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Transportation Security Administration

Inconsistencies, Part 1 (Commenting Disabled)

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

Someone asked why TSA doesn't discriminate in the screening. They asked why old grandmas get screened when there are young Middle Eastern males on the flights.

This country hasn't followed the Israel's anti-terror methods. Hands down, Israel's anti-terror methods are the best in the world. However, in the US, the ACLU would have a fit. So, the airlines cover their butt.

This raises a very good question--kind of along the lines of Guatanamo Bay. Do terrorists have rights? It may appear as though the TSA believes every terrorist should be given a fair chance to board a plane--fake bombs are often not detected, and people who match the apparent "terrorist profile" are not searched.

This is an extremely difficult issue. If the TSA really wanted to crack down on terrorism and use Israeli methods, the ACLU would be mad. On the other hand, if every Middle Eastern-looking person were stopped, it wouldn't be fair to them either. They are human beings.

I hesitate to give a solution to the problem because everyone has their opinions, and quite frankly, I don't want my ticket prices to increase anymore. But the only real solution would be to train TSA people better. So often, I see TSA people not present to what's going on around them. Their minds are elsewhere. I know it takes a lot of training and discipline, but if you start looking more at non-verbal body language and try observing what's really going on, it can reveal a lot. Sometimes not. But everyone who's ever been in a relationship with someone knows non-verbal communication (reading between the lines) is really how we communicate 70-80% of the time.

I do agree with the poster that searching grandma on a consistent basis may not be the best use of time. It's good for TSA because people can clearly see TSA isn't discriminating.

In many ways, I wish the TSA just stuck to its mission of catching terrorists. The only problem with that is that not everyone has wisdom or common sense. Some idiot TSA purpose would completely abuse their power. Now, if the TSA could teach common sense, it could get away with successfully profiling, and I don't think people would get uptight. The whole problem is they would go bankrupt trying to teach common sense to people who their whole life never had any.

Submitted by Anonymous on

An individual commented that when his wife was coming from Mexico, she never got searched at the airport.

Yes, that is true. I frequently travel to South America. Going down, I mostly take empty luggage because TSA always searches and damages things. Since things are so cheap down there, I load my carry-on and checked baggage as full as I can. I always bring back things I'm not supposed to. Last time, they didn't notice that I didn't lift one of my bags up to the lady who was screening luggage (they didn't have machines to do it--it was all done manually.) I just pushed it through underneath and no one noticed I never screened my carry-on bag.

You can bring into the US whatever you want. Depending on what country you go to, you can brining as much liquid onto the plane as you want.

Submitted by Toby on

I've noticed many TSA employees on this blog say something along the lines of "we really do find dangerous stuff in the screenings and we're really protecting you!"

A. I want proof. Trustworthy organizations of all kinds allow themselves to be scrutinized, audited, and assessed publicly. Untrustworthy organizations do not. Crying "national security" as an excuse to clam up is not acceptable since we pay your salaries.

B. I don't care if you do find dangerous stuff. I don't want your protection. I simply want to be free of government intrusion into my life.

C. Catching a few items now and then neither excuses nor justifies the abuse than many CUSTOMERS of the TSA have received. Can you name ONE TSA AGENT who has served prison time for abusing someone or for stealing from passengers?

Just one?

Out of all the stories of abuse I've read?

If there is no redress for the abused, then there is implicit motivation to abuse passengers built into the system. This is in fact true of almost all areas of government. The government exempts itself from the rules it places on us.

Dare you to post this!!!

Submitted by Anonymous on

I wonder how many of you would fly tomorrow if the TSA stopped searching everyone?
And why do you blame the TSA when YOU refuse to check any baggage because "THE AIRLINES" might lose them?
And why do half of the people out there not think that their cell phone will cause the metal detector to go off?
Common sense has been lost by most air travelers.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have a question about photographic equipment which I can't find answered anywhere on your web site. Are tripods and monopods permitted to be carried on to the plane in your carry-on or personal item?

I've seen both of these pieces of photographic gear permitted and rejected at security.

(I posted this question elsewhere, but apparently it wasn't the right place to get a comment or an answer.)

Submitted by Anonymous on

all TSA agents need equal training in human relations & doing the job with manners & courtesy ! i have had knee replacement surgery so i have a titanium pin in my leg. i have flown from SJC WEARING SHORTS which showed my scar & still felt like i was being accused of being a criminal & about to be strip searched in preparation to go to prison. THEY WERE SO RUDE & i was so embarrassed standing in the middle of the room! on the return trip from PDX, they did their job with kindness & humanity but they DID THE SAME JOB as the SJC agents did so rudely. the job can be done without being rude to someone who doesn't deserve it. are they just power tripping? most people who fly are NOT criminals & should NOT be treated like they are. Pam.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have found inconsistency with the TSA "approved" locks, that after you buy them all TSA airports have the key to open the luggage, but then, you find the expensive lock broken inside your luggage or not at all, leaving you to presume it has been broken...

Submitted by Flyguy on

I am an airline pilot for a major airline and I go through security at many different airports every month. Without a doubt inconsistency from one airport to another is everyones biggest complaint. Some places are great and the screening personnel are sharp and speak when spoken to and although some of the policies seem a little odd, as long as the person requesting the odd policy seems sincere then it isn't a big deal. Then you have the "other" airports. These may even be in the majority, where the screeners are on a huge power trip. It is getting better, but DEN and SLC in particular are this way. The screeners seem to take delight in harrassing passengers and want them to to get mad and argue so they can threaten to have them arrested. Most people don't realize that the TSA can't arrest anyone, but the local cop that is always sitting there at security can. These are the places that I really dislike. I do not need to be told to take off my watch because it doesn't set off the metal detector - I know because I wear it through the detector every day, but a guy in SLC always tells me I have to take it off. I just ignore him. Finally, when there are huge lines backed up and there are six metal detectors and xray machines available and six or seven TSA people lounging about and only one line is open, then the taxpayers, the people who pay the TSA salaries, get irritated. There may be a good reason for this but it isn't readily apparent to those in line and you guys end up looking bad. Just some thoughts.

Submitted by Anonymous on

It is the inconsistencies that absolutely drive me nuts! I understand the concept of changing some things to keep people from learning routines, but some of the things I have been through are utterly rediculous! I take a lot of medication and one of the pills I take requires me to take 1/2 a pill three times a day. This required a pill cutter as using anything else would cause the pills to shatter. The cutter I used had an attached blade that was exposed about 1/4 inch and was recessed into the cutter and very safe. I couldn't cut anyone with it if I tried! I have had more than one cutter taken away. My medications are very important and I have packed them in my checked luggage before with disastrous results...luggage didn't make it. I have a hard time understanding why insulin syringes can go through but not a pill cutter. I tried cutting them before flying, but they always deteriorated being juggled around so I wasn't getting the dose required. Leaving things discretionary opens too many doors for abuse! I have noticed many occasions where a TSA screener who seemed to be having a bad day was more like Hitler than someone trying to protect me! Give me a break people. I observe the rules and do what I am supposed to do, but how can you plan appropriately when so much is left to human discretion? Maybe some better guidelines would be appropriate? Liquid insulin is not the only life saving drug a passenger can take.

Submitted by Hgrihorash on

My 2 children fly to see their father in Michigan every summer. We have 2 terminals in Minneapolis. If they fly out of Lindberg (which is the bigger of the 2,) I do not have any problems getting through security accompanying them to their gate (which is required of me until my oldest is 16.)

Everytime they fly out of Humphrey, I get a "boarding pass" type pass to get through security with a great big red "S" stamped on it. Which pretty much means that I have to be searched. So when we have to use that terminal, I bring as little with me as possible, usually just my cell phone, wallet and slip on shoes. I leave my purse and jacket in the car.

The last time this happened, even the TSA agent couldn't understand why it happens everytime, when I asked the ticket agent who issues me the pass, she said it was standard procedure for adults accompanying thier children to the gates.

I have no problem being searched, but it does get embarrassing. Esspecially when they yell back and forth between each other about the "s" stamped on my pass, hand me a red bin to put my 3 items into and yell for a female to come search me.

One time, I was late picking up my children at their gate, because they had a hard time finding a woman to come search me, even though I told them a man would be fine. I used to work in a jail and know that there is a proper way to search, but that wasn't good enough, even though I was standing right out in the open.

Another time I had my 3 year old with me and the lady kept yelling at her to stay away from me while I was being searched. She started crying because she was scared. I am a single mom standing there with my kids and they are being yelled at to stay away from me?

Submitted by Anonymous on

What I find inconsistent and annoying is at some airports a recorded overhead announcement is heard while you are in the checkpoiunt advising you of the rules (ie. laptops out of case, shoes off, etc.), and in other airports the TSA personnel SHOUT out instructions which I find to be unprofessional, unwarranted, and irritating. Why cant there be a standardized announcement at every checkpoint so that I am not shouted at by TSA peronnel?

Submitted by Common Sense?? on

I too have come across inconsistant application of security measures in my travels (10-15 times a year), but I am not here to complain about those situations. This is for all the travelers. Wake up! I know some of the rules are tiresome i.e. shoes off, belt off etc. If you don't like the 3-1-1 rule check those items. The 3-1-1 rule is to protect the cabin area from threats. Most people don't think things through to the extent that true terrorists do. It would be extremely hard to blow up a plane with the amount of liquid/gel allowed by the 3-1-1 rule, but not hard to light one on fire during something critical like take off where flight staff response is limited. Thanks TSA for allowing lighters on board when its against federal law to smoke on a plane. If everyone would use some common sense, its free, and prepare properly for their trip security would run much smoother. In my observations passengers that are getting "hassled" by TSA seem to be people that didn't pay attention to how they packed or are trying to push the quantity limits because they didn't try to pack properly. By the way half of the time I dress up to travel, I wear nice leather shoes that are easy to remove, a leather belt with buckle that is non magnetic. I allow for plenty of time to wait for those don't plan properly. Do I get the big search? Yes, I sometimes do and sometimes don't. I think a lot of travelers go into the airport with an adversarial attitude and then are shocked when it comes true. Most travelers have weeks or months to prepare. If you try to prepare to make it through security smoothly you most likley will its not hard. I don't like that I have to jump through the security hoops, but its so much easier with 15 minutes of preplanning.

Submitted by Nathan on

I wanted to mention about the consistently bad attitudes of the TSA screeners at the Delta terminal in PHL. I am a former native of the area and live in Atlanta now and fly back and forth frequently to visit my loved ones. During my off days I generally don't dress up in a suit, but when I go into the elite/first class security line I inevitably get hasseled and my ID scrutinized, possibly because I don't "look" like I would have a first class ticket, elite status, and a club membership, all of which give me access to that line. I never have any issues anywhere but Philadelphia and take offense to their very poor treatment of people that don't "look" like a first class passenger. I feel that they stereotype their passengers; I wasn't aware that they have so many problems with people counterfeiting first class tickets at the Delta terminal in PHL. It's ridiculous and I wonder if other's have had the same experience.

Submitted by Dwayne "the Can... on

I was stopped in Oklahoma City a few years ago because I had a 'gun' in my backpack. The 'gun' was the piece from the boardgame Clue. Yup, a gun with no trigger, no barrel, no bullets and less than an inch long was almost confiscated.

I also had the wrench, knife, & candlestick but those were okay because "the blade on the knife is less than 3 inches."

I had no other problems with the same items in SF, Denver, & SLC.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I would like to see a procedure enacted for travellers that have implants. My two replacement hips trigger metal detectors at every screening leading to hand wanding with the inherent delays that accompany it. Replacing and lacing shoes is also not without difficulty when afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis. While I don't forsee relief for the shoe removal exercise, I would not object to obtaining another photo ID card from TSA that attests to the presence of implants in order to forgo (or abbreviate) the hand screening each and every time.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have had a couple of joint replacements and always have to go through a separate screening. It is very difficult to get my shoes and socks off while standing and most security areas do not have chairs. What happened to the Americans with Disabilites Act?

Submitted by Anonymous on

As I read through this blog I often wonder if the traveling public really knows what is going on. I am a TSO and I am an Army officer who has been deployed to Iraq several times. One item that stands out in my mind from here is that everyone seems to have the BIG misconception that all terrorists are middle eastern men. This is simply NOT true. For example, was Timothy McVeigh middle eastern? Umm no he was a military man trained by the United States of America. No one really knows what a terrorist looks like. Yes it can be that 92 year old Grandma, it can be that 1 yr old baby, it can be ANYONE! TSA regulations are standard across the nation, but here is why people think our airports are different. The best way I can explain it is similar to a cop. When you get pulled over for a speeding. You really have no idea if you are going to get a ticket or not. You might, or you just might get a warning, or you might not get anything at all. TSA officers have been given the right to make decisions on there own. Although us supervisors can guide them to the right decision. Just as the cop might say I will let you off with a warning, we TSA officers may say, well I dont think this particular item is dangerous. For instance, if you brought a pair of scissors on a plane and wanted to do something dumb with them, you would get your face beat in b other passengers. You people need to realize that TSA is doing wonders, especially compared to the previous way of doing things. I hear you say we need accountability. We have it, there called the GAO-Government Accountability Office. If everyone would stop taking it personal and thinking we are picking on you, then your travel would go much smoother. We do this for EVERYONE so you can have freedom of movement. If you dont like it, ride a bus!

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Quit whining. Removing your shoes is a small sacrifice."

Except that X-Ray machines don't find explosives.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The thing that bothers me most as a very frequent traveller is that I should know exactly what to do when I am going through the line (take off shoes, belts, jackets, take pc out of bag, etc), but often the TSA workers are so inconsistent that they almost yell at you for doing what you were told to do in ohter airports. Ie, putting your shoes, belt, etc in a bin rather than on the belt is expected at one airport and you get chastized at the next one for "wasting " a bin! If I weatr a suit coat that acts as a shirt too, ie it is buttoned all the way up with no shirt under it, it is ok, but if I wear a light shell under it and leave a few buttons open, it must come off. If they can see a shirt/shell under hte jacket, it must come off. If not you can keep it on. It is ridiculous. 99% of the time I don't take the baggy out of my suitcase and it is never a problem. Oen time, i took it out ad placed it in a bin and the TSA agent told me it was unacceptable because the items inside the bag did not fit comfortably. I was like, what does tht mean....they re all under 3 oz and they all fit perfectly and it zip locks closed just fine. She said I know, but the items are not comfortable. ??? She let me through but warned me that other airports were going to stop me. That was 2 yrs ago and no one has ever said my items were uncomfortable since. I am a CLEAR member and it is the best service ever, but they need to allow us to keep jackets on, shoes on and pc's in our bags. We are all screened with a federal background check and that should get us some leeway besides just bypassing the line.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hello, I really need some help... I have never flown before and I recently visited a web sight that listed travel tips. I was some what confused, I read that you are aloud 1 carry on bag and 1 personal item such as a lap top, a purse, or a camera.. I planned on taking my carry on, purse and my camera could I not take them all? Also my make up I usually keep it in my purse, do I have to baggy all my make up to.. Forgive me but I'm lost..Can anyone help?

Submitted by Mmichellew1 on

Recently I flew from LAX to Houston (IAH) Hobby and back. At the LAX incept, they xrayed my belongings and wound not accept my bag for carryon because of a can of hairspray. Ok, fair enough, I checked it. On the way back through Hobby, I had my purse totally pulled apart, piece by piece, all over the counter, and my bag was searched. It was a mess when I got home, jewelry strewn, a bottle of nail polish broken open that was sealed (new purchase, unopened). What they didnt find was the multitool that I forgot was in my purse still after a recent camping trip. So much for security.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have an artificial knee which means that the TSA does a "wanding" and "pat down". There is a wide disparity as to the consideration I am afforded, in the context of my personal materials in the plastic tubs. At best, the agent asks me to identify my tubs, and he collects them for me and brings them to the screening area. At worst, the tubs languish while I am given the extensive security check, and my personal belongings are available to anyone who might choose to take them. Second, why are we subject to a "pat down", which is not required of passengers who pass through the magnetometer without alarm? The wanding buzzes at my knee, and I could see patting down that area, but why my entire body??

Submitted by Jim on

I fly 2-3 times a week and find certain airports lacking in security, especially smaller ones like Myrtle Beach where you can walk in through the exit area due to no security guard posted there. The scanning equipment is not consistently set as my belt buckle will set it off in Long Beach California but nowhere else. I belong to the CLEAR program which makes it a little easier where there is a CLEAR lane but even there sometimes I have to take my shoes off and sometimes not.

Submitted by Anonymous on

A previous poster commented about an AA employee who 'had a problem' with ID (maiden name) being different than what was on the ticket. FYI - The airlines ARE required by law to make sure the ID MATCHES the ticket (that means you, too, Jake!), as per my wife who works for the airlines, and the airline which lets someone through with a mismatch can be heavily fined. This is especially true for international flights, where US Immigration checks your ID when you return. You could be held and questioned for hours - I kid you not! It happened to me in Bermuda when my documents weren't in order. If you change your name when you get married, you can save yourself a LOT of trouble by getting a new passport issued with your new married name, like my wife did. Haven't you heard that ID's (including addendums) can be faked? That's why you see agents using a UV flashlight to check the holographic coating on your drivers license - which must be removed from the wallet so the hidden design can be seen clearly. Many of the complaints I see here are from people who simply don't WANT to try to work with the system, and their obtuseness causes them their own headaches. If you act like a jerk you'll get treated like a jerk - if not by TSO's then by me in line behind you because you're holding me and everyone else up. Be early. Be patient. Wear shoes that can easily come off, and socks if you're concerned about cold/dirty floors. Don't wear that metal belt buckle as big as a satellite dish. I wear a plastic Casio watch when I travel, and have every metal item already stowed in my carry-on or jacket pockets (which goes through the detector) before I even get in line. Use some common sense! Go with the flow! If you insist on fighting the system, don't be surprised if you get singled out for special treatment. You're creating your own headaches.

Submitted by Anonymous on

There are even inconsistencies in the same airport. I was flying out of a small regional airport with one check point. I went through the screening process just fine (for a change - I usually get to be the "passenger of the day" as I call it and receive extra screening) but not this time. The woman behind me had a very small pair of scissors that was taken away. Now, for the part of the story that gets interesting - I am a quilter and had recently went to a quilt retreat (a day or two before my trip) and forgot that I had a huge pair of cutting scissors and rotary cuter with a blade in it in my purse until I looked in the purse later for some Kleenex. How could this have been missed? I know the screening folks are only human and there are bound to be things that get missed but if they missed my huge 12 inch scissors and a rotary cutter, what else are they missing? Kind of makes me wonder if the screening process is more about giving us a feeling of safety than actual safety sometimes. Of course on the flight back I put both items in my checked luggage.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Flying is a choice folks, you definately do have rights at the checkpoint. You choose to buy a ticket and show up at the airport, you choose to get in line and you choose to submit to the required inspection of your belongings. You also have the right to opt out of the screening before you place your items down for inspection. If you don't like the show, change the channel and take the train. Screening is a requirement for flying much like holding a license is a requirement for driving.

Some people have legitimate concers about the apparently different policies at different airports and I am sure they are all well founded, but other people on this board just want to complain, which is their right. Everyone needs to vent and this is a place to come and let those things go but some people go to far. Every TSO I have ever met has taken their emoployment because, at least initially, they wanted to help. It is not their fault that the policies and procedures are inconsistent. I can GURANTEE that they are just as frustrated as you by this. You only deal with it one or two times a day (For the average business passenger) or once a year for most folks. TSO's have to hear the same gripes day after day. Yes, that is the job they took but it does not mean that thay should be verbally abused. Everyone in the US has the right to be a jerk, some folks just abuse it.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm sure while this doesn't have much to do with policy inconsistency, but it might.

Back in 2005, I had to take an emergency flight back home to California when my father died. I know that last minute bookings get a special code for extra screening. I had my purse and my laptop with me, and in the laptop, shoved my cd player and a couple of books.

I got snarked at for wearing tennish shoes (I needed them for support, slip ons don't work for me), for not taking off the shoes in a timely manner (gee, I didn't realize I only had 20 milliseconds to kick them off), snarked at for taking so long to put them back on (darn those laces), snarked at because I had two cd players - well one of them happened to be the dvd player/cd burner on the laptop. Not really the same thing. And finally told that I was wasting my time reading such dirty books - they were romance novels and not really good ones at that. I didn't think it was the TSAs business to police what I read.

Oh, and I was told that next time, I'd better not book such a last minute ticket. Yeah, I'll remember that next time and ask my mother to plan her death accordingly.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have several concerns: 1) Why are the TSA agents so disgruntled. A smile or thank you goes a LONG way in "customer" satisfaction. Most fliers are NOT terrorists and perhaps by being nicer to those going through the lines would make everyone a little happier. 2) When traveling with a crippled arthritic mother the treatments for her have been down right embarrassing. She no longer wants to fly thanks to the handling she has had. She can hardly walk and they still treat her like she's a terrorist and pat her down and never say a kind word. At 86, I think she has earned some respect in life. 3) The policies change so frequently that no wonder fliers seem a little "testy". I don't mind taking off shoes, putting any liquids in a small baggie, taking off jackets, etc. However, when all of the sudden you find out something new you have to do while in line, no wonder fliers seem frustrated.

Submitted by Susan on
(I posted this question elsewhere, but apparently it wasn't the right place to get a comment or an answer.)

Have you not noticed that nobody is getting any answers or comments....
Submitted by Anonymous on

I have a story for you:
My sister was flying from JFK to Brussels, Belgium, and was asked the usual questions: did you pack your luggage yourself, did you accept any packages from anyone, etc. Then she was asked if she carried anything on her which could be "construed as a weapon". At that time, she was filling out a luggage tag and she simply held up her pen. Of course, they said, "Oh no, that's not a weapon". As we all know, some time ago, a prisoner held a reporter captive by grabbing her pen and holding it against her carotid artery, threatening to stab her. So TSA, you guys are obviously not doing your job. Let's get rid off all our writing implements while we're at it!
Oh, yes, how about all of those people with a black belt in karate, their hands are lethal weapons you know. Let's not let them on the plane, oh no!
Come on TSA, all of this BS is just to keep our ordinary travelers in a STATE OF FEAR so that the government can get away with removing as many of our basic rights as they can. And all you suckers at TSA are eating it up, loving how much you can denigrate and embarass your everyday travelers. You know the old warning about giving a man a badge..... Wake up America!

Submitted by Jim on

I can understand a need for intentional inconsistency. And I think profiling and observation (as in Israel) are important. If I am assessed as less of a risk at the time, and TSA lets me get away with a less-stringent check, fine. If I'm tagged for some reason am held to the strict rules, fine. What I don't want is for something obviously on the okay list to be suddenly not okay.

And I'd like a way to fix my oops in a timely manner, if possible. I don't mind you throwing out the bottle of water I snagged from the meeting room and forgot in my briefcase, but I would greatly mind losing tools or something I bought in duty free.

And is there some way to protect my checked baggage from theft while still allowing inspection? TSA is accused of stealing in the blog, but the airline baggage handlers have my bag for far more time and can conveniently and temporarily misplace it long enough to steal. Airline and TSA can blame each other all day long and I'm out of luck.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I was at an airport restaurant (after going through security) and got served my meal along with a plastic knife and a metal fork. I would imagine taking the plastic knife and snapping off a sliver to create a very dangerous weapon would be something the TSA would have thought of. What a waste of time and energy! We are being completely misled as to what constitutes dangerous items to bring on board. If you use your imagination, there are hundreds of items you can use as a weapon, none of them on the TSA list. Get real!

Submitted by Anonymous on

I fly over 20 times each year so I have some experience (unfortunately) with TSA.

My solution to the "take your shoes off" policy is to not put them back on until I get to my gate. Don't like my socks or bare feet? Let me leave my shoes on.

The liquids policy is a pure joke. Is there someone in TSA HQ who gets paid to actually think these things up?

My biggest gripe is the lines to get through screening. One agent directs traffic through the detector. One agent sits and watches pictures on the machine. Then there are 3 or 4 agents in the background of each machine standing around talking - to each other or on their cells - while 4 to 6 machines are idle. Get to Work !!! Even two more lines open would ease the congestion and reduce tempers.

As for being more secure, pah-leze. I feel less secure now than before 9/11. If TSA is REALLY thwarting terrorists, announce it. Yay, we caught a bad guy! Nope, nary a word. All that's happened is we've given jobs to thousands who have become bullies.

And as for ID not be a legal necessity to travel in the US? Go ahead. Try to fly anywhere in the US without ID. Let me know what happens.

Quote (again):
"He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither." - Ben Franklin

Submitted by Will TSA/PHX on

Many comments have been made about TSA,however not that long ago many lives were lost and America wanted change and accountability. Many of us will never forget that infamous day that we as American citizens were faced with terrorism on our soil. Now its been about seven years and many people complain about inconsistencies and all the negatives. Have they forgotten?
Here is a question which would you choose? 30,000 feet with security screening or without?
Are you willing to gamble with your life or trust in a system put in place that has protected the airline industry since its inception.

Submitted by Nvn8v on

I have a plate and 8 pins in my left elbow and consistently set off the metal detectors at any airport. My "home airport" is RNO, and I have been to STL, ORD, IAH, DFW, PDX and DCA in the past year or so. I tell the screener before I go through the metal detector that I will need a secondary because I am guaranteed to set the bloody thing off and the screeners that I have dealt with have been somewhat nasty to me because I set it off, even with my warning. There should be some type of card / security system for those of us with hardware or other disabilities to make travel a little easier. I am willing to pay the $ 100 a year for the secure travel card, but I'm afraid it will not be worth the effort because I have the same problem every time I go to RNO or any other airport.

Submitted by WRINKLENECK on

I see inconsistancy everywhere. If it is the intention to keep people from taking over a plane, then think! Cockpit doors were made of cardboard and how long did it take for your "experts" to figure out that may be a problem? If you want to keep it safe, make the seatbelts so that once snapped they can only be opened by the attendant. If you can't get out of your seat, you can't storm the cockpit. Stop wasting billions on useless machinery/people. If you want a safe plane, let people who have a license to carry bring their gun on board. No "terrorist" would be willing to jump up with a box cutter if the plane was loaded with 200 gun carrying Americans. The practice of grabbing anyone and jerking them around does not make the flight safer. It is just mindless. I (now 68 and two artificial hips) was put through the machine three times, hand searched and researched at boarding. It's just idiocy.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Personally, I think inconsistentcy is a plus..........this will keep the terrorists guessing!

Submitted by Anonymous on

On an outbound trip through LAX's international terminal recently the TSA officer accused me of having contraband in my backpack. then proceeded to take everything out and individually search the items. She of course found nothing, and seemed almost resentful she didn't. No apologies, nothing. On the other hand, I found the security at London Heathrow extremely polite and efficient- maybe we'd have a better view of TSA if you took cues from security in other countries.

Submitted by Jack on
I wonder how many of you would fly tomorrow if the TSA stopped searching everyone?

I would.

And why do you blame the TSA when YOU refuse to check any baggage because "THE AIRLINES" might lose them?
And why do half of the people out there not think that their cell phone will cause the metal detector to go off?
Common sense has been lost by most air travelers.

When I give TSA an unlocked tool chest I expect them to relock it so as to prevent loss of contents. A TSA hireling recently gave me grief for suggesting that the tool chest be resecured by the folks at the X-ray machine. FYI I travel 49 weeks out of the year and find driving much more pleasant than dealing with either TSA or the airlines.

Common sense? Both TSA and some passengers have lost it. Stop complaining about the liquids. Get used to it. Be prepared to remove your jacket, shoes, and have a plan to deal with change, keys, cell phone, etc that will set off the metal detectors. That makes common sense. Give TSA what they want and perhaps they'll leave you alone. TSA types, I don't suffer fools gladly. You've got a real public relations problem that won't get solved any time soon. I will spit in any container before TSA conficates it. Bon appetit. Don't like it? Then don't chow down on the contents.

Again I ask, if I give TSA a properly secured piece of luggage and they fail to replace/relock the luggage then who assumes responsibility for the contents if something is stolen due to TSA's failure/incompetance/neglect. TSA says that it is the airlines. The airlines say that it is TSA. I say that it is TSA since they had a properly secured piece of luggage given to them.
Submitted by Jack on
Many comments have been made about TSA,however not that long ago many lives were lost and America wanted change and accountability. Many of us will never forget that infamous day that we as American citizens were faced with terrorism on our soil. Now its been about seven years and many people complain about inconsistencies and all the negatives. Have they forgotten?
Here is a question which would you choose? 30,000 feet with security screening or without?
Are you willing to gamble with your life or trust in a system put in place that has protected the airline industry since its inception.

TSA/PHX, until the US puts into place the same security system as EL-AL all we have is the illusion of security. I would suggest that by your attitude that you are part of the problem.
Submitted by Kristy on

I am a TSO from Minnesota. I hear every day about how LAX or Ohare or where ever didn't do what I am doing now. My answer to that is "I can't answer to what someone else has done, and I am sorry for the inconsistency, but I am going by the policies in place and I can find them in writing for anyone to see if there is any question. I pose 2 questions to the complaining flyers... Are you able to control your coworkers actions?
And if TSA was disbanded or if security was lighter and something did happen, could you look in the face of the survivers of 9-11 and say "it was just too inconvienient"? ... I can't. I do my job and I have personally found knifes, ammunition, pepperspray, and drugs on several different occasions. And these items are not with the people you'd "expect" so profiling doesn't work either. If your sweater is hiding the contours of your body I am going to ask you to remove it. I need to be sure it's just you to sleep at night. I hope this answers some questions... I do my job with respect for the passengers and I care if something happens to anyone of them. I try to be as friendly and courtious as I can, I understand it is "inconvienient" and confusing, so I talk to people with respect and make sure they understand what I am doing and why. I always ask if they have any questions also to clarify...
Thanks to all people that understand and the TSO's that do their jobs.
Be Safe... and patience IS a vertue

Submitted by Girl4God on

Inconsistency is an excellent layer of security. If security becomes routine and things are done the same way all of the time, then it would be easier for terrorists to figure out ways to attack us. Thumbs up to the TSA Officers who protect all airline passengers; even the ones who don't appreciate them.

Submitted by Brian Hartung on

I tend to give the TSA a bit of a pass on this one. Lots of the complaints I've read so far can be explained pretty readily by just a few considerations:

- People (agents and travelers alike) are imperfect. Lots of them are even downright stupid, mean, impatient, defensive, possessive of a high sense of self-worth and entitlement, quick to point out but not admin fault--any or all of the above. Some are professional, courteous, decorated veterans, highly educated (in Philosophy, Theater, History, or Political Science, for example) and unwaivering in their desire to believe that the man or woman seated next to them is basically a good person (even if they did pass gas on a long flight).
- Creating policy to goven millions of tiny everyday interactions is, it would seem by definition, a no-win game (who'd want that job...). The "we keep it inconsistent to keep them guessing" thing smacks of rationalization to me, but hey, what do I know...I'm just a simple caveman confused by your bright lights and fast ways...
- Airports in smaller cities and countries are unlikely to do things the same way as the ones you'll find in New York, Atlanta, or Chicago, for example. It's a simple matter of scale (meaning some cities on average are more obese than others)
- Someone in a New York airport was rude to you??? Now I know you're just putting me on...

It would be unfair to simply dismiss the TSA as being on average uneducated or drawn from the same worker pool as the typical service industry and therefore lesser beings. I know there are people who will conclude this (refer to point 1 above). Others might say that it's a moot point given that the average traveler graduated in the bottom half of his or her class. (I myself say that 50% of people have a below average understanding of statistics).

The fact of the matter is, times have changed. Whether you personally believe it's all motivated by greed or a need to put on a big theater show is immaterial. Public policy has changed and we've all got to deal with it. It's nice to be able to have a voice in the process (whether you believe it will be ignored or not). I personally am not a conspiracy theorist, nor am I rude (well, sometimes I pass gas on a long flight, but that's just a consequence of airline food and Boyle's Law).

Submitted by Grynch on

I have prosthetic knee joints. And I've always wondered what would prevent someone from concealing a bomb inside their body and triggering it with say... a magnetic switch. What does TSA do to guard against this possibility? And I'm aware that knives exist that are made of ceramic instead of metal. Is there any reason someone wouldn't be able to smuggle these onboard the plane if they were carrying them in their pocket(vs. their carryon bags)?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I do work for TSA and I am a supervisor on the floor. I do read this blog and no one from work has asked me to. I want to see what the public is thinking and feeling. I see the frustration on both sides. Do I wish some of my screeners would treat people with more respect? Yes, I do! Are all of my screeners rude, NO! I see screeners who get tired of being treated rudely day after day who become hard and callus. I go down on the floor and work beside them and try to help them remember why we are here. Why we wanted to be here, why we chose to be here. We hear a lot of the comments that are posted here hundreds of times a day. If I, or one of my screeners came to your place of work, bank, store, wherever and acted like you do to us you would be thrown out of the store. There have been some really good questions asked here and as a supervisor I would love to have some of those answers for myself.
Toby 2-3-2008 asks if anyone has gone to jail from TSA because of their actions, yes they have. Can I tell you their name, no I can not, but I do know they were arrested. Every place of employment has people who do dumb things. We just happen to be the place the public can now attack, somewhere to place your frustrations. Whether it is TSA doing security at the airports or some private organization, it will have to be done now because of 9-11. We do have airports that have private screeners who are not TSA and I have noticed in this blog that the flying public clumps those airports in with TSA not even knowing that TSA is not in those airports. So that shows me that is some ways we (TSA)are being wrongly accused because you do not even have all the facts together.
I try every day to remind my screeners that everyone needs to be treated with respect. If this was their mom or grandma or family member how would they be treating them? And for heaven sakes if a screener is not watching the x-ray for whatever reason, talking texting etc, find a supervisor immediately and they SHOULD do something right there and then. I would never permit that on my floor. Help us help you. If you do not like what is happening please give us the solutions. Don’t just complain find the answers we will listen.

Submitted by Robert Johnson on

Quote: "Many comments have been made about TSA,however not that long ago many lives were lost and America wanted change and accountability. Many of us will never forget that infamous day that we as American citizens were faced with terrorism on our soil. Now its been about seven years and many people complain about inconsistencies and all the negatives. Have they forgotten?
Here is a question which would you choose? 30,000 feet with security screening or without?
Are you willing to gamble with your life or trust in a system put in place that has protected the airline industry since its inception."

9/11 was a terrible event, but good grief people, it's NOT the end of the world.

America wanted changed and accountability? We got 1 out of 2. We got change. We still have no accountability. Otherwise, Kip wouldn't be trying to justify 80-90% failure rates in bomb detection.

I haven't forgotten, but I'm not going to let terrorists ruin my life and make me fearful. TSA as it stands now is a reaction to fear. A lot of what TSA does is promote that fear in order to keep itself relevant.

It hasn't caught any terrorists. Otherwise, they'd be trumpeting it from the rooftops. Any time it's dumped a terminal it has never found the person responsible for causing it. They can't pass their own tests without advance notice. They have a CYA mentality. And lastly, they have to trumpet "criminal" catches and college kids with false ID in order to look like they're doing something, even though NONE of that falls into the scope of their charter. Talk about mission creep. They should learn to be competent in their core mission (which they're not) before they even attempt to try anything else.

Do your really think those who died on 9/11 would be proud of the America we've come? One that's willing to give up rights, put up with harassment, and be fearful? All with an organization that hasn't proven to be any more effective than the security we had pre-9/11?

Screening didn't fail on 9/11. American complying with hijackers did.

TSA is the poster child for the mess you get when Congress does something kneejerk to appease the people.

And no, I don't expect this to be published.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I would just like to point out that there is a national SOP for TSA in all locations...and then each city has ITS OWN SOP. So yes, inconsistencies will happen.

Submitted by Randyjet on

As a retired airline captain, I have to protest at the preference given to Sikhs for bypassing security rules out of concern for profiling. When I was denied the ability to carry a nail clipper, they were allowed to carry their KNIVES.
While I must remove my uniform HAT, they do NOT have to remove their turbans which can carry a whole LOT more than my hat can. It is quite obnoxious to me that they get prefered treatment for their religious practices while as a captain and military veteran, I am considered more a suspect than they are.

I am also outraged that you will NOT post this comment as well. It is NOT compromising security since I have posted this on public web sites which have a FAR wider distribution than this blog does. Any person who reads can find out that they can dress as a Sikh and bring as much contraband on board a plane in a turban as long as it does NOT set off the metal detector. It is high time that you closed this security loophole.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Stop the whining and suck it up. All of us have to go through the same thing even us TSA people that you hate so much!

Submitted by Stop Murmuring on

Everyone sighting the 4th amendment really needs to take a look at what it says. Last time I checked the AIPRPORT IS NOT your home!!!! Get a clue, grow up, and act like civilized adults instead of children throwing a tantrum.

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