The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has surpassed the Department of Motor Vehicles as representatives of nightmarishly long lines. Now, one man is determined to make them pay for it — literally.
According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 34-year-old Hooman Nikizad decided to sue the TSA over their infamously long lines. The lawsuit comes at a particularly inconvenient time for the TSA. Recent studies show the agency to be rather ineffective at preventing serious security threats. As such, it’s become extremely hard for the TSA to justify its notorious problem with long airport lines.
Rather than make airline passengers feel safe, the lengthy wait reflects efficiency problems TSA workers are struggling to overcome.
The struggle was certainly real for Nikizad, a resident surgeon with the University of Minnesota. On March 19, he arrived two hours early for his flight. Passengers are often told to come this early on average as it theoretically increases their chances of getting through the TSA screening line quickly enough to catch their flight. This wasn’t the case for Hooman, who complained that it took 90 minutes for him to pass through TSA screening.
Even worse, by the time he made it through, his afternoon flight to Los Angeles had departed without him. Livid, the man was forced to buy another plane ticket and then catch the next flight. Others would have only demanded a refund of some sort. Apparently, the incident was so infuriating that it created a desire to hold the TSA accountable in court.
Nikizad’s lawsuit against the TSA was initially filed in Hennepin County District Court. It was transferred to federal court on Friday.
The New York Daily News revealed the incident at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport came just days after TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger visited the location. He came to the site to help address the waiting time issue.
KSTP-TV quoted Neffenger as saying, “We’re hitting this [wait time problem] very hard. It is one of my biggest concerns right now.”
Not hard or soon enough to avoid the lawsuit, unfortunately. The good news for the TSA: The man suing them is only seeking a rather reasonable sum of money. Hooman wants reimbursement for the money paid for a new ticket and wants the agency to cover his court fees. In total, the organization is being asked to cough up a meager $506.85.
The local man had a few choice words for the TSA and their lack of efficiency.
“The (airport) and TSA have done a very poor job of getting passengers through security,” said Nikizad.
He also blamed the long lines on “limited staff” and the decision to send passengers through “one body scanner for the regular security line.”
Although the indignant airplane traveler had plenty to say about TSA’s security screening, the same cannot be said for the lawsuit’s defendants. The Star-Tribune writes that the U.S. attorney’s office in Minneapolis, which is defending the embattled TSA, had no comment about the lawsuit. The same was true of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which operates the airport.
TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers would give no comment except to say she’d never heard of a passenger suing over a missed flight.
It’s true that airline passengers are advised to arrive at an airport at least two hours in advance, but this is more or less an average and not an official estimate. Moreover, it’s often best to check with the specific airport you’re departing from to know if you should arrive sooner or later than the recommended average. There are websites online that you can use to guess at how long you should expect to be in line. Even these aren’t perfect.
If lines for your location are notoriously long, it may be wise to arrive even earlier than recommended — by as much as one to two hours.
What do you think: Was this man right to sue the TSA, or should he have been better prepared in advanced to cope with the long lines? Share your opinion below!
[Photo by Matt York, File/AP Images]