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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

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,

Kip Hawley



Submitted by Anonymous on

Getting through security is a slow and clumsy process. If the security checkpoint were a business, say the local burger barn, you’d run things differently. Then you address the flow of the “customers” and the education of those customers, so you could get the most burgers sold (people through the checkpoint). In addition you don’t have special customers, rather you treat everyone on a first-come first-served basis. In the end everyone would benefit.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I didn't have the willpower to read all the prior comments, so I will end up repeating some of their complaints, I'm certain.

1. I know the TSA's PR is that they are making us more secure. You are not. I have seen report after report on the news how easy it is to break through your security. Furthermore, it takes just one person smarter than the government workers to get by the policies. I've venture to say the population is vastly capable of doing that. Your reactive and not proactive.

2. The liquids - I really don't care why the TSA thinks this is a good policy, it isn't. It is an illusion of protection and does absolutely NOTHING. 3oz of gas in several bottles is just as flammable as 6oz of gas in one bottle. Likewise, I believe a screener should be able to tell the difference between drinks in clear bottles (like water and soda) and chemical mixes. I don't like being forced to buy airport price drinks all in the name of false security.

3. Random screening protects absolutely NO ONE. Learn to profile, figure out the demographic that has blown themselves up and start screening 100% of that demographic. (hint, middle eastern, young, male) I know it offends people to profile - it offends me to be treated like a person who'd blow up a plane and have my rights tossed out the window. While the TSA has someone here saying "flying isn't a constitutional right" - well, "unreasonable search and seizure" IS IN THE constitution. It is unreasonable to search someone who is not a suspect for a crime, no criminal past, no evidence they have any criminal intent and no evidence they have any criminal means for a criminal purpose. I understand the need to balance the safety of the plane verse the rights of the people, but we've gone WAY too far.

4. Chain of command. This is the biggest pain. The TSA workers should have clear and defined, written and public policies on exactly how they can handle a situation. They should NEVER have the right to remove someone from being able to travel. That should be someone else who listens to both parties, investigates and makes a decision. This should be a group outside the TSA, a watchdog group, who will publish what the TSA does to threaten and lord over the passengers by publishing a report on all the claimed reasons and how many were valid.

5. Create a national concealed carry permit and let citizens carry firearms on planes (concealed so as not to freak people out) - the explosive decompression is a myth, for all those people freaking at the thought of someone in a plane firing a gun, don't believe what you see in hollywood... - even if they are only, quietly, given to law enforcement, military and select highly trained people, this alone would, imo, stop any on board terrorism. The planes are a target because even getting simple mundane weapons on board gives you power over everyone else, the thought that you may face guns makes the challenge that much harder, more planning, etc to pull off.

Of course, none of this will happen, the knee-jerk response on the shoe bomber shows that the only thing the TSA and government will do is react to past threats, giving the illusion of protection and security at the expense of rights.

While I have no respect for the TSA and their tasks - as I find it useless, utterly completely useless - it is offensive, but in perspective, only moderately annoying. Now, it is part of planning to travel if it is impractical to drive instead, leave early, check baggage instead of carry on, put all things questionable in the baggage and just don't talk to any TSA agent beyond what is required, treat them like McDonalds workers, there just to fulfill the process set before them as their job.

The worst they can do is deny me the ability to travel or leave behind something mundane and harmless because they aren't entrusted to use common sense or reason in determining what can and can't be taken with someone.

Now, the IRS, there is an agency I fear and loathe and would love to see disbanded (preferred tar and feathered too) before the TSA.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why does the TSA continue to screen the Captain and the co-pilot of the jet while non-flight crew ramp personnel by-pass security screening? There is no bigger joke in aviation than this and no one in the TSA will address this. I have a plastic badge that any good computer can copy and this is the technology we use to protect us? It is harder to gain access to our corporate building than it is a 767. Will someone with some common sense please address this in the name of true saftey.

Submitted by Ron on

Dear Mr. Doctor Anonymous said..

Ever hear of binary explosives? Not the James Bond ones, or the MI4 one's, but the real one's?