The airline industry expects an all-time high of over 231 million fliers just between June and August, which means more bags to screen and more headaches for the TSA.
With the TSA under heightened pressure to reduce the security wait times, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson asked airlines to "consider possibly eliminating the checked-baggage fee to encourage people to check their luggage rather than putting it in the carry on." Airlines made more than $3.8 billion in revenue from checked-baggage fees in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
JetBlue President and CEO Robin Hayes admitted "we are all concerned that we face longer waits" this summer, yet insisted that waiving the fees "won't help the situation."
"Well the bag has to be screened, whether it goes in through with the customer or down below, and we also don't want to be in a position where customers are making flights but their bags aren't because we're backed up downstairs," Hayes told "CBS This Morning" Thursday, in his first-ever network television interview as CEO.
American, Delta and United Airlines are reportedly each spending some $4 million at their busiest hubs to help TSA agents. JetBlue is also taking action.
"We are certainly putting additional business partners and our crew members to perform some of the non-security related functions to support the TSA," Hayes explained. "We're suggesting that all of our customers arrive at the airport in plenty of time to go through security and PreCheck. If you travel very frequently. It's an investment for five years, it's around $85 but it gets you expedited at a much quicker security with the TSA."
Meanwhile, JetBlue had a "minor outage" Thursday that caused some flight delays, but Hayes said they were "very brief." He said the use of social media to communicate with customers helped.
"JetBlue is one of the leaders and first users of social media to get instant customer feedback and we have well over a million followers on Twitter," Hayes said.
Known as a low-cost carrier, JetBlue faced some pushback when it expanded its upgraded business class service called "Mint." But Hayes defended the program as a "premium experience" that offered customers "a much better product at a lower price." Mint fliers have access to lie-flat seating, big screen TVs and artisanal dining options.
"Now, we just didn't want people calling it first class or business class because it sought to do something much different to that," Hayes said.
JetBlue is also awaiting to hear back from the Department of Transportation for permission to begin flights to Cuba.
"We've applied for a mission to apply to four cities in Cuba, including Havana. We're waiting to hear from the Department of Transportation to assign the frequencies between the different U.S. airlines."