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Inconsistencies, Part 1 (Commenting Disabled)

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Did you have to take your shoes off in Ohio but not Colorado? Post all of your thoughts about inconsistencies on this blog post.

In response to an cmac's frustration with those who seem ungrateful for the job TSOs do each day...

Don't take negative comments left by a few to heart. People have the right to voice their opinion even when some of those people don't do it with the same courtesy and respect they expect from you. Without question a lot of our brothers and sisters feel the very same way you do sometimes. This blog is intended to bridge the gap with people who have legitimate issues with the TSA, but let's put the negative into proper context. Consider there are at most a few hundred complaints on this site. Of those complaints there are without a doubt many posts by the same author. Now consider there are some 35, 000 domestic flights per day in the U.S. with millions of passengers using our transportation system, all of which have experienced the professionalism and security provided each day by our Officers (and don't forget this site is accessible worldwide as we've seen people from different countries leaving posts). So if this were an election one might consider those numbers to be a landslide victory.

There's no doubt some people have had a bad experience with the TSA. Our job is to fix what's broken, but hey let's face it - security is a tough business. There's an old saying, "Security is a great thing... until it applies to me". Sure some complaints are valid and we need to improve in many areas, but when you look at the posts there are an awful lot of complaints because people brought a prohibited item into the checkpoint which was identified, and when TSA identified the item they claimed the rules were stupid or ineffective. Those stupid rules weren't that ineffective obviously.

Keep doing the job you do, take constructive criticism constructively, and if it doesn't apply to you or your team – take it with a grain of salt. Your commitment and professionalism are appreciated and never go unnoticed.

Jay


lancifer, said

Q: For everyone telling the rest of us how we've not had another terrorist attack simply because of beefed up security, I ask you this: Prior to September 11, 2001, when was the previous terrorist attack against the US? Where was it? What happened? Now, when was the attack prior to that?" When was the last terror attack against the U.S.?"

A: Have you been living under a rock? The answer to that question is simple, available, and lengthy .

Q: "We've seen evidence of potential plots for attacks. The fact is, terrorist attacks in the US are rare and isolated incidents."

A: Thankfully yes terror attacks on U.S. soil are rare events. But when you consider these facts: the last terror attack cost 3000+ innocent lives in a matter of minutes, it has heavily impacted our foreign policy, it has placed military service personnel in harms way costing more lives, and in short order has cost our economy in lost capital and venture to the tune of more than one TRILLION dollars - the investment to protect U.S. interest if even only for the rare or isolated attack is worth the return.


Q: I could get a boat and troll Lake Michigan all day long, catching large fish, and talking about how my vigilance has kept the lake secure from shark attacks. Never mind that the likelihood of a shark attack in Lake Michigan is little to none. Prove that I don't prevent shark attacks in Lake Michigan. That is how I feel about our increased security. We've got the government telling us about how much danger there is around us, but only a handful of people are questioning the validity of their claims. So if you don't mind, I've got to go keep Lake Michigan free of shark attacks.

A: Lake Michigan is a fresh water body; there are no sharks in Lake Michigan.


Your fishing venture on Lake Michigan doesn't change the fact we are still surrounded by sharks.

Jay

Comments

Submitted by Maudy Grunch on

Why are the metal scanners set at different levels at different airports? I have a good gold bracelet that I always wear and sometimes I forget to take it off. Why? Because it never sets off the metal detector in JAX, ATL, CLT, JFK, ALB, MSP, STL, or DEN, but it does trip the alarm at IAD, DCA, and SFO. This never has any relationship to the threat level, either.

Submitted by Jake on

My first name is Jacob, but I go by Jake. And I traveled for years with my airline tickets saying "Jake" and my id's saying "Jacob". Suddenly, one day in the Las Vegas Airport this wasn't good enough for the security screeners. I was treated like a criminal and escalated to three different agents, all of whom refused to believe that my picture idea was for the person on the plane ticket. All because the ticket said "Jake" and the i.d. said "Jacob". I was harassed and yelled at. And TSA made such a point of scrutinizing my luggage that they actually thumbed through every page of all three of my books to make sure that there was anything hidden. They also wiped down and individually x-rayed every my cell phone, camera and ipod. I was so late to the gate that the entire plane had already boarded.

Submitted by BrockLi on

I didn't experience this myself, but it seems that SFO is now requiring the removal of ALL electronic items from bags:
Laughing Squid post

Submitted by Santa Fe Jack on

Because of the shoe "thing", I have chosen to wear "Crocs" when I travel. At my advanced age, it is just too difficult to have to replace regular footwear after the screening. Needless to say, wearing those ugly "Crocs" is not my first choice, but since TSA insists on maintaining shoe removal, I am forced to adjust. I would really like to hear about how many suspect shoes have been discovered since 9/11. I doubt there have been any, but because of that one person (Reid) millions of us have to go through the shoe removal inconvenience every single time we travel (in my case that is several times per year)!

Submitted by Anonymous on

My wife had her cosmetics in a "clear" makeup bag with a zipper and not a "BAGGY". This was totally ok in columbus, Ohio. However, when we came home from Portsmouth, NH, this same clear makeup bag was NOT acceptable because the TSA person said that it was not a "BAGGY". Made her leave the line, go back and have her bag checked as luggage. This was without doubt an inconsistancy and caused great embarassment and inconvenienc to us and the passengers in line. It is no wonder the the TSA is the second most hated goverment agency in the country, even ahead of the IRS. Can you believe it...the IRS????

Submitted by TSO Tom on

I'm a TSO in Philadelphia, I get complaints all the time about inconsistencies in TSA policy. Usually something like this, "well, I cam through Boston with that 26 ounce toothpaste and they didn't say anything!" or something along those lines. I usually tell the passenger that procedures are the same nationwide, but I get the feeling they don't believe me. :-) But no matter how many complaints I get about inconsistencies, or whatever, its the one or two comments per day (sometimes more) thanking me for the job I do, or telling me "I'm glad you guys are here, thanks!" that make my job worth while and take away all the bad feelings left behind by the "complainers".

Submitted by CommonSense on

Jake aka Jacob -

Geez ... why would you want the ticket to say Jake when your ID says Jacob and you need an ID to travel?

Sorry but I have to agree with the TSA on this.

In this day of high security how can we expect the TSA to accept colloquial names when its clear we need a valid IDENTIFICATION to travel?

I applaud TSA for sticking to the rules ... tomorrow I could call myself "King" and fly with an ID that says "Elvis" ... will that fly? :)

Submitted by Anonymous on

I recently was traveling by car from Washington state to British Columbia Canada. Going thru Customs from the US to Canada was like stopping to pay a toll (one time when I went to hand them my passport they said just keep moving) But going from Canada to the US we had lines they were checking passports, opening trunks, dogs walking around with boader patrol guards and let me tell you I am felling a lot safer that at even at an out of the way boder crossing the boader patrol is looking hard.. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK dont worry about the complainers 15 to 20 minutes out of their life down the road you may safe their life..
Mark from NJ

Submitted by Anonymous on

In retrospect, I'm just glad Richard Reid didn't try to hide a bomb in his undershorts.

Submitted by Andrea on

Santa Fe Jack-
Thanks for your comment. I can tell you that as an employee of TSA that shoes really are a threat and that we have seen shoes that have been manipulated even if it has not been a Richard Reid incident per se. Because shoes remain a threat we have now asked that all passengers remove their shoes so that we are consistant where in the past we only asked shoes of a certain profile to be removed. You are right on track with wearing shoes that are easy to take on and off as I do the same.

Submitted by Anonymous on

During my travels post 9/11 I have had occasion to fly out of airports on private and leased aircraft. I've simply walked into General Aviation and walked onto private aircraft. TSA doesn't even regulate these flights or do security checks or luggage inspections. During one trip my girlfriend was waved onto the tarmac and drove within thirty feet of the plane. The co-pilot carried my luggage to the car trunk, and thanked me for flying with them. In December of 2006 a friend helped me rescue Tuxedo, a
working English Cocker Spaniel that I was adopting. We rolled his plane out of his rented hanger space at one Air Force base, taxied past C5A's and Warthogs, and landed at another Air Force base 40 minutes later. We met up with the dog rescue folks at General Aviation, and picked up the pup. We loaded him into the plane and flew back. Granted we filed a flight plan, but encountered no security or TSA during the trip.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Ever since you started x-raying our shoes, I've been forced to carry all my plastic explosives in my pants which I find most inconvenient.

Submitted by Jay Maynard on

I've been through a hundred airports in the past several years. I never, ever know what to expect. Some want to run the explosives test on my CPAP, some don't; some want to examine everything, some don't; some want shoes in bins, some complain if you do it.

Every time - without a single exception - I complain about inconsistency, I get the reply that "those other folks aren't doing their job properly". This isn't exactly calculated to inspire confidence.

There should be one consistent set of procedures applied the same at every checkpoint in every airport. That way, we'll know what to expect. To those who say that the bad guys would also know what to expect: if the screening is good enough, this won't matter.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Probably the biggest frustration I have as a frequent traveler is lack of consistency. What is standard in one airport is not standard in others. Sometimes you have to take your shoes off, sometimes not. Sometimes if you go through the puffer that counts as taking your shoes off, sometimes not (what's the point of the puffer if I still have to take my shoes off?). Sometimes you can take water through, sometimes not. And there's little method to the madness.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am not a frequent flier, but I do fly at least 4-6 times a year out of Boston's Logan Airport. When you are getting in line for security check, an agent (usually not TSA) checks the name on the ticket against the name on your ID. Then, when you are going through the metal detector, they are checking if you have a valid ticket. At no time any of the agent was checking the picture on my ID against my face, and I can tell you, I look a lot differently from the 7 year old picture on my drivers license

Submitted by Colin on

I have flown several dozen times since 9/11 created thousands of entry-level citizen harassment jobs, and at least a dozen times since some terrorists invented a "liquid explosives" plot that every chemist in the world agrees was ridiculously implausible.

And not once have I put my toiletries in a clear plastic baggy. I have used a zippered leather bag since I was 12, and you never bother me about it. Sure, you confiscated a bottle of shampoo and a new tube of toothpaste, but you don't seem to care that I'm not subsidizing ziploc.

That is inconsistent.

PS, on an unrelated note, I hate you and everything you stand for. And I love America. That is NOT inconsistent.

Submitted by Mark In Memphis on

I sat in 1st class last month from Atlanta to Memphis. I had no issues with TSA, but my seat mate did. She was a former Miss Georgia, and said that the screening area smelt terrible. She jokingly said 'who farted y'all?', and a screener took exception and gave her a nasty look. It seems pretty un-hygenic to have everyone stomping around in their socks and bare feet, and I agreeed with her that the screening area STINKS in some airports compared to others. There's gotta be a better way to ensure shoe safety.

Submitted by Anonymous on

While I was flying to Europe and back I flew through DTW, ORD and MSP there and back. I was on both trips wearing a zip up sweater, and asked twice to remove it and put it through the x-ray where the other times I allowed to go through with it on. I was just wondering what is allowed to be worn through security as clothing and what is to be taken off and put through the x-ray, this seemed quite inconsistent.

Submitted by Mateosf on

Can the TSA provide any statistics on the frequency with which they've prevented potential terrorists from boarding airplanes since 9-11?

Can the TSA explain why, if security is such a vital concern, most of the TSOs you find at major airports appear to be at least slightly illiterate and incapable of analytic thought? Like, is it likely that a 92-year-old grandma is smuggling a bomb in her purse? Can toothpaste really be turned into an explosive?

Finally, why isn't the TSA actively securing our ports? I work down the street from the port of Oakland and you guys are noweher to be seen. Is there any chance that it's alll just a game to make us feel safe? Hard telling, not knowing, and judging from the pabulum posted by the TSOs here, I suspect it's all a joke. How about some serious answers to the serious questions?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Inconsistent application of policy is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of travel for me. I, for one, don't mind the additional security procedures as long as I understand what to expect when I reach the X-ray machine.
I fly fairly often and tend not to have problems while going through security, but have been harassed for items in my carry-on baggage on the return legs of round trips more often than I'd like to admit. That is, items make the cut on the way from my home airport to my destination, but don't on the return leg.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have an issue with the policy about items (knives, nail clippers, etc…) that are not allowed but personally valuable being thrown away. In 1984, I had an issue where I bought a large knife in Germany and forgot to pack it in my checked luggage. The German security took me aside and searched me (I was 14 at the time). The security took the knife and put it in a FedEx type envelope put a luggage tag on it and sent it to my plane. This is a better way to handle these types of issues than you can exit the secured area mail it to yourself (at an inflated charge) then reenter the secured area possibly being late for your plane. The German security handled the process in a better manner than any TSA agent I have dealt with.

The things, that the TSA puts us through, to make us safe just frustrates us and makes us hate you even more than just being an inconvenience to getting on the plane. Because of my experieince with the TSA and how they treat passengers (lack of any customer service skills, the TSA screeners feeling like they have all the power in the world), If I had the power to disband the TSA I would without thinking about it. The extra hassle of going through your screening process is not worth the extra security.

Submitted by Doughboy on

andrea: Can you elaborate? What exactly do you mean by "we have seen shoes that have been manipulated even if it has not been a Richard Reid incident per se"? My step-brother works for the TSA at DIA in Colorado, and he has never found anything suspicious inside a shoe in his 18 months on the job.

And for the record, I have had to remove my shoes (and belt, and earrings) every time I have flown out of DIA. I even had to remove my shoes when I went to the security offices in order to get badged so I could work at the airport (I'm a night-time delivery driver). Come to think of it, I encounter more "tough" security measures at DIA than at any other airport (swabbed, wanded, laptop & iPod checked, etc.)

Thank GOD I haven't been pulled aside for questioning due to mistaken identity or something similar. I think once that happens, I'll just stick to rental cars and Amtrack from that point on.

Cheers!

Submitted by Jim on

I don't mind having to remove my shoe as I walk through the metal detector, but I'd really like to know why my infant son has to have his shoes removed when we're always asked to carry him through?

To the TSO Tom from Philadelphia - You just gave an example of an inconsistency in your own blog. So apparently the regulations might be the same nationwide, but they're not being enforced the same. Why was 26oz of toothpaste allowed in Boston but not Philadelphia if the regulations were the same?

When the removal of shoes first started, I was able to get through one airport without removing, but at other airports I was asked to remove. That policy seems to have been standardized and gotten ridiculous (see above). Now as I'm travelling with my children and we bring dvd players on board, some airports say to completely remove the dvd player from a carry-on bag and it's carrying case and have it sit in it's own 'bucket'. Others say it can stay inside it's carry case, it just has to be outside of a carry-on bag, in it's own 'bucket'. If the regulations are the same nationwide, maybe the TSA needs to do a better job ensuring that they are enforced the same way to avoid as much confusion as there already is.

Submitted by Muse0fire on

Yes, I've had a lot of inconsistency with trivial but annoying things:
* Some airports still require ALL shoes off, some don't. I used to specifically travel wearing shoes I knew would be ok (flats or sandals) so I could get through quickly and not have to remove them. Now most airports make you remove even flipflops - but some don't. Consistency would be nice here so we know what to expect.
* Some airports require that purses and shoes go directly on the belt instead of in a tray. I've had damage done to both as they were caught in the conveyor, so I really object to this. Most airports let you put them in a tray - all airports should let you do this.

Submitted by Brettod on

I think that there needs to be clarification to airline employees that post-9/11, they are NOT responsible for security... just giving tickets and checking bags. AA actually refused to let my wife on a plane because her ID had her maiden name on it. They started freaking out and acting as if she was a terrorist... even though the TSA usually just does a puff test and lets you on your way.

Long story short = let everybody else in the airport know that valid ID's HELP the process, but aren't REQUIRED to board a plane.

Submitted by Anonymous on

How about we just start passing out TSA's Standard Operating Procedures manuals to all passengers or anyone that wants to know exactly what TSA officers are looking, so EVERYONE that flys out or around of the USA knows what to expect or why not just get rid of TSA and let anyone get on the planes, buses, rails, or ships?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am a flight attendant. In most cities I am exempt from some of what the general public goes through due to the background check we already have gone through to get our job. Why am I "selected" in some cities and not in others? They go through everything I have in my luggage,what is my background check for? These are not random they occur in the same cities. Is this an error and is there anything I can do?

Submitted by Anonymous on

The biggest inconsistency I deal with is this:

We take off our shoes, but not our shirts, not our pants, not our underwear, not our socks.

Why?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm a Muslim in addition to being an American citizen, so I've grown used to being treated like a second class citizen- but this isn't the point of my post. I have taken 6 flights in the past month across the country and noticed major inconsistencies. It seems while TSA is immediately drawn to me because of my appearance (brown skin & beard) I've noticed many other passengers going through security without being thoroughly checked. I've even distracted the person working the x-ray machine on several occasions and the bags he missed could have been carrying anything!

Also, I noticed that there was a serious lack of signs and directions posted by TSA. I actually even remember seeing a sign in Laguardia writen by hand in yellow highlighter! Who can read yellow highlighter, and you would think that they could have at least printed it out on a cpu!

The aforementioned observations were at O'hare, Laguardia, and JFK.

Submitted by Jack on

Inconsistancies? I travel with a tool chest worth around $2,000. At first TSA would lose the locks. I solved that by attaching the locks to a chain. I found TSA approved locks to be total crap. They fall apart when impacted during the baggage handling process. My problem is getting TSA to resecure (lock) the locks once they've pawed through the tool chest. What does it take for TSA to properly resecure my luggage after they've inspected it? Who is responsible for my luggage contents if TSA fails to resecure my luggage (hint I've been told by the airlines it is TSA and TSA says it is the airline's responsibility). So which is it? I give TSA properly secured luggage and they fail to relock it on an average of 25% of the flights. I even have had TSA chop the locks off of my luggage after it was inspected by them and locked.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am a frequent traveler (1-4 trips a month). I also fly out of many airports. Inconsistency is caused by one of two things: 1) Improperly followed procedures at one site, properly followed procedures by another. 2) improperly followed procedures. As a traveler, you have no ability to try and point out a mistake. Quoting the TSA web pages, or even bringing a print-out, is useless. The answer is always "that's not the policy", or "it's been updated" or "we have our own manual" or (my personal favorite) "we're more secure here".

The problem boils down to predictability. I can breeze through a security site (usually) because I travel so much, and know what to expect, and restrict stuff to the least common denominator of any place I've traveled out of (for example, nail clippers were (at least a little while ago) allowed, if they didn't have the 1 inch file attached. After I had one of those liberated at a TSA checkpoint, I no longer carry nail clippers.).

What's the point of publishing the list of approved/unapproved items and procedures on the web site if they aren't followed everywhere? Clearly, inconsistencies cause huge ill-will, and delays. Granted, nothing will help those who want to carry their 50lb "carry-on" with a jug of water at the bottom. . .

Submitted by Anonymous on

The TSA (Terribly Stupid Agency) seems to have the worst type of government functionaries working for it. Combine one part stupidity with one part aggressive bully and one part "I'm just following orders" and you have the description of every TSA person I have ever met. Not all of them show their true character all the time, but it is there in all of them. In addition, they steal things, including money, CDs and electronics from checked baggage, but never even answer written compliants. I guess they expect us to sue in Federal court for the loss of $500 woth of stuff.

Finally, the TSA 3-1-1 rule will do little to prevent enplaning with liquid explosives. Think about it, you can have at least 16-24 oz. of liquids in the overall bag, so all one would have to do is combine the containers in the bag, using the bag as a holding device. Pesto - you have a possibky explosive mixture. However, as many others have said - TSA policies are not about the security of passengers - they are simply about fooling the public and shifting blame if another problem like 9/11 occurs.

The next time you see a TSA official - tell them what you think - that they are worse than useless and helping the terrorists with their security "theater". I do.

Submitted by Anonymous on

tso tom -

You say that rules are consistent, yet when I was forbidden to bring a pair of nail clippers onboard at Long Beach Airport by a TSA official, she explained to me that the TSA rules for every airport are deliberately different "in order to prevent terrorists from knowing them" and that I should be grateful that she was keeping me and my family safe. Frankly, the knowledge that she was either lying or didn't know her own rules made me feel a heck of a lot less secure about flying in and out of her airport, but she seemed genuinely proud of the fact that she's sopped me from carrying on such a deadly instrument that I just let it go without argument.

Submitted by Big Country on

When is the T.S.A. going to start recognizing people in uniform? I'm a Department of Defence contractor who flies frequently between the U.S. and the Middle East, and I'm usually in uniform (US Army ACUs) and using a D.O.D. Military Issue I.D. I frequently travel with groups of soldiers and in my experience, more often than not, myself (almost always) and the troops with me get chosen for the "five finger mac attack" as we call it and are subjected to what we consider to be excessive and asinine and even embarrasing extra searching. Here we are in uniform, usually on the way BACK to the 'real front lines' in Iraq, and these TSA 'folks' start getting knee deep into uniformed service people?
What is WRONG with you people? WE are the ones on the REAL front line. Not you. You need to be waaaaaaaay more respectful and realize we're all on the same team.

Or Are We?

Submitted by Anonymous on

In terms of inconsistencies, I travel throughout the world, and I find great inconsistencies between different countries in terms of security. For example, in most places in Europe, they do not make you take off your shoes, but they do make you take off your belt. Also, only in the US does the TSA agent require you to hold onto your boarding pass.

My problem is less with the inconsistencies and more with the attitude toward the inconsistencies. Many TSA agents will get downright rude when customers are in the habit of doing one type of security search and not doing the TSA-style search. TSA agents need to recognize that the TSA rules are not common outside the US, and those people that do most of their travel outside the US are not used to the US-based rules. A bit of common courtesy around this will be extremely helpful.

Submitted by Heffalump on

as important as we are told the TSA's services are, it's seems like they are designed mostly to inspire 'shock and awe' to travellers, rather than real security.
Do maintenance workers that work on the planes also have to take their shoes and belts off when entering the maintenance hangar? And are they screened before getting in the airplane to take it back to the airport? A security net is only as good as the biggest hole in it.
How many foiled attacks have been found with all the millions of travellers since 9/11? 2? 1?
I do applaud the TSA employees for being courteous and in most cases very professional - I've only had a few instances where that was not the case.
Quite honestly, I don't think anybody wanting to do harm to flights would try and put themselves through the line of inconveniences at the TSA checkpoint, if they could walk right in the door at the gate from the hangar...just a thought.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hello TSA Folks--

I work here at Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle, and am very familiar with the TSA and it's responsibility. The TSA folks (here or at other airports) are just people, and I'm almost always well treated and also treat them with respect.

That said, my gripe is the occasional TSO who decides to rifle through my wallet. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON FOR THIS, and the TSOs will always stop when I start complaining. What is the reason for this when I have plenty of ID or Port of Seattle (POS) badges? Coming back from Reno a few weeks ago, my wife had won a lot of money at a casino, and the TSOs noted "Hey, there's a lot of money here". Well DUH! Reno's a gambling town and jackpots DO HAPPEN! My wife climbed all over the TSOs and they stopped, but neither her or I need the TSOs to comb through our wallets - often times out of our direct view. At times it's gotten so out of hand I've considered getting their names and personally suing them!

Anyway, the TSA and TSOs have a job to do, and generally they're very helpful and professional - it's just the few bad ones that spoil the crew.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have a big problem with my passport. After I got married, my name changed so I got the addendum added on the back.

9 times out of 10 on an international flight they make me show my marriage license even after showing them the addendum (that I had to provide the marriage certificate for and that was added by the office that does passports)

Also, I think the TSA screening is more of a pony show then any real increase in security.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I show up at the airport in a pair of shorts (no underware), a t-shirt, and sandals. And you brain surgeons at the TSA want me to remove my sandals!
Air travel used to be something special; one was expected to dress well, and one expected to be treated like a customer. Now, air travel is a burden, to be tolerated as a prisoner tolerates a jail sentence.
All this aside, I have only one question. Has the TSA actually prevented ANY terrorist activity?P.S. One of the first times I travelled after 9/11, the TSA guy who waved me through was someone who I had recently fired for drug use. Oh yeah, I sleep SO much better knowing the TSA has my back!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Although I support in general the rationale behind the TSA, I have to say that I have experienced a casual attitude toward checking to the extreme where an agent pulled me off to the side and then she rummaged through my purse until, triumphantly, she held up a pair of pliers I had forgotten were in the bottom of the purse. Of course, the pliers were red plastic and only about 1 1/2" long, meant for a keychain. By some stretch I guess it could have been considered a "tool". Then, of course, is the idea of only 3 oz. of liquid to avoid being a bomb component. Probably if you really could make a bomb from 3 oz. of something, or if it took say 6 or 9 oz., you could just take 2 or 3 of the 3 oz. containers. As long as they were in "Baggies" it would be ok. In OKC because my lotion was 4 oz., I had to go to the drugstore nearby and get a plastic baggie! It had travelled that way just fine through PIT. I think the inconsistancies are so annoying that we lose patience before we even get started.

Submitted by Ses on

According to the signs in the Charlotte airport, liquids can be up to 3.4 ounces, but in every other airport the signs (and the screeners) say 3.0. Somebody needs to get their story straight on that.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The inconsistencies between taking ones driver's license out of the display window in ones wallet/purse to the removal of shoes (even ones with a shallow sole) is quite frankly becoming too much of a nuisance.

First of all, if one is wearing sandals through the security checkpoint, I do not understand the need for removing them. It was explained to me by one ignorant TSA official that the soles of shoes can carry explosives. May be in 3" soles!!! Explain to me where in world one is to conceal explosives in the sole of a sandal?

Furthermore, the whole practice of now requiring the removal of one's ID from his wallet display window is nothing more than another attempt to create the illusion that the TSA officials are really looking into the veracity of one's identity. Being a former federal law enforcement officer myself, this is completely uncalled for and is just another "to do" box created by the Transportation Security Administration in order to make consumers believe they are being protected.

What's more disturbing is the enforcement levels of these requirements from one airport to another. There is no consistency whatsoever. Get back to the basics and stop with the nonsense!

Submitted by Ang122 on

Matesosf ---
Have we found a terorrist? Well, it's not like they say, yep you got me, when we find thier water bottles or knives or scissors or billy clubs or other prohibited or illegal item. We have several investigations against people that could be linked to broader threats. I can tell you that last week we found 15 guns at airport checkpoints around the country .. was one of them a terrorts? or just stupid? Now for ports, we have implemented TWIC cards including Oakland and continue to work with our partner agencies. Don't think because you don't see uniformed personnel we aren't there or work isn't being done.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I travel a ton for work, in and out of airports all month long. My issue is definitely the inconsistencies. I understand that time have changed and security is tightened. But shouldn't the rules be the same across the board? I'm tired of standing in line as a TSA agent YELLS at everyone because they didn't keep their boarding pass with them. It's insanity. You never know what to expect and the agents don't exactly instill a sense of confidence in the traveler. Shoes on, shoes off? Ticket in hand or not? Can i Put my own belongings in the bin or must the agent do it for me? CHOOSE ONE and stick to it! Then everyone will get through much faster.

Submitted by TSO Tom on

One of the things we have to remember about security programs is that inconsistencies are built into them for a reason. In this case, we're talking about aviation security, let us not forget how it was before 9/11/01. How easy it was for people to clear "security" at the time. For those who didn't know, box cutters were not prohibited at that time. Alot of items on today's prohibited list were legal to carry on a plane pre-9/11. The inconsistencies that are experienced at many airports stem from individuals who have to interpret the procedures that are sent down from Washington. At times, procedures are implemented at a moment's notice and they're not going to be perectly executed and they are going to be cumbersome. We the TSO's who have to implement these procedures into our daily duties are not intending to be rude or beligerent, we are trying to understand a new procedure that we were told we had to perform and trying to implement it. As time goes on, we get used to performing that procedure, then it changes....bang....just like that we have to adapt too. So when you tell us that nothing was said when you traveled through Fort Lauderdale, it doesn't affect what we have to do. We know the procedures and we are required to do them, so what you experienced at another airport while it may seem inconsistent to you does not effect how I do my job, or how one of my co-workers does their job. At my airport everybody does the same thing the same way or similarly. Try to bear with us, try to understand that we do not know what a terrorist looks like, we have no clue what a terrorist looks like. He could be any color, and age, male or female, adult and yes even child. Let's keep in mind why we are where we are.

To answer this question:

To the TSO Tom from Philadelphia - You just gave an example of an inconsistency in your own blog. So apparently the regulations might be the same nationwide, but they're not being enforced the same. Why was 26oz of toothpaste allowed in Boston but not Philadelphia if the regulations were the same?
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I have never seen 26 oz of toothpaste I was giving an example of what I believe to be some of the excuses we hear on a daily basis. Some of them are beliveable but others sound like they're just saying it to see if you will let it go.
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Submitted by Anonymous on

One time I forgot I had a pocketknife in my purse and made it through Hartsfield security.

Another time I was harassed about a 0.5 ounce tube of lip gloss. How putting it in a plastic bag, and how a certain size of plastic bag makes any difference in whether it's safe or not I've no idea.

Submitted by Anonymous on

This isn't so much about inconsistency as it is about a possibly dangerous lack of accounting.

I flew from BWI to DAL (guess which airline) through HOU (ask my opinion about the Wright Amendment and you're liable to get a real earful) in June 2007. Due to tropical storm-like rain that blanketed practically the entire state of Texas, we were late arriving at HOU, late departing for DAL, and (not unexpectedly) when I arrived at DAL, my luggage did not. That's not what concerned me. I expected there to be some problem due to all the bad weather and the difficulty getting planes in and out of Texas that day, and was pretty pleased when one of my bags, which contained items I needed for the convention I was attending, actually did arrive.

No, what concerned me was going to the airline's baggage claim office to file a claim for a lost bag. I asked what I thought was a pretty straightforward question: Where exactly was my lost bag? I was pretty sure I saw it being loaded onto the plane at BWI, but with lots of bags looking alike, I asked if they could tell me whether my bag had made it to Houston or was still stuck in Baltimore.

The baggage claim agent said he had no idea and that there was no way for him to know that information since there was no tracking info for the bags. As he said this, my jaw dropped. We have to have our bags screened a dozen different ways. We're not allowed to lock them except with special locks, and even then stuff still goes missing. We have electronic baggage tags with bar codes put on them at practically every airport in the U.S., with enough unique information to allow them to be easily tracked ala FedEx or UPS. When I put this question to the baggage claim agent, he said that no one actually keeps track of those numbers anywhere and they're just used to match customers with baggage at both ends of the journey.

This scares me. If he's right, some nefarious individual could easily tamper with a bag and we'd have another PanAm Lockerbie incident on our hands with no way to find out where any other suspicious bags from the same passenger/group of passengers were in the system. I thought all of these new security regulations were supposed to prevent such incidents, but if an airline agent can't even track where a bag might have gotten misrouted en route to its destination, what's to prevent another plane explosion?

P.S. My bag eventually did arrive on another flight from HOU and I was able to claim it about 6 hours after my initial arrival in DAL. However, the baggage claim agents had no idea that my bag had arrived because--you guessed it--no one had actually bothered to check the tag numbers on all these bags that had been circling on the claim belt with no passenger there to claim them. Again, it wouldn't take any effort at all for someone to do something nefarious to their bag, abandon it at their destination, and "boom", there goes a major airport.

Submitted by Anonymous on

How come sometimes TSA checks all my stuff, and sometimes they don't. In the past, they've damaged things, so when I was returning from South America, I set a map I bought up against the wall so they wouldn't open it and destroy it. After they checked all my luggage, I went over to the corner wall support and picked up my map and just walked through. They never even noticed that I had the map and when I got to Dallas, TSA never asked me to look at it, and I carried it right on the plane. I can see why it's so easy to smuggle stuff into the country.

Submitted by Anonymous on

shoes have been consistent in my experience. one that boggles me though is that i've never been asked to remove my hat/cap, even those with 'metal' clasps. who knows what could fit under a cap.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I found the link to this blog on a USA Today article. The ironic thing is that I think the USA Today article had more comments than this blog. Maybe TSA should also read those comments.

Also, I think TSA should force smelly people who sit next to me on the airplane to take a shower.

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