Apr 1, 2024 - News

TSA complaints are rising at San Diego's airport

Data: TSA via Data Liberation Project; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios
Data: TSA via Data Liberation Project; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Travelers reported a lower volume of complaints at San Diego International than at most other major U.S. airports last year, but dissatisfaction there is still on the rise, data from the Transportation Security Administration shows.

Why it matters: Air passengers are reporting complaints at a higher rate than before the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Data Liberation Project.

Zoom in: January saw about 19 complaints per 100,000 passengers at SAN, compared to six during the same month in 2019.

  • That's a higher rate of complaints than at the average U.S. airport that month.

In 2023 overall, SAN ranked 61st out of 103 major U.S. airports, averaging about ​​14 complaints per 100,000 passengers throughout the year.

The fine print: The data shows a spike in early 2020 because of more complaints relative to passenger volume, which declined during the pandemic.

Between the lines: The TSA PreCheck program was the most common target of complaints at SAN and nationally last year, the analysis found.

  • SAN received 1,337 complaints about the expedited passenger screening program from January 2023 through January 2024.
  • Other top complaint areas were customer service (146), screening (122) and the mishandling of passenger property (46).

Context: TSA reported screening more than 3.79 million departing travelers last summer, not including Labor Day weekend — up 18% from the same time period in 2022.

And just FYI, the busiest times at SAN's security checkpoints are 5-7am, 9am-1pm and 7-9pm, according to TSA.

  • The busiest days to travel are Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday.
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