Help Wanted: TSA, airlines looking for workers

Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 5:51 PM EST
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BURLINGTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Vt. (WCAX) - Spring break is on the horizon and that means more people looking to take to the skies. But the air travel industry isn’t immune to staffing shortages. As part of our ongoing series on high-demand jobs, Kayla Martin unpacks how labor shortages continue to impact air travel.

If you’ve taken a plane anywhere in the past two years, you’ve likely had to wait in longer than usual lines at TSA security screening.

“We make sure that the person we let into security has a flight today and that is actually an accurate representation of that person,” explained Daniel Bagley, a TSA supervisor at Burlington International Airport. “The officers look for any prohibited items on passengers, carry-ons, and luggage.”

Now they need your help to get staffing levels to take off. “We never really want to call it a crisis because we’re still operational, get the job done no matter how many folks are here,” said Dan Velez, a TSA spokesperson. He says enough people are working to function, but that could change as spring and summer travel heats up. “Slowly but surely creeping back up to pre-pandemic passenger travel screening numbers -- more than likely if not this summer than next year.”

And it’s not just TSA agents. United Airlines reached out to us saying it is in desperate need of workers. “You’re one of those passengers that shows up late to the airport -- nine out of 10 times you’re not going to make it. We are trying our best. Short staffing creates waiting times,” said the airline’s Leslie James.

She says they are doing everything they can to get workers in the door. “Just talk to everyone about what we actually do at the airport,” James said. She says the entire operation gets bogged down when there are fewer gate agents. “We might only have one agent and there are 20 people in line.”

United is currently looking to hire about 20 employees in Burlington including customer service agents.

So what attracts an applicant to work at the airport? In addition to benefits, the TSA’s Bagley says he just likes the environment. “My favorite part of this job is how you constantly get to interact with new people. It’s never the same every day,” he said.

Becoming a TSA agent can take about six months, but trainees are paid the whole time. “No matter what field you’re in currently, if you put your mind to it, you’ll be able to adapt and succeed here,” Bagley said.

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