage caliber employees. How in the flying F did they think they could say “Hey, everyone can take two weeks off paid” and not think 100% of their workforce wasn’t going to do it? This is like a patent putting a Cupcake with sprinkles on the table and telling their three year old not to touch it and walking out of the room.

  5. Oh yeah, the number one employee group arrested in airport stings by state/federal agencies is not rampers, baggage handlers, airport employees, etc. It’s TSA “agents”

  6. @Gary, no. You’re not. Look, they get it you hate them. You’re at home. They’re at work. You’re no better than Trump. Stop it.

  7. How long will it be before we see people crowded in long lines at TSA checkpoints before boarding flights that are 20% full?

  8. Why is anybody flying anywhere these days? Stay home people! Protect your health and the health of those around you. Let the TSA people go home for two weeks to protect their health.

  9. Given the cuts in flights being rolled out do we think anyone will be flying in a few weeks.

  10. While policies vary from agency to agency (I’m talking federal ones), there are some that are requiring people to alternate weeks of work. So 1/2 the employees work one week, then they get admin leave (i.e., paid time off) the next week.

    The logic mystifies me. Since the next group could come in on Monday and the virus could be on desks, etc. and you’d catch it. And trust me, the only way a desk or most other stuff gets cleaned in the agencies I’ve worked at, is if you do it yourself. The cleaning staff only mopped/vacuum floors, emptied trash and maybe run a duster over the top of some desks but never used any cleaners on the desks, thus some dirty facilities, many of which are 30-50 years old.

    (I’m referring to certain IC agencies)

  11. Jason says:
    March 20, 2020 at 3:24 pm
    This is why it’s incredibly important to teach ethics, morality, the importance of taking pride in your craft, and the concepts of right vs. wrong when kids are young.

    Great point Jason. That’s what is missing in this country.

  12. Went through ATL last night, a ghost town. This is so outrageous . As the previous poster stated the management has to go. This is what is really wrong with this country., The bureaucrats really run the country not the politicians. You don’t curry favor with them they will just wear you down internally and leak anything they can that will hurt.
    The whole TSA agency is a fraud to begin with. 3-3-1 in effect but you can bring as much Purell aboard as you like…….

  13. My son is a TSA Officer, a husband and a father of a 2 year old and a son on the way. He is also college graduate. He shows up to work each day, no time off, and working adjusted schedules to accommodate absenses of those positive, and those quarantining. He wears no mask, only gloves (don’t want to panic the public). The comments, are appalling and shameful. Disappointed in my fellow Americans who throw insults to those “showing up”.

  14. This is a total lie, there are health issues you have to meet, or be over 75 to take the 14 days off. And not one flt has been cxld because of screeners. The airports are empty, no one is flying, in fact the entire transportation system should be shut down for two weeks to curb the spread of this virus.

  15. Judith, i dont think anyone here is criticizing those who work hard and show up every day, however this policy, if accurate is a slap in the face to every other hard working American who doesnt get the benefit of working for an employer who has no skin in the game

  16. I apologize if this isn’t the right avenue for my comment but my son is also a proud TSA agent. He too shows up every day and takes extra shifts so others can have time off. He shows up bcoz he knows that the few thousand people going thru his line still deserve the same security while flying today as the few million who were flying just a few short months ago. I agree with Mrs. Torres and am sad to hear the very people my son, in his own small way, is helping to keep safe, and while so many today would be happy just to have a job, would criticize any position held by a hard working American. With that said I guarantee that most posting here would take the time off too if they were given the chance. So perhaps instead of criticize the TSA, you should join them

  17. Every comment is valid but fyi , if some one in your family TSO or not get sick with covid19 you won’t see that person until is 100% cure because if that person passed the state will take care of that body and you only will be inform of his or her death.
    Be Safe please!!

  18. Thank you Judith! Not to mention working without pay when the government shuts down (which has been multiple times in the past decade) only to have any relief pay given, taken from their work performance so called bonus at the end of the year to repay the government for their generosity of helping those in a hardship while continously bailing out the airline & auto industries and banks. So please people don’t always believe everything you read or hear because sometimes there’s more to the story. The truth.

  19. Why does the public treat us like an inconvenience lol. Y’all clamor for us to be removed from the federal government, not realizing that would mean ppl losing jobs. Everyone throughout the country claims were mean, but never asks why would most officers behave the same. It’s because the traveling public are the rudest, most impatient, and most volatile group of ppl I’ve ever had to work around. Y’all don’t listen, you care about your property but not other’s that came before you, and then you want to tell us how to do our job every 5 seconds. But I guarantee if a tragic incident occurs, it’ll be all on us then, even though our job is a “sham.” The only time the public has compassion for us is when we’re forced to work without pay due to a government shutdown. But it’s true, management is horrible too. So remind me again why would we have high morale & pride when ppl constantly tell us we don’t matter & the agency also treats us as so ?

  20. @ISH – wow, if I understand what you’re saying:

    – We should favor TSA because it’s a make-work program and we need jobs
    – You know we’re badly treated as passengers but it’s our fault
    – If the TSA screws up, they’ll get blamed for it and that’s not fair
    – TSA management is just as bad as the front line, the whole agency is therefore rotten so we shouldn’t complain about parts of it

    Am I following you correctly?

  21. 1. For those complaining about TSA employees who want to stay at home and watch TV all day instead of working, maybe they are taking their cue from the head of the executive branch. 2. For those who wonder where their sense of morality has gone….well, see #1.

  22. I wonder how all those critizing the TSA would feel if they knew how many weapons, ppl of interest and possible terrorist were kept off their flights because of the TSA. If we slack off on the screening process our airlines and passengers become vulnerable. I’d also like to know what most of those critizing the TSA do for a living that makes them worthy of criticizing the worthiness of another.

  23. Please do not give the bloated TSA bureaucracy the credit for keeping people safe in aviation. Look at their own internal records on the number of potential weapons get through checkpoints when they test. The TSA has never prevented a terrorist action. Fact.

  24. No Gary, in your sarcasm you missed my point. You have ppl talking as if TSA officers are undignified scum of the earth everyday. When we had to work without pay, you had reporters from fox going to airports just to say we weren’t needed. We get disrespected on the daily, by ppl who who are the only ones to blame for not being on time, reading the rules that are given when you purchase an airline ticket. It’s a shame that we have to talk to grown adults like children because they’re upset & don’t want to follow the rules. I wish they could do a reality series for a day in the life where passengers could work for the agency, then you’d see why we have the disposition that we do. I’m respectful to everybody, you don’t have to be rude back, but after working there you see why officers become that way. Then I have to read articles where once again ppl tell us how to do our job & don’t have a damn clue about all the policies and procedures we have to follow. Imagine if we started doing that to every profession, telling them they don’t deserve to work and we should all be fired like someone just commented. But we’re the rude & hateful ones, right? It’s not like I love the agency so much that I’m compelled to defend it, but I’m tired of the same old narrative.

  25. Wow what a literate reply, did it take you most of the day to think that up?

  26. Ignorance at its finest, a wise man once said nothing at all. Thank you to any TSA Officers on this post, what you do is greatly appreciated. I understand that your findings are never brought to light due to SSI and the media scaring the traveling public. I know what you guys do and I appreciate you keeping us safe. These guys/gals can disrespect you, but I dare them to name any plane that has been taken down on your watch. So thank you, I support you guys and all that you do.

  27. Aren’t all business’s giving paid time off to those who are experiencing symptoms that could possibly be covid? Outside research said that was what their 2 weeks were for. But they also offered leave to their high risk employees. The least they could do, considering they dont pay enough for them to be able to cover funeral cost. Plus they are getting infected at a fast rate, it’s really a service to the public. I wouldn’t worry about long lines, considering they have lost something like 90% of the passenger load. As this gets worse they will probably be furloughed as the airlines close, because unemployment will be even cheaper then the amount they are paid. Which by the way is equivalent to a McDonald’s employee. They are also in the top federal jobs to be victims of violence during work. They’ll probably all die off due to covid. I feel bad for them.

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