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Phoenix councilman: TSA waits, baggage issues at Sky Harbor ‘unacceptable’

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
LISTEN: Sal DiCiccio - Phoenix City Councilman

PHOENIX — A Phoenix city councilman said the wait times and baggage issues caused by the Transportation Security Administration at Sky Harbor International Airport are “unacceptable.”

“You cannot allow the public to wait hours in line, the lost baggage, the fact that they’re missing their flights right now is unacceptable,” Councilman Sal DiCiccio told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Tuesday. “The status quo is completely unacceptable.”

Last week, the TSA piled thousands of bags into a cell phone lot at the airport after an  “unprecedented” issue with the software the agency uses to scan for explosives.

A backup system was put in place that involved canine units and other means. However, the alternative process was more time-consuming than the automated system, leading some bags to be delayed for days.

DiCiccio said the baggage error should be indicative that the TSA is no longer the best option for Sky Harbor and city officials need to explore other options, such as a private security firm.

“We need, at the very least, to be looking at these options that are available,” he said. “The public deserves that.”

DiCiccio said it is unclear how long to process to select a different firm would take or what the cost to the city would be. However, more than 20 other cities use a different security provider with positive experiences.

“What we’re seeing across the country is that it’s a lot less expensive and it’s a lot more efficient and it’s safe,” the councilman said.

However, if Phoenix does choose to go with a private security company, it would not rid itself of the TSA entirely.

“They get to select the private company as well, even though we can recommend one, and then they also monitor it, so you’ve got their hands in there throughout the process,” DiCiccio said.

DiCiccio plans to address the issue at an upcoming meeting with the city manager. Though the idea is still in its infancy, he said the TSA is a big problem for Phoenix that needs to be solved.

“We can make this better,” he said. “It’s not hard to do”

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