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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 Anonymous on

After reading a few of the comments (not all), I just wanted to say that I think you guys are doing a great job. Sure, it's a hassle to basically strip down before the metal detector and I hate it every time, but I know that a minor inconvenience to me could mean my safety a little bit down the road. Even if there are inconsistencies, what does it matter if one airport has me take off my belt and the other one doesn't? These things happen, and I for one am just glad that they are there, doing their job, and trying to keep us safe.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have had my share of inconsistencies with the TSA. Most of these problems stems from a lack of leadership, training and good judgment. One time at Logan I asked for the name of the screener as I wanted to send a letter to share my experience.

They took my ID and made me wait while they took down all of my information. What happens with that information? Why are they required to take down the information of "complainers"? How does does that help keep us safe?

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA is just another big government branch that President Bush has wasted billions of our tax dollars to make us so call “safe”. The TSA has wasted billions and billions of tax dollars and somehow all they can do is take water, nail clippers, and knitting needles away – while a tester was able to pass thru TSA checkpoint with a fake bomb or the passenger in Kentucky that got a gun inside the terminal then all reported by the USA Today and CNN. How can anybody say that the TSA really works? Here’s a real question that Washington avoids time over and over because it will hurt big corporations. Why that is every passenger needs to be screened and that less then 10% off all cargo in the bottom of the aircraft plans isn’t ever scan or check?

Submitted by Decaffeinated on

Omaha (Epply airport) annoys the hell out of me because it requires that you carry your boarding pass as you walk through the metal detector and prominently show it to the TSA agent monitoring the detector. This is infuriating because you can't even get to the strip-off-your-clothes line in front of the metal detector unless you show a boarding pass and driver's license to a pre-screening agent who controls all access to the flight boarding area.

On the other hand, Portland, Oregon's airport does not have this asinine requirement.

I think the Omaha screeners added this extra requirement just because they get their jollies yelling at passengers who forget to carry a boarding pass through the metal detector.

The added ritual of carrying a boarding pass through the metal detector at Omaha really makes me seethe.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am a frequent traveler, flying out of the Minneapolis airport. As part of my job as an inspector, I have to use a Maglite style flashlight in the performance of my duties. On a recent trip, I left MSP enroute to Baltimore, passing through Detroit - 3 cell flashlight in my carry on luggage the entire time. Landed in Baltimore, did my job, reboarded in BTW the next day - no issues with the Maglite - but this time I stopped in DTW for the weekend so I of course left the "secured area". Upon returning to DTW security, I was not allowed to take my flashlight through the screening point because "only 2 cell flashlights are allowed". Oh and this was not handled at all graciously, you would have thought I was trying to smuggle a bazooka through! 5 goons had to join in the conversation and if you argue, they pull the old - "do you want to get on your plane today?" routine. (This only demonstares shows how bored these people are) Was that rule enacted over the weekend? I had to leave the line, check my flashlight and of course was late for the flight.

On another occassion, I arrived with a 6 ounce bottle, 1/2 full of shampoo. That, to anyone with any degree of common sense, would equate to 3 ounces of shampoo right? Nope, "You will have to throw it away or check it", now the best part - "the container is too large!" OK, so its not about the deadly shampoo afterall, its about the container huh?

Here is a fun activity while you are being herded like cattle through security. My favorite thing to do is to carry a bottle of water right up to the checkpoint until one of the TSA goons tells me "YOU CAN"T TAKE THAT PAST HERE!!!!" I then guzzle it right there where I stand and say -"Now its internal, what now?"

The TSA is no better than the so called "screeners" of pre 9-11 days, they just cost us way more and have nicer uniforms!

Submitted by Ionosphere on

I would like to be financially renumberated for all the things TSA took from me during security checks, including my $3 soap and my $5 3.4oz deoderant spray.

Submitted by Chris on

Liquids bag beside laptop in tray is ok in STL, not ok in ATL, depending on the agent. The laptop is not obscured in anyway, as the bag sits beside the laptop, not on top of it.

It seems like this should be ok.

Submitted by Dan on

If everything were so consistant, were so cut and dried,so out in the open that everyone would understand, then terrorists and criminals would know exactly what to expect and then be able to exploit any chinks in the armor. Get over it, it's not like you can pull over at 30,000 feet and kick 'em out.

Submitted by Anonymous on

For all of you people being so smug pointing out how stupid Jake is, and OF COURSE he should have an ID that exactly matches, verbatim, the name on his boarding pass, go TSA! :

YOU DON'T NEED TO SHOW ID IN ORDER TO FLY.

Nitpicking because someone used the name they usually use instead of their legal, given name is silly, considering that they don't even need to show ID in the first place. There are ways around it.

Security theater, etc.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I just wanted to share my horrible experience with everyone. Not only did my flight get delayed so long that I missed all connecting flights to my final destination of Akron Ohio, but I had to sleep in the Atlanta airport because it seems there were "no rooms at the inn." On my return, the TSA employee I encountered was rude, cocky, and obviously had a problem with someone who smiled and was polite. I had a few items in my clear ziploc but had liqid make-up, eyeliner, lip gloss, and a small prescription lotion in a clear make-up bag that he not only threw in the trash but announced to everyone within ear shot that he was throwing it away because if I couldn't follow directions then I didn't deserve the stuff. That was over $100 in merchandise and if I had been the least bit unstable I could see myself hitting him and I don't believe in violence. Who gave these people their athority? I went through two international airports (Dallas and Atlanta-4 times) and I go through Akron-Canton Airport and they treat me like the Uni-bomber!!!
I'll drive the 19 hours next time.

Submitted by Silkypearls on

I am a former TSA employee. For all the passengers who are concerned with the inconsistency of rules...you really should think about it. If the rules were exactly the same at every airport every time...how long would it take a terrorist to figure them out? The job is very public and TSA can't hide their procedures.

The inconsistency benefits you even though it annoys you. That single annoyance could be the thing that deters a terrorist. There is no guarantee that there will never be another terrorist attack but TSA doesn't need to hand them the keys to plane either.

I worked for TSA for almost 5 years and I feel for you but it really is to protect you.

Submitted by JayC on

The blog site is very impressive, I am guessing its outsourced. That is what are government agencies or large former government agencies have to do to get things done right. Introduce performance based pay, customer service comment cards, available customer service kiosks, 800 number for customer service. This is your biggest shortfall in my opinion. Many of my experiences involve dealing with miserable people that just seem to hate their jobs and lives. I would be fired if I ever offered customer service levels like this.

Submitted by Elmore on

This is the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Given that you work for the Federal Government, don't have probable cause against me, don't have a warrant against me, and don't know exactly what you are searching for, what gives TSA the right to search me and/or seize my belongings?

If the government does not feel obligated to follow even the most fundamental values of America as expressed in our most important document, what exactly is worth protecting?

A serious response is respectfully requested.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"A serious response is respectfully requested."

Remember that PATRIOT act that congress fast-tracked when we were all scared from 9/11?

Submitted by Anonymous on

As I sit here reading the comments that have been posted on this blog so far, I have to say that the arrogance (and sometimes IGNORANCE) of the flying public really angers me.

The Department of Homeland Security, including TSA, has thwarted hundreds of security incidents since its inception several years ago. Does the flying public know about most of these incidents… NO. With good reason!

These incidents don’t even account for the thousands of other incidents of illegal activity (baggage thefts, drug smuggling, money laundering, etc.) that TSA has assisted with stopping while occupying the once "unregulated" airport grounds.

Sure, it is sometimes inconvenient. Yes, it is even sometimes inconsistent. But keep in mind that TSA employs over 43,000 federal security officers. Keeping every TSO at all 425+ airports across the country trained to the same standard is a HUGE undertaking. There will undoubtedly be issues.

TSA is here for one job... to secure air travel. Passengers need to worry less about customer service issues like carrying their water bottle through security or taking off their shoes and more about what TSA has already accomplished. KEEPING EVERY PASSENGER THAT STEPS ON AN AIRCRAFT SAFE!

I applaud every TSA employee for the risks they take everyday, the "whining" passengers that they are forced to deal with and the great job they do keeping America safe. THANK YOU!

Submitted by Anonymous on

@silkypearls

Ok, let's assume that the rules are supposed to be inconsistent to throw off the terrorists. I'll grant that.

So knowing that the rules are inconsistent, and no passenger is going to know exactly the particular hoops they will have to jump through, shouldn't any warm-blooded screener be patient and clear about what they expect? You know, instead of yelling at the people who pay their salary for not knowing the exact rules, even though said rules are different than the ones they know about and the hoops different than those they faced at the last airport (intentionally, as we've already agreed to assume).

Submitted by Anonymous on

Once again, as mentioned above. The Fourth Admendment still holds true, however, the searches the TSA conduct are Administrative Searches. Once you place your bag on the x-ray belt, or hand it over the the TSO you have given up that right. You can refuse the searches if you'd like, but then I would suggest renting a car or taking a train because you wont be flying.

Submitted by Anonymous on

We bring food onboard when we travel. Usually there is not much intervention when the food looks like you've just bought it in the airport. This last time we had some packaged food, sandwiches, crackers, peanut butter, and some cheese all in unopened packaging, bought from a Wholefoods store. We also had 4 small Thermos-brand blue plastic freezer packs that were, well, frozen and very cold. I thought these would probably get some attention. They did get attention. The TSA people searched through the food bag, but couldn't decide what to do with the freezer packs. I didn't say anything. After calling over another TSO, they decided to take the peanut butter and 2 of the 4 freezer packs.
I wonder how they knew which 2 had the plastic explosives inside.
What a joke the TSA is. We should be spending money on real security and not this propaganda and harassment to try to keep us all scared.

Submitted by Anonymous on

One of the many gripes I have is when you require people to take off their shoes, how about having some carpet on the floor? Oakland in Terminal 2 has stone floor and any time I have gone through there, it has been very cold. All I can always think is also why are you making people take off shoes here but not at all other airports.

Submitted by Anonymous on

@elmore

"Given that you work for the Federal Government, don't have probable cause against me, don't have a warrant against me, and don't know exactly what you are searching for, what gives TSA the right to search me and/or seize my belongings?"

The Patriot Act. Yay Congress.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I absolutely love the fact that the american public believes that they know more about liquid explosives and how to package them then the licenced Bomb appraisal officers that the federal government employs. In addition to that the inconsistencies may be a hassle to some travelers but it is important that the screening process should not be predictable to ANYONE. Just know that TSA understands you are frusterated and you hate us for doing our jobs but complaining and cussing at us ususally will not save you any time or energy.

Submitted by Carrot Top on
The blog site is very impressive, I am guessing its outsourced. That is what are government agencies or large former government agencies have to do to get things done right. Introduce performance based pay, customer service comment cards, available customer service kiosks, 800 number for customer service. This is your biggest shortfall in my opinion. Many of my experiences involve dealing with miserable people that just seem to hate their jobs and lives. I would be fired if I ever offered customer service levels like this.


jayc - My question to you is what exactly is the TSA trying to sell you that requires customer service? Last time I checked they don't make, market or sell anything. The job of the TSA is judged successful when nobody dies from an airborne terrorist attack!
Submitted by Anonymous on

at LAX, I presented a DoD Common Access Card (CAC), i.e. military ID, for identification to the TSA employee checking ID/b passes. It was not accepted as a legitimate ID. I complained, and a coworker of the TSA employee threatened me. After supplying a driver's license (which i shouldn't have to), I followed the TSA employee and attempted to get his badge number. He refused to give it to me and Ran off to a secure area. Coward! Now I can't file a complaint.

TSA employees need to get trained up on what is an acceptable form of ID, and also know that we are the customers, they need to act professionally--not like they are above the law.

I spoke to the supervisor and he shrugged his shoulders. Were i not late for a flight, I would have escalated my complaints.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The shoe thing and other stupidity aside, can you guys at least own up to the fact that you profile based on some sort of list?

I know, I know, it's totally random special inpsections. Which Ive been randomly selected for exactly 16 times in the last 3 months. Amazingly, thats how many flights I took.. Getting randomly picked on both my flight out and the return trip.

Either I'm the luckiest guy on the planet, getting felt up by idiots that wouldnt know a weapon if it was clearly labeled, or you guys are profiling, and doing a poor job at that.

At least admit it and give us a way to get off the stupid list, its a waste of my time AND my tax dollars.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Have to agree with big country. I was travellin g out of College Station, TX a few years ago and happened to be on a flight with a bunch of kids on their way to join the military, air force, I think. I've never seen anyone treated as badly as they were. Thought some of them were going to be strip searched!

Submitted by Anonymous on

In the same way that "Did you pack your own bags?" and "Did anyone unknown to you give you anything to carry on?" was shown to be absolutely worthless and ultimately dropped, many of the TSA procedures seem arbitrary, time-consuming, and worthless. Some of my observations:

1. I rarely remember to take out my liquids and yet never am asked about it.

2. I'm amazed at the number of times that one's boarding pass is reviewed. If it was looked at just prior to going through the metal detector, why is it checked immediately after leaving?

3. The War on Moisture is ridiculous. Considering that I can purchase most any liquids after passing security, the fact that you made my ditch my 20oz coke only means that airport profits have increased. The moment that someone figures out how to construct a crude explosive out of water and some other everyday item, watch out!

4. Shoes, shoes, and more shoes. Have you ever had to stand on disgustingly dirty floors at airports? Not a pleasant site, and it's unlikely that the x-ray machine is going to find anything more than the metal detector (which is nothing).

Just more reasons to remind everyone why the TSA is one of the most hated government agencies of all times.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I just have to point out that everytime you do a terminal dump you are forcing hundreds if not thousands of people from the relative safety of the terminal into a vulnerable herd standing on a public sidewalk.

Have you ever caught a single individual who breached security and caused a terminal dump?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why are the metal detectors more sensative in SLC and PDX than any other airports in the country?

As a crew member I can attest that both of these cities require far more "disrobing" than the other 62 airports I go through annually!

Submitted by Anonymous on

This isn't an inconsistency per se, but it doesn't fall under the other categories either. At the West Palm Beach airport, I've always been amused that there are two checkpoints within sight of one another where your license and boarding pass are checked (prior to reaching the xray scanners). There are ropes up to create a walking path. I'm curious, is there a credible threat of terrorists morphing into law abiding citizens and then morphing back before reaching the xray? Seems like a waste of money to employ two people to do the same job literally within seconds of one another.

Submitted by Mattbrown8888 on

The lack of consistency with this and other policies is one of the biggest frustrations with the screening process. If all locations had the exact same process, it would speed things up quite a bit. As it is, I have to wait until I get there to find out whether I need to remove my shoes or not (and I am NOT taking them off unless I absolutely have to!). There has to be a better way.

Submitted by Anonymous on

i was amused in miami when an official quizzed us about our baby's bottle of milk, while the woman ahead of us was allowed to go through with two foot-long knitting needles in her hand, no questions asked!
i'm not an expert, but i suspect the terrorist was not likely to be the one year old in diapers.

Submitted by PropertyRights_... on

If we would have had respect for private property, and allowed airlines to provide security of their private property (their planes), it is unlikely we would be in this "security" mess.

Pilots were disarmed in the 1980s, thus pilots were unable to defend their aircrafts. Now that pilots are again allowed to carry firearms to defend their aircraft, the TSA checkpoints where we have to show our papers is nothing but control of the people.
Planes are defended by the pilots again, so TSA bureaucracy we no longer want nor need you.

Submitted by Anonymous on

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?

You don't need ID to travel. What makes you say that?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I just wanted to say that I've been flying more than I usually do recently, at MSP, MSN, ORD, AUS, SFO, DEN, COS, and honestly, the only places I've felt there be a sufficient amount of customer-oriented security was at Madison and Austin. The rest of the time, I felt not like a paying customer, and more like a criminal, afraid to do the slightest wrong.

I won't lie, I feel that all this "added security" is a huge inefficiency, but if you're not going to go back to what was working just fine before all the knee-jerk reactions, I feel that anybody working at checkpoints needs to become friendlier, and more people oriented. Regardless of the job that they're doing, they are in a customer facing position, and should be acting accordingly. That's honestly the best thing that could likely be changed right now.

Submitted by Anonymous on

If every airport nationwide did everything and enforced everything as every other airport, people would still have issues about something. It's a no win situation. The media brings out the bad news as well, but what about the good news the TSA does. People and the media like to focus on the negatives, not the positives. As some passangers are grateful, others are not. That's the world we live in and we must deal with it weather we like it or not.

Submitted by Frequent_Flier_007 on

I did over 100 segments of travel in North America last - none of which required going through TSA in Newark. I use the same work bag carry on that I've had for two years with the same kit of stuff (though different hard cover books) that I've had for the last 6-9 months.

Dulles, Logan, Portland, Minneapolis, Columbus, Detroit, O'Hare... right through I go without any additional screening. I've now gone through TSA in Newark 3 times - and every time (on trips which have included going through TSA in these other airports), Newark TSA pulls my bag and swabs it and hand examines it.

It's such a weird anomaly that all I could imagine the first time was they had an alert out to watch for something. Now that it has happened 3 times on three different days of the week - I suspect it's just another irregularity between TSA operations.

Submitted by Justin on

On two different occasions I had an airline (the same in both cases) send my baggage to its destination (once was international) without me physically on the plane, due to downsizing of scheduled flights. I've been told by a friend in the TSA that this is a violation of TSA policy, and an utter annoyance and disregard for a traveler's safety and belongings if you ask me.

If you're so stringent at the security gate, why not continue that to what goes on behind the gates? If I knew that someone's bag was on my plane while that person wasn't, I would feel very unsafe and question how effective the TSA is in enforcing its policies.

So please, tell me to take my shoes off, remove harmless liquids, but don't leave the airlines to do as they please once travelers are through the gate.

Submitted by Ybanag on

If everyone would do a little research before they travel by visiting tsa.gov and read the limitations on what they can take on board with their handcarry then it would be less of a hassle. It does not matter if you were allowed to take it at one airport, you know that someone is bound to enforce the rule and take it away. There are reason for this rules. Do we really need to know them..not. Do the gov't always have logical reason for everything? Just deal with it!

A little common sense. If you have clutter in your bag it is bound to be searched to see if anything is hidden behind the metal, ipod, keys, camera, coins, jewelry, electronics and all the crap we bring. That is why it is best to take the laptop, dvd player out of the bag with wires, charger,etc so they have a better x-ray image.

The trays are primarily for loose items, shoes & large bags do not have to go on it unless something is going to spill out. But if you want to use a tray then do so. There is no rule that says you can't.

If you know anything is not followed according to the rules on the website ...ask for a Manager, not a Lead...a Manager. If a screener was out of its place in dealing with you or was a jerk...ask for a Manager. If you have concerns...do the same. It has worked for me. My bag was searched once without my presence and the screener was reprimanded for it. They are supposed to explain any move they make if it concerns an invasion of your space and property.

Passengers that do not follow the rules are the ones holding up the lines.

FOLLOW THE RULES AND COMMON SENSE
is all it takes.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hello, I have accidentally carried aboard a packet of straight razors, a pocket knife, and other general contraband without being stopped while my miniature tripod has been repeatedly caused extra screening owing to its leatherman tool like appearance. The illegal materials were transported on some leg of a BOS PDX trip while the tripod threw me off in London. Just thought you should know.

I think a far better solution to arriving two hours early to every flight, paying for six people and heavy machinery to sniff me for bombs would be to lock down the airplane cockpits or have the planes be able to fly remotely. This would eliminate any plane diversion mission and one generally does not need to worry about potential loss of life in a failed hostage situation since a much less trained suicide bomber could easily do far more damage in a crowded shopping mall.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said a few posts above:

"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?

You don't need ID to travel. What makes you say that?"

The TSA itself agrees that you do not need ID to travel domestically.

You will get a Secondary Inspection, but you do not need ID.

We still retain a few freedoms in this country.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have flown through many airports over the last year, the main ones being LAX, SNA, CLT, RDU, IND, and ORD. Nothing is consistent across them. What frustrates me the most, however, is the lack of consistency across the SAME airport. In Indy, for instance, I walked through security with several little "sample size" tubes of lotion and some lip gloss in my purse. I passed through without any problems, no one even commented on the contents of my purse. I'm a 25 year-old woman. Beside me is a woman who looks approximately 75, has a little (probably 0.5oz) bottle of medicine of some sort and the TSA woman is SCREAMING at her about how it needs to be a prescription or she needs to put it in a baggy and go back through security. The woman is old and frail and she's forcing her to do all of it again. Yet, it's ok for me to just walk on through with a couple 1oz bottles of lotion?? Ridiculous, really.

And LAX is nuts, I'm pretty sure I could walk through security with dynamite strapped on the outside of my shirt and they'd never notice.

Submitted by Jill Brenneman on

Holy Cow,

Here is an idea. As someone who has flown hundreds of times since TSA took over and never had a problem, the answer comes in just doing what they tell me to do and going on with my trip. I don't need the answers to why things are done. It is better that the answers aren't given as if everyone knows why everything is done the system is easy to defeat. Some doesn't make sense, some pisses me off, some is obvious incompetence coming from much higher than TSA employees at the checkpoints. Try to keep in mind, the people screening you aren't making the decisions. You don't need to know why you have to take your shoes off, take out your electronics, put liquids in plastic. All are annoying. But that is life. Just do what they tell you to do, keep your mouth shut, complain when you have a legitimate complaint not when you are just mad because you didn't get your way and do the rest of us a favor. That favor being when you throw your tantrum, the rest of us have to wait and the process slows down for everyone. You aren't that important so get over yourself, over your ego, do what I have done every time and just do what they say and gee, you don't have problems.

I"m not a fan of TSA. There is a lot about TSA I really don't like. But that has to do with much higher than the people at the checkpoints. But path of least resistance is important. Check your ego as checked baggage, comply and board your flight like the rest of us. If you don't want to take off your shoes, take out your laptop, deal with the liquids issue, then take a greyhound, Amtrak or rent a car. If you want to fly that is how it is. It is like this in many other countries.

Submitted by Anonymous on

To the passengers with metal implants... who is to say that you are not hiding a weapon on your body? By only screening your knee, or looking at your card, what else could TSA be missing? Unfortunatly, not everyone has pure and good intentions.

To the passengers who don't like to stand on cold floors...bring socks! Come prepared, you know that you will be required to take off your shoes!! Use your head, innovate. Carpeted floors would be far dirtier than tile, considering they would probably only shampoo the carpet yearly, at best. At least tile gets cleaned daily.

Tired of showing your boarding pass multiple times? TSA needs to check passes at the front of the line,to direct people who have not yet gotten their passes,to clear up ID issues, and to identify those people selected for additional screening, since those people go thru a different process. Notice the "rope barracade" around the checkpoints to keep un-ticketed people out? Ever seen a hurried passenger duck under those ropes, bypass the ticket checker, and race to the front of the line to catch a flight? Checking boarding passes at the metal detector is kind of the "last line of defense". It is the only way to ensure that each passenger has a boarding pass. If there was not a ticket checker in the beginning of the line, then you will be waiting at the metal detector shoeless, with all your belongings in bins, crying kids etc, while the person in front of you shows a boarding pass marked for additional screening. Or maybe he has an ID that says Jake instead of Jacob, or maybe he hasn't even gotten his boarding pass yet. Then you are waiting for them to collect all their belongings, put their shoes back on, laptops back in their case, figure out where they are going to meet their travel companions on the other side, etc. You get the picture. Yeah, showing your boarding pass 3 times is a hassle, but it could be worse!!

I agree that the inconsistancies are annoying. The TSA directives are not inconsistant, across the country the restrictions on liquids, weapons, shoes, etc are the same. The inconsistancy is in the enforcement. Though the strict policies do not allow the TSO's to use common sense, ie...an obviously empty container of toothpaste, granny with the knee implant... some TSO's do use common sense, even though they could get in trouble for it. Understand that they are just doing their job. They are following the policies in place, they did not make the policies, and a lot of them don't agree with the policies. Read the comments made about how hated they are, how stupid they are, how uneducated they are. Yes, crabbiness is unpleasant, but imagine dealing with a public whose perception of you is so poor, for just doing your job. Even if the airport security went back to a private agency, the government will still be dictating the policy. Would you feel better if there was no security? You may know that you have no malicious intent, but can you say for sure the person sitting next to doesn't? You, yourself may not like being screened, you may not like your child or your grandma being screened, but would you feel safer if no one was screened? Isn't it better to try to remove any possible source of a violent act, no matter how small the threat may be?

Submitted by Question Authority on

Let's face it... TSA screeners are not the 'best and brightest' that America has to offer. In addition, most of the general public (including the TSA) is stupid:

1. given to unintelligent decisions or acts
2. lacking intelligence or reason
3. dulled in feeling or sensation
4. lacking interest or point

The TSA is all a charade. Restricting liquids to 3oz containers in clear baggies does nothing for safety. If you feel safer on planes because of this, you fall into the category above.

Any security measure can be subverted.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The whole TSA is the most ludicrous, worst EVER false security crap I have ever seen.

I just recently came back from a foreign country (that I will not name here because of fear that some idiot will force them to adopt the idiotic rules used here), where the security check was so fast, courteous, and efficient that it made TSA look like amateurs. All the passengers of a full 747 went through ONE line with almost no waiting: No taking off jackets, shoes, no taking out the computer. Just go though the metal detector. I never felt more safe and better.

The thing that disturbs me most is how RUDE TSA people are. I DON'T HAVE to read any sign, I don't HAVE to have my boarding pass (after it has been checked X number of times by borderline illiterate people), and I am not here to he ORDERED and BOSSED around. YOU are there to SERVE me. Check the boarding pass ONCE.

And WHY IN HELL DO WE HAVE TO TAKE OFF SHOES, even FLAT ones. STOP THIS NONSENSE.

Submitted by Anonymous on

My favorite part was flying to Paris out of SeaTac and SeaTac waved me through without hardly any issues. On my way back from Paris, I was flagged as a terrorist and taken aside, checked for chemical bomb materials, told that I can't bring USA purchased goods back to USA, they patted me down and checked everyone on me and with me twice before I was allowed on the plane. You know what... Flying SUCKS!!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous on

As far as I can tell the TSA is a complete joke. I've flown at least 10 times since 9/11 and every single time I've had a knife on my keychain and no one has ever questioned it or confiscated it. The knife folds up with a screwdriver to make a shape of a key which someone could easily miss unless they were paying close attention.

This proves a couple of things - 1) The TSA employees don't pay close attention at all, 2) If any terrorist really wanted to hijack a plane they could find a way to do it regardless of any stupid rules the TSA puts into effect, and all we're really doing is wasting billions of tax dollars for something that most likely has had literally zero effect on the safety of travelers since 9/11.

Such a waste of time, money and effort.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I was just amazed by some of these comments that travelers posted on your web site.
It is ridiculous that they are complaining about their "inconvinience" going trought security. I travel all the time and I follow the rules and I keep my self updated and rarelly I'm being stopped by you guys. When I'm in your lanes and I hear how people use sarcasm on your procedures I wish that TSA will play a Video of the planes hitting the towers on 9/11...so it will refresh their memories....it's soo sad that people already forgot that tragic day and how many lives we lost!!! Thanks TSA for all u do, for still listening to those complainers with your professionalism and most of all thanks for keeping us safe !!
God bless u!!

Submitted by Tired Traveller on

It's interesting that there is a section in this blog covering consistency in the TSA screening process. This seems to imply that there is supposed to be consistency, but I very much doubt this is the internal policy of the TSA.

Recently when travelling from the US, the signage specifically requested that laptops be left IN bags. In addition I was berated for leaving a wallet full of money in the grey tray that goes through the scanner (no other option was presented to me). The reason given: "there are thieves operating here all the time". I was explicitly told I should, "never do this".

Clearly at many other airports, laptops must be removed from bags, coins must be placed in the trays, and the only items you may carry through the metal detector are your boarding pass and passport.

Then again, at other airports, if you ask, "should I carry my boarding pass and passport through?" you are told, "no, put them in the tray". Presumably this only happens if you actually ask the question... I can't recall if I've ever been forced to part with my passport when I haven't explicitly asked about it...

Anyhow, obviously consistency is not a concern for the TSA.

Numerous people have surmised that inconsistency is to, "keep the terr'sts guessing". No, that doesn't make sense. A knife is a knife is a knife, and a gun is a gun and a bomb is a bomb. If it is deemed that certain items are a threat, and every TSO is informed clearly what items constitute a threat, then one can expect a degree of consistency in what is confiscated. The fact that there is manifestly no consistency indicates clearly that items are being confiscated that are not a threat (and not deemed to be a threat). So what does all that tell you!?

A second point to bear in mind is that there is a difference between consistency in what *must* be confiscated, what *is* confiscated, the different screening *procedures*, the amount of discretionary power employed in any given screening of a passenger and the different responses to passengers based on their demeanour, dress, amount of carry-on, etc.

I've read through all 128 comments in this section, and I've only observed two people who probably know what the TSA is there for. There was also a single TSO who seemed to indicate he might know, but I personally doubt it.

Quite clearly, confiscating toothpaste and water bottles does not in and of itself keep us safe. As many have pointed out, producing explosives from liquids aboard an aircraft is infeasible per se. So what does that tell you!? Obviously if there is no real threat from such things, and the TSA continues to confiscate them, then there is another, much more important reason they are being confiscated.

Those who claim it is a kind of security theatre to, "make us feel safe" are also pretty obviously not correct. An organisation set up on such a premise would be doomed to failure, and you wouldn't invest multi-millions in such a doomed operation. That implies that there is another, more important reason for confiscating water bottles, lipstick and wedding footage. My bet (though I have no evidence to back it up) is that many TSO don't even know that reason in full, though doubtlessly they are well-trained in what is important in achieving that end.

I mean, how can there be consistency in TSA operations. Any airport security operation worth its salt has to deal with:

1) Specific intelligence indicating a specific threat.

2) Specific information regarding sensitive material which *must* pass security for reasons of national security (that should do as a hint for those who want to figure it out).

3) Reacting to passengers according to their degree of beligerence, nervousness, etc.

4) {Insert real reason for TSA operation here.} If you want to figure it out, imagine for a moment you are a terrorist. What *don't* you want to see!?

Now regarding the apparent rudeness of TSA employees. Yeah, they are people, and many of them are damned rude. They also have absolute power over your journey, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But I'll bet my bottom dollar, despite any claims to the contrary, that TSA officials are actually trained to escalate rather than deescalate conflicts with passengers. What a pain in the proverbial that must be for them! But next time you enter a country *with* a valid visa and passport, try arguing with the immigration official. Become defensive in your responses, and see what happens. Having observed the way immigration officials react in such situations, on many occasions (I was not the passenger doing the arguing, it was always the one ahead of me in my queue) I can guess exactly how TSO's must also have been trained.

I'll also bet my bottom dollar that TSO's have drummed into them from day one, "security concerns trump all other concerns, including those of property, politeness, privacy invasion, propriety", etc. This is how they justify to themselves the inhuman things they are forced to do to innocent citizens. There is also the additional element that they are being told to do things by the authorities over them, and if an authority figure seems to validate what they are doing, then it seems OK to them.

But having said all that (it should be obvious that I hate the TSA's procedures, I hate waiting at the airport in queues, etc), the fact remains that they are there for a specific, undisclosed, important reason to do with US national security.

Regarding moderation of this blog, some people see it as censorship and an infringement of free speech. However, here are some reasons such "free speech" may need to be curtailed:

1) Do you want to wade through advertisements for penis enlargements and ads for porn sites? Do you wish to wade through advertisements or endorsements for specific products (incidentally moderator, such a post slipped through).

2) Do you expect the TSA to allow people to post information which will make them liable to being sued by one of their employees because it allowed incorrect information to be posted about them on its website (incidentally moderator, I think such a post may have slipped past)?

3) Do you expect the TSA to allow the posting of information explaining to terrorists how to get something past their security that they hadn't thought of?

4) Do you expect the TSA to allow the posting of information which might lead to mass panic, such as specific threats, etc?

5) Do you want to read abusive threats full of expletives written in an uncouth, unkind manner?

6) Do you not expect the TSA to protect you from making a total fool of yourself by posting a hot-headed rant that you will later regret. If you do expect them to allow you to do this, do you then expect to be able to sue them for not preventing you from harming yourself?

*Some* censorship is implicit in a blog such as one run by the TSA. Obviously they can't allow posts to go online which leave them liable or which completely undermine their mandate.

Having said all that, I do despise queues at airports, I hate being treated rudely at security checkpoints, I think the water policy is a stupid one given the fact that many airlines do not provide sufficient water on (especially international) flights, in an environment where dehydration is a real problem.

I have also personally been the victim of having been told explicitly that contact lens solution was banned on all flights in any quantity (before the new rules) and having my $240 contact lenses fall out and become useless. I've had eye infections from leaving my contact lenses in too long on international flights because of this stupidity (I specifically explained the problem at every checkpoint from the check-in desk to the boarding gate and got no sense out of anyone).

I was also at one time told that my laptop was to be taken and crushed, with no possibility of return. It contained around 18 months of work on highly sensitive material which was not to be out of my possession at any time, let alone put in a crusher and lost. This was all after signs at my point of departure were explicitly posted stating that laptops were now allowed (it wasn't in the end taken, since the rules changed yet again before it was actually taken from me at the destination).

I've been asked to switch a laptop on for a security check when the battery was completely (and purposely) flat.

I resent the stupidity, and though the worst of it has been curtailed by slightly more realistic rules, it clearly still continues to this day.

The worst fear I have is of well-meaning passengers jumping some arabic looking guy for possessing a bottle of water on a plane because they have come to believe that this represents a security risk.

If I were the TSA, I would be worried about being sued for someone's death or severe illness due to the stupidity of their rules, or for the loss of a huge quantity of sensitive material. The only way to avoid such suits is, oh yeah, inconsistency.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I fly 2 to 5 times a year. Right after 9-11 I was flying a lot more than I do now and things really were in disarray. Things have gotten a lot better. I think it is useful to remember that.

I usually check the TSA rules at home if I have any question about something, and try to make sure I follow the rules. I've had very few problems. Most TSA employees are very courteous and helpful.

Most recently I was caught on the "shoes in the bin with the computer thing" At SMF shoes and computer (side by side) are fine, but at MDW, the laptop is to be in its own bin (at least it was that way last December). It was a little embarrassing and frustrating to get it wrong because of the difference, but only because I try so hard to get it right.

To the professional and caring TSOs out there (and I know you know who you are), thanks for making life a little easier in the lines.

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