Two million travelers come in contact with the Transportation Security Administration every day. It is an intense experience all around -- extremely personal in some senses but also impersonal at the same time.
There is no time to talk, to listen, to engage with each other. There isn’t much opportunity for our Security Officers to explain the ‘why,’ of what we ask you to do at the checkpoint, just the ‘what’ needs to be done to clear security. The result is that the feedback and venting ends up circulating among passengers with no real opportunity for us to learn from you or vice versa. We get feedback verbally and non-verbally at the checkpoint and see a lot in the blogs, again without a real dialogue.
Our ambition is to provide here a forum for a lively, open discussion of TSA issues. While I and senior leadership of TSA will participate in the discussion, we are turning the keyboard over to several hosts who represent what’s best about TSA (its people). Our hosts aren’t responsible for TSA’s policies, nor will they have to defend them -- their job is to engage with you straight-up and take it from there. Our hosts will have access to senior leadership but will have very few editorial constraints. Our postings from the public will be reviewed to remove the destructive but not touch the critical or cranky.
Please be patient and good-humored as we get underway. The opportunity is that we will incorporate what we learn in this forum in our checkpoint process evolution. We will not only give you straight answers to your questions but we will challenge you with new ideas and involve you in upcoming changes.
One of my major goals of 2008 is to get TSA and passengers back on the same side, working together. We need your help to get the checkpoint to be a better environment for us to do our security job and for you to get through quickly and onto your flight. Seems like the way to get that going is for us to open up and hear your feedback...
Thanks for joining us,
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Two million travelers come in contact with the Transportation Security Administration every day. It is an intense experience all around -- extremely personal in some senses but also impersonal at the same time.
As far as I'm concerned, Kip is the real terrorist, using fabricated threats to justify this government workfare program.
So my question, why do TSA scum make up rules? For example, an item that is stolen at one checkpoint might easily be allowed at another, even after it is looked at? Yet when you mention something to the scum stealing the item, you receive either "do you want to fly today" or "the rules have changed."
Another question: after the TSA steals a bottle of wine or liquor, do they take them home to enjoy or do the very dangerous bottles just sit in a trash can?
From this blog's T&C: "In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect."
Hmmm, would that be the same respect that TSA agents mistreat the traveling public with every second?
The TSA acknowledges its place as our most disliked public agency.
ID checks don't make flying safer - they only serve as revenue protection for the airlines. Binary explosives are impossible to accomplish in an aircraft environment. Screeners have an abysmal record at detecting test objects in carryon baggage. Shoes are not a unique or special threat. Not one terrorist or actual explosive has been detected by your agency.
Why should we continue to pay your salary given this record?
I think the TSA needs to take some lessons from Disneyland on people flow, line queueing and general process flow. Airports are inconsistent on staffing for ID checks versus going through xray. In PDX, MSP, DTW, LGA, LAS to name a few I see 1 or 2 agents looking at ID's and a 30+ minute queue while the lines to go through xray are non existent and I see TSA agents looking bored waiting for people to make it through the ID check line. I'm all for security but really hate inefficiency and wasting time when there are better ways. What are you doing to address this?
The TSA is a deceptive joke promoted by a government that is out of control and inept - Very little has been implemented in the US since 911 when compared to the leading airports in the world.
Fact: Following 911 the nation's business 22 airports were given millions (each, some more than others totaling in the Billions $$) to implement the latest security technology for airports.
Today, 5-6 later, this money cannot be accounted for and zilch was implmented.
Cargo is still not completely screened.
The US government is now corrupt, $broke$, and run by criminals in the administration and Congress. Every politician is either supported by Energy/Oil, Telecommunications,Pharmaceuticals and major health care providers, finanical institutions.....
Remember, every country gets the government it deserves.
It is estimated it will take a minimum of ten years to integrate all of the sub-entities absorbed by Homeland Security.
The director, Chertoff, might not be able to run most small businesses in the US.
Bush's grandfather, Prescott, profited from investments with I. G. Farbin in Germany. They made Zyclon-B gas for the concentration camps, and their CEO was brought before Nuremburg.
For those of you who fly...remember the morning of 911? What did the tactless and stupid government do? They shut off all the TV's at the nations airports so we couldn't see what was going on in New York.
This is not a criticsm of TSA employees. For the most part, they are firendly and courtesous in their conducting a thankless job as their job description calls for.
Most Of the TSA people that I've came in contact are reasonable. I travel every 28 days overseas and my biggest problem is some TSA make me pull out different things an will not aloud me to take on plane and some say it's not a problem. Point, I had two bolltes of after shave lotion, one under the 3oz and one used 4oz The frist airport justmade me put it in a plastic bag and another removed it all together saying it wasn't aloud. It seem that it's mostly up to the TSA agent at the time what they consider what you can take or not.
As a former Las Vegas airport employee, I have seen the best and the worst of the screeners.
There are a few who are outgoing and positive but the vast majority seem to be just drawing a paycheck and couldn't care less about their surroundings.
Realisticly, why are there so many obese, loud-mouthed, rude and semi-mobile screeners anyway.
You would expect that the screeners would be pros, not just one step above Wal-Mart greeters
sorry Wal-Mart greeters
I have a question. If it's so important that we take off our shoes when we go through airport security, why isn't it equally important that my baby take off his diaper? He could be hiding anything in there.
AS a person in a uniformed service and FREQUENT traveler I ahve a question for the TSA folks.
I travel in uniform alot (with my gov't ID and official passport!!!!) and I am always stopped going throught the detectors. I know this seems obvious to most but there is a lot of metal in my uniform. Ribbons, shirt stays (my personal pet peeve), and name badges all set off the detector even after removing my belt, shoes, coat, etc. I spent nearly an hour (45 minutes actually) in Orlando trying to explain shirt stays!!!!!
I could not think of a lower threat person than someone in uniform, with proper ID. Can't you give us some help? I ahve to plan an extra hour to travel in uniform. Just seems silly. Not to state the obvious, but in your own public tests you let bomb materials thoguth but you wast 3 screeners and a supervisor to figure out what a shirt stay is!!!
You know, I've travelled three times in recent months, in July, at Christmas, and just a week ago. Security was no problem whatsoever anywhere. The worst part of each experience was the air travel itself, delays, dirty planes, surly gate and flight personnel, and unreliable schedules.
It seems to me that the airlines have only themselves to blame if they're hurting. I'm 45 and have been flying commercially since I was an infant and it used to be nice. You dressed up and were on your best behavior. It was fun. Now it's awful and unpleasant. Every time I get home I say I'm done, I'm not flying any more.
Ironically, I find it has been relatively painless to adapt to the security procedures. Know what to check and what to carry on and how, plan on the additional time, and just get with the program. It's not really that hard. I've lost a couple of items over the years and I don't like taking my shoes off, etc., but I know what needs to happen and do it and haven't had a problem in a long time. I know there is some element of luck in there somewhere, but since I'm never flying again ;-) I'd say I came out ahead.
The airports I've been through are LAX, Las Vegas, and Colorado Springs. The airlines are United and US Airways.
As a fairly infrequent traveler (but a trained commercial pilot), I think there are a few problems most travelers have with the current security system. The primary issue is quite clearly that the TSA has not empowered its personnel to use either logic or commonsense in the screening of its passengers.
As far as I can determine, there are generally only three groups that require anything more than cursory screening by security at all: (1) Celebrities (who seem to travel with drugs and guns an awful lot); (2) the drunk and disorderly, who don't typically carry dangerous objects but who do threaten the safety of a flight; and (3) Muslim males traveling by themselves. Let's face it, we can be as PC as we want, but the truth is quite obviously that Muslim males pose the greatest (perhaps only legitimate) threat to our national transportation system. Even so, there has never been a case where a Muslim male traveling with family has been involved in a terrorist incident (on board an aircraft anyway), so we can also exclude Muslim males traveling with family. So why then does TSA spend so much of its time fruitlessly searching the average parent traveling with little kids; the elderly; females; Asians; etc., etc. No one standing on an airport screening line cares about fairness - ie: screening everyone the same or not at all. A 60 year old Asian male does not pose a threat and should not be searched like a 30 year old middle-eastern male. If you want to do the right thing, instruct your personnel to use their commonsense and logic in making such a determination. Don't throw PC nonsense at us as a basis for such a policy.
Secondly, I think the general public fairly and accurately has assessed your security personnel at the gates as being little more than junior high school graduates. Most of them are completely clueless about what the latest TSA regs are, leading to the obvious conclusion that they don't know their job. Under such a circumstance, what confidence should the general public have that the person screening our carry-ons can even spot a dangerous item? Frankly, you often hear comments from other travelers while waiting that these security personnel are not much better trained than the person who served you your coffee a few minutes earlier. Perhaps the TSA can do something to at least make us think that their screeners have a clue.
Finally, and connected to my previous point, it is quite evident to anyone who has traveled recently, that there is way too much inconsistency in your security procedures. On one round trip flight recently, I was allowed to carry on a certain item by the TSA screeners, only to be told on the return trip by a screener in a different airport that I couldn't take it. When I informed him that the prior screeners at my home airport said it was ok, I was told in no uncertain terms that those guys didn't know what they were talking about. I don't know or care who was right or wrong, but you clearly have a major deficiency in your employee knowledge base.
I am a spouse of a pilot and travel frequently in the southwest. Each Airport (LA, Vegas, Tucson, San Francisco, Phoenix, Salt Lake City...etc) seems to choose which rules to enforce. Some what the plastic bags out, shoes on, some don't care.
Consistency is what everyone is asking for.
We're tired of guessing what airport will enforce which rules.
As per the liquid ~ I believe most people think it's a conspiracy to make beverage companies more profitable.
Shoes- isn't there a better way?
Wouldn't it be easier just to limit carry on to purses, backpacks (diaper bags etc) No more rollers. This would strongly reduce the wait times at check areas, and even further limit what can make it's way through?
Glad to see this blog. Thanks!
I would like to know how you can be randomly chosen for extra security search/questioning every time you fly???? My wife is a foreign national of a country that we have a very good relationship with. Namely Poland. I find it somewhat upsetting that every time she flies, on every leg of the trip she has to check in, she is randomly chosen for extra search and questioning. I feel this is something that needs to be addressed. The fact is, there was a certain group of people who were responsible for the terrorist attacks which caused this increased security and I have no problem if that group is held more closely under a microscope. I know some say that is profiling but it is the truth. There was not a single catholic,Norman, black , white, Mexican, Frenchman or any other group that did that horrible act. So we should not candy coat why and who we are specifically searching. But to say it is random to everyone and think we as Americans are so stupid that we actually buy that is a farce in itself. Please answer me this, why is it so bad to look at the facts and accept them for just that....facts?? I would love to know why my wife is singled out when she is a productive, law abiding member of this country whom does not fall into the category of those who truly want to harm our country? Lets call a spade a spade folks and give the American people some credit. Maybe if we focused more of our efforts and resources on the true group of people we should be looking for, then maybe we can honestly say that our airports, airplanes, sky and nation are indeed safer. I think there are many Americans out there whom feel the same as I do but are afraid to admit it because this has become a nation which looks to punish or ostracize those whom make a factual point if it against a specific group of people or a specific religious group. Please protect our airports, not our consciences.
The DHS and TSA are ridiculous. Field testers get fake bombs and other test items through all the time. The only thing you guys are good at is making us all feel like we are in tremendous danger and thus the fear should keep us from acting up. Maybe you ought to go back to the days where you asked, "Did you pack your own bags today?"...that might be less ridiculous that your current procedures.
Traveling through Chicago I set off the metal detactor. I'm an almost 60 year female. I stopped dead in my tracts, afraid of what I had done. The TSA lady (??) barked at me worse way than how I talk to my large dog. All she kept yelling at me was, "BACK!" I'm not that used to traveling and didn't know what she meant. Why cannot you not talk to us as if we are 'people'? You say that you yourselves are people...I doubt that!
I really do not know why so many people have an issue with this. I have never in my history of flying ever not been stopped for a extra security screening. I do not fly anywhere I can drive to in 6 hours or less. Even before September 11th I never made a screening without getting the all amusing B.S. we are performing a random screening sir. I have even stood by a screening station afterwards on numerous occasions and I can attest random means targeted. Get used to it because in over 10 years of flying I have never been let through easily and don't even bring check in baggage anymore just so it is easier to be searched. That being said, As long as we have airports get ready for more of you to enjoy my favorite part of flying!!!! The security stop.
As a police officer working at a midwest airport, the thing that irks myself and the other officers is the attitude of some of the screeners. There are some that are on a real power trip. They seem to delight in bullying any passengers that might question their reason for doing certain things. They like to come across as having the sole power and authority to let that person on that flight. I have personally complained to Screening Supervisors and Screening Managers about the attitude of certain Screeners but to no avail. If I had a citizen complain to my superiors about my attitude I can assure you I would hear about it!
here is my personal opinion and observation.
TSA rushed to hire any warm body off the street or worse, from the airlines as the airlines were cutting their worst dead wood.
TSA hired 5 or 6 SENIOR level dumb. dumb.dumb people from Miami that used to work for UNITED.
These people are vile and morally corrupt. I know for a fact.
You want TSA to be respected.. haha.. you hired the wrong people, you hired the people the airlines discarded because they are dead wood.
you have a nice day Kip
I have a personal interest in knowing that the TSA doesn't trap false positives in an identity check -- a man with my name was taped leaving a military base with anthrax several years ago, but the search was called off when the trail led to Israel, so he's still at large.
As other posters have noted, much of what the TSA does has more value as 'security theater' than as a way to protect either travelers or aircraft. Gaining compliance to arbitrary rules can be a small part of the larger task of getting the citizens of this country to accept the constant stream of lies and deceptions promulgated by the government on behalf of corporate sponsors and disseminated by a complicit media, as demonstrated recently on 60 Minutes.
Shrouding the rationale behind such actions as stopping groups of travelers at LAX and insisting that they remain still for 20 minutes (as reported at boingboing.com) is an open invitation for such acts to be used against the very people they may have been meant to safeguard. I wrote a short story called "Incident on Concourse B" to illustrate this risk of mischief, and to show how serious a problem it could invite. If you're interested, you can read it at klurgsheld.com.
I fly about 3 round trips/year, Seattle to east coast. Once I am in Boston, all the rest of my travels are by rail, since the security hassles have made any trip under 550/600 miles longer by air than by rail.
Two specific incidents come to mind. The first was at LAX. There was a long line going up and around to the security station. People were bunching up as the area was wide. Down below a fat, and I mean fat, TSA agent was bellowing like a drill sargent to the crowd ordering them to get in four lines. The guy was probably too fat and and out of condition to go up and address the problem at hand.
The second was a woman in Seattle with leg braces on both legs. In spite of the fact that she was wearing shorts and the braces were fully exposed, TSA made her remove the braces and stumble through the magnetometer.
Regarding the restrictions on gels, please remember that the CIA over 20 years ago gave that Venezualan agent (Posada?) a tube of toothpaste to blow up a Cuban air liner. Why did it take the Department of Bureaucratic Terrorism so long to find out about this technique, and then learned it from the Brits?
I remain firmly convinced that the entire airport security exercise is nothing more than to A) impress the public how much Bush/Cheney is doing, and B) continue the scare tactics that the administration has practiced ever since 9/11. As I mentioned to one agent, they will never catch Osama this way. He doesn't wear shoes.
And that leads to another problem. Invariably, there are few or no chairs to use while putting shoes on again. I'm just unstable enough that I need to sit down to put on my shoes.
I went from Seattle to the Dominican Republic via Houston with my used camp stove in my luggage. I had washed out the fuel bottle (a gasoline stove) and blown out the pump with an air compressor. No gasoline at all remaining. i did not use the stove while camping in the D.R. and had no problem with security in Santo Domingo on my return flight. But when going through security to board my connecting flight at New York, the TSA person looked at my stove and said, "This is used, right?" I said, "Yes, I've had it for several years." The TSA person said, "It's had gasoline in it at some time in the past." And then confiscated it. So I can buy a new stove to go camping overseas ($120!) but I have to throw it away before I can come home? This sort of experience leads to my present very negative feelings about TSA and air travel.
Since I have an extensive amount of metal in my leg I know that I will set off the "bells" so I prepare for the inspection and do not mind it. I usually ask for a female assist before I go through the scan and tell them why. My only problem is that I am then separated from my laptop and carry on luggage, shoes and coat [usually 4 containers worth] which are coming down the belt with at least 2 or 3 other passengers picking up their things. In St Louis I lost a coat and in Chicago I had a man try to walk off with my laptop. Can there be a better way for those of us who need to bee screened further to have better security on our personal items which I for one keep a very watchful eye on while I am being wanded? The security personnel are usually very busy helping others while my things are just sitting there in the open. I have asked for my personal items to be brought to where I am being searched and some of the personnel have been nice enough to do that however it is not uniform and something that is a major concern for me. I would not care if they were searched for I comply to the rules but being separated from my personal items for sometimes 5 minutes at a time is scary.
TSA staff are often rude and fail to explain an ything when asked.
We passengers get to the airports following TSA guidelines for early arrival. TSA employees CANNOT promptly process passengers and must frequently be told that passengers for soon to depart flights must be processed immediately and reluctantly move people up in line.
One incident from SFO truly relates to employee incompetence. An elderly crippled woman weighing over 250 lbs with both an aluminum walker plus aluminum crutches caused one line to completely stop. The TSA employee had to call for assistance and seemed oblivious that the rest of us in line could bypass her and make or flights. I was personally threatened with deliberate delay to miss my flight. I replied that if I did miss my flight I would criminally prosecute the TSA employee for an unlaful detention. Made the flight with 5 minutes to spare.
There are NEVER any chairs for someone to sit in when we are required to remove our shoes. We must go through security and then there is a chair. This is backwards.
Support staff always have to be called for. They are never there when needed.
The baggage screeners atPVD would rather talk to each othe than screen bags even when lines are long. Also Pvd is only place that makes you wait for bags to be scanned.
I'm a frequent business traveler and a US citizen. I'm not sure what rules TSA uses to put people on the watch list, but unfortunately I'm on it, which causes me lot of delays when I travel. Late last year I submitted a request to have my name removed from the TSA watch list. I received a letter back from the TSA that after evaluation of my profile TSA had agreed to remove me from the list. However, it seems after a few months I'm now back on that list. Obviously your process for managing that watch list is not working at all.
Question for all you chemists out there. Would 3 oz of nitro glycerine be enough to bring down a plane?
AS an American I strongly believe in the TSA. Since 911 we have had no other terriost attacks by airliner. The TSA should be praised by the media instead of chastised by them. I feel that the TSA is verry under staffed due to lack of funding. They need to pay these people more! They need to have the best trainning and all airports should have the lateds detectation equipment that money can buy. I feel safer flying now than ever before. Now for better news, In October last year I flew from Atlanta/Hartsfield GA to Ontario CA I was amaized at the efficency of the TSA in moving about 1200 est. people through security check point in record time. I thought that I was going to be inline for about 3 hrs. It took only 20 minutes to get through the process and they even opened up extra lanes to accomidate the demand! I hope that the TSA workers ignore the news and keep doing the job that they do. I know the job can get mondane, but the TSA is on the front line just like the military in protecting fellow Americans from the terriost. I know that alot of people want to post alot of negitavity on this blog but they are complacence about what can happen if we let our guard down. Keep up the great work and God Bless John 14:6
As someone who is on the "No Fly List", has never been arrested, holds a high ranking government job, I am immensely offended that I (or anyone)am constantly required to prove that I am not a terrorist. (So much for innocent until proven guilty).
While I am sure that the majority of TSA agents are normal respectable persons, I have never found a more customer "hostile" agency, who in my opinion act this way "because they can". There is virtually no way to file a complaint without instant repercussions, no accountability , and no functional way to vindicate yourself to get off the list. (Sorry, but spending months to get a letter from the TSA saying that you might not deserve to be on the "No Fly List" and presenting it to the supervisor on duty, is no less cumbersome than simply going through secondary screening!)
The flying public needs the TSA to have, Transparency, Accountability and respect! Not to mention, our civil rights back.
"Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither" Ben Franklin
I appreciate the work that TSA is doing - helping to prevent another 9/11 incident. However, somehow I've been added to their SSSS list and I find it rather insulting. Here's why:
1) I'm an Air Force pilot (C-5) that flies troops and cargo into the combat zone each month.
2) Some of my missions include pre-positioning and de-positioning the President's motorcade and Secret Service personnel along his visits.
3) I have a Secret security clearance.
So, if our nation & government can trust me to carry the President's vehicles, fly monthly into hostile territories and keep classified information to myself... do you think I can STOP getting secondary screening.
Please remove me from your list. It truly is insulting.
If your name is on a list of possible trouble makers, would that not deter people from flying? I mean, who wants to go to an interrogation room right before trying to catch a flight to be harassed with questioning for hours. I'm sure you get a lot of innocent people into this situation. Also, on the news I saw security officers disposing of chemicals before flights, (liquids) I thought to myself, how silly, your afraid of these liquids exploding on board, but you were not afraid to pour out a mixture of thousands of chemicals mixed together in a bin, which would really explode depending on what types of chemicals they were. You could have blown up an airport of people doing that.
Why is it that all local airport employees, that is, those employed by the airport and not a government, berate TSA associates as aloof, conceited, egotistical & any other number of adjectives conveying a 'superiority complex'. I, too, see their complaint and it isn't just in some regions, ie: DEN,LAX,DCA,IAD,DFW & TPA are just some of the airports that I've heard the comments and seen TSA's actions., I even watched a TSA agent start a fight with a bagage handler for no reason whatsoever at BWI., and yes, I did report it however, I'm quite certain that nothing became of it, so I pose this question to you., "Why is it that you feel so much more superior then me or the bagage handler?"
In my view, airport security is a waste of my time and my money. Any terrorist with half a brain ( and that is just about what most terrorist have..half a brain ) could come up with dozens of targets where loss of life and /or property damage would be greater....
And I'd feel safer( and a lot happier )any day of the week in an airport with NO security than i'd feel walking the streets of any U.S. inner city after dark.
How about spending my TSA money on policing our cities.
costa mesa ,california
After three years of living overseas in Morocco, and visiting Dubai, Yemen, and Mauritania, I returned in 06. I stupidly had a layover in Portland on my way to Seattle. As my first port of call, I was stopped by TSA for 4 hours, and all my luggage searched. I don't object to this.
I object to my computer files being searched, and opened. Confirm the computer is not a bomb, yes. But you had no right to go into the private files of a citizen of the United States, just because he uses a particlar mode of transportation. There remains a right to privacy, and a right to liberty, if our constitution is still valid. Just because I fly gives you no right to search through my laptop.
Worse yet, you didn't tell me you had done so. I thought you took the computer to another room to confirm it was actually a computer, and not a bomb. Instead, you opened files, and then returned the computer to me. It was only when I got home and looked at the most recently opened files that I realized what you'd done. Numerous files were recently opened, ones that I hadn't looked at in over a year. You didn't tell me about this breach; I had to discover it for myself. Why didn't you mention it? Could it be because you realized that such actions were illegal, or maybe just unethical? Or maybe treating a US citizen with respect and upholding their rights is simply too much to bother with.
There are many, perfectly legal, reasons why a citizen might wish to have private files on their computer. I don't have to justify these to you, and no citizen should have to. No just law gives you the right to search my files without a warrant. No just system gives you the right to do so without even telling me that you've done so.
As a traveler, my concern is safety, but would like to know why some airports require different screenings.
Why is it that an almost used up tube of toothpaste, a freezer gel pack(to keep my lunch from becoming toxic on a cross country trip) can leave the west coast, but I was not able to bring them back?
Why when I lost my wallet before boarding my flight did I have to endure extra security outbound and had NO question on my return?
Why are so many of the TSA workers just unpleasant? One guy challenged me as to 'how much time I had wanted to spend in security?' I was more than 2 hours early, my carry on complied with all regulations and I am a pleasure traveler, so I really don't have the rush rush hurry hurry that so many have.
First of all, I think the TSA is doing a good job. As a veteran who had to protect military facilities, I understand and appreciate the need to be extra cautious at the security checkpoints. I believe that it might be possible to incorporate a multi-layered detection system, which would use additional devices to detect C-BRNE materials, as people are arriving towards the airport and when they enter into the airport. Since almost all chemicals or explosive devices give off an identifiable trace or signature, a machine could pick up the scent further away from the main security checkpoints- which would allow an offender to be apprehended before entering the security checkpoint and also help to reduce casualties in a congested security checkpoint area if there was an incident.
Even though this may slow things down a bit more, when people are being frisked or asked to strip down, there should be more private areas that are separated by men and women- this process would make the security inspection less intrusive, or at least viewed as less of an invasion of privacy.
In closing, keep up the good work- even though everyone may feel inconvenienced because of the slow moving security checkpoint, these procedures are needed to help ensure the safety of every traveler.
I recently travelled through O'Hare Airport and received extremely rude service from the screeners. There were no signs instructing those of us in line what to do, so everyone was in a last minute rush to take off their belts and shoes. The TSA lady took my laptop case through the machine and got extremely mad that my laptop was in there (duh!). She hurriedly took it out of my case and THREW IT IN A PLASTIC BUCKET! There was no need for that. Later, when returning through Dulles Airport there were instruction signs and a more professional staff. O'Hare TSA folks just stood around and talked to each other and were clearly amateurs.
I fully support national security and took a flight to DC for a model rocket competition. I called TSA numerous times to find out the policy of bringing competition rockets on the plane WITH NO ENGINES OR COMBUSTIBLE materials whatsoever. After two weeks of trying to make contact of someone who knew what they were doing at TSA I finally had to resort to shipping my rockets via UPS at a great expense. It's ironic that you can bring firearms on a plane, but can't get a direct answer for 1 ounce model rockets. I had wanted to bring them to the airport in advance of my flight so that they could be totally screened. I eventually gave up after talking to far too many unqualified hacks (sorry, but it's true) who didn't know what they were doing.
Although I believe, this blog is a good idea, it’s ironic that that the TSA they would only have one TSO and one FAM (I’m not even sure what the other two blogers do) to explain “the ‘why,’ of what we ask you to do at the checkpoint”. We all know, aviation security has many layers and the checkpoint and FAM mission are just a couple. If you really want to know about the “Evolution of Security” then you should ask one of the many TSA Inspectors who has been doing this a lot longer then the blogers and have truly been through the evolution process.
Well, other than complete waste of traveler time, what can TSA claim to have done?
Saved us from the menace of liquids and gels?
Saved us from exploding shoe weapons?
Disband, if you have any sense of decency. You menace American life more than anything you claim to be "protecting" us from.
Wait in line, be "happy" in line, or get "special security." What TSA fails to do is getting security done quickly and efficiently. Why must security take 2 hours or more at airports in the DC area? There are not enough security stations for demand.
Additionally, if you don't like lines, express any opinion that is not a “happy thought,” then the lowest staff can pick you out for harassment "special security."
As an ex TSA screening officer who now travels through airports 4-6 times per week all over the country, I can relate to some of the frustrations expressed by many of the blog participants. It's unfortunate that we even have to have the level of screening that we have now. Some of it is, in my humble of opinion, nonsensical. (confiscating 1" knife blades on money clips and throwing out umarked cups of salad dressings carried by passengers comes to mind) But for all of the people that hold the TSA in such low esteem, show me something better.
Against many complaints my family and I didn't really run into any issues while going through 2 separate security checks. We removed out shoes, emptied our pockets and had a myriad of carry ons containing clothes, many electronics and personal items. There was one delay which was minor and left us clueless until we got to our hotel after the flights. One bag that was selected for hands on inspection was our child's diaper bag. The inspection found nothing but what we found was a bottle of bubbles for blowing that we had forgotten to remove from the bag. We assume this is what security observed in the x-ray but the inspector was unaware when he conducted the search.
I'm not wanting to criticize but I do think that an appropriate action might be for better communication between security personnel or perhaps the person that spots the questionable item be the one to actually do the search so it isn't missed. It's an eyeopener that this one item made it past even after being noticed by one person.
I have flown all over world the US has the worst screener in the world. There
is no across the board constancy between airports. I have found when traveling in the US to go to the TSA website and print out a copy of rules of what they can and cannot do and when I get a know it all screener I just pull out the rules out and call for a supervisor and it is all settled in just a few minutes. You would figure that the Federal Goverment would hire people with something higher than Jr. High education and understanding of the english language.
On a recent vacation to Atlanta, as I attempted to enter the airport to return home to Boston, I was stopped by security because they did not believe that my Massachusetts state ID card is real, because it has no expiration date. (It's real.) Because the supervisor was unavailable (he smiled, waved, and walked away when the TSA screener attempted to get his attention) I ended up with no fewer than six TSA agents examining my ID and debating its authenticity, right in front of me.
During this discussion, three of the agents repeatedly stated that they didn't know if my ID is real or not or what to do. One repeatedly stated that she didn't think it is real, but wasn't sure. One repeatedly stated with confidence that it is a fake. (I shudder to think what might have happened to me if I had approached her line instead of one of the "I don't know" gentlemen.) And finally, one kept saying "It could be real."
The woman who said it could be real eventually produced a book which seemed to contain information about ID cards. One of the other agents took it from her, casually flipped through it, and pronounced my ID to be fake. All of the agents except the woman who had gotten the book then began to discuss the terrible obvious flaws of my "fake" (perfectly legitimate) ID card, making such mistakes as to confuse my date of birth with the date of issue. They would not allow me to point out their errors, making sure to whip the ID card out of my reach every time I attempted to point at it. This was all deeply offensive to me, an innocent citizen being treated as a petty criminal.
Meanwhile, the woman who had stated that my ID card might be real and obtained the book had gotten the book back from the other agent, and calmly looked through it, and found the information which confirmed that my card was in fact legitimate. The other agents mostly seemed disappointed, and wandered away. My ID was finally returned to me, and I was finally permitted to enter.
I will be flying again three times in the next month or so, and it is unlikely I will have time to get a replacement ID card with an expiration date on it before I do - and nor should I have to, since I am an innocent citizen and the ID card I have is legitimate in every way. I am very afraid of what TSA personnel might do to me because of my completely legitimate ID card. I am deeply upset that I have to worry about getting arrested on my vacations because of insufficiently trained security staff.
Ironically, while on the trip to Atlanta I inherited my grandfather's World War II pilot's wings. He served in that war and risked his life in order to ensure that I would never have to face a beligerent guard demanding "Dein Ausweiss!" It is sadly ironic that I now face the very same thing from Americans.
On my last trip through Logan airport, I was yelled at (actually yelled at by TSA security screeners because I placed my laptop through the X-ray machine while still in its bag.
I would have been happy to have removed the laptop from its bag for X-ray screening had I been asked to do so, but amid the flurry of signs telling me do this and don't do that, and the TSA staff telling me to remove my shoes etc, nobody and nothing mentioned taking my laptop out of its bag.
And I don't feel it's appropriate for TSA personnel to yell at travelers as if we were wayward children while we're doing our best to comply with an ever increasing number of restrictions while worrying about missing our flights and at the same time trying to remain calm and courteous to TSA personnel while we feel generally mistreated by the whole procedure.
TSA SHOULD PUT OUT SOME SIGNS SHOWING FIRST TIME FLYERS WHAT TO DO WHAT IS PROHIBITED AND HOW TO GET THROUGH SECURITY EASIER UNLIKE ALB THERE IS A SIGN THATS PROB 5 YEARS OLD THAT IS NO HELP TO ANYONE
I would like to start off with by saying to all that "Im Sorry" I have been a Screener with TSA from its first roll out on the west coast.
Im sorry that I asked you to remove your shoes so i could follow policy set forth by our Government.
Im sorry I asked you to remove your lap top and video cameras so we could check them.
Im sorry I asked you to please remove all liquids gells creams and lotions and place them seprately in a 1 quart or less zip-lock bag so we wouldn't have to check all of your stuff, just the zip-lock.
Im sorry that somewhere some place in the past, someone told you it was ok to take this item but we happened to catch it today and its not allowed.
Im sorry for my family, Who after 5 years, my 2 children, still don't understand why daddy has to work most hoildays and has to miss school plays and things. But they do understand why daddy does his job and goes place to help people, like during Katrina.
But most of all im sorry for all the people who died on 9/11 and their familys that will never see them again. Im sorry for all the service men and woman who have died in our battle over seas. Im sorry for the service men and woman who come home after leaving a part of them in the middle east. Never to be the same again.
And if you don't understand what Im talking about on this blog, Im sorry for you to. This is not a job for me, Its a Mission, to stop the threat here before it gets on the plane. I take pride in what I do and I fear the day we have something happen again.
Americans seem to forget things rather quickly. As a Marine who was in Beirut in 1983, we have a saying. "Our first mission is to never forget." At TSA its, " we have to get it right everyday, they only have to get it right once'
Please try to remember the golden rule when you talk to the Officers. we're just trying to follow policy and procedures and get you on your plane safely.
Remember, we're human to & have feelings. Think about how you would feel if every 3rd person told you how wrong, horrable or bad your job was and how you were doing it.
And if you have a problem, please ask for a Supervisor, thats what we're there for.
thanks for listening and have a great day and a nice flight
Israeli security treats you with respect and dignity (plus very little shoes are screened and you can carry your beverage through security) while in the u.s., you are treated like a terrorist if you you forget to take a nickel out of your pocket going through the scanner.
Most TSA screeners seem to have power trips and enjoy yelling at people. Most seem to need anger management courses and most seem to be more suited to being drill sergeants than they are dealing with the public.
I feel safe and respected going through Israel airport security. I feel intimidated and threatened going through U.S. security.
I get so burned up every time I see two lines to go through security, the fast lane for those who pay more, and the slow lane for those of us who can't afford to pay for business or first class. I understand why airlines can and should provide more perks to those who pay more, but why isn't security a burden shared equally by all citizens?
Having people buy their way out of the slow lane is reminiscent of the civil war practice of being able to buy your way out of the draft, and it lead to the biggest riots in American history, in New York.
If you want to keep support for your security measures, they should be a burden shared equally.
I have very common first and last and last names, and a very uncommon middle name. For several years, I was on a watch list, presumably because of my first and last names. I went through the DHS TRIP process, and received an obtuse letter indicating that any inaccuracy had been resovled (did this mean that I was determined to be a terrorist, or that I would finally be able to check in online?).
This entire process ties together several of the recurrent themes in this blog. First, a policy based only on first and last name in a country of 300 million is either completely unconcerned with false positives, or oblivious to its own errors.
Second, the resolution process illustrates TSA's opaque and frustrating response. In an open society, administrative stonewalling is uncharacteristic and irritating. Why does the agency refuse to share information with the public? It took me a long time before anyone would admit that I was on a watch list (they never did, actually, they finally gave me a number to call w/o mentioning the list). Now, I have gone through the resolution process, and I don't know if I've been removed!
In TSA's defense, they may be at the tail end of a long administrative process. If the watch lists are generated by intelligence agencies, and if screener training is underfunded, TSA may be stuck between a rock and a hard place. They may be the public face of policies adopted by other agencies.