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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.


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.



Submitted by Thecollective on

Here is my issue. My wife traveled to Mexico a while back and went with our 2 year old child. Was forced to dump out his sippy-cup and then go through the typical gate security. Trip in Mexico ended and she came back. The screener there let her walk through with while holding our child, and there was no scrutiny of bag contents which included a chocolate milk and a juice--all of which she expected to lose. Upon arrival at customs in DC, she answered customs question and came back into the country.

I called both ICE and TSA colleagues that I know about this incident and was stunned by the answer. ICE deferred to TSA and TSA told me that they cannot tell other countries what to do at their airports. My question is this...Why are Americans given the 3rd degree when leaving the country, a direction the threat has not come from, but are able to come back through other countries where screening policies are lax. This is the direction the terrorist threats come from. From my wife's experience, hypothetically, all a bad guy has to do is send a woman and child through Mexico City with a bomb etc and they stand a good chance to get into the US-bound airplane or the US itself. All because we cannot tell others how to enforce security for jets coming into our land.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I've seen more than one x-ray machine offline at airports. It's really neat that the TSA has put up opaque glass around most of them now, so passengers can't see (for the most part) if the machines are in working order or not.

Oh, and the 'sniffers' ? Don't even get me started on that. LEO's walk through with bomb residue on their clothes and it 'puffs' them right along.

Please, it's comical to see the 'security' folks screening people. I feel about as 'secure' on a plane as I do about Social Security.

Thanks for nothing.

Submitted by LeisureFlyer on

It's frustrating to have TSA people say, "You people complaining about inconsistencies are just not obeying the rules, you're taking large tubes of toothpaste, you're not putting belongings in 1 quart bags, if you only followed the rules, you wouldn't have this problem."

No. I literally PRINT OUT a copy of the current TSA standards, and pack accordingly. Every member of my family is used to me being very firm about this -- my children, my SO, they all get to hear me go over and over, check their bags, look through their carryons.

When I express frustration about inconsistencies, it's because I can have a printed out copy of the TSA standards saying that I am allowed 100ml toiletry bottles, but when I go to present my clear 1 quart zip lock back with my 100ml or less bottles of toiletries, my travel sized 1 oz tooth paste, every makeup item, EVERY possible item including lip balm included, it's *still* a roll of the dice. Maybe the TSA screener will respect and follow the TSA rules. But about 25 percent of the time, the screener tells me that 100ml is NOT acceptable, because the rule is 3-1-1. That's not a question of me not following the rules. The problem is that even if I show them the TSA's own "print this out" page, they will tell me something like, "That's discretionary only" or "Our airport follows different guidelines" or "I could lose my job" or "Obey me or don't fly."

Submitted by Sara on

I am surprised that no one has pointed at the TSA's own page about unpredictability. This page says, "We incorporate an element of unpredictability to our operations so that terrorists can’t use the predictability of security measures to their advantage. That means we may change airport inspection routines on a daily or hourly basis."

This element of unpredictability directly contributes to an element of inconsistency. If TSA behavior can change "on a daily or hourly basis," then no two security screenings must be alike.

I fly regularly, and each screening is a little different. Sweater on or off? Purse in a bin or on the belt? Is chapstick a liquid or a solid? Is the maximum 3 oz. or 100 mL, which is more than 3 oz.? But do these inconsistencies fall under the published policy of excusable unpredictability?

While it is true that varying some patterns and behaviors may be advantageous, changing the rules (or unevenly enforcing them) just makes the screening more confusing and stressful for passengers and TSA alike.

Submitted by Anonymous on

It still isn't OK.

Second attempt. I'm not too happy about having my previous attempt to share this story - respectful, free of personal attacks, containing no names or terms targeting ethnic or racial groups, or vulgarity - apparently censored. I have come to expect this kind of inconsistent, summary judgment when dealing with the TSA.

The shame is that most of the TSA folk I've met on the ground are trying to do some good.

I'm out a pocket-knife - an heirloom I lost before the idea of letting people get out of the line & mail stuff to themselves happened. I'm out a second pocket-knife *after* one could sometimes, and I can't tell what makes the difference, have an oops and go mail the thing to yourself.

Here's the thing. It's early. I'm jet lagged. So, I had a mental lapse. Never happens to you?

In what sense is confiscating my pocket knife at that point "reasonable". There I am, calm - barely awake, really - cooperative, ID in order. *I'm* the one who found the pocket knife, while emptying my pockets into a bin. Ask the nearest screener: "I messed up here. What do I do?"

The only answer is I lose my property? I'm not on an airplane yet. I'm not trying to slide anything past security.

We have standards, or did, limiting when and how people operating under government authority can take from a citizen.

What would it take to organize the screenings and make the policies to impose the *minimum* impact on citizens who are not terrorists? How about policies, procedures and indeed comportment that recognize that most of the people being screened are 1) citizens 2) have done nothing wrong and 3) are being inconvenienced?

It is not OK to take my pocket knife from me when there are alternatives.

Submitted by Jeffwalter on

I've traveled a fair bit and have had some rather entertaining exchanges with TSA agents. My home airport is SJC, so I'm most familiar with *their* procedures, and thus I use these against all others I happen across.

I have been asked remove my Rainbow flip flops ("thongs" to some) when a woman wearing wedge heels was allowed through without being required to remove her footwear. I'm terribly sorry, but I couldn't hit a sewing needle in the thin piece of leather and foam that adorns my foot without stabbing myself in the foot; she could have sneaked in a half stick of dynamite.

There was another day when I flew SJC to SAN in the morning, and SAN to SJC in the evening. I kicked off my poor needle hiding devices as usual in SAN and was then asked to remove my jacket...

"Um, why do I need to remove my jacket?"
"So we can check it for explosive materials."
"I didn't have to remove it in SJC this morning."
"It's the way we do it here."
"So if I had something in my jean pockets, you wouldn't know? Would you like me to remove my jeans as well?"

Let's be serious here, if anyone was going to smuggle some explosive onto a plane, I don't think they'd put it in the jacket or jeans pocket.

All I ask for is consistency. And apparently, that's too much.

I won't even touch on the "laws" that your agents refuse to show people, saying they're classified. Laws are not classified, you just think they're laws because you were told they were. Too lazy to check for yourself, eh?

Submitted by PZet on

Why are there "express" lanes for first/business class passengers? If we are all accessing the same government agency for screening, why should preference be given to those with higher class tickets? If it is the airlines/airports that are controlling the lines, why are you honoring their system? Witnessing this "separation" simply adds more bad feelings to the whole screening process.

Submitted by Anonymous on

And this is exactly why I now travel 100% AmTrak.

Submitted by Anonymous on

STOP COMPLAINING! Notice that not one plane has just dropped out of the sky since 911? Before that an average of 4 did a year! If you dont like how we (TSA) does its job, DONT FLY!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Havent u people heard of the terrorists in the UK that planned on blowing up multiple planes with liquids and gels? People!! Wake up !! Kick your dog or something!! I for one don't care how much semtex or nitro it takes to blow a hole in my plane I don't want any on it, even if it means taking gramma's iced tea away

Submitted by Anonymous on

European airports don't allow short knives on board aircraft.

U.S. airports do allow short knives on board, even though that was the tool used by the 9/11 terrorists.

EU airports don't require shoes to be removed. U.S. airports do.

Liquid policies seem to vary by the mood of the security employees:

- Some don't allow empty water bottles, e.g. they confiscate transparent sports bottles.

- Some (Dublin) do allow factory sealed 6oz baby formula without requiring that the parents contaminate by breaking the seal.

- Some (Birmingham) do allow factory sealed 6oz baby formula only after the seal is broken and parents drink from (and contaminate) it.

- Some (Shannon) don't allow liquids acquired after security to be taken on the aircraft.

- Most don't allow liquid through the X-ray security area, but do allow liquids purchased past security to be taken on the plane.

Submitted by Anonymous on

4 a year? You're dreaming.

I think the "fast track" through security for "very frequent business travelers" is a bad idea. It would just take the bad guys longer to establish themselves in this category and then waltz onto the plane without being screened. C'mon, we've spent all this time erecting this elaborate security system - let's not deliberately open up a hole in security that can easily be gamed.

Submitted by Mattguy999 on

Why do the TSA employees at some airports rigidly (and belligerently) demand to see your boarding pass when you pass thru the metal detector while at other airports they look at you like you are brain dead if you try to show them your boarding pass? Is this inconsistenly on purpose (to keep postential terrorist off guard) or is it due to different manaagment policies?

Submitted by Mattguy999 on

I travel 50 weeks a year. The worst inconsistency I have experienced was going thru security at the Tulsa, OK airport (TUL). After one of my carry on bags passed thru the detection machine, it was pulled off and I was asked if it contained a printer. I alway carry a small printer with me for business that has been through similar machines many times. I replied to the TSA person that I did have a printer so he asked me remove it and the ink cartridges inside of it which I did. He then asked if there were any other ink cartridges in my carry on. I replied yes and he asked me to remove those. He then stated that these were considered liquids and I would have to go back through security, get a plastic bag and have them reexamined. I was running late for a flight so I had no choice but to throw $120 worth of ink cartridges in the securty bin. Since then, I alway put my new ink cartridges in my checked bag. However, I leave the used cartridges in the printer and have never been asked to remove either the printer or ink cartridgess from my carry on bag at any other airport. Why does Tulsa have a different policy about ink cartridges? (And, I know, the lesson is not to run late to catch a plane)

Submitted by Anonymous on


SMF Having to take all of my digital cameras (two SLRs and one point and shoot) out of my camera bag prior to sending them through the Xray machine in June due to "new regulations" but not in August - I didn't have to take them out at all at the return airports.

SMF TSO checking boarding pass and ID approximately fifteen feet prior to the security check point and then a second TSO checking boarding pass and ID at check point. This is the only airport where I have had to have two ID checks at a check point, not to mention the TSO agents are so close together they could see and speak to each other.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I fly for business reasons and use my government issued credentials from the agency I work for, who I am traveling for. I flew out of BWI last week and was informed that they cannot take Government issued credentials because they don't have an expiration date. The TSA employee insisted to me that this is the rule in every airport and that it has been the rule since 2005. I have traveled with my credentials numerous times in the last three years and this is the first I ever heard of this.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Please explain why, at all airports, where we must remove shoes, that there are no easily accessible seat for putting said shoes back on? There's nothing worse than traipsing through JFK or LaGuardia or Logan, trying to balance a laptop, shoes, carryon and purse, than to be walking on the mucky floor, unable to reassemble everything TSA has made us take out of our bags. Heaven forbid there be an area with chairs or a table to do this that's out of other passengers' way.

Submitted by Drew on

I know that it is requested that you produce a valid, government-issued ID when you fly, but I want to know if it is REQUIRED to produce it.

According to what I've read, you are not REQUIRED to produce an ID, but it will allow you to go through standard screening. If you do NOT produce an ID, you will be subject to extra screening.

Is this correct? If I show up to an airport without my ID, can I still make my flight, provided I make time for the extra security?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I travel, 2-4 times a week. Because of this I can generally get though a security point rather easily. It has been my experience that inconstancies come from mistakes on the part of the TSA agents. When you ask one who enforces the rules they are reluctant to simply tell you "that is because the TSA at XXX simply failed in their jobs".

1) Take off your shoes, remove your belt, remove your jacket. Even if you do not want to. Place them in a bucket. If the agents tell you to not put them in a bin, just do it. Do not argue, ask questions or otherwise, just do it.

2) If it has a printed circuit board place it also in its own bin. Yes I travel with two laptop, and yes they both go into their own bin. If you do not, you will get to stop the whole line, and go though again.

3) Take all of your cosmetics, expensive toiletries and check them. In fact check EVERYTHING you can. Do not carry on bags to the plane at all (and yes I check my roller board bag because it is easier).

4) Drink whatever it is your brought (yes at DFW the parking attendants will give you a bottle of water) before you enter the line. No yo can not drink it while in line. Again do not argue with the TSA, just do it.

Never forget the agents at the checkpoints can not make policy. They can not change policy. All the do is enforce policy. And if they think its a policy, its a policy, period. Just follow what they say. That way the 100 people in line behind you can get though too.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I was thinking on my last flight that you used to be able to smoke on an airplane. That was what - thirty years ago? Why do we still have no smoking signs still plastered all over the plane? Has anyone honestly tried to smoke on an airplane in the recent past?

But seriously - as many times as I go through security, it's always different. Some guy at DCA made it to the gate w/ a gun. He then realized he still had it with him and turned it over. That's reassuring. I've left my liquid baggie in my bag w/ no result.

The best one was when I had a network hub in my carry on. The screener took the hub out, left it on the conveyor belt, ran my bad through again, put the hub back in and let me go. Never ran the hub through the xray again.

I'm convinced that all of these measures are doing little good - just the illusion of security.

Remember the 80's when it seemed like there were hijackings every other week? What happened with that? I mean, why did that stop? Was that related to security measures or was it due to foreign policy changes?

We're addressing the symptoms by pouring hydrogen peroxide on it...

Submitted by Darren on

Hey guys,

Please realize that this is security. I do know that all of the officers don't always act as proffesional as they should but what government entity or work place should i say is 100% fool proof in that area.

I work for TSA and i'm not gonna say that all my co-workers are proffesional 100% of the time but they get the job done. Don't be calling them things like illiterate or degenerates. Who are you to judge. We see so much that we can't tell the public mostly because we don't want to encourage any copy cat artists or the such. My motto at the checkpoint that I work at is "Make like you've been tehre before" When we catch things we just treat it as business as usual.

As for Mr. "I work on the real front lines" I appreciate the work that the military does in the middle east. I give them much props. But if I were to tell you how many times we've caught military in uniform carrying magazines, live ammunition, grenades and the such. You'd probably stop asking why we screen everyone. Given, I do believe we should trust them, but we do not scrutinze on who we screen. That is why it's security.

And as for Mr "I work for the government" and then state that we "Work for them" because it's their tax payers money.... Hello.... you work for the government as well, so my taxes go to your paycheck too. Some people can be so ignorant at times.

I just wish people would treat it like a speed limit in terms of security. Its there to protect the public. You wouldn't tell a police officer that caught you speeding that it was f'in rediculous would you? You'd probably get in more trouble that way right? The rules are there and yes they are inconsistant at times because people are unpredictable. Could you imagine getting a ticket everytime you went above the speed limit? You would be dead broke!

So please stop with the nit picking. The website has all the info on contrabans or so to speak. So if someone let you go consider it a mistake. But if they follow up on the rules don't get mad at them. You should already know better.

Have a nice day!

Submitted by Anonymous on

For everyone who wants TSA to have the same rules (which they do, they are just enforced differently) I would just like to know how you propose to enforce all the rules at EVERY airport NATION wide to make sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are all being followed the same. By the way when you work for the D.O.D you should spell Defense correctly because when you complain about another group of peoples' stupidity it doesn't give you much credibility if you cant even spell the name of the governmental agency you work for correctly.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Complaining to TSO's about the policies is to a certain degree pointless and frustrating to all persons involved. The passenger in question is obviously frustrated to the point of making sometimes rude and insensitive comments to TSO's about the policies. (And in some cases, not about the policies at all. Rather, launching into personal attacks on our character and even things we have no control over, such as our parents' country of origin.) It is frustrating to TSO's because we know ALL of these decisions were made far beyond our airport and without input from us at all. If you can do my job better than I can, or if you can make our measures more sensitive and sensible, please apply and make a difference.

Submitted by Anonymous on

SOmeone wrote: "all a bad guy has to do is send a woman and child through Mexico City with a bomb etc and they stand a good chance to get into the US-bound airplane or the US itself."

I also remember that the Shoe Bomber and the Liquid Plot Bombers were on flights TO the US FROM other countries. Maybe TSA is making it too hard for the bad guys to get through.

Or not...

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Let's be serious here, if anyone was going to smuggle some explosive onto a plane, I don't think they'd put it in the jacket or jeans pocket."

Isn't that how the two Russian women got explosives onto a plane and took two airliners down?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I love how TSO's are getting on here pretending to be fliers...waving the patriotic flag and thanking God for the glorious work these fine American heros provide. I can see right through it.

The TSA is a farce.

Submitted by TDDragon on

Hi Guys,
First off I applaud that you are allowing public comments.

Next about inconsistencies.

Our family has been flying with a VITAMIX blender (for making our own babyfood) - (where the blade CANNOT be removed) - for many years since 9/11.. and NEVER had any problems. TSA agents always just checked if the blade can be removed or not - and once determining that it cannot - let the blender pass. Then last month I was flying out of Hartford to Florida for a family vacation (and we took the blender to make our own babyfood) - and the TSA agent not only did not allow the blender to go through, but he also implied that I must be lying about other TSA agents letting it through since its completely illegal (somehow suggesting that I could break the very hard plastic of the large cup, and thus get at the VERY SMALL blade (not longer then a nailclipper on each side.. and also not the very sharp pointy one since its a vitamix that blends through sheer speed not sharp pointy blades like regular blenders) - and supposedly could do great harm with this on a plane.

The other places I have flown from and never had any problems were Boston, DC, LA, Long Beach, JFK, CHO and many more.

So I found this completely off the mark. Especially since he acted as if I was guilty until proven innocent (with lying about taking it etc.)


Submitted by Anonymous on

I would like to say to all air travelers,using locks on bags are dumb.First of all you can get into any bag easily by just breaking the zipper or cutting it with a knife.The number one thing is never put nothing valuables in baggage.

Submitted by TSA Screener on

TSO Tom:

Funny, they say the same thing about you guys in Philadelphia. And Atlanta. And Los Angeles. And Miami.

Passengers, we have a work force of over 45,000 screeners working at many airports in many checkpoints on many shifts. And all of that takes place under many supervisors with all of us screeners trying to adapt to our local environment. There are bound to be inconsistencies with an organization this size.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I live in MIA, and I frequently fly between MIA and ORD and MIA and STL. Many times when I fly, I do not have plastic bags accessible when I am packing... in these cases I take out my toiletry bag (which is transparent) and I open it so it's just as transparent as a plastic baggie. And I set this bag in it's own bin (just as if it were a baggie).

This works about 90% of the time. I live in MIA and last year I flew from MIA to ORD and MIA to STL several times (roundtrip). No one in TSA has ever mentioned my impromptu baggie, so I figure it's fine... except when I leave STL a few times a TSA handler there has told me I need to have a baggie and handed me one, except they let all my toiletries go through without it....

what gives? why the inconsistencies... is it just a few screeners who are anal and don't understand the intent of the policy? or are the 90% of screeners who accept my transparent toiletry bag jeporadizing the security of the plane?

I never say anything to these people because TSA employees NEVER admit to inconsistencies, they just stick to whatever they think is right. So I just go along and let them do whatever they're gonna do, and play the game... Probably just like the terrorists, unfortunately.

I guess this is unavoidable bc no handler is perfect or perfect every day. But it does seem that some of them don't really understand the rules they're "following", which seems like they may be missing the bigger picture or slow to adapt?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm amazed at the number of people complaining on the inconsistencies thread that that their treatment has been, well, consistent. Soldiers, airline attendants, airport employees---all complaining that they get the same exact treatment as the rest of us. If a particular badge works as a "get-through-free" card, then that badge becomes a security target. Bruce Scheier, noted security expert, has spoken to this point many times. With any luck, the next president will convince him to head the TSA.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why do you have to show your boarding pass after walking through the metal detector in some cities and in others you don't? I'm tired of the TSA agents telling me that it's the same everywhere. It's definitely NOT.

Submitted by Anonymous on

In Detroit, I was scruitinized and searched because I didn't had too much shampoo (they should see how much the full size bottle holds). However, in Florida, on the way back, I was allowed to bring opened white cheddar popcorn through the checkpoint.

I guess hunger takes precedence over cleanliness. I'd rather sit next to the clean guy than the hungry guy any day.

Submitted by Questioning Tra... on

I'm not sure if this should go in "inconsistencies", "liquid" or "shoes":

Why are gel-filled bras and bra inserts allowed but gel-filled shoe insoles aren't?

It seems you could hide as much liquid or gel in a bra as in an insole. Either allow them both or allow neither of them.

Submitted by Jayman on

Why does this blog not allow posting from Firefox? In this day and age, that is almost criminal since Internet Explorer is not available for many of the popular operating system and is know to be terribly insecure.

I have several suggestions.

1. Install cameras at all stations where TSA personnel touch luggage. Require two personnel to be present anytime luggage is being inspected without the presence of the owner.

This step would reduce the number of thefts, vandalism, etc. Failing to close the lids of liguids that are in checked luggage and failure to reseal the plastic bags the containers are take out of is vandalism by any objective standard. Theft of electronics, money and other valuables also seems to be a problem that is encouraged by a lack of supervision and accountability. Having video of the inspections and having two people involved should dramatically reduce the number of incidents.

2.Enforce your uniform standards.

TSA personnel are supposed to have an identification tag clearly visible on their uniforms. Please make sure that these are in place, visible and readable.

3. Have a "feed back" form available at the exit from the security check point.

This would give victims/customers a method of documenting poor perfomance, bad behavior without having to deal with the subtle or sometimes not so subtle threats and intimidation that are commonly mentioned when a TSA employee gets out of line. As it stands now, there is little that a passenger can do to make a complaint unless he is willing to miss his flight and have to purchase a new ticket to get to his destination.

4. Base managers evalutions and performance reviews partially on customer feedback for his employees.

If bad behavior by the TSA screeners has an impact on the managers raise, the problems will get straightened out much faster. As it currently stands, the manager knows that you will be out of his hair in 30 minutes to an hour so why should he care that you feel you were treated badly.

5. If you really have evidence that a 20 oz. bottle of water is a terorist threat, please post it.

Personally, I call BS on this one. If you are going to continue confiscating sealed beverage containers, you should at least ensure that the cost of the replacement bottle inside the "secured" area matches the cost at the local convenience stores.

6. Take a close look at your denied/allowed list.

A rational mind would realize that there is no logic to allowing 7" scissors with a sharp pointed blade 4" long but then denying a pen knife with a 1" blade.

What is the logic of denying a half empty 6 oz tube of toothpaste but allowing a 3 oz. tube of the same paste?

Why must liquids be enclosed in a clear zip locked baggy but are not allowed in a clear zip sealed makeup bag of the same or smaller size?

Why must my chapstick be in a quart sized bag when that is the ONLY cosmetic or "liquid" that I have with me?

What makes a 1" pen knife more dangerous than a 7" screwdriver or even a Bic pen? A bick pen is a sharply pointed solid object that could penetrate to the heart, into the brain or other vital organs?

I guess what I am trying to say is use a little common sence when making rules. These arbitrary and capricious rules do nothing for security but do create tremendous amounts of ill will and hard feelings. They undermine the entire reason for the existance of the TSA. When so many people look at the rules and ask just how is this supposed to increase my security, they start to feel like the TSA is a bad joke. This leads to people oplenly trying to circumvent what they believe to be stupid rules implemented to give the appearance of adding to security.

Submitted by Anonymous on

To quote this very site:
"The purpose of this blog is to facilitate an ongoing dialogue on innovations in security, technology and the checkpoint screening process. "

What innovations in security? Behavior screening which the TSA's own report shows a 100% failure rate for?

Who screens the baggage handlers and ground crew before they approach every plane?

Better yet, why aren't the airport wheelchairs screened before they are sent down to the gates to pick up passengers? What's to stop a terrorist from hiding contraband under the seat of a chair and simply waiting for it to go through the exit lane of the security checkpoint then recover the contraband.

The problems with your security system are:
1. you are completely reactionary you have no ability to foresee a security threat until it's shoved in your face.
2. When shown a legitimate potential security threat, you completely overreact to it.
3. I've read several responses here that there are "no inconsistencies between locations". BS, each airport has different equipment, different layouts and different interpretations of the rules. If your security actually worked they way you claim it does, every security station in every airport would operate exactly the same way. They don't and it doesn't.

I have, over the past several years, specifically decided to NOT take a trip because it would require flying and I don't want to put up with the baloney that is served up as security in the airports.
The single biggest "shot in the arm" the government could give this economy is to stop this charade called the TSA and let people move freely about the country again.

Submitted by Robert Johnson on

Quote: "STOP COMPLAINING! Notice that not one plane has just dropped out of the sky since 911? Before that an average of 4 did a year! If you dont like how we (TSA) does its job, DONT FLY!"

You, sir/madam, as a TSO with this attitude is exactly what's wrong with this agency and why it's one of the most despised federal agencies.

Screening didn't fail on 9/11. The argument that it did is a red herring.

TSA has no evidence that it is the reason that planes aren't falling out of the sky. How do you know it's not my magic rock keeping terrorists at bay?

Planes didn't fall out of the sky prior to 9/11 either. As tragic as 9/11 is, it was a one off event that took advantage of the fact that America cooperated with hijackers. The fact that planes could be used as guided missiles wasn't a situation we as a whole thought about.

That's changed now. People aren't going to put up with someone causing trouble on a plane. There are numerous news reports about it happening.

On the other hand, we see reports how TSA has an 80-90% failure rate at most airports and the number is questionable due to reports of advance notice of testing. With general incompetence in security practice with TSO's and an agency as a whole, I think it's a miracle planes aren't falling out of the sky today.

We're not safe because of TSA. We're safe DESPITE TSA.

Submitted by Robert Johnson on

Designed inconsistency is Kip's way of acknowledging that he has no clue how to get control of all the deviations from TSA's SOP.

So instead of working to solve the problem by overhauling TSA management and plicy, the problem is "solved" by saying it's meant to be inconsistent. That way he's off the hook, no one's accountable, and TSA can make up and change the rules as it goes.

So what it comes down to is this:

"Harassment and inconsistency is TSA's way of looking like it's doing something without having to provide real aviation security."

It's a great show folks.

Submitted by Mdoneil on

I would like to see common signs from TSA in all the airports. Some signs are crudely made and taped to the wall with spiffy TSA red,white and blue tape.

Having a list of languages and brief associated instructions available at each checkpoint would also be helpful. A dozen or two lamintated booklets with the 40 or 50 most common languages would certainly be helpful as I've been in line behind people speaking languages that I thought were from a different planet. AT&T Language Line has a brochure that might be used as an example, the reader picks out his language on the first page and is directed to a brief page of instrutions for using their service. These could be given out at the first ID check and collected after the checkpoint. Heck a few in English might help too.

Additionally wheelchairs that do not set off magnetometers that wheelchair bound travelers could transfer to would be helpful. I've seen similar chairs made from pvc pipe and lawn chair webbing used in pools at nursing homes. I fly from Florida frequently and I this would certainly help many older travelers.

I fly frequently and I have found several tips that make my journey through TSA checkpoints stress free.

Arrive on time, or don't take the last flight of the day to your destination. I try to get there as the airline suggests, but in the unusual instance when I am late I can always take the later flight.

Wear slip on shoes; wear socks. It makes it that much easier. If you can't take off your shoes (I twisted my ankle once and found this) you can ask for secondary screening in which you can leave your shoes on. I told them I hurt my ankle 2 days before and I had an elastic bandage and it was hard to get the shoe off and on. I was able to sit and have my shoes swabbed in a fairly private area. Just ask and I'm sure they will find someone who can help.

I am lazy and I don't like to carry luggage on the plane. I paid for the ticket, let the airline lug my luggage. Sure sometimes it goes astray but it shows up intact most of the time. I put my liquids in my checked bag.
In the infrequent event that I fly with just a carry on I just don't bring liquids. I can pick up a tube of toothpaste at most hotels or a drug store for less than a buck. Sometimes it is kind of interesting, in Mexico I once got toothpase that was in a small cake in a snap closed box -minty fresh and a solid. Tooth powder is also available - I bet a small bag of that white powder in your carry one would be an intersting diversion if they hand search your bag.

I found a belt online that has a buckle that comes off easily. It is a fairly nice leather belt but made specifically for travel so you just have to unbuckle it and then unsnap the alligator like end rather than removing your belt completely. Ten seconds beats trying to hold my laptop case and shoes while reaching around trying to put on my belt.

I try not to carry a lot of keys in my pockets. I may stash my keys under the lip of the dashboard below the steering wheel of the car and carry a single key that does not set off the metal detectors if I forget to remove it from my pocket. I do have one of those RFID keys so it was about $30, but then again I have an extra spare key.
I try to avoid bringing change or other things that might set off the metal detectors thus limiting the 'what is metal' dance I have to do before the magnetometers.

I throw out all of the junk the airline wraps my ticket in - I don't need an envelope with car rental or credit card ads on it. I need the boarding pass and the luggage claim check (in case the luggage goes to France when I go to Newark). The boarding pass goes in my shirt pocket because 37 people will want to see it. The bag tags go in my wallet to be torn up and thrown away when I get my bags - they do have your name and flight number on them so that is why I make confetti. I also put my passport or driver's license in my shirt pocket because a few people will want to see that too.

I do say thank you to the TSA staff members and I usually go to the desk and ask for a supervisor. Sometimes I get the 'what now' look, but I offer my thanks for a quick trip through the checkpoints, or if it wasn't at least for their diligent work. Supervisors like to tell their staff that someone complimented them, nobody likes to be the bearer of bad news all the time.

I've never missed a flight because of a delay at the TSA checkpoints when I have arrived on time. Heck I've only missed on out of several hundred when I've arrived late. (several hundred flights, not several hundred late arrivals)

So far no one has blown up any of the aircraft I've flown on since TSA started its job.

Thanks. I don't have the patience to deal with the public (I find most of them to be real pains in the neck who can't follow directions -myself included sometimes). Dealing with the public, combined with the monotony of the job would make me tear out my hair, but I know I appreciate your good work.

Submitted by Thevoiceofreason on

Several posts have commented quite rightly on the number of times a boarding card is checked often within a walk of about 50yds. I have been told that each check is looking for something different. Well then they should deploy someone who can cope with more than one item at a time. The growth in security personnel around the world must have had a significant impact on unemployment figures.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The scanners are set at the same level nation wide. Interference from other things (such as how close the x-ray is, outlets close by, etc.) around the walk through is what causes inconsistencies in alarming or not alarming.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Inconsistencies are frustrating to TSA employees also. It's not fun to tell someone they can't have their lotion just to have them say another airport let it go. Why don't we all follow the same rules? Good question. Coming from an airport that is strict with policy, I wish we did all follow the rules. I would just ask that the passengers take into account that it's not the TSO's fault. Don't be mad at us for enforcing the rules. You should be mad at the airports that let things go that shouldn't go. Please also keep in mind that we are just here to do a job. Read through some of these comments and think of how it would feel to have this stuff said about you. I may or may not agree with all of the policies, but it's my job to enforce them. I have kids at home to feed too and I need this job. It's not worth risking my job or my bonuses to let you take your 8 oz. lotion. We don't make the rules. As far as people with metal implants being screened. How else could we clear that person? Should we take their word for it that's it's a metal implant? Can't a terrorist have a metal implant too? The second we exempt any group of people (children, elderly, etc.) from screening, don't you think the terrorists will use someone from that group to accomplish their mission. We know they're not against using children - they've proven that. Please just don't take it out on the TSO's for doing their job. If a TSO is rude, that's another story. But don't be rude for us doing what we're paid to do. Maybe if passengers wouldn't talk to TSOs and treat them they way they do (just look through these blogs), the TSOs would be in a little better mood at work.

Submitted by Anonymous on

After reading these comments it seems to me that so many of you have forgotten. There may have only been one shoe bomb found, but what if it would have gone off. What if your family was on that plane? We need to remember the reason for this. If we can prevent anything like 9/11 from ever happening again by you removing your shoes or only taking a small amount of shampoo then WHY NOT? So many children lost a parent, so many parents lost a child, so many people lost a spouse. Quit whining. Removing your shoes is a small sacrifice.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have traveled quite a bit --- both pre and post 9/11. Being an experienced traveler, there are just a few things that from my experience and personal knowledge I would like to clarify:


Policies *do* change. Sometimes it is not inconsistencies – but a change in the policy. On their web site, TSA tells passengers about these changes. Some I have seen recently:

---Lighters are no longer prohibited (Not only do I think it was a hassle for TSA to bother with those, as a smoker, I’m glad this one changed! You can now take one lighter and up to 4 packs of safety matches in carry-on.)

---Electronics are screened differently (Don’t know all the details on this one because I don’t carry electronics when I fly.)

----Remote control cars/toy are screened more carefully (This, I think, had to do with suspicions of remote controls being used for bomb-making.)

---Lithium Batteries have a limit in carry-on (Again, I don’t carry electronics, so I don’t know all the details about this change.)

I’m sure there have been other changes. TSA has sections on their web site about exceptions to limits on things when it deals with medications or parents traveling with children. When in doubt, read the information they provide online at It isn’t like they are keeping secrets about what gets scanned or what is allowed. You just need to be an IMFORMED traveler. Learn about the rules that will impact YOU as a traveler, and then the screening process is faster and simpler for you, TSA and all the people in line for screening behind you.


It is not TSA who sets these up, but rather the airports/airlines that set up the special shorter screening lines for First Class Passengers. If you are told differently by the airlines / airport, then they are lying to you. There are OTHER shorter security lines in a few selected airports that have begun using the Registered Traveler (CLEAR/ VIP/ Other names) programs, which allow frequent flyers who submit to intensive background checks and pay an annual fee in order to get through security more quickly.


Those passengers who consistently get extra screening or cannot use kiosk and online check-in seem to think they are on a “No Fly List”. Not true. Those people who are on *THE* “NO FLY LIST” are *NOT ALLOWED TO FLY*. Let me also clarify this: TSA does not add or remove names from the No Fly List. The FBI, CIA, CDC and other federal agencies do. TSA simply provides the list to the airlines, which then perform their own vetting (verifying) of passengers against the list. If your name is *similar* to someone on that list, you can be required to go through extra processing/screening all the time. *OR* you can go through the Redress process (DHS-TRIP link at and get a letter from TSA verifying that you are allowed to fly.

When you are sent that clearance letter, so are all the airlines. PROBLEM: Airlines use different systems for vetting (i.e. verifying) passenger data. If the airline you are flying with has a system that doesn’t check date of birth when vetting, then you could still be subject to this additional screening even after undergoing the Redress process --- until that airline upgrades their system or TSA takes over all vetting of domestic flight passengers.

The process for TSA to take over all passenger vetting (so it is done consistently the same way and on the same system at every airport and every airline nationwide) is in process. The program – called SECURE FLIGHT – has been postponed, delayed, etc. so many times now that no one knows when it will finally get government funding and come to fruition. Until then, however, you can use the Redress process AND (***this is key***) place yourself on the frequent flyer list of the airline you use most. Since these frequent flyer programs usually require a date of birth or other personally identifiable information, it can eliminate those issues with passenger verification on that particular airline’s vetting system.


Please do not assume TSA is responsible if your baggage is damaged and/or items are missing. Yes, there are bad apples in EVERY environment, and TSA is no exception. I'm sure there are times when TSA employees are caught stealing --- and they are fired and prosecuted for it. I cannot say the same for hourly wage airline baggage crews. Consider this: TSA has a very limited amount of time to x-ray/screen all those bags going through checked luggage. In many airports, even if YOU can’t see their screening process, the CCTV camera *does*. However, after the brief time TSA has it, your bag can sit in baggage “holding” with the airline until your flight is boarded. So….where do you think theft is more likely to occur? In the less-than-5-minute-in-and-out screening process by TSA (that is more likely than not on video camera)? Or the hours upon end that your bag sits in “holding” with airline employees (where there are no cameras)?

If your lock was broken and you used a TSA-approved lock, why would TSA break it? They have a way to get it off. Think about the way baggage is tossed and stuffed onto and off of planes and all the conveyor belts. They can damage your bags --- and they belong to the airlines and the airport, not to TSA.

If your bag was opened and rifled through, was there a TSA “Notice of Inspection” (NOI) on the top of the bag? (Not in the bottom of the bag ---- that may have been one you left in the suitcase yourself from you last trip when you forgot to throw it out). If it didn’t have a NOI, then we should assume that TSA did NOT open your bag. They x-rayed it and sent it on to airline baggage. Is it possible for them to forget one of those NOIs once in while? Sure it is. But, chances are, if you didn’t get an NOI, you didn’t have your bag opened by TSA --- especially if it is in an airport where TSA screening is video-taped. That means you should not automatically blame TSA, but rather please consider who *else* may have plundered your bag during that 10-hour delay you encountered.


Lots of complaints are received by and about TSA that have nothing to do with TSA employees. Just because the person is in a uniform, do not assume they are TSA. Airline, airport and private contracted personnel all wear similar uniforms. Look at the person’s name badge and SEE if they are TSA. Lots of times, passengers are yelling about “TSA did this….TSA did that….” And the person who was rude was an airline or airport employee --- not one from TSA.

I’ve heard rumors that TSA is considering changing their uniforms so they look DIFFERENT from all other airline/airport employees. I hope they do.


Even if you are a frequent traveler, a newly discovered threat could change policy relatively quickly. TSA updates their web site regularly with any new information. Go to and *LOOK* for updates *BEFORE* you pack for your next trip. You can also call or email the TSA Contact Center. Their information for contact is also on the web site. By not knowing the rules, you make the screening process longer not just for yourself, but for all the other passengers in line behind you.

Here are a few examples of how NOT KNOWING THE RULES can turn into an unpleasant experience for a passenger. Below is a quote from an article about complaints against TSA:


Take, for example, a mother and daughter traveling out of the Dallas/Fort Worth airport on Sept. 4. In an e-mailed complaint to TSA, the mother said the TSA screener was rude and inconsiderate. While she was in secondary screening, the mother was made to face away from her daughter. "Someone could have taken my daughter," the woman wrote. "I understand you have to have security, but your people don't need to be rude!!!"
On Sept. 3, a man leaving Orlando, Fla., filed a lengthy complaint because he said a screener touched him "like no man ever has — not even my doctor."


For the record: If these passengers had followed the 3-1-1 rule, it is likely that neither of them would have even been subjected to the secondary screening that ultimately resulted in their complaints.

In her complaint to TSA, the woman reveals that they confiscated items loose in her purse (nail polish, lip gloss, hand lotion). The woman incorrectly assumed that these items – just because they were less than 3 ounces each -- did not require being placed in the 3-1-1 bag. Wrong! ANY liquid, gel or aerosol in carry-on luggage *MUST* be under 3 ounces *AND* also *MUST* be placed in the 3-1-1 plastic bag. By making assumptions and not being aware of or following the 3-1-1 rule, the woman attempted to carry items that SHOULD have been in a 3-1-1 bag loose in her purse----at which point they become prohibited items. When they were removed from her bag, she (expectedly) got angry. When she got angry at the TSA Screener, I’m sure the TSA screener was not-too-happy that the woman was agitated at TSA for doing their job and taking the prohibited items. It was the passenger’s total ignorance of the rules that most likely resulted in her secondary screening in the first place. ~~~~ The male passenger was also unfamiliar with 3-1-1 rules. He complained about having his pudding and soda confiscated----both of which were greater than 3 ounces each and therefore prohibited items in carry-on. BTW: If you wish to verify this information, feel free to contact the AP Reporter (ASSOCIATED PRESS) who did the story. They had to file a FOIA request for the release of the full customer complaint records. This important information [left out by the reporter] was in the records provided by TSA based on the FOIA request.

In the same article, Paul C. Light, professor of public policy at New York University, defended TSA as misunderstood. The professor stated that because TSA is highly visible but cannot brag about its successes, TSA is “an agency that's damned if it does, damned if it doesn't". I agree with the professor. The public never hears about TSA’s successes. For TSA to publicly declare them would only provide free publicity to the terrorists who may have been thwarted or the group whose plot was foiled --- and it just might scare the crap out of some people if they really knew all that TSA does/has done successfully.

Submitted by Anonymous on

with any people / agency that pretend they have control over other people there is always inconcisistancy - take for example police - there is no consistancy in them either - goverments be it federal / state or local should dictate policy then give it to all people that come in contact with the public i.e. laminated cards and follow them adding or subtracting those items which no longer are needed - that way some other company can create them and distribute them to all travelers or people so we know what to expect when traveling or with any run in with the law

Submitted by Jon on

Why are flight crews and TSA employees permitted to bring "banned" items such as liquids through screening? Other airport employees do not receive this privilege even though we never step foot on a plane.

Submitted by Anonymous on

St Louis Airport traveling on Continental when passing through security a TSA agent checks both ID and ticket before getting in line for the screening. Then, after going through the screening process, a TSA agent wants to check ID and ticket again immediately after passing through the magnetometer. The TSA agent acts astonished when passengers do not carry their ticket and ID with them through the magnetometer. This is the only US airport I have been through that requires this and I don't see the value of a double ID check within a secure area.

Submitted by Capt ROn on

Why is it that some (most) airports will allow flight crews to bypass security screening and some won't? When will TSA realize that it wasn't and isn't the pilots and flight attendants that are terrorists! I can have a big crash ax that I can put through someones skull right next to me in the cockpit, but man don't leave that little 2 inch pocked knife in my flight bag! Get with it TSA, stop harassing Flight Crews!

Submitted by Anonymous on

It would be encouraging if I thought someone at TSA was really reading these about some TSA responses?

Submitted by Anonymous on

First off, I'd like to say I'm glad we have an agency such as the TSA keeping us safe from threats. But, I do have a few questions/complaints.

While in Greensboro recently, I was behind a young man, obviously from another country. I watched him get singled out and his belongings raided through. Turns out, this man was also on my flight. So, after the security incident, two TSA agents followed him and came up to him for "additional screening". He was wanded and, to his embarassment, literally made to look like a criminal in front of all his fellow passengers. If this wasn't racial profiling, I don't know what is. The main felt so bad after this incident I could tell he was uncomfortable. It also did not help that the plane was two hours late, so he had to sit with all of these people who just witnessed this happen.

Why is something like this such a common practice with airport security? Why isn't a thorough evaluation the first time enough? To me, that just means the TSA isn't doing their job thoroughly enough to begin with, and something needs to be done about it.