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Thursday, January 31, 2008

It’s not all about Richard Reid when it comes to the screening of shoes. Post all of your thoughts about shoes in this blog post. To learn more about how the shoe fits in with the TSA, check out our web page on "why we screen shoes". Then come back here and let's talk.

01.31.08, 6:00pm
Christopher says:

Great first question on the ability to pick up foot fungus at the checkpoint and a very common one at that.

Believe it or not, TSA actually commissioned a study in 2003 with the Department of Health and Human Services to look at just that issue. I'm paraphrasing here and will have the actual letter posted tomorrow but they found that if the floor isn't moist then the possibility is, "extremely small to remote" to contract athlete's foot. If there are checkpoint floors that are moist, we generally have bigger issues on our hands than foot fungus.

Also interesting from that study, 15 percent of the public may be affected with athlete's foot at any given time. Think about that next time you're trying on clothes at the mall, looking for a new pair of shoes or going off the high dive at the local pool.

02.01.08, 2:00pm
Christopher says:



Great and lively debate here on shoes. As added fodders, here are two pictures of an altered pair of shoes our officers discovered last year in Alaska.

Yes, we find stuff like this all the time and yes our intel folks tell us terrorists are still interested in using shoes as (improvised explosive devices) IEDs or to hide components.

We've also posted an x-ray image so that you can see exactly what we are talking about.

02.05.08; 9:30am
Christopher says:

There have been several posts asking about the pictures above. Just to be perfectly clear, the first two pictures are of a pair of shoes we discovered during screening in Alaska last year. The wire and other small metal item were positioned under the insole just as they are shown.

The third picture is of an x-ray image of a pair of altered shoes we use to train our officers on x-ray displays in airports. As you can see, it doesn’t take an x-ray tech to tell these shoes have been altered.

Our officers literally see 4 Million shoes per day and they’re very, very good at telling the bad from the good.


Submitted by Anonymous on

You say that "Germs aren't an issue. We had Health and Human Services study this issue for us back in 2003 and their findings were there are no more germs on airport floors than there are in the gym or any average locker room. HHS specifically said in their August 12, 2003 letter, the chances of disease spreading are "extremely small to remote."

Extremely small is not good enough. I do not walk with bare feet in locker-rooms or gyms because of unsanitary conditions. Most places such as military barracks REQUIRE flip flops to limit the spread of foot diseases.

I traveled through the Miami airport in December and was forced to walk barefoot following a man with OPEN SORES ON HIS FEET--that is right I had to step in the pus from another human being. How this is protecting me I do not fathom.

Is there not a point where the government is ashamed to treat its citizens like animals?

Submitted by R Pad on

Most security checks are not cleaned very well. It's annoying to have to remove my shoes, especially when I don't have to do so in most other countries. A lot of Asian airports are more secure and competently staffed. American airport security could learn a lot from them.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have a question? Would You fly without any security? Passengers could just walk right from the curbside straight to the plane. Would this be better?

Submitted by Anonymous on

A question that comes up a lot is "How many shoe bombs have been found?" Now if you were a potential terrorist, and you knew the existing security measures, would you really try to use a shoe bomb? As inconvienient as it may seem, checking everyones shoes, seems neccessary as a deterant more than anything.

Submitted by Dave on

Two items -
1. Provide a search function on the blog. I want to post about sanitation and CPAP equipment, but I don't know if anyone else has already done that. Why be redundent. If I could search your site for CPAP and see what other posts are there it would save you an I time.
2. I'm a CPAP user. When your agents take my CPAP machine out and run it through the scanner they insist that it be out of its case and in a bin. I go to great lengths to keep the gear SANITARY since it is used to provide air that I breath. Placing it in the bins where SHOES have been is unnacceptable and dangerous to my health. The agents just look at me dumbfounded when I try to explain. Help!!

Submitted by Jaybb on

wait til some idiot hides a bomb in his/her underwear.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Full disclosure: I think screening shoes is security theatre and horribly degrading.

As a college student, air travel is an unfortunately frequent, huge inconvenience. As much as I

1) despise being treated as a criminal,
2) wince at having my stuff thrown out when I happen to bring something banned in my carry-on accidentally (when you travel as much as I do, you're bound to slip up on liquids or whatever on occasion), and
3) feel uneasy watching my shoes manhandled by TSA workers out of the bin I put them in onto the moving conveyor belt which runs them straight into other people's luggage after x-raying them, getting laces or straps caught everywhere (Money doesn't grow on trees, people! Don't put my shoes directly onto the conveyor belt!)

I can't help but compare how good I've got it when I imagine how security must affect the elderly and families with small children.

And I don't have it all that good at all! Traveling alone, I have to remove my coat, sweatshirt, shoes (while standing, with outerwear in hand), cellphone from pocket, laptop, and "freedom baggie" of liquids. Put in bins. Walk through the metal detector. Put on and replace all those things I removed as my stuff is carelessly careening down the conveyor belt into other people's things or smashing fingers. Traveling alone is hard.

But traveling with small children is even worse. I frequently see families with two or three young children, strollers, diaper bags, and all sorts of bags to either care for or placate the kids while on-board. They'd be having a hard time even through regular security, but with these rules, all the kids' little shoes have to come off and put back on in addition to other burdens such as not being able to bring Juicy Juice for the kids or having to separate from the children if the metal detector does go off. Heaven forbid if the children start acting like, well, children and don't understand or misbehave or resist.

As far as the elderly go... I don't really see that many of them at airports anymore, at least not without younger, more capable family members near by. I know that my grandparents are very reluctant to fly anywhere since it is humiliating for them to feel like they are holding up lines because they are not able to take off their shoes while standing up. Moreover, my grandfather has a stint, which means he sets off every metal detector and even some retail anti-theft security systems... He carries papers with him to explain this to authority figures, but can he really trust TSA to be caring and considerate? On a consistent basis? Or will he be yelled at, pulled aside, asked whether he wants to fly today or not, or worse?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I received a Lung Transplant (Thanks to a donor) a little over a year ago so I try to avoid air travel and crowds because of my health condition. Unfortunately, I must return to the lung transplant facility transplant from my home in Alaska to Seattle Washington every 3 months for follow-up care. Part of the drug regime are immunesuppression medications to prevent rejection which, basically shut down my immune system. I am not alone, with several hundred/thousand other other lung transplant reciepients and 10's of thousands more organ tranplant reciepients across the U.S. I will tell you that my personnal experience concerning TSA's handling of people and their personal belongings is a cesspool. As for your comment about having more important things to worry about, I would tend to disagree. The common cold can kill a person in my condition and fungus is one of the more common complications and hardest to treat in Lung transplant receipents. I believe the average survival rate if I get fungus growing in my lungs is about 50%. So I would appreciate if you would move your thoughts concerning sanitary provisions up your priority list!!! Some of us might truly live longer.

Thanks for you time.

Submitted by Not Just A Germ... on

nico's comment seems to be officially sanctioned, but I'm not sure it's comforting to know that there are "no more germs on airport floors than there are in the gym or any average locker room." These are not places I typically walk around barefooted!

I think what most people here are thinking when they say taking off shoes is dirty is that they'll increase their risk exposure for athlete's foot or other skin infections.

nico: A study on germs does not examine the risk of catching a foot mold that could cause a skin infection. Moreover, using a locker room as an example is not comforting, as it is a prime place in which athlete's foot is caught.

Submitted by Anonymous on

As a paying member of the Clear Registered Traveler Program, I don't understand why the TSA still requires me to take off my shoes. You have already completed a thorough background check on me. You know I am no security threat. You know the biometric ID card ensures that I am not using a fake ID, and that my status is current. So if I am clearly identified as a trusted individual, why don't you trust my shoes?

Furthermore, some of the Clear machines have built-in shoe screeners, but TSA hasn't approved them, so they can't be used. I have to get back into the same slow line as everyone else. Wouldn't everyone move through security so much faster if registered travelers were allowed to move through security without having to take off their shoes?

Submitted by Anonymous on

My issue with the shoe policy is that when my grandparents, ages 86 and 89, fly out to visit people they forced to take off their shoes. They both have to wear special shoes due to problems they have and it is very, very difficult for them to get their shoes on or off. To force any very elderly people to take their shoes off is not making anyone “safer.”
Maybe if this country wasn’t so freakin’ sue happy we could live in a country where common sense was allowed to be used. Let the old people go through regular screening without this extra bullshit.

Submitted by Tomas on

I'll leave the efficacy of x-raying everyone's shoes in eliminating a threat alone, since that seems to be very well covered already.

What I will protest strongly about is the total lack of the in-place TSA agents concern with following established law.

I am a handicapped individual, and after three years in a wheelchair have managed to reach a point where I can now walk, slowly, with a cane.

The ADA insists that reasonable accommodations be made, even by the government, even by the TSA.

Last time I left Philly, I of course went through the "special needs" short line to get to my gate. Knowing that I would have to remove my shoes, I wore slip-on shoes with no laces or even Velcro to mess with.

At the point I was required to remove my shoes, there was NO place to sit, and the TSA's only response to my question about a place to sit so I could remove my them was a curt grunt that there was no place to sit. Duh.

Same after being checked. While there were a few seats after going through the metal detector, a fair distance away, they were all in use holding luggage, people chatting, or the one gal sitting there talking on a cellphone.

Could I get any assistance from the TSA folks to clear a seat? No.

Could I get any assistance from the TSA folks in getting my laptop, shoes, small messenger bag, and cane out of the way and over to the seating? No.

Did a TSA agent DUMP my bare, unprotected laptop out of their grey plastic tray because I couldn't get to it fast enough? Yes.

Does anyone really wonder why there is such outright hate for the way TSA interacts with the public? They shouldn't.

Without even getting into the legitimacy of any of the security checks, one needs to enforce as strongly as possible treating the public as human beings, and insist that those travelers with physical disabilities receive the accommodation required by long established and well settled law.

I look forward to some sort of response to this from the TSA - to this point all questions and comments about this have been quite simply ignored.

If you have a fast lane for those with special needs, you also need to have someone there with enough authority and intelligence to move a chair when needed, and to ensure that the ADA minimums are at least met.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why in the world was I asked to remove the booties on my 5 month old daughter's feet when passing through security at ORD this past weekend?

Submitted by RB on

@nico: it is not so important whether there is a big chance of people catching germs from having to take off their shoes. What matters, is people's fear of catching germs. (Ironically, it seems similar to screening for shoe boms. It doesn't matter the chances are extremely small, we (well, you, the TSA) still put something in place to prevent shoe bombs.)

TSA's floor being as clean as a gym or locker room can't sound very comforting to someone who is afraid of germs.

Submitted by Anonymous on

What irks me most about the shoe policy is that it's totally reactive--much like every other inane 'policy' of the TSA. How about some forward, proactive thinking for a change--be ahead of the curve, not desperately trying to catch up after the fact.

Submitted by Anonymous on

My comment is about international travel, specifically Atlanta. I live in Atlanta and fly internationally occasionally. Coming back from my international destination I've already gone through security (including taking my shoes off) to get on the plane, flown all the way in the air to get to Atlanta, then gone through immigration etc. and then when I choose the 'final destination Atlanta' line I am forced to take my shoes off again?????? Can I ask why? I am not getting on another plane, in fact, I just want to get my bags and get home! Unless you are wearing slip ons this just gums up the line and takes extra time. And again, there is limited seating to put your shoes back on after you are forced to take them off. This is the model of inefficiency, can you please explain why our shoes need to be checked after we have already landed and are at our final destination?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm not as young as I use to be . So I need a place to sit and remove my shoes and put them back on with out being rushed by TSA agents. And nicer attitudes!!! Maybe find another way of doing this please.

Submitted by Seth on

Thanks, Andrea, for clarifying that you are doing it this way to provide a consistent approach.

What most people here are complaining about is that it is consistently ineffective at the desired result (detecting IEDs), not that some places make you take them off and some don't.

An x-ray machine cannot detect an explosive. Find a technology that can and implement it, but in the mean time, stop bothering with the circus.

Submitted by Anonymous on

There ARE inconsistancies from one airport to another, I went to Texas just last week, and while standing in the line to get thru the security, I saw a man, not military, walk thru the metal detector WITHOUT removing his boots. They did not make him take them off. They just let him go thru the detector. I understand the policy, but it should apply to everyone. And there is not enough seating for those of us who have medical problems to put our shoes on and be rushed to do so. They practically throw you thru the lines and expect you to get your stuff and be on your merry way. With the attitudes these people have, they should look in to hiring people who, understand that it may take one person a little longer than someone else. Have they never flown before or what? I am sure they don't get treated the way they treat most passengers.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Please give us MORE TABLES!

Check point delays are caused when we have to wait for people to unpack their stuff and taking off their shoes. We all have to wait until we get to the ONE table before the xray to BEGIN loading bins.

Just set up a much longer line of tables before the check point so everyone can load the bins earlier, and be ready to go by the time they get to the xray.

If nothing else, it will give us something to do while waiting on line!

Submitted by Anonymous on

For all those who question the shoe policy based upon the fact that no shoe bombs have been found, you really don't understand do you? The TSA has been charged with NEVER letting another 9/11 happen again. Now we all know there aren't hundreds of terrorists going through checkpoints everyday. The TSA is looking for that 1 out of a billion person who is coming through with intent to do harm. Talk about a tough job! It seems like most people think TSA should all be psychics and know who the bad guys are ahead of time. It doesn't work like that.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Have you found ANY weapons or explosives in peoples' shoes? How many? What type? Unless your policy is based on results, it is merely inconveniencing millions of passengers (you know, the ones who pay the salaries of all those TSA (thousands standing around) employees.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I just recently took a cruise to the Bahamas and this was the first time I had flown since 1998. I was very intimated by the whole security process not knowing what to expect. The one thing that I would like to see is some kind of seating (benches) before and after the screeners to be able to sit down to take your shoes off and to put them back on. It would make it a lot easier on us old folks.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I do not mind taking my shoes off provided that there is a good rationale for it. As it stands right now, one has not been adequately provided. The word IED is tossed about, and, while certainly a concern, it is unclear whether the security measures are that effective.
Testing and real life experiences have proven that agents commonly miss metal blades and weapons. Metal appears very clearly on X-rays. If this is the case, how is an agent who cannot see the outline of a knife going to notice the subtle density differences of a bombed shoe?
The phrase "security theater" is thrown about, and, in a way, it seems like this is the case right now. The web site link does not provide much beyond a simple "it is necessary". The IED X-ray images go a long way to making seem more plausible, but, how can you assure the public that such a campaign is truly effective. As another anonymous suggested, the balloon bombs in the shoe X-rays could have easily been hidden elsewhere on the body.
In the end, I would like to see hard numbers, and I would like to see testing results that prove agents can spot such a bomb at a real airport, not a realistic simulation. Test things before they become a threat rather than reacting to threats so as to create the perception of security.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The shoe removal at airport has little to do with security and everything to do with increasing "public awareness." That's why you don't have to remove your shoes boarding flights into the U.S. from other countries.

I think the TSA should require us to remove our shoes before getting in a car, in order to prevent car bombs.

Submitted by Tention on

It IS about Richard Reid. This shoe inspection did not start until he was arrested. And then the prosecutor did not even charge him on the shoe explosives. Is this really a threat?!

We give away our precisous civil liberties because we trust that TSA is really protecting us. Discredited security measures undermine this faith. TSA has done more than anyone to carry out Bin Laden's agenda -- eroding our free system of government.

Submitted by Anonymous on

How is this policy NOT about Richard Reid? I read the article. It's all about IEDs! Gee, wasn't that EXACTLY what Richard Reid brought aboard? I expected to hear real justification (outside of the Reid angle) on this issue. If you all are going to try to provide better transparency with regard to TSA policies via this blog, you're going to have to try harder than that.

Submitted by Anonymous on

For everyone who complains about the TSA security procedures, I say this:

There should be a dedicated airline where passengers don't have to get screened. You just walk right into the airport and onto the plane. No fuss, no removing of shoes, no embarrassing pat-downs, nothing. Just breeze on thru the security gate and take your seat on the plane. Then it's between you and God what happens to you 30,000 feet in the air.

As for me, and my husband, who is a former TSO -- WE will fly via the airlines that use traditional security screening. The more security procedures put into place, the better! There ARE bad buys out there, and they WILL try again. Keep doing your best, TSA, we support you!!!

Submitted by Rantingtravelerguy on

I fly a lot and lucky me I get to spend quite a bit of time in the security line. As a group we need to admit something to ourselves, screening shoes is a pointless waste of time, there I said it, out loud.

All screening shoes does is cause delays.

Having said that I will also admit that we will always screen people shoes so, here are some tips,
First to those of you complaining about TSA telling you to 'move along' they are doing that because you are in the way!
Get your inappropriate footwear and you too large 'carry on' and move along! There ARE places in every airport to put your inappropriate footwear back on, you just have to move out of the screening areas to get to them.
They are not at the end of the belt, move along!

Germs?? Have you looked at your feet?? Nuff said.

Footwear, I know you have to look your best for the cab ride to your hotel but heres the deal, spike heals, open toed whatevers and shoes that are too small for your feet and thus too hard to put on, those are not 'airport' shoes.
You KNOW you have to take you shoes off, plan for it!
If you need some better looking shoes after the plane ride, put them in your bag and change when you arrive, it's not that hard and trust me, none of your fellow passengers care if your outfit matches. In fact we wouldn't notice that but we will notice you holding up the security line.

All in all the TSA people do a good job considering who their customers are. One thing they could do is a bit more advanced warning or instruction stuff for th rookie flyer's in line. Have someone out there explaining what is about to happen and what is expected of the traveler to smooth things out a bit.

OK, I think I've said enough about shoes.

Submitted by Anonymous on

As others have said, Israeli security does not require you to remove your shoes. Somehow I think that they are probably more concerned about terrorist attacks than we are -- and their security is far more thorough than any American airport's that I've been to.

So why not take a leaf out of Israel's book and spend all the time wasted doing something valuable?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have bad feet (fallen arches) and it is very painful for me to walk even a few steps without shoes with arch supports. Can somebody like me get a "pass" on taking her shoes off? A doctor's note? Anything?

Submitted by TSO Tom on

Shoes, wow this is a hot topic and I certainly understand why. But lets talk about the threat that can be posed by someone trying to do harm to others on an airplane. Of course when we talk about shoes the first thing that comes to mind is Richard Reid and the "shoe bomb" and this is a real threat. One person tried and failed, but someone else may just succeed then the public would be screaming about "where was security?" So lets talk about how shoes may pose a threat to air travelers, we're not just talking about explosives, other things can be hidden inside shoes as well..razor blades for instance. A razor blade in someone's shoe could pose a risk...however small you think it might you and or other passengers on an airplane. And items like this have actually been found at the checkpoint. Also, drugs have been strapped to people's ankles, a bank robber was caught in Philadelphia after a TSO found a crack pipe strapped to his ankle. A note that he used in a several robberies was found in his belongings. Cocaine has been discovered as well as marijuana, and other drugs. So the removal of shoes is important, lets not forget that most shoes will alarm the Walk through metal detector and be required to be removed anyway.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Thanks for the entertainment. Thank goodness that guy didn't get that switch on board!

Submitted by Anonymous on

I saw a news report where the TSA recommended throwing a pair of socks in your carry-on bag. That way, if you are wearing sandals or flip flops, you can throw the socks on and avoid walking on the dirty airport floors. Makes sense to me. I really don't think removing my shoes is that big of a deal, though I agree there could be more chairs/benches at the end the checkpoints so we can put our shoes back on.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I find it interesting that TSA doesn't think foot diseases are a big deal because the chance is "extremely small to remote."

However, the threat from shoe and liquid bombs is also extremely small to remote. So how can TSA ignore something "extremely small to remote" on one hand and then waste so many resources on shoe and liquid carnivals?

Submitted by Charlie on

Design an area where passengers can reassemble bags and put on shoes. A table with knee level rail?

Submitted by Caitlin on

In response to Eric:

As a diabetic, the last thing in the world I intend to do is subject myself to ANY increase in risk to damage to my feet.


Being a Type I diabetic for 13 years I understand the concerns and difficulties of all my fellow traveling diabetics. Eating right, keeping your medical supplies cool, and controlling blood sugar levels are all complications that we have to deal with on a 24/7 basis. I worked in an airport for 3 years and currently work at TSA headquarters. If the stress of traveling doesn’t spike your blood sugar, the fast food in the airport will.

I understand your fears of walking with bare feet at checkpoints because diabetics do have sensitive feet. Socks, booties, and nylons may be worn so that your bare feet do not have to touch the floor. If you forget socks, some airports provide booties or nylon coverings at the front of checkpoints. Washington Dulles airport has buckets of blue booties at the front of the checkpoint for passengers to grab right when they need to take off their shoes. When I go through the checkpoint I wear socks or bring an extra pair to slip on before going through security.

Submitted by I'm Not A Team ... on

Well, personally, I'm wondering why the shoe based security is so lax overall. Sure, we take our shoes off and have them X-Rayed, but what about the laces? Shoes can be de-laced, and the shoelaces can be used as effective strangulation devices. I say the TSA should confiscate all shoelaces prior to boarding, and give them back after the flight has landed and everyone has gotten off of the airplane. You can't be too safe in this day and age can you? No. No you can not.

Submitted by Lynn on

In response to Lindsey:

I would like to know more about the TSA's policy on flip flops. In the past, a person wearing flip flops would not have to take them off, but for the past year we have been required to place them in a bucket for x-ray screening and walk barefoot around the security area. At first, I thought it was just a DCA thing, but then I was required to remove my flip-flops even at airports in California and Hawaii, two states in which flip flops play a dominant role in local footwear culture (I dunno, maybe you guys replaced all the west coast screeners with imported east coasters?)

I mean, I can understand why people who wear Crocs should have to take their footwear off because Crocs are hideous and anyone wearing them should be subjected to extra screening regardless, but there is no way that flip flops pose any sort of threat to national security. So please explain why I have to remove my flip flops during the screening process.


As an occasional Crocs wearer, ouch, that hurts. Can't argue with you about the ugliness, but they sure are comfortable.

As both a TSA employee and a frequent traveler, I feel your shoeless pain. No one likes taking off their shoes, myself included, but until we get one technology that can get a good look at everything, including shoes, in one shot, all shoes - including flip flops - have to come off. Any shoe can be tampered with, and trust me, the last thing you want is the government trying to classify exactly what a "sandal" is. Yikes.

So you know, Ethel, one of our moderators, is actively working on solutions so you can keep your flip flops on.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Re: "So why not take a leaf out of Israel's book and spend all the time wasted doing something valuable?"

In Israel, foreigners receive closer scrutiny automatically and racial and religious profiling is accepted. Interrogation and body searches are carried-out intensively. Aggressive questioning is also part of the Israeli approach to uncovering threats.

In 1986, Anne-Marie Murphy, a pregnant, 32-year-old Irish woman, was on her way to board a London flight to Israel. After passing through several security checks, she was stopped for a targeted conversation by Israeli security because she stuck out...pregnant women do not often travel long distances alone. Authorities became more interested in her because of the evasive answers she gave. Turns out, she had a bomb in her carry-on bag. Could you imagine the backlash for questioning a pregnant woman traveling in the US?

Israeli security solutions would NEVER fly here! Now, how about those shoes?

Submitted by Ron on

Anyone who has a strong desire to take down an airplane, can and will do it, whether or not they are searched by TSA. Anyone who does not have a strong desire to take down an airplane, will not do it, whether or not they are search by TSA. The threat is embodied in the "person", not in the "things" they are carrying.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Lynn, please tell me just WHAT exactly could possibly be hidden in a thin flip flop. And on top of that, just what could be found in a toddler's shoe?

Does TSA perceive threats in a dream world or is any of this grounded in reality? Sadly, the more I read this, the more I think that TSA reads more fiction than reality.

The shoe carnival is nothing but harassment and does nothing to secure planes. Of course, it sure looks like TSA's doing something though.

Submitted by Anonymous on

It would prudent for the TSA folks creating these ludicrous policies to travel and experience the oddities of the system they created.

Some of the issues are

1) Consistency across all airports; some airports like National can be ok if enough lines are open while others like Philadelphia simply don't know what they are doing.

2) Based on published reports it seems that plastic guns can get through the screening process while shoes do not. There is something definitely wrong here and it should be corrected.

3) According to the TSA web site the Jan 25th covert test with CNN was not successfull yet you considered it a success how does that make any sense? Are you really spending the money to properly train the screeners?

4) According to your web site the following items are permited for carry-on

Tools (seven inches or less in length)
Screwdrivers (seven inches or less in length)

however you don't specifically address multi-tools which typically contain one or more knifes. Are multi-tools in which the knife blade is shorter the seven inches permitted for carry-on?

5) Why do we need to pay $100 for and ID to speed us through security when we already paying fees with our ticket for this extra security?

6) Why aren't Federal ID's, especially the new PIV and CAC cards acceptable for quick access through security? In order to get any of these ID the person has been through a NCAC check at minimum if not full clearance in many cases.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Caitlin and Lynn, how much is the TSA paying you to respond to certain posts, with information the TSA wants the public to hear?

Submitted by Carrot Top on

There are a lot of very valid complaints about not having anywhere to sit while removing and putting back on footwear. A large portion of the airports in our country were built back in the days when security screening was either non-existant or perfunctory. The shoe thing is pretty new in the grand scheme of things! Whenever there is enough space to place chairs without creating a tripping hazard or violating a fire code I have seen chairs placed before and/or after the x-ray screening area at my airport DAL, in Las Vegas, Green Bay, DFW, just to name a few.

I understand its a hassle to tie your shoes standing up, and for some of us the idea of sitting on the floor is out of the question, but when space allows TSA tries to be more accomodating. It will take time to update all the airports built before Y2K to incorporate security more smoothly into the floor plans.

Submitted by Ottnott on

An earlier commenter wrote:
This is what is so frustrating about ALL of the supposed "security" procedures we are put through - every single one of them is something that any intelligent person can easily determine is not in fact adequate to prevent what we are told it is supposed to prevent. Therefore, we are being put through these paces for no good reason.

Exactly. It is insulting to our intelligence, and it is painful to go along with such a wasteful charade.

If I was a terrorist, why would I try to hide an explosive in my shoe? I'll just pack it between my foot and my thick wool sock and walk through the screener.

Or I'll pack it into a bottle of infant formula...

Or it will go in the hollow handles of my carry-on bag...

Or in my modified belt...

Or..the list of possibilities is endless.

Lynn, it is time you faced the facts. Your agency is despised because it is harassing travelers a great deal, but improving security very little. The current regulations and practices are indefensible, and so you will just draw anger in trying to defend them.

If you are here because you want to improve your agency's image and to encourage the cooperation of travelers, I have a suggestion for you. Tell your bosses that we would like TSA to do the following:
Go to Congress, explain that the public has some legitimate concerns about the value of TSA screenings as they currently stand, and request a review of the practice by some independent (i.e. vested only in improving security, with no concern for defending existing procedures or justifying some politicians rhetoric)commission of experts.

We want security screenings that make sense, that give us a real gain in security in return for the hassle and expense.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Germs on the floor at airport security checkpoints:

About 17 million pairs of feet move through Lindbergh Field Airport in San Diego every year. Each passenger is asked to take off their shoes at security. Some are clean, some are dirty, and some carry diseases, 10News reported.

"If there are individuals walking barefoot or with socks, they will transmit to another person walking over the same spot," lower leg desease expert Dr. Daniel Lee said.

What do socked or barefooted passengers leave behind? 10News used petri dishes to gather samples where passengers picked up their carry-ons off the conveyer belt at the security checkpoint.

After sampling in San Diego, a 10News employee headed to Las Vegas and Phoenix -- two popular destinations for San Diegans.

Investigative reporter Marti Emerald gave the samples to Quadrants Scientific in Rancho Bernardo.

The lab identified a mold from McCarron Airport in Las Vegas as trichophyston, which causes ringworm and favus, a nasty disease of the scalp.

The next test was from Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, where samples were lifted to test for bacteria.

Scientists found bacteria and fungus unique to the areas where passengers removed their shoes.

"I do have concerns over the organisms you found," Lee said. "Staphylococcus causes skin infections that goes deep through the layers and people who are sensitive can pick it up."

Lee said this particular organism is resistant to many of the antibotics used these days.

Please don't insult our intelligence by trying to tell us there are no harmful bugs on the floor or to wear socks or booties.

Germs will get on the socks and replicate themselves in the nice warm environment of ones shoes and suddenly a severe infection in someone already compromised.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The biggest problem with the TSA is the staff - they are rude, aggressive, ignorant and seemingly stupid. No one really minds having their shoes scanned or removing laptops. What they mind is being abused by officious unhelpful staff.

My advice - get them some customer training and make it mandatory to SMILE...

Submitted by 100KFlyer on

In addition to the various fungi, bacteria, and viruses you can pick up by walking around the TSA checkpoint, I wonder how many contact infections are caused by the act of placing shoes (soles down or up) into the same bin as your laptop, wallet, etc.
The last time you walked through an aiport bathroom, did you feel a strong need to touch the floor with your hands or place your laptop or wallet on the ground? Well, you are doing so (by proxy) every time you put your shoes or belongings into the same bin as thousands of other travellers. The cost of resulting diarrhea, infections, etc. is a direct outcome of this absurd rule.

Submitted by Anonymous on

my original post in the "main forum" was removed so i'm posting this here in "the shoe forum". there is nothing disrespecting in my post but rather simply pointing out inconsistencies in the shoe policy and i'm trying t find an official answer from the tsa. thanks

as a passenger (and particularly one who flies over 100,000 miles a year, i have some questions directed to the "shoes off policy". i wear (and have to wear) orthopedic shoes and custom fitted orthotics as a result of ankle surgery and my question is simple....

why do the tsa's own policies differ from airport to airport? there are tsa procedures in place as to how to deal with pax who cannot take off their shoes but repeatedly they are ignored, misconstrued, or made up by the tsa employees on duty with the addition that more than 50% of the screeners i come in contact with do not know the definition of the word "orthotics". i have been threatened with "do i want to fly today" to "do you want me to call a cop"(both at JFK UA) yet to also go to other extreme, the screeners at my home airport (SFO-United terminal) have it down pat.

simply put, you need to have ALL airports follow THE SAME rules (including the ADA and FRPA and HIPPA) and screener s and supes need to know what they can and cannot ask. if you want to see record clearance times (and trust me, i know what i'm talking about as operational efficiency has been my career for 30 years, the whole key to line mgmnt is to have it done the SAME ACROSS THE BOARD with all TSA employees not only having a complete understanding of privacy laws but also a basic grasp of customer service techniques and the english language (case in point: lax t-7 ua terminal footbridge on sunday, january 20, 2007 approx 9pm. i told the screener i was wearing orthopedic shoes and orthotics and i was presented with "what?, your shoes have to come off". this was followed by my repeating that i was wearing orthopedic shoes and orthotics which was met with the response of" "supervisor, he be wearing ortho something or others and don't want to take his shoes off". as you can see, this is not a grammatically correct comment and n.b. i wne thru the very same terminal and checkpoint just over 36 hours before and did not have a problem.