The TSA is paying $1,000 sign-on bonuses to airport security screeners as it tries to plug staff shortages – just as reports of aggressive passengers hit record highs

A Transportation Security Administration officer wearing a blue shirt walks through an airport with lots of passengers around him.
The Transportation Security Administration is offering $1,000 sign-on bonuses for officers amid a worker shortage. Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is offering new hires $1,000 bonuses, CNBC reported.
  • The TSA said it wanted to hire 2,000 new security staff by September as travel bounces back.
  • The number of unruly passenger reports, including attacks on TSA staff, has jumped in recent months.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Transportation Security Administration is offering $1,000 sign-on bonuses to airport screeners and hopes to hire 2,000 of them in the next three months, CNBC reported.

The federal agency, which manages airport security, said in a February press release that it planned to hire 6,000 Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) by summer 2021 ahead of a surge in travel.

A TSA spokeswoman told CNBC that it had so far hired around 4,000 TSOs, and was pushing to meet the 6,000 goal by the end of September.

TSA’s hiring spree comes amid reports of a surge in airline passenger violence. The Federal Aviation Administration has recorded more than 3,000 cases of unruly passenger behavior this year, and is investigating a record number of incidents.

Flight attendants told Insider earlier in June that they were burnt out from managing aggressive passengers.

TSA airport security officers have also dealt with passenger violence. The agency said in a June 24 press release that a passenger in Denver stood accused of biting two of its officers, and a traveler in Louisville, Kentucky, was accused of attacking two officers while trying to jump the exit lane. Both passengers face a $13,910 fine, the press release said.

The TSA also said in the release that it would restart self-defense training, which was paused during the pandemic, for its officers and flight attendants.

The TSA previously asked its office workers to volunteer at airport checkpoints due to staff shortages, according to a May 30 memo viewed by the Washington Post. These staff would help manage queues rather than screen passengers, the memo said.

The TSA did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.