USA Flag

Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Transportation Security Administration

Inconsistencies, Part 1 (Commenting Disabled)

Archived Content

Please note that older content is archived for public record. This page may contain information that is outdated and may not reflect current policy or programs.

If you have questions about policies or procedures, please contact the TSA Contact Center.

Members of the news media may contact TSA Public Affairs.

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 Lightfinger on

Most of the inconsistencies I've seen have occurred with my cpap and with my father.

On the same flight, my dad can go through the metal detector without issue in one airport, have to unattach one strap of his suspenders in the second to make it through (that still makes no sense to me), and have to take them off completely in a third.

One time, he took my backpack on a trip as his only luggage (he was driving back). Previously, because of my hobby, I had packed three sets of scissors in the pack. When he went through the airport in Omaha, TSA found one pair.

Just one pair.

Lastly, my cpap machine has been a problem when I have it as a carry on. I remember one time, TSA insisted on plugging it in to verify that's what it was. Now, I pack it in my checked luggage and pray it doesn't get lost.

Submitted by Anonymous on

To Jack, regarding...
"TSo screaming at someone makes them understand you better? Talk about the UGLY AMERICAN. I would like to pick you up and drop in in a foreign country where English speakers are a rarity. Let's see what you eat and drink for a week. Let's see where you sleep at night. Obviously you've never been a stranger in a strange land."

What is your point, exactly. You DO or you DON'T want TSO's with the ability to communicate with those who don't speak English, even if that means they have an accent?

Have you ever noticed that an airport is NOISY? TSO's are not "yelling" AT individuals, they are "yelling" over the noise, trying to address more than one person at a time, with the hopes of not having to repeat themselves every 30 seconds.

Submitted by Tony on

When I traveled to Prague, they didn't have a centralized screening. Instead, there were scanners at each and every gate. 30 minutes prior to boarding a roving team of inspectors came to the gate, started the equipment, and scanned the passengers as they were boarding.

To me, this seems like a good solution. The most frustrating part of the centralized TSA security is when you see the long line and worry if you'll make your plane. If the security was actually at the boarding gate, the traveler's anxiety would alleviated (since everyone in front of you is in the same situation). Also, your family and friends could sit with you and drink their > 3 ounce cup of coffee just prior to you actually getting on the plane.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have been traveling to CLT weekly for the past six months. Overall, I have had predominantly positive experience in my brief interactions with TSA personnel. However, there is one inconsistency that I first noticed several months ago. During rush-hour times (Thursday and Friday afternoons), the bomb-sensing "puff machines" are generally disabled. I have repeatedly seen the swinging exit arms blocked open, with TSA personnel directing passengers to walk directly through the machines. When traveling at lower-volume times, the machines tend to be in use.

When going through security one lower-traffic time, I asked a TSA representative about this practice. He stated that they are inadequately staffed to operate the machines without significantly slowing down traffic flow at peak times. Whether it is a staffing shortage or just the additional time required for passengers too be submitted to the test, it seems illogical to consistently cease using the sensors during peak hours. I could understand not installing the sensors at all and saving the taxpayers the cost of underutilized hardware, or I could understand making the necessary process changes such that the sensors can be consistently used. However, this seems to be the worst of both options -- the capital was purchased and installed, but is consistently not used at certain times of the week.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Can't post anything on the Gripes and Grins page, as there is no "post comment" link

Submitted by Anonymous on

To those who say that the policy should be inconsistent and unknown to the public. You are wrong in many ways.

Security through obscurity is false security. It assumes that all the "chinks in the armor" are known to the authorities. This is false. It assumes that most people are trying to defeat the security instead of strengthen it. This is wrong. It assumes those who critisize the policy are trying to defeat security, when they may be trying to help it. This is wrong. It assumes that those who are trying to break the security wont discover the "chinks in the armor" This is wrong. In a nutshell this is what everyone is complaining about the TSA. The security it provides is dependent on the policies and procedures being secret. If they weren't secret your argueing then they wouldn't be secure. Guess what? They're not secret. These passangers who travel often are not security professionals and they know what the procedures are. If there are terrorists trained in security methods, and guess what there are, they know even better what the procedures are.

The difference is that the passengers were likely to tell the TSA officers they routinely encouter, i.e. TSA officers at the airport, where the procedures were hurting security. The terrorist wasn't. Of course since those travelers who have told the TSA representatives they are most likely to meet these problems are then treated like terrorists, we've stopped giving suggestions to the TSA agents and quietly suffer the "security theatre." And really thats all it is theatre. Ask 100 passangers if they think they could come up with a way to get by your security and 80 have a way and 70 would succeed. But if they tell you what/how you punish them. For some reason it is policy that "only terrorists look for holes in security." Why is that?

Indeed the security theatre is so full of holes that it relies more on good intentions than any actions it takes to keep us secure.

Someone asked in a comment if others would rather get a flight with NO security screening. My answer is yes. Let the terrorist try something on that flight and realize everyone on the flight are wolves and not sheep, and furthermore loaded for bear. Part of the reason that terrorists ever started targeting airplanes is that the people on board are disarmed.

Submitted by GREGG on


Submitted by Anonymous on

Batteries, watt hours, lighters, scissors and egg timers.
I had 2 TSA people at ORD pull apart my carry-on. I was wondering exactly what they saw/were looking for, being a frequent flyer I pack very carefully (only carry-ons). Turns out it was an Egg Timer. Yes the old ones with hour glass & sand. They'd never seen one I guess and we anazed - AN EGG TIMER ! Gezzz.
Checkpoints seem to be arbitrary in what they want to confiscate. Like another poster stated: an item is acceptable at 1+ checkpoints is confiscated at another.
Are the rules left up to each screeners? This all seems like guessing & threatening.

When lighter were banned, matches were OK. Did anyone check ? The shoe bomber used MATCHES! This ‘New Rule’ caused a lot of lighter to be left lying around airports within children’s reach. When I asked about TSA’s policy causing children to have access – they laughed! 2 weeks later collection points for lighters appeared.
I asked how they dispose of the lighters, they said we just throw them away – which is illegal in itself!

At SAC, my shoes set off a machine. I was pulled aside, the screener put my shoes into a machine and bells went off. I asked what was the problem and he stated a matter of factly 'I don't know'. I was detained 15 min and then told 'you can go'. When I asked what happened and how may I correct this (to help TSA in future travel) no one seem to know.
‘Go, get out of here.’ Nice – how about Thanks for your cooperation!
A friend in HazMat said later ‘don’t go to Home Depot 24hrs before traveling’ Maybe TSA needs to know this too!

As for Rudeness I completely agree with others here. Rather that 'may I assist the next traveler' The TSA screens at PHL shout 'STEP UP' with lots of attitude.
And Profiling is most definitely happening, they’ll deny it but it is happening.

Traveling in Europe, the security is tight but the screeners are friendly and helpful there.
My daughter has breast milk confiscated at screening before a 12 hr flight from Paris. The EU screeners actually said how ridicules this was but ‘US policy’ as they chuckled.
Yes, to the rest of the world the How’s & Why’s of TSA is a joke.

Oh and given the opportunity a screener will strive to make you miss your flight if at all possible. I believe it helps they’re feeling of power and self esteem.
Screeners should be held accountable for their actions. After all they work for us, right ?

Submitted by EWR-TSO on

This is in response to the post on Jan. 31st by poster Big Country, complaining that soldiers in uniform have to go through screening and that THEY are on the 'real' front line, not us.

As a TSO, I must ask you how many illegals have you stopped in the U.S.? How many potential IEDS have you stopped in the U.S.? What are you doing to keep US HERE IN THE U.S. safer. Mister Soldier, it is because of you and your irrational war mentality that the pentagon is draining our public treasury while the TSA and Homeland security has to tighten its belts. Let's realize that terrorism is an IDEOLOGY not an ARMY and can best be fought by well training and well-equipped law enforcement & special agents.

The current TSA is made up of an understaffed and underpaid cadre of low-trained and unqualified personnel who would otherwise be managing a McDonalds. If anyone in management is reading, I seriously hope you can turn us into the elite law enforcement agency we should be and ONLY THEN will the public and mister soldier take us seriously. Just a note: In some countries they have actual armed cops doing airport security and it is a smooth, quick and painless process.. because they know the right things to look for, the right people to profile, and passengers will listen because they speak with a gun at their side!

Submitted by Sportnfool on

I agree about the inconsistencies. One set of screeners want backpacks in trays, while another wants them out. All of the airports that I travel frequently seem to operate on different standards. It's my opinion that the TSA employees should be armed law enforcement officials. You have no problems traveling over seas when you see machine guns patrolling the airports. Why not do the same thing here (maybe not machine guns) but have the screeners be federal cops?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have a gripe, and this seems the best sub-section of your blog to address it.

Your agents wear gloves when inspecting our carry-own items or frisking us for their protection.

How about my protection???

Shouldn't they change the gloves for each new bag, item or person they touch. I don't want someone elses personal iems/food/drugs/whatever being introduced onto my person or into my personal items by filthy contaminated gloves. The agents do not even have a sanitary means to cleanse their hands in the security area. How many people would an agent screen in one stint of duty all the while wearing one pair of gloves?

Surely the public deserves better treatment!

Submitted by Stevesliva on

Camping Stoves and Lanterns without the gas cylinder.

I've had the TSA remove and discard a campstove.

A campstove is a bunch of metal with a tiny hole in it. There is no gas. There is no gas residue. It is not flammable. It is not volatile.

Can you please educate screeners about the differences between gas cylinders and inert objects?


Submitted by Privychamber on

I would like to say thank you TSA for solving the electronic device inconsistency – at least that’s what I’ve been reading on this morning’s news. It’s nice to know some one is trying to solve problems by listening to us. It’s a thankless task to read all this criticism and difficult not give up. Please don’t give up.

Before I start complaining, here’s an exceptional TSA experience worth noting:

Atlanta (05/07) The singing TSA agent. She sat on a stool in the center of the room and sang her own ditty about 3-1-1. I loved it. OK, some people next to me in line were grumbling, but geeze, it was nice to have someone with a sense of humor and an excellent voice help those travelers out who were clueless. In addition to signing the rules, she passed out baggies and talked to us in line. The line went smoothly and quickly. Two thumbs up for her. She deserves 15 min of fame on the Today Show.

I don’t have trouble with TSA all the time – around 30% are bad experiences. I fly about 25,000 miles a year and 30% can add up to a memorable list.

Following are some of the more difficult TSA experiences I’ve had. As you will see, some experiences are worse than others.

IAH (months after 9/11) (Houston) Experience 1. She searched my purse and would not tell me why, even after I asked. She tossed my purse to the end of the belt and turned her back on me. If I knew what the offending item was, I would have been happy to leave it home or take it out of my purse. Why wouldn’t they tell me? If I know what I did wrong, I won’t do it again. But if I don’t know then how can I conform? After clearing security our plane was delayed by 3 hours. I decided to go outside for a smoke. Left all my belongings with my husband except for ID, boarding pass, cigarettes and matches. On they way out, I notified the security agent where I was going and that I would be back.
Same day experience 2. Came back through security and was told I had to remove my jacket. The fleece shirt was not a jacket, but my clothing. My clothing was not a problem an hour earlier. Fatigue dressed Man with a large gun pointed it 3” from my forehead and barked an order at me to take off my coat. I meekly told them it was my shirt. I told them I would remove my clothing but I would prefer to do it privately. The agent (non-gun man) then threatened me with a stay in a Federal penitentiary for being a “wise guy”. (Guy was not the word he used) In front of everyone, I lifted my shirt and exposed bare skin to prove I wasn’t wearing anything underneath. Still at gunpoint, I was allowed to pass through the metal detector. I was so terrified there was no room left for humiliation.

This was my last flight for 3 years. I am so happy the uniformed men with guns have left the airport.

PHL 10/06 Philly. We had just disembarked from an international flight. In my carry on was an electricity converter. My bag was swabbed down for explosives. I asked why. I was told that the screener thought my electricity converter was a bomb. When the TSA agent was finished with my bag she flung it, hitting me in the face with it. No apology or excuse was given.

ROC 11/06 (Rochester) Checked baggage screening was done by hand in the airport lobby. The TSA agent asked me if I had anything to declare. I said yes. I had a sheathed blade and said so. The blade conformed to TSA’s regulations for checked luggage – I checked the web site before I packed it. After indicating I had checked with TSA’s web site, I was told that what I could or could not have was a matter of local policy, not TSA’s policy. The agent informed me that it was illegal to have that item and they would be calling local law enforcement to escort me to jail for an extended stay at taxpayer expense. He also informed me that nail polish and hair spray are illegal to fly and considered hazardous materials and punishable by jail time. After 45 min a different TSA agent informed us we were free to leave. My items were allowed to travel as packed. No explanation, no apology.

SFO 9/07 (San Francisco) I had a walking cane that I sent through on the x-ray belt. It got stuck on a screw inside the machine. The agent backed up the belt and tried it again, and again. I mentioned the cane was stuck on a screw. I was told to shut up and move along. Concerned they were going to break my wooden cane; I reached in to free it from the obstruction. The TSA agent slapped my hand and shouted, “MOVE”!

PHL 11/07 (Philly, again) This incident was with an ID checking TSA agent. I handed her my passport. It was easier to reach while juggling my possessions. While shaking a finger in my face, she told me that a passport was not considered valid ID for a domestic flight and I had to have a driver’s license or I couldn’t fly. It took me several minutes to dig out my license while juggling my possessions. When I handed her my license she refused to touch it, despite the rubber gloves, and demanded I hold it for her so she could see it. There was nothing nefarious on my license. I am a clean person.

In Rochester they say TSA rules do not apply to them yet they don’t publish the rules they do follow. Philly thinks electricity converters are bombs and flyers are scummy people who are to be beaten with their own luggage. In San Fran they don’t care if they break a woman’s walking device and slap her because she wants it to be functional after the screening. In Houston – well, that was too traumatic to summarize.

Over the years I’ve learned that TSA is free to destroy our possessions, point guns in our faces, physically accost us, threaten us with prison, and verbally abuse us in the name of security. All I want is to get to my destination alive and without bruises. I’m sure TSA wants the same for us. Why is it so difficult for some TSA agents to be humane?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"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"?"

You have got to be kidding. Your argument is absurd and illogical. You are assuming that the current screening procedures are effective and that our concern is one of convenience, which is false. You also assume that the infinitesimally small risk of terrorism is worth abandoning the Fourth Amendment. It's not. We're all hundreds (maybe thousands) of times more likely to die in a car crash, on a daily basis, then during ANY FLIGHT. Look into it.

I am frustrated by the waste of money that is the TSA precisely because it is INEFFECTIVE. Being inconvenient is an additional frustration, but most of us would put up with something that was both inconvenient and valuable. TSA is neither. The sooner this abomination of a department is abolished, the better.

-Formerly Frequent Traveler

Submitted by Anonymous on

'for those of you who ask "how many terrorists has tsa caught?" instead, ask "how many hijackings have taken place" how many "9/11"s have taken place since tsa has taken over.'

Just because there have been no bear maulings in any airports since the TSA was installed doesn't mean the TSA is effective against bears. Your argument is logically invalid.

Asking how many terrorists the TSA has caught is valid. How much does the agency cost? Could that money be better spent elsewhere on more effective measures? These are perfectly valid questions.

And, as others have pointed out, the secured cockpit doors have eliminated the possibility of another 9/11 hijacking, so stop patting yourself on the back already.

-Formerly Frequent Traveler

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA - I give you props for trying to reach out to the peeps. But the truth is that if we did not care whether we missed our plane or not, then we Americans would not put up with this type of scrutiny and ignorance. Your TSOs only authority lies in the fact that they CAN prevent you from getting on the plane. And unfortunately when your job requires you to be across the country for a meeting, or you have a significant financial investment in non-refundable airfare - then that "do you want to fly today?" becomes a powerful force.

The only time I worry at the airport is while I am bottled up in security lines with 500 other people, because that seems to me to be a bigger terrorist target than the 200 people who are getting on my plane with me. What is to keep a suicide bomber from blowing himself up in the middle of the security check point and taking half the airport with him? I say let him get through security so hopefully he will only take down a single plane.

Who instituted the TSA? Not the people of the USA. The people don't want your protection, the govenment does. Let us vote on it and see if you still have a job.

I praise you for allowing us to offer you feedback, but I worry that it will change nothing.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I often find differences in enforcement and rigor and different airports. Typically larger airports are less strict (LAX) and smaller airports are very strict (Tucson).

Submitted by Winston_of_minitruth on

Every time I see someone posting about the oh so effective use of inconsistency, it makes me laugh. These inconsistencies are not making it impossible for any "Johnny Jihad" to know what to expect. Changing things up is only an effective policy for computer security. I'm sure some will disagree with me on this. I'll answer the statement of, "If they don't know what to expect, then they won't be able to prepare themselves properly." To all of you that tout the infallibility of inconsistency, I ask a question. Does the samurai adage, "Prepare for anything, expect nothing," mean anything to you? Or, perhaps the Boy Scout motto, "Always be prepared!" I'm certain that they know what to reasonably expect. After all, it only took one nutjob trying to set his shoes on fire to make a reactionary policy into a commonplace procedure. I wonder what will be the next method of deployment will be.

Submitted by Jonah on

At Denver security they've started handing out one-quart zip top bags to anyone who doesn't have one. I had a container leak and make a mess in my bag in Orlando, so I threw it out, figuring I could get a bag at the airport. Apparently, it's up to the airport whether or not they hand out bags, and they do not in Orlando. I had to leave behind my shampoo and conditioner and cram everything else I had into my husband's baggie. If I'd known that not every TSA screening area has bags available for those who don't have them, I would have certainly have washed mine out and used it again.

Submitted by Penelope Jackalope on

As we passed through security for our international flight, the ID screener decided that my husband's passport was fake, so he demanded to speak to a supervisor, who agreed that his passport was, indeed, fake. The problem seemed to have to do with the fact that the picture was not perfectly centered in its square. My husband finally managed to convince them to ignore the passport (which he’d only presented because it was the easiest thing to get to having just presented it to get his boarding pass) and instead produced a Colorado driver’s license which seemed to satisfy the screeners. We’ll note that my husband has traveled using this passport not entirely infrequently for the past 8 years, and this was the first time someone had complained about it. What I want to know is, if you can't get a real looking passport from the State Department, where can you get one?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"The current TSA is made up of an understaffed and underpaid cadre of low-trained and unqualified personnel who would otherwise be managing a McDonalds. If anyone in management is reading, I seriously hope you can turn us into the elite law enforcement agency we should be and ONLY THEN will the public and mister soldier take us seriously."

Hmm, interesting comments from the disgruntled TSA employee. I guess there is a difference between a law enforcement agent and a rule enforcement agent. Arming TSA agents is probably a really bad idea. Not to defend McDonalds, but their managers probably have a far better understanding of customer service than the average TSA employee. Their jobs depend on it. In fact, hiring more people who have retail service skills could be a plus to the TSA, especially bar and liquor store people who can spot a phony ID a mile away, and are used to being reasonable with impaired people.

Submitted by Anonymous on

We recently flew from Milan to Philly. Italian airport security was more polite and more efficient than the TSA. The potential ramifications of being less efficient than the Italians should make the TSA tremble.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I don't mind taking off my shoes, my sweatshirt. I don't mind the inconsistencies. I don't mind the way in which TSA folks yell at people and try to make me foolish by assuming that I know exactly what they want and how they want it, given the inconsistencies.

I do mind their behavior, which is extremely rude and wreaks of ignorance and prejudices.

Recently, on a Delta flight out of LAX, I had the honor of being chosen for the extended security. I don't even mind that either. Even though I am quite sure, I will not claim racial profiling based on this experience. I have Asian heritage but the well qualified law enforcement agents mostly mistake me from South America, Middle East etc; basically anything but Asian.

On this particular day I was followed by a young black man, an elderly black lady and then a young mother of two small kids traveling with her kids and her husband. The kids watched the whole sharade while she went through the security.

Back to me. The excellent TSA agent who appointed himself to search me asked me if I spoke English and I said yes (no sarcasm or clever answers, just a plain yes) but for some reason, he chose to speak bits and pieces of spanish to me which I have no clue of. I never corrected him; what's the point. All the time he was searching me and my belongings, he had this smirk on his face as if to say he is God around here. After everything is done, he goes over to his supervisor and they are discussing something and I am thinking what else? Turns out they don't have the stamp to put on my boarding pass saying that I am cleared from TSA to fly. I had a brief exchange with the supervisor who was even more rude. Anyways, the whole situation was cleared after a few minutes. The airlines ask you to get to the airport an hour before flight, I am glad I got there 2 hours before.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I think TSA needs to get more involved in the layout of Airports.
Things have somewhat improved, but still. A nightmare is a flight from SFM to Europe via LAX and back. With all the checks it takes one would assume to be germ free for the rest of ones life. All luggage screened in SFM, getting off the conveyer, houling it over to the international Terminal, same procedure again. Coming back, one gets screened LEAVING the airport. At some airports the layout is so bad that food and drink is only available past the screening. All this is mainly due to the fact that Airlines operate different parts of the airport. In europe this is much less of a problem. Certainly if one has to go to a different terminal for a connecting flight. Exceptions are there (Zurich).

As per other posts, consistancy in procedures is a problem.

It would also be great to create something for experienced travellers vs the holiday one. I always have my ID and boarding pass out way ahead of time, I don't wear shoes that require lacing, the jacket is off ahead of time. I always get a mental crisis when people ahead of me aren't prepared and hold up everything.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Probably the biggest inconsistency we are faced with as travelers is with the range of professionalism of the TSA agents. They range from considerate and compassionate, through simply competent, down to a few sad little bullies who nobody wants or should need to deal with. The biggest priority for TSA should be the safety of the public, it isn't to treat us all as suspects in some imaginary plot. There may be some serious threats out there, but most of us aren't involved with them. As travelers, we have our own priority, getting to our destinations with the least hassle, and of course, safely. Not that you need to apply any genius here, though a few talents in your staff could be put to use. Or run some commercials- a juggler juggling the 3 oz containers and catching them in a 1 quart ziplock, or an announcement preluded by a few riffs on a harmonica, could brighten up and add a very touching human side to the TSA, without endangering the seriousness of the mission. Please get rid of the bullies, they do nothing to enhance your reputation.

Submitted by Privychamber on

From this page of comments, it seems we have inconsistencies in what constitutes valid ID for a domestic flight.

PHL doesn't accept passports while other airports do.

TSA, what exactly constitutes acceptable ID for a domestic flight?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I just recently went through an airport in eastern iowa and was very dissappointed in the security
at this airport. the security screeners were very polite and courtious but when I first started to go through the checkpoint, I showed my bording pass and drivers license. well when I got through the walkthrough metal detector and showed my boarding pass again it seemed I did something wrong because they called the supervisor up and showed him my boarding pass.
well it turned out that the person at the very beginning of the checkpoint didnt put thier initials on my boarding pass and apperently that person got in trouble for it. when I talked to that person later it turned out that they got wrote up and could possibly be fired for not initialing my bording pass. I think it is more important to concentrate on the screening process than some one putting thier initials a boarding pass. I think that if those initials are that important on the boarding pass for someone to get fired over then our government is wasting my hard earned tax dollars. I think its more important to look for things that might bring the plane down and endanger the lives of the passengers that fly than those stupid initials.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I would like to apologize for my behavior and that of the public at large. I do admit I do not care for all the inconvience processes we must go through.I also think it is a necessary evil.But I do think I have been abusive to the agents for for no good reason. It is not there fault. After I became aware of my own behavior I watched those around me. Many of the travelling public are down right beligerent.I really think after reaching the ripe old age of 35 I can remove my liquids but aparently not all the time.So the next time this happens I will try to grin and bear it.I hope the rest of the public will as well. Keep up the good work.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Penelope Jackalope said...
As we passed through security for our international flight, the ID screener decided that my husband's passport was fake, so he demanded to speak to a supervisor, who agreed that his passport was, indeed, fake. The problem seemed to have to do with the fact that the picture was not perfectly centered in its square.

That wasn't IDA by any chance was it? I've used my passport for years for both domestic and international travel. I've never had a problem with my passport being accepted w/o question, before or after a flight out of IDA in Jan. '08. I still don't know what the IDA TSO found so odd about a USA passport, but I had the best seat in the house for their version of security theater at its finest. The best moment came when a TSO pulled out a jewelry loupe to examine my passport more closely.

The fact of the matter is, a visual inspection of an ID does nothing to ensure the safety of the flight I'm about to get on. It's not just that ID's and boarding passes are so easily faked, but it's the fact there is no comparison to any kind of list that makes the ID check a complete waste of time.

So to the TSO that felt it necessary to examine my passport with a loupe, I wasn't shaking my head and rolling my eyes at you personally, but instead it was directed at the people higher up the food chain that have foisted this nonsense on us.

Submitted by Rick on

I'm a Federal employee and I often travel on U.S. Government official business. I have a Dept. of Commerce photo ID. Two weeks ago at Dulles airport the initial screener would not accept my ID. He told me "only state ID's are accepted". This can't be correct, right? I've never had the Federal ID questioned, and surely it's more reliable than one of 50 state ID's, which have no common standard? So my question is: are U.S. Government photo ID's acceptable for identification?

Submitted by Anonymous on

What I find so amazing is that we screen the people down to the nth degree, yet we are STILL not screening 100% of the cargo that goes on the same plane. The luggage is now screened, but what about the other cargo, mail, etc?

One final thought...ya'all need new uniforms. You look like boy scouts with all the patches....

Submitted by Larry on

I have a titanium knee and, as other artificial joint bloggers have noted, I am unable to declare to the TSA screeners that I will need to be wanded. Some screeners get very angry when they ask me to re-enter the x-ray device and I explain about my knee and ask to be wanded. The message seems to be "Shut up and follow orders" And I pay these people to abuse me. There MUST be a better way.

Submitted by Anonymous on

In December 2007, my wife had some decorative refrigerator magnets confiscated by security at the Bangkok Airport (BKK) before boarding a flight for Tokyo Narita (NRT) where we would change aircraft for our trip back to the U.S. The explanation given was that TSA prohibited the magnets because they might "affect" something on the aircraft. It appears that the magnets would have been o.k. in checked luggage (where they would have been if we had known about this "rule"), but since they would still be on the aircraft I can't see why that would make any difference. In any case, I researched this situation on the Internet after we returned home to the U.S. and could find nothing about the prohibition of magnets in carry-on bags. It seems to me that there are a lot of possible ways that magnets could end up in the passenger areas of an aircraft, including magnetic money clips and purse latches. Is this a case of a security screener (and his supervisor) making up the rules or is there an actual prohibition on having small magnets in carry-on bags? This seems like an inconsistency.

Submitted by Curtis on

"Armed TSA?!!!!"

No way. Who would give them a gun. Hell there would be guns found all over the airports.

I went through LAX last year just after the TSA decided to fire the 300 "no-show" employees who only worked when they felt like it.

LAX is the worst airport in the world. Ugly, nasty rude service people, ridiculous security. They deny that one can get to the international terminal without having to back outside security and reentering....

Submitted by Anonymous on

I flew out of the Memphis airport this morning on a 6:00 AM flight and I have never seen TSA screeners so insistent on barking out orders and intimidating people. I appreciate that they take their jobs seriously, but they were being way too overbearing. They were also having everyone remove ALL toiletries from their carry-on bags, whether they were liquids/gels or not (ie, just having your baggie of little liquid containers was not enough -- you also had to pull out your cosmetics bag even if the only things in it were non-liquid items like lipgloss/chapstick, powered makeup, etc), which is just excessive. They repeatedly threatened to search your bag and make you late to your flight if you didn't pull out ALL toiletries and cosmetics in order to prove you weren't trying to sneak in extra liquid items. That's not even TSA policy to begin with, and they were being purposely aggressive about it. They need to be reigned in there.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have a good friend with muscular dystrophy. He is confined to a wheelchair. He is too weak to push himself, so he uses a large, three wheeled battery operated chair that wieghs almost 200pounds. He sets off every alarm in the place, of course. They just wave him on through. What are they going to do, make him wait on the floor while they dismantle his chair every time he flies?

He could be hiding ANYTHING in there. It is a big chair, with a lot of space. He could pack enough explosives in that thing (which has its own electrical power source for detonation) to bring down a whole terminal, let alone a plane. Screening is political theatre. All a terrorist needs to do is fake being disabled, roll up in an electric wheelchair, and it is game over.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have tried to post comments/questions to this blog which in my mind met all of your standards of decorum. No names, no offensive words no nothing.

What are you people afraid of? The truth?

Where is the rejected comments page that was promised on day one?

So I'm going to try to put them all here again.

Retired United States Military ID rejected. Why?

No Privacy Act discloures provided as required by federal law when personal information is recorded by your agents. Why?

No action taken against TSA employee for violating federal law. Why?

Subjected to extra screening and abuse if any attempt is made to report abuse. Why?

Giving people of one religion preferential treatment. Why? Is it not a violation of federal law to discriminate base of religion?

Many, many comments on this blog report the same problems across the country, yet no corrective action has been taken by senior TSA officials. Why?

When an agency is so corrupt as the TSA only one person is responsible. That would be the head of the agency. The correct action would be for that person to stepdown because they have demonstrated the lack of ability litly to manage such a complex organization.

I suspect I won't see this in print, you folks have to much to hide already.

Folks, its time for your State and Federal politicians to hear from you. Security is fine, but TSA is not providing security.

Submitted by Anonymous on

This one is a DOOZY! I called the TSA the day before coming home because I had been given a plastic coffee container full of "Red Wriggler Worms" to start an indoor compost with. Go figure. Worms aren't on the restricted list but I thought that I would be a responsible traveler & call to make sure it would be ok to carry them on because I wasn't sure I wanted to check them (they couldn't be wrapped in plastic, they need air). Anyway, when I called and asked, I was informed, "worms aren't on the restricted list but it will be up to the individual screener as to whether or not they let you through the checkpoint with them." Then Preston had me spell my name 3 times to be sure he got it right so that they could be on the look-out for me the next day. Why did I have to give my last name if he didn't?
I digress.
The point of this whole stupid story is that even if it's not on the restricted list, Preston says that if your screener is having a bad day, they can take whatever it is away from you because they want to.

Submitted by Susan on
"No Privacy Act discloures provided as required by federal law when personal information is recorded by your agents. Why?"

As was discovered by a diligent participant on FlyerTalk yesterday,



Code of Federal Regulations
1507.3, August 2006


(4) From subsection (e)(3) (Privacy Act Statement) because disclosing the authority, purpose, routine uses, and potential consequences of not providing information could reveal the investigative interests of the TSA, as well as the nature and scope of an investigation, the disclosure of which could enable individuals to circumvent agency regulations or statutes.

Very interesting that this same question has been asked on more than one occasion on this blog yet no one in an official capacity as DHS/TSA has responded.

Could it be that they don't want us to know?

Let's see if this gets published.
Submitted by Jerry on

MIA seems to be the exception when it comes to allowing AA Exec Platinum members pass through security in the same express entry allowed to First Class passengers. I have asked the AA people in MIA and they say that it is a local TSA rule and encouraged me to complain. With every other major AA hub and almost every other airport in the country allowing this, why is MIA different?

Submitted by Anonymous on

This site does not let you make posts using FireFox!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Ever been threatened by a TSA employee? I have. On December 21st I was traveling from Dulles to Paris. I had placed my liquids in a clear plastic bag on top of my clothing but inside my bag (I neglected to pull it out and put it on top of the bag). I was asked by an older, white-haired TSA person if the bag was mine and if I would step to one side so that he could hand check the bag and re-run it. When I mentioned--conversationally and casuAlly--that I didn't realized the clear baggie should be placed on top, and that I'd traveled through Dulles 3-times in the past month, plus other flights through the system (DCA/ORD/SFA), and no one had mentioned I needed to, he became noticeably annoyed. He then went more deeply into my bag, took everything out, ran the bag twice and when I then began to ask what the problem was they were seeing in the scanner, he looked me in the eye, and with an officious tone said that "usually when people goof up, we make them go all the way to the back of the line"...pointing to the very long entry line that had taken us over 15 minutes to get through. It was an obvious threat to punish me for 1-Pointing out inconsistencies, and, I guess, 2-asking what he thought were too many questions. i never raised my voice, I was never insulting to him or pushy...not even close...he just didn't like the cut of my jib and wanted to handle me with a bit of a threat. I nodded, waited for him to finish and slinked off. Sufficiently afraid of what a bigger threat might bring. BTW: I'm a well-traveled guy in his early 40's who owns his own company, has consulted to the US government and I'm not a wilting flower. I wonder who else this jerk has bullied...foreign visitors, young people, women. It's amazing that when I'm in foreign countries, I'm treated with more respect than in my own. Sorry TSA, but your front line people are all your "brand" wife doesn't even want me to post this..."you'll end up on a no-fly list"---she's asked I post this as "anonymous"...THAT THE TSA REPUTATION, PEOPLE. FIX IT!!

Submitted by Anonymous on

What are the official rules if I go on a domestic vacation and lose my drivers license (only picture ID) while travelling? What do I need to do to board a return flight home? Can I?

Submitted by Anonymous on

The Gripes and Grins blog does not have a Post a Comment link at the bottom of the scroll.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Inconsistency is a major problem: Any large organization struggles with it -- how do you keep everyone up-to-date on the latest policies, particularly when you're geographically diverse. For the TSA the problem is amplified as the fliers see many different sites -- I've discovered many TSA agents don't really travel much. All they know is what happens at THEIR location.

Certainly, the process runs more smoothly if we (the travelers) know what to expect: what to take off, what to take out of our baggage, etc.

The problems get amplified when a specific site operates idiosyncratically -- and then the TSA agent starts acting like a police officer making a traffic stop: giving orders, some of which are impossible to follow. (My favorite: At O'Hare Terminal 3, most of my stuff is still in the scanner, and am bending down slipping on my loafers, and the agent manning the scanner shouts at me, "Move on, keep moving, don't stop there.") Common courtesy will defuse much anger -- courtesy both by passengers and TSA agents.

The system is a set up for failure: You give us room to "undo" everything into the four or five pieces we need (our carry-on, our jacket or coat, our laptop, our baggy of liquids, our shoes) but you do NOT give us any place to put things together. We're somehow supposed to carry all these multiple items? Then, you demand of your scanners they keep the lines moving. This is a system problem, not in the control of the passengers.

Thoughts for improvement:
1) Start training your agents that while they are in security / law enforcement, courtesy plays a role. Think about it from the passengers' perspective. Some of your agents are excellent -- others, well...

2) While unpredictability is important in security, emphasize predictability for what we -- the travelers -- need to do. Remember, we move through many sites. Your expectations for us and our behavior should not vary from site to site. (e.g. what we need to take off; what we are allowed to carry; what we need to take out of our bags)

3) Emphasize that if we need so much room to take ourselves apart for screening, we need time and room to put ourselves together, too! Design your checkpoints to allow us to do that.

Submitted by Tso John on

As a TSO, I have found that most passengers think that they should be able to get to the airport 15 minutes before their flight, go through security and get on the plane and it leave on time.
They do not think that their cell phone is made of metal and needs to go through the xray.
Today I had to search a man who walked through the metal detector with his cell phone in his pocket, the clip on his studded belt that he did not remove. As he alarmed with the hand held metal detector with each of these items, I explained that he would not of alarmed the walk-thru if removed them, he became agitated. Then we find a pocket knife in his carry on bag. He chose the option of taking the knife back to his car.
When he returned through the screening checkpoint he came through with the same clip and studded belt on again and had to be hand searched again!
Please tell me how this is the TSA's fault. Whenever there is a delay in the checkpoint line in front of you, please remember my example, because this guy or someone just like him is probably up there in front of you.

Submitted by Anonymous on

How come at London Heathrow, there are all these police standing around with machine guns, ready to fire, and in the US, all the cops are so dignified and refined? I would be scared to try anything at London Heathrow with all those big guns!

Submitted by Jaydan on

In response to Rick and his photo ID comment. Government ID's are acceptable by all means just make sure they are not just a normal ID but a photo ID. Not sure why they wouldn't let you use it if it was government issued.
Also for everyone before flying the TSA rules do change on occasion so a good rule of thumb is to just check before you leave for your trip there is a list of prohibited items on there that you can go over. If you think that they might take something that isn't prohibited you could always print out that list and bring it with to double check. It never hurts to ask questions.

Submitted by Peter on

I travel for work and like to relax in the various locales target shooting. So I've been hauling around my .45 on many flights. The problem is the TSA. In one airport they want one lock on the pistol case, another wants the same and a lock on the checked bag that contains the case. The culmination was the demand for 3 locks: double locks on the pistol case and a lock on the checked bag. But at the airport at 1130PM there's no easy way to buy the additional locks. I was frantic. I couldn't leave the $2000 pistol behind. I was returning home so I had nobody to hand the pistol to. Because of the late hour, I couldn't mail it. Luckily, a fellow passenger had an extra lock and key to give me.

Now I have to travel with 3 locks and keys in my pocket in case of TSA.

I would also like to praise the screeners in PHL. Philly is notorious for delays, in and out. PHL TSA is the most efficent and proficient of all of the domestic airports and they've never been a part of any delays I experienced.

Submitted by Anonymous on

None of the irrational behavior on the part of TSA employees should be a surprise - they are only reacting to the situation that their bosses have put them in. Even if the bosses have not tried to create sadistic irrational behavior, the way that humans are wired creates those behaviors - remember if you will the Stanford Experiment that made some undergrads guards and some prisoners - despite the researchers efforts to maintain levels of decorum and decency the guards got bullying and sadistic and the prisoners got cowed and depressed. For those not familiar see the link below. The question is: What is the TSA management doing to counteract this effect? - whatever they are doing it doesn't sound very effective - at least from the evidence of this blog.