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Gripes & Grins, Part 2 (Commenting Disabled)

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA employees have posted that they will limit medical items at the checkpoint.

TSA management has not made statement correcting these poorly trained screeners.

How many TSO's are qualified to practice medicine?

Why are TSO's so poorly trained that they do not understand the exceptions to the 311 policies.

When will TSA make a public statement about this?

Submitted by Phil on

As recently as December, 2007, the passenger screening areas at Kansas City International Airport (MCI) had signage that inaccurately states that photo identification is required in order to enter the secure area. Some of the signs bear the TSA seal.

I suspect this is in violation of OMB's Agency Information Quality Guidelines.

I photographed these signs and have posted them here, here, and here.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm not surprised you've been shocked by some of the comments left. I've been pretty shocked too.

The thing that is the most shocking to me is that people are posting the most horrific stories of flagrant abuse by TSO's like patients with a medical need, babies and small children being denied water and food! A basic, human right and yet the TSA is confiscating baby food, telling parents just how much food they can bring to feed their children. The TSA is abusing the elderly and the sick by forcing them to remove shoes and belts, throwing away water, confiscating needed medicines or creams and so much more.

I'm shocked at how many stories there are of items so commonplace as to be ridiculous being confiscated.

Please, post a video of an explosive that can be made to resemble peanut butter (down to the smell), or strawberry jam, or barbecue sauce or any of the other hundreds of thousands of items that people carry with them on a daily basis.

I've seen some answers to some of the questions here, but I've yet to see anyone address the liquids ban convincingly. If it looks like peanut butter and it smells like peanut butter, why is it considered a "gel"? It's food, not a dangerous substance!

If I'm facing a 2-3 hour pre-boarding time, plus a 5-6 hour flight, yes I want to bring real food with me and so do people who are diabetic, have medical conditions, are traveling with children or have dietary restrictions for any reason.

The TSA counters that you can get food behind the security check but for real, when one single banana costs $1.50 or more, a small 16 oz. bottle of water goes for $2-3 and there isn't any "real" food to get behind the security lines besides an expensive, greasy pile of fries or a scone from Starbuck's this is just not an option. And as countless people have pointed out, you can't find baby food or formula behind those security lines. Neither can you find healthy food, vegetarian food, halal food, kosher food, vegan food, inexpensive food, non-wheat-based food (celiac disease), low-sodium food, or any other number of representative dietary restrictions.

Flying is an all-day ordeal for many, as there are very few cross-country flights which don't have at least one stop, and yet the TSA expects people not to pack food! Some of the ridiculous items I've personally had confiscated in this specific category: a brick of solid cream cheese (a gel!) a home-packed tub of chunky peanut butter (a gel!) slices of cheese (a gel! how do you slice a gel? It's a mystery!).

Not to mention the countless times that I have had to throw out a half a 4 oz. bottle of expensive face cream, even though there was clearly not even close to 4 oz. left in the bottle.

The most frustrating part is when you say, "well we can't post our rules, then the "terrists will win"
and then you get all upset with us, the traveling public, when we can't follow the rules you won't tell us about! And then, when we run into something like never stopping to consider that something as commonplace and easily identifiable as peanut butter will get taken away, because we've never thought about it as a "gel", well we're just told to shut up and follow the rules! Then we are told we can't see a list that says something as simple as "food items such as cheese and peanut butter fall under the "gel" category, so don't even try" because the the "terrists" would know that peanut butter and cheese were banned substances! Follow the logic on that one for a minute!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anybody care to comment on this idea from Lamperd which has garnered interest from DHS (Paul Rudwaldt):

"A method of providing air travel security for passengers traveling via an aircraft comprises situating a remotely activatable electric shock device on each of the passengers in position to deliver a disabling electrical shock when activated; and arming the electric shock devices for subsequent selective activation by a selectively operable remote control disposed within the aircraft. The remotely activatable electric shock devices each have activation circuitry responsive to the activating signal transmitted from the selectively operable remote control means. The activated electric shock device is operable to deliver the disabling electrical shock to that passenger."

That DHS/TSA would even think to consider something like this is an abomination as well as a total waste of taxpayer money.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am a retired Naval Officer with a hip replacement plus other metalic parts which set your machine off every time I go to the airport. As you have access to my service record of 24 years plus I would pay for a security check for the last 30 years then could I get a chip embedded in my shoulder that eliminate the 10 minute individual check at the airport plus let me keep my shoes on. They are hard to get on without the LONG SHOE HORN that disabled people use. Cliff Woodrick - CDR USN (Ret)

Submitted by Anonymous on

Cliff, make certain that you wear tie shoes and tell the screeners that you are wearing orthopedic shoes and cannot and will not remove them.

Works for me every time.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hey phil, Kansas City Int. does not have TSA employees. They are a private contract company. And no matter where you fly you are required to show a phot ID.

To the retired Naval Officer. You of all people should understand why TSA does what they do. But maybe you never seen what an IED or any other weapon can do.

Simple solution to all of your problems. Take a bus, a train, or a cab maybe they will feel your pain.

Submitted by Phil on

Someone anonymously wrote:

"Hey phil, Kansas City Int. does not have TSA employees. They are a private contract company."

I understand that. However, they display signage with inaccurate information, some of it bearing the TSA seal.

"And no matter where you fly you are required to show a phot ID."

Sir or Madam, you are mistaken. Passengers on domestic flights are not required to present credentials (to "show I.D.").

Please see this letter from Jeffrey R. Sural of the TSA to Senator John Warner confirming that domestic passengers are not required to show any I.D. at airport security checkpoints.

Please see also this air travel screening information on the TSA Web site, where they state, "We encourage each adult traveler to keep his/her airline boarding pass and government-issued photo ID available until exiting the security checkpoint." Note: that's "encourage" not "require".

I have recently posted related comments to this blog here, here, here, here, here, and here.

For more information, see "What's Wrong With Showing ID" at The Identity Project.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"To the retired Naval Officer. You of all people should understand why TSA does what they do. But maybe you never seen what an IED or any other weapon can do.

Simple solution to all of your problems. Take a bus, a train, or a cab maybe they will feel your pain."

You can also fly through General Aviation at 2800 airports and never even see a TSO.

Submitted by Anonymous on
To the retired Naval Officer. You of all people should understand why TSA does what they do. But maybe you never seen what an IED or any other weapon can do.

Simple solution to all of your problems. Take a bus, a train, or a cab maybe they will feel your pain.

I sincerely hope that you are in no way associated with either TSA, the inspection process or dealing with people on a face to face basis. FYI TSA is doing inspections on some trains.

The retired Navy Officer is disabled. Your flippant attitude reflects what we, the traveling public, have come to expect from TSA/inspectors at airports.
Submitted by Anonymous on

The terrorists do a risk/reward assessment of their attacks. OBL was really amazed at what, with a small investment, they were able to accomplish. That being said the next attacks probably won't involve the airlines since we nailed the barn door shut after the animals all ran into the woods. As to IED and aircraft, they don't give terrorists the reward they seek.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have noticed at some airports that the security lines will have a person greeting the people coming in and making sure that they have a ziplock bag for the liquid items. These folks are so nice and in alot of cases older. They are alot like the greeters at Sam's. I think this little bit of kindness and preperation up front will keep the rest of the security from being angry and will improve all relations. Stop a person from getting frustrated and offer up something as small as a ziplock bag, a trash can for drinks and a friendly smile. I think you might have a winner.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have sent the following to TSA and to my state representatives. I would some relief from the problems of being handicapped and getting through the TSA screening. As you will see it is a horrible experience.

This is the letter that I sent out:

I have had many bad experiences dealing with TSA agents while traveling. Yesterday was just the straw that broke my spirit and patience.

I am handicapped, I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, and have been treated like a criminal, a child, like I am stupid, and like a terrorists. This needs to stop. I know that I am not alone in this problem I have witnessed people with many different problems treated badly, humiliated and threatened.

I need to know a list of persons that I can start to contact. I want the name, phone number, and email addresses of the people that oversee all of the TSA activities and training.

I would also like to see the EXACT information that TSA agents are trained to especially in regards to dealing with the handicapped. Since every airport seems to follow different rules, at this point I am assuming that there are NO standard rules.

Here are the two scenarios that I am interested in:

1.) Handicapped person can not remove shoes and walk. The person alarms when walking through the detector..What happens now?

2.) Handicapped person can not remove shoes and walk. The person does not alarm when walking through the detector...What happens now?

I want to see the EXACT wording in the formal documentation that tells the TSA police what to do.

Thank you for your time and effort in clearing up my expectations when traveling the "Friendly" airways of my country.

Submitted by Duane on

I need the name, email, and address for the Director of Federal Security at the Albany Airport to notify him/her of the egregious separation of my eight-year-old daughter from my girlfriend while going through security together. Then security patted my eight-year-old daughter down in a manner that I would be arrested for child molestation if I did it, while she was crying for her mother.

Standard TSA policy? Does the TSA not recognize that children can be snatched up and away by evil people during such times. If the TSA is so paranoid about security, doesn't the TSA have a policy of accompanying a child they deem a security risk through the security check point when they have separated them from the adult in charge?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"I am handicapped, I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, and have been treated like a criminal, a child, like I am stupid, and like a terrorists. This needs to stop. I know that I am not alone in this problem I have witnessed people with many different problems treated badly, humiliated and threatened." (just part of the post).

I'd like the blogger staff to take a serious look at what the above poster stated, and give us your best thoughts about how disabled people, the elderly, and children
can be treated in a more humane and professional manner. I will state again that a Passenger Bill of Rights should be prominently posted before and after every checkpoint, with the names and phone numbers of the shift supervisors.

Submitted by Weaklyflyer on

Gripe:
TSOs at Nashville trying to determine my immigration status and not knowing enough to figure out what they are looking at.

Grins:
The TSOs at Richmond who are so friendly that the entire process becomes virtually pain free. If all your employees acted the way the Richmond folks did, then the complaints section on this site would be dramatically reduced.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hi.

I had an umbrella confiscated by the TSA at the Portland (Oregon) Memorial Coliseum prior to a Barack Obama rally because "it was too long." The woman would not tell me where we could pick up these confiscated items afterwards, and by the time the rally ended the TSA were long gone, and so were the umbrellas. This in a city where it rains and lots of people have umbrellas. At no time prior to the rally was I ever told that umbrellas were too long to carry into the arena.

I have two requests: The next time your organization runs security at an event, please make sure to tell the organizers exactly what attendees can and cannot bring (the only warning about forbidden items was about large bags, which are always forbidden at the Coliseum).

The second request--please stay around until the end of the event so that people have a chance to retrieve their items. This has lots of problems at an airport where travellers may never come back, but everyone going into the Coliseum went back out of it, so most of those items will be reclaimed. If that can't be done with current staffing levels, leave the stuff in a pile outside... or tell us where to claim it.

Thanks for having this blog, I really appreciate it.

--Darrick

Submitted by Anonymous on

I would like to start by saying that I believe TSA employees are conducting the job they were hired to do with respect and vigilance. Are there times when a situation is not handled to everyone's liking? Sure. Unfortunately we all tend to remember the uncomfortable situations because of their personal nature rather than the positive experiences. Passengers have and will continue to experience frustating screening situations, as TSA employees will continually be faced with abusive passengers, but this is not the norm. 95% of what I've experienced is security being conducted by courteous and professional individuals attempting to protect us, and passengers that appreciate and are thankful for the protection. Let's correct the issues, but also try to focus on the positive.

Submitted by Screener Joe on

"I am a retired Naval Officer with a hip replacement plus other metalic parts which set your machine off every time I go to the airport. As you have access to my service record of 24 years plus I would pay for a security check for the last 30 years then could I get a chip embedded in my shoulder that eliminate the 10 minute individual check at the airport plus let me keep my shoes on. They are hard to get on without the LONG SHOE HORN that disabled people use. Cliff Woodrick - CDR USN (Ret)"

Sir;
Unfortunately, access to your service record is not that easy to obtain for the screener on the floor. People who already scream that TSA is too intrusive would not be pleased with the idea that we could do some sort of computer background check on each passenger as they came up to our check point.

As it stands now I am not aware of any technology in the TSA system that would allow us to make distinctions between passengers based upon some sort of bio-chip. And I very much doubt if congress would be willing to pay to install such a system. We have enough trouble getting them to cough up the money to buy equipment to replace what we wear out.

We have no recourse but to treat all passengers as nearly the same as possible. Our SOP has provisions for persons with disabilities, and most airports have local procedures for implementing those provisions. Inform the screeners of your special needs when you arrive at the checkpoint; at most places we can adapt.

Yes, I am aware that at some airports the screeners are not as polite or as patient as I would wish. I would ask that you please be patient with us. Most of us are doing the best we can.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have one question: why are we so paranoid as a country to have such ridiculous screening? What is the point of living in the country of the "free" with all these rights, when they really don't exist at all? I'm not saying that other countries don't have it rougher, but let's be realistic! Why do we give up so much for a little security? There is absolutely no privacy anymore... Packing my luggage has now become a "process," just so I can make sure that I don't have anything in my carry on that would be deemed "explosive!" The days of overnighters with a carry on are practically gone... unless you're gonna buy a whole bunch of stuff on the other end. What has the world come to?

Submitted by Trollkiller on
Anonymous said...
Hi.

I had an umbrella confiscated by the TSA at the Portland (Oregon) Memorial Coliseum prior to a Barack Obama rally

I thought TSA = Transportation Security Administration.

Why in the world is the TSA providing security for Barack? Does the Portland Coliseum have an airport, bus or train station?

Providing security for anything other than transportation is CLEARLY NOT YOUR JOB.

Who approached the TSA with this idea?

Who authorized this outside work?

Who paid for the TSA's time and equipment?

I think this falls into the category of GROSS mismanagement, GROSS waste, and fraud.
Submitted by Neil on

I have to fly almost weekly and the deal with the TSA is this... They are A JOKE. I went through a Check point chicky in Charlotte NC and had my buddies boarding pass and he had mine. It was a mistake.. But the TSA crackpot checked them thtoughly and then let us both through. I know that checking a boarding pass is bascailly a joke anyway but my issue with this is if you are going to put me through the hassle then do it right.

I also want to address the issue of all of us complaining and REMEMBER 911. Here is the deal.. 911 would NEVER NEVER happen again and nothing that the TSA does will change that or not. Could someone sneak a bomb on a plane today I say YES. I am not sure how because I have no desire to but the bad guys are looking and will find a way if they so choose. The only thing that will stop them is the passangers on the plane. That is precisely the reason 911 would never happen again because the passangers would not let it happen and they have locked and renforced the cock pit doors and some piolets are armed. These are better than any TSA regulations. The TSA is there for the IMPRESSION of security and that is all! If you fools believe that the TSA or even your government is saving the world get a life please! I would like some basic common sense at the airports.

I want my civil liberies back and I want the TSA is figure out they are not saving the world. And I am sure this will not get posted how is that for censorship!

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am handicapped, I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, and have been treated like a criminal, a child, like I am stupid, and like a terrorists. This needs to stop. I know that I am not alone in this problem I have witnessed people with many different problems treated badly, humiliated and threatened.

SIR, WE DO NOT CONSIDER ANYONE A CRIMINAL UNLESS THEY ARE ONE - CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT A TERRORIST LOOKS LIKE??...I THINK NOT

I would also like to see the EXACT information that TSA agents are trained to especially in regards to dealing with the handicapped. Since every airport seems to follow different rules, at this point I am assuming that there are NO standard rules.

YOU WILL NOT HAVE ACCESS TO SUCH INFORMATION AS IT IS DEEMED SENSITIVE SECURITY INFORMATION BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Here are the two scenarios that I am interested in:

1.) Handicapped person can not remove shoes and walk. The person alarms when walking through the detector..What happens now?

YOU GO THORUGH THE SCREENING PROCESS (SIMPLY SAID)

2.) Handicapped person can not remove shoes and walk. The person does not alarm when walking through the detector...What happens now?

YOU GO THROUGH THE SCREENING PROCESS (SIMPLY SAID)

I want to see the EXACT wording in the formal documentation that tells the TSA police what to do.

AGAIN - SENSITIVE SECURITY INFORMATION (YOU WILL NOT SEE IT)

Thank you for your time and effort in clearing up my expectations when traveling the "Friendly" airways of my country.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I find the TSA workers to be so inconsistent that I never know what is expected. In February I flew from SFO to Sydney, Australia-the TSA workers were very courteous and helpful. I am disabled and they were very nice about screening me and making sure that my belongings were in the control of my husband.
I faced an entirely different kind of TSA worker in Honolulu flying home to SFO. The TSA woman was so very, very rude to me saying I needed to put all my electronics in a plastic bag-nothing was said about this when I left the country in February (14th). This worker yelled at me that I was being rude-she had me completely off balance and my boarding pass was in one of the plastic containers that had already gone through the xray machine. She yelled at me again and called me ignorant-I am disabled and this rude,aggressive woman was completely out of line. I was crying as she totally humiliated me and I feel that these people are not making us any safer. Some of them just get off telling people they have to do this and they have to do that. TSA you have made flying Hell!!! Get your act together and simplify your inconsistent rules and weed out the workers that are on an ego trip!!! There is no reason whatsoever that should give a government worker the right to harass an American citizen!!!

Submitted by Bill on

To speed up the xray process, why not post a sign at the conveyor that tells the people to PUSH there baggage onto the belt, instead of just standing there waiting for instructions wondering why the bags aren't moving. We should see at least a 20% improvement in processing. And speaking of improving the speed of the xrays, instruct the person sitting at the screen to stay focused on the job and not chit chat the the other Tsa employees whoile our bags are just sitting there or while we wait for the bags to come out the other end. Disney has monitors which explain how the process works, so consider a screen with a loop tape that tells newbie travelers how to proceed efficiently through the line.

Submitted by Svrtstm on

As an honorably discharged,wartime veteran, as far as I'm concerned, the bad guys have already won. These infringements on my liberties and freedom to move around the country I defended are, imho, overboard.

Along with the pre-approved, background cleared folks, how about including veterans. We defended this country, we're not out to blow something up.

Submitted by Svrtstm on

You guys are even a bigger pain than I thought you were. Just getting to the point where I could post my comment was a royal pain.

Trying again. As an honorably discharged, wartime vet, it's my humble opinion that your restrictions and scrutiny mean the bad guys have already won. When the restrictions begin interfering with the very freedoms and rights I fought to defend and complicate my everyday life, I have a problem with it.

How about including active duty and veterans with honorable discharges in the quick lane?

Submitted by Svrtstm on

To screener joe.

See the note I just posted. I'm a vet., too, with part of a Huey in my leg that occasionally trips the buzzers. While it may be ethnic profiling, there really should be room for us in the mix.

Submitted by "beChange" = If... on

Re Signs in KC Airport - the sterile area is restricted to passengers and individuals with a need to conduct business in the sterile area (airport personnel, DEA personnel, secret service etc).
Each individual must be able to demonstrate that they have a legitimate reason for being in this environment. Prior to submitting to screening, a flyer may elect not to show their ID...which is a voluntary decision, and voids your 4th amendment rights. The result of that decision is that the passenger will not be allowed to fly for two reasons;
1. cannot verify that fraud is not taking place for the airline (is the person using the ticket who bought the ticket)...as nowadays, if IDs were not checked at the security checkpoint, one could;
1. buy online
2. check in online
3. proceed through security
4. board the aircraft ALL WITHOUT HAVING VERIFIED THEIR IDENTITY

2. cannot verify that the individual has a legitimate need to be in the sterile area, pursuant to the changes that only allow flying passengers and those with a business need to be in the sterile area.

Submitted by Svrtstm on

Are you guys getting the message. Terrorists can not be stopped if they set their minds to it. Stop stepping on my freedoms. I just read the other blog postings, and that seems to be the general gist.

Remember who's the bad guy. OK, can't get the airplane, let's just drive a truck where we want it. (Remember, that's how they started.) It's am intelligence issue, not an airport security issue. Let's knock off this overreaction!

Submitted by "beChange" = If... on

Inconsistencies in Appproach ~

The regulations loosely state that a Federal Security Director may, at his/her discretion exercise procedures that exceed the minimum requirements. TRANSLATED, this means that any airport can do as they please, and common sense doesn't always prevail.

1. SFO - "please remove your hat when going through the screening process." What? No other airport requires this. Consider the impact on individuals who are going through chemotherapy etc and the potential embarrassment this may cause.

Why this is a silly request...
A. plastic explosives could be hidden in my hat.
Answer - and they could be in my underwear too...or tied to my calf...or anywhere else.
Result - dumb practice by SFO

2. Las Vegas (good)...most other airports (bad) preparation of the passengers for the screening experience.
Example: videos are continuously playing to show travelers what they need to do to be ready for screening...and even done with entertainment value (Elvis characters etc shown going through screening). Imagine how cool this could be for Burbank (Universal Studios or Disney), Orlando/John Wayne (Disney), Vail (skiers) etc...every airport could have unique individuals that are relevant to that geography.

What the TSA may say...and my response:
1. Space - not all screening checkpoints are created equal and some are very cramped.
Answer - TRUE. However consider the impact of a screener saying (often yelling over-and-over) "take off your shoes etc. NO ONE SOUNDS HELPFUL when yelling!
* Signs only solve one part of the problem, as a wise friend of mine once said, 'the problem with signs is, you have to read them.'
** Thus video etc are clever and less abrasive ways to address this concern.

2. Cost is excessive. I have a difficult time understanding how this can be a valid answer, as associating 'cost benefit' is simply an exercise of moving funds from one general accounting line item to another...which isn't exactly a new financial practice for any business/organization.

Submitted by "beChange" = If... on

Apparently All Plastic Bags are not Created Equal -

True Story (JFK) -
On day 1 of a 5 day road trip, I had the audacity to have my toiletries in a bag that was a "quart sized bag." I was told I would have to either;
a) throw all of these items away (and no, none of them exceeded 4 oz)
b) find a smaller bag

When I folded my 'quart sized bag' into quarters (yes, 1/4 the size), which is smaller than the TSA 'approved' size...I was still told that I needed a smaller bag.

I simply asked "why," as I was now transporting less than the approved amount. I didn't receive a real answer, other than a none too polite, "you can't bring that through the checkpoint."

As fortune and karma would have it, a nice woman next to me handed me a smaller bag (that was still larger than my folded one - yes I repeated myself)...so that I could fly that day without dumping my toiletries.

Submitted by "beChange" = If... on

Trusted Traveler Program (explain this please)~

If one were to register, pay and be approved for this service, one is supposed to receive "shorter lines and less stringent screening."

To clarify what a screener must do, and my inability to understand the TSA's logic on how our experience will be enhanced;
1. x-ray carry on bags (NO CHANGE)
2. have electronic items removed from carry on bag (NO CHANGE)
3. Resolve any alarms from the walk through metal detector (NO CHANGE)
4. Randomly and consistently search carry on luggage (POSSIBLE CHANGE)
5. Remove shoes (NO CHANGE)
6. Resolve any suspicious or unidentifiable images in carry on bags - also known as the 'Screaming BAG CHECK' (NO CHANGE)
7. Remove jackets and have them screened (NO CHANGE)

So, if someone can actually explain the benefits from a 'security' standpoint, as the only benefit I see is from a practical standpoint of having a separate line to go through with less volume of passengers with the following impact;
1. less screening space at that checkpoint for the remaining passengers (vast majority)

Submitted by "beChange" = If... on

TSA Screeners have a thankless job~

The job the screeners do is extremely difficult with the limited tools they are provided...under often thankless conditions.

Consider this;
A. in the majority of airports the most 'private' space a screener can take a break, is usually a coffee shop
B. often, when a supervisor needs to have a briefing with their team, they do it in a very public setting
C. Being a screener is like being 'on stage' 8-10 hours per day...with every mis-step or frown being noticed
D. Screeners are not empowered to effect change - how many times have you questioned a policy and gotten a 'good' answer?

In LAS VEGAS, screeners are not required to yell over and over again for passengers to remove their electronics etc.

In places like LAX where the screening checkpoints are bottlenecks, the pressure on screeners to move the line along means that they often don't actually stop the belt and examine every bag, as was once the mandatory practice (which was my experience in Austin, TX yesterday as well).
* Note - an experienced x-ray operator can easily distinguish when a tub has nothing but a jacket and belt in it (for example), and having to stop the belt in that case is actually silly and somewhat of an insult to their experience and skill level; HOWEVER, when there are briefcases or electronics involved, it is alarming not to see the belt stopped.

No one wants their bags checked...wants to take off their shoes and walk on dirty floors...to be treated like a security risk etc...yet these are the realities of the screening experience today.

Maybe next time when traveling through the airport, we should all stop and ask ourselves, "is it the screener making these rules, or Washington?" Just maybe, we'll realize the screeners are just doing their job as instructed...and a letter to Washington is better than scorn for the screeners.

Submitted by "beChange" = If... on

Communication Skills Start In Washington~

Honest, clear and easy to understand communication can help the screeners work with the traveling public.

One would suggest that an area for VAST IMPROVEMENT would be easily understandable communication strategies for the screeners to use when explaining a procedure. These explanations could be easily crafted in Washington and passed to screeners via their daily shift briefings.

Examples of questions and TSA 'Suggested Answers' (some tongue in cheek):

Question - "Do I LOOK like a terrorist to you?"
Answer (tongue in cheek) - "I don't know that I have ever seen a terrorist...so I don't know."

Question - "Why do I have to show my ID to get through security?"
Answer - "One reason is to help the airlines make sure that the person buying the ticket is indeed using the ticket and the other is because by limiting the number of people who go through security to just those who need to...we HOPE to reduce lines for you!"

Question - "Why do I have to throw out my food?"
Answer - "Because the consistency of foods can be similar to known explosives. While we know it is terribly inconvenient, it is also our policy to err on the side of caution to try and help keep you safe when you travel."

Question - "Why do I have to take off my shoes?"
Answer - "Experience has taught us that when terrorists try a tactic, they may try it again. There was once a attempted shoe bomber, so we want to make sure that never happens again."

Question - "How come I have to show my boarding pass AGAIN (to the screener working the walk through metal detector)?"
Answer - "To double check ourselves, because good security requires back up checks."

Just for fun...ask these same questions when you travel next and be prepared for poorly crafted answers...which usually start with the words..."the rules say..."

Submitted by "beChange" = If... on

Checking IDs -
At some airports, I show my ID and boarding pass 3x...other times I show it 2x...and sometimes I show it 1x.

Problem - I never know what to do with it.

First - ID checker at the beginning of the security line

Second - screener at walk through metal detector

Third - upon exiting the 'screening area'

Suggestions~
1. Ask the carriers to add a field in their data base to enable something like (PLEASE KEEP YOUR BOARDING PASS WITH YOU FOR SECURITY SCREENING) to be printed on the boarding pass - preferably near where the GATE # is printed/written

2. Ensure coordination between screeners - as I left Austin I was told I didn't need my boarding pass again...only to be chastised for not having it at the walk through metal detector.

The Rules - it used to be a carrier responsibility to ensure that ID/boarding passes were checked (and the carriers would employ the most cost effective solution to staffing that position that did not include their own personnel). This is why there was a disconnect between those companies and the TSA...as they didn't work together.

NOW, we have the TSA doing it at significant cost...

Next step...instead of simply replacing the prior employees with TSA screeners, look at how to consolidate that work in the actual screening process to eliminate duplication of effort and apply those screeners more effectively across the checkpoints.

Submitted by "beChange" = If... on

Neils Post~
I agree with you...and offer this bit of information.

The TSA is hoping to create a random environment that is difficult to predict for 'would be' bad guys. Everyone knows that the truly skilled bad guys are not fooled by these efforts; however there are others who we don't commonly think about...who are regular folks gone bad...who would do harm.

Let's call them the Amateur Bad Guys. The TSA efforts are more akin to stopping these individuals.

If one were to talk to the airport police about their day-to-day work day...one would be amazed by all the crazy stuff that they deal with; jilted boyfriend gone mad, failed marriages and ensuing behavior of those folks, people 'testing the system,' Amateur Bad Guys, drug dealers with controlled substances trying to transport them, drug/arms dealers transporting large sums of cash that show up on the x-ray as large blocks of organic material etc.

Periodically there are even events that one would never suspect...like the time an airport employee climbed onto the ticket counter and began flapping his arms and crowing like a chicken...just basically losing it and need psychological evaluation.

Or another time that an airport empoloyee was found scaling a fence (in uniform) before being apprehended...and was soon found to be mentally unstable and submitted for psychiatric care.

All of this brings me to my point...which is that I agree with your assessment that anything that happens on an airplane now will be met by 50 passengers throwing laptops and every imaginable item while pummeling the individual stupid enough to try and take control of the aircraft.

As the TSA continues to maintain the illusion of security to keep the Amateur Bad Guy from striking, let's hope that our government focuses on cargo and access to the sterile area by non-screened individuals.

Submitted by "beChange" = If... on

Plastic Bags for toiletries~

Suggestion -

Opportunity - Companies want advertising
Opportunity - TSA (airport authority) could generate revenue and a service

Have the TSA (or airport authority) allow businesses to provide 'branded' plastic bags to consumers...

Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Kayak/SideStep are just a few that are no brainers...

OR, regional identities -
* Microsoft for Seattle
* Google for San Francisco
* Disney for Orlando/Orange County
* Ski resorts for Denver

...the list goes on and on!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Thank you for having this blog and for your willingness to post even extremely critical comments. I also appreciate that you sometimes respond to the comments. I hope this blog helps the TSA improve.

Submitted by BGR TSO on

quote: Trollkiller said...
Anonymous said...
Hi.

I had an umbrella confiscated by the TSA at the Portland (Oregon) Memorial Coliseum prior to a Barack Obama rally

I thought TSA = Transportation Security Administration.

Why in the world is the TSA providing security for Barack? Does the Portland Coliseum have an airport, bus or train station?

Providing security for anything other than transportation is CLEARLY NOT YOUR JOB.

Who approached the TSA with this idea?

Who authorized this outside work?

Who paid for the TSA's time and equipment?

I think this falls into the category of GROSS mismanagement, GROSS waste, and fraud.

The TSA officers in question were on loan to the Secret Service. This has been common practice since at least the 2004 election. We have the training to conduct searches. While working these events we are following Secret Service directions. I would hardly call this practice waste or fraud. If we did not assist our brother agency, they would have to hire outside contractors. These would have to have some sort of background check and training. Instead, the government is being smart and efficient for a change by using its own employees that are already trained and vetted. The employees that do these events are working on their days off so security at the airport is not compromised.

Submitted by HSVTSO Dean on
A very upset Anonymous person wrote:

And he, along with a great many others, aren't going to be pleased with my answer, but at least I'm trying to give an answer.

I would also like to see the EXACT information that TSA agents are trained to especially in regards to dealing with the handicapped. Since every airport seems to follow different rules, at this point I am assuming that there are NO standard rules.

You're not going to get it, since I'm fairly certain that would be considered SSI information.

However, your assumption would be incorrect. We do, in fact, have a Standard Operating Procedure. The differences between the airports, however, are brought from how any number of various supervisors and managers choose to execute those, and the fact that, while nobody can do less than the SOP requires, they can do more

Example?

Shoes have to be removed when going through the walk-through metal detector (I understand there are a couple of exceptions to this, pilot programs and what-not, but that's the general rule). To do less, to not require this (again, in general), is against the regulations.

To do more, however, and require that all shoes in a carry-on be removed and x-rayed seperately? I can only imagine that being inconvenient as hell, but it would, technically, be permissable.

I want to see the EXACT wording in the formal documentation that tells the TSA police what to do.

We're not police, and you're not going to get it. Again, all of that information is considered to be SSI, and cannot be released by any except the.. oh.. I think it is the TSA Administrator himself/herself.

Here are the two scenarios that I am interested in:

1.) Handicapped person can not remove shoes and walk. The person alarms when walking through the detector..What happens now?

2.) Handicapped person can not remove shoes and walk. The person does not alarm when walking through the detector...What happens now?

Again, I can't give you the exact wording that you want, but I can tell you, in the scope of those scenarios, what is required:

1. The passenger must be sent for secondary screening, and since they alarmed will require a hand-held metal detector screening, followed by a pat-down at the end. The shoes themselves will be tested and screened while remaining on the passenger's feet.(though it behooves the passenger to [while remaining civil, please; civility helps passengers so much] inform the screener that they cannot remove their shoes)

2. The passenger will be sent for secondary screening, though since he passed the WWMD without alarming, all that must be screened is his footwear, and in the same method of scenario #1.

Now, bear in mind, that's the baseline on what would be absolutely required. Any airport is able to go above and beyond the scope of what is deemed to be minimum - if one of the Powers That Be decided that anyone and everyone being referred for secondary screening had to undergo an HHMD screening, then they would be within their rights to do just that, and the absolute minimum doesn't apply - they're not doing less, they're doing more.

I know you're not going to be satisfied with this answer, but it is the best that I personally can give.
Submitted by Screener Joe on

"I want to see the EXACT wording in the formal documentation that tells the TSA police what to do."

I must say that you will almost certainly not be allowed to see the "exact wording." Please, let me explain.

Whether we like it or not, there are "bad guys" out there who do intend harm to the U.S. and its citizens. There have been incidents in Europe. There have been plots broken and people arrested both in Europe and in the U.S. They are out there. As a screener, I would like to believe that my work is helping to keep you safe.

The mission of TSA is to make it as difficult as possible for the bad guys to act. To that end a certain amount of randomness is deliberately built into our procedures. And we are modifying and changing our procedures as we are made aware of new or different threats. Most of these changes never reach the publics attention.

Any information that the bad guys can gain about our procedures and techniques could weaken our systems. If they know what we do and how we do it, they know what they need to avoid. We don't want them to have that advantage. So, we do not allow the public to have access to our SOP.

There is an implication in your post, and others like it, that just because you have a disability, you cannot be dangerous. Well, just last fall, a person with a disability smuggled a hand gun into a prison by hiding it in a wheelchair. Nor is that a new idea. Thirty years ago in a newspaper comic strip, I remember a story line in which a person used a disability to smuggle a hand gun onto a airplane in order to commit an act of air piracy.

Screening is very uncomfortable for the passenger with disabilities. It is also uncomfortable for the screener. Good screeners understand how intrusive it is. For that reason it is part of our refresher training program and our annual competency testing.

I suppose this is not the answer you were hoping for, but I hope it at least help clear up some of the confusion.

Submitted by Winstonsmith on

Screener Joe... I was not in any way satisfied with your dismissive response to the retired Naval Officer who has disabilities and trouble getting through screening:

"... I very much doubt if congress would be willing to pay to install such a system. We have enough trouble getting them to cough up the money to buy equipment to replace what we wear out.

We have no recourse but to treat all passengers as nearly the same as possible. Our SOP has provisions for persons with disabilities, and most airports have local procedures for implementing those provisions. Inform the screeners of your special needs when you arrive at the checkpoint; at most places we can adapt.

Yes, I am aware that at some airports the screeners are not as polite or as patient as I would wish. I would ask that you please be patient with us. Most of us are doing the best we can.

March 21, 2008 5:39 PM

1. If TSA were particularly adept at managing its budgets (it is not, see the 2007 GAO report that excoriates TSA for its uncertain budgeting practices for example in the way it maintains its screening machines, its high turnover rate -- very costly, and its general mismanagement overall -- "Heckuva Job, Kip")

2. Your SOP has provisions for dealing with people with disabilities that include forcing people who can't walk to walk, people who can't remove their shoes to remove their shoes, not providing places for these people to put their shoes on again once they've managed to get through the process, and you're telling me that they will vary from place to place? This sounds like a blatant violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. How is it that you haven't been sued yet? Or is immunity from such suits written into your charter (I admit that I haven't had the bandwidth yet to see if that got written into your enabling act)?

3. You ask that we, the traveling public be patient with you? No dice. How about you, the government who serves the traveling public, actually serve the traveling public -- especially those who have given so much for this country. We as a people have been patient enough with the lies and obfuscations of the TSA, and every other government intrusion into our lives that has been brought on in the name of "homeland security" since 9/11 to save us from the "terrists" and the other assorted non-christian brown people from overseas. It's time for the government to show us some results.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Most unfortunately, the TSA makes it extremely difficult for the disabled traveler to know that he/she has every right to refuse to remove his/her shoes.

All one needs to do is to state to a screener something to effect of "I have a medical condition and cannot remove my shoes." The screener may not ask the traveler any questions about that condition.

Those stations that force everyone to remove shoes need to be instructed in the ADA. It is a disgrace to the TSA to force the elderly and infirm (as well as infants) to remove their shoes.

I have seen old people in wheelchairs made to get up out of their chairs and walk, shuffle, through the WTMD. That, too, is a disgrace to your agency.

The rules need to change.

The AARP, the American Diabetes Association, elder care centers, gerontologists, etc. all need begin to instruct their members/clients/patients to refuse to remove their shoes when transiting a checkpoint.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why aren't TSA staff levels matched to the airlines schedules and capacity levels? Why must there be waits of over an hour at large airports (Atlanta, Chicago, etc)? This would take planning and monitoring based on reservations and the actual schedule.
McDonalds, grocery stores, Wal-Mart and others can adjust to the ebbs and flows of volume. Why can't TSA at large airports?

Submitted by Winstonsmith on

Screener Joe... You make me want to tear what's left of my hair out:

Whether we like it or not, there are "bad guys" out there who do intend harm to the U.S. and its citizens. There have been incidents in Europe. There have been plots broken and people arrested both in Europe and in the U.S. They are out there. As a screener, I would like to believe that my work is helping to keep you safe.

How many times do we have to go over this? The TSA has not been responsible for finding so many as one of these so called "plots" or foiling so many as one of these would be "terrorists". Plain old fashioned intelligence and police work has been the key to this.

You would like to think that you're keeping us safe, but you're not. You're just keeping people afraid in a very visible way.

Keep screening cargo -- or keep moving toward screening cargo (uh, how is it that we have to wait til 2010 when the threat is so omenous?????). Keep screening checked baggage (subject to the many good ideas that people have submitted for keeping the theft problem in check on other parts of the blog) and take the checkpoint security back to what it was pre-9/11. Remember, it wasn't the fact that the guys had the boxcutters that made them able to take over the planes -- it was the fact that they were able to get into the cockpits. We got that covered now.

Don't p*** on my shoes and tell me it's raining Joe. I ain't buying it, and fortunately, it looks as if a great number of others aren't either.

Submitted by Anonymous on

airport screening is just one example of our society's total over reaction/paranoic collective conciousness. While 9/11 was a horrific event - to put it in perspective: blow up one 747 jet every 10 minutes and that is the rate of how many children under the age of 5 are dying every 10 minutes!!! In the meantime, the terrorists are laughing hysterically and are totally energized by our society's collective psychosis. Does anyone honestly think a plane can by highjacked in this day and age? At least 25% (a guess) of the passengers would be attacking the terrorists...aka...pennsylvania plan heroes on 9/11

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA does not like screening the disabled and as such want to make the process so disagreable that the disabled will cease flying. Might be time to call TSA about discrimination. Might be time to get the AARP involved as well.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Screening is very uncomfortable for the passenger with disabilities.

Yes, and TSA makes it even more uncomfortable for the disabled/elderly to fly.

It is also uncomfortable for the screener.

Part of doing your job so shut up and stop whining about that part of it.


Good screeners understand how intrusive it is. For that reason it is part of our refresher training program and our annual competency testing.

Make it so uncomfortable for the disabled that they stop flying and you've won. You won't have to deal with them anymore. You will, though have to deal with their letter writing campaigns.
Submitted by Anonymous on
Yes, I am aware that at some airports the screeners are not as polite or as patient as I would wish. I would ask that you please be patient with us. Most of us are doing the best we can.

You're making your problem our problem. Since when should the traveling public be forced to deal with your inability to properly do your job? What if one of your close relatives was subjected to the torture your coworkers regularly subject other disabled people to? Would you tell them that the screener had a bad day and to just put up with a screening process? What would you do yourself?

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