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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

I agree with others that there is a need for a place to put your shoes back on with seats. Not everyone is capable of putting shoes on while standing.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I too have a major issue with the TSA personnel. I too find many with an attitude and not a good one. I too look for consistency such as a sign in Portland that says you do not have to remove your shoes, then you get to the checkpoint and find out it's not an option. How about my son whose deodorant was confiscated because the x-ray revealed "something inside." Yah, the screw that raises the stick! I am reited from the US Army after 28 years and feel I have done more to secure this country than TSA ever will.

Submitted by Anonymous on

For those of you worried about walking barefoot while your shoes are being screened, why not just wear socks...a protective barrier? Flip flops should be worn at the beach only, so that is not an excuse. If more people would just think ahead and be prepared to take their shoes off, they would wear slip-on shoes with socks and the entire process would go quickly and smoothly. Duh!

Submitted by Anonymous on

About 2 years ago I was flying from Manchester, NH. As I went through the screening process I was required to put my foot ( with my shoes on) one at a time into a small box with a red
and a green light on top. Upon getting a green light I placed the other foot in the box. After receiving another green light I was allowed to pass on to the rest of the screening process.
I thought "What a great Idea".
Whatever happened to that Idea?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hello! Shoes are a pet peeve of mine. I hate taking them off and then rush on the other side to get them back on. I travel through the airport every week. I would love for a way for you to identify my shoes as a frequent traveler with some kind of sticker. Then if needed randomly check them. Again do a special background check on me if needed but please let me keep my shoes on!

Submitted by Nick on

What I don't understand is... We don't fix a problem until somebody is either injured, or at worst - death. A guy puts a bomb in a shoe and tries to get away with it. So now we have to make our lines even longer because some imbiscle thought he was clever.

If people want to cause harm bad enough, they will find a way where the US Security hasn't thought of yet and will win. Case in point: 9/11 but let's not EVEN go there.

That was the short and condensed version... it's late.

I'm putting together a website of my own for articles like these. Every user is an automatic author to the blog. You can type and publish stories of your own to share with others.


Submitted by Bob on
Joe D said... Of course it's about Richard Reid. Before he tried to set his shoes on fire, I never had my shoes checked. The first time I flew after that, I had my shoes checked at every single checkpoint. Now I wear sandals when flying specifically to avoid that particular hassle.

I'm going through the blog and compiling questions and suggestions for future articles, etc. and this comment caught my eye. So I thought I'd chime in.

While traveling through Frankfurt Germany in 2000, a large German man in a suit asked me to remove my shoes. Having never heard of this before, I asked him if he was joking. His reply was "Do I look like I'm joking big man?"

So to my knowledge, Germany was doing this prior to Richard Reid and 9/11.


TSA EoS Blog Team
Submitted by Anonymous on

Come on, people. You think the TSA cares if you get foot fungus? Although I will admit I think they do a better job than back in the pre-TSA days of airline-hired dropouts, they certainly haven't excelled in customer service. And they certainly go WAY overboard on some issues. But let's face it, they are run by the "plastic wrap and duct tape" crowd.

The fact is that we are safer than ever from hijackings, but not due to any shoeless circus you go through at the airport. The reason is the flying public will simply not allow there to be another hijacking. I envision whole planeloads of people attacking any would-be hijackers en masse, before they can gain control of any plane, and much less the cockpit, ever again. We, the flying public, simply won't allow it to happen. We learned from 9-11, much like the passengers on UA Flight 93 did.

The scariest part of flying is the uninspected cargo that flies in the belly of the plane. Cargo that is non-passenger-related. It is great to hear that the TSA is employing more bomb-sniffing dogs to inspect more of this cargo. I personally believe that we would be more effective and safer spending our dollars on 100% cargo inspection than x-raying baby's booties and flip flops.

But alas, this is a government agency that must follow the age-old pattern of 3 steps back for every step forward.

So get used to taking off your shoes, and flying with uninspected cargo under your feet until they come to their senses.

Submitted by Make Money Online on

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Submitted by Anonymous on

It is amazing how all of the travellers are complaining about taking off shoes, getting screened, etc. Does it not dawn on them that if the TSA did NOT do any screening and, God forbid, something DID happen, those same people would be screaming that the TSA should have known this was going to happen and should have screened everyone closer! I am glad they are looking out for us. I do realize that wanding and screening little old ladies and infants seems a bit much, but there are ruthless murderers out there that will use this weakness to carry out their wicked plans. Look at the Middle East for goodness sake - innocent looking women and their children have been suicide bombers. We should definitely not take anything at face value when these people who wish us harm are so very clever.

Submitted by Tara on

For all those so concerned about germs on the floor are you telling me you dont walk around your own home without shoes on? You are just as likely in your own home to get some sort of infection as on the TSA inspection floor. That is unless you mop your floor multiple times per day. As an employee of an airport I go through security multiple times per day for the last three years and have yet to obtain any sort of infection.
Besides, you know when you go to the airport you are going to be asked to remove your shoes so why not plan ahead? Is it really necessary to wear contracting boots, a belt, have ten dollars in change in your pocket, and be wearing so much jewelry it sets off the alarms? A little simple planning would solve a lot of issues.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Here is the deal.... It about control!! I fly every week and this whole idea that some nut is going to blow up a plane is insane. First, if there is anything in those shoes that will bot set off the MAG then you could just carry it in your pants strapped to your leg. Same stupidity about the GELS and Liquids (LOL). Bascially the TSA is a joke and bascially the system is setup so that one guy or lady that flies once a yr. can say "OOOOOOHHH look at all this secuity and man it must be safe" My take if they wanna get you they will and I beleive the airports are not first on thier lists anymore. They know they probably won't get away with it again as the ppl on the plane will be more aggressive than last time. IT IS A CONTROL DEAL..... When are you guys gonnna get it.... SO MUCH FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES!!! The Natzis made you carry papers and bascially that is what we are doing now huh!!!

Submitted by Anonymous on

removing shoes is the most ludicrous waste of our time and money. This is another safety sham perpetrated by our gov't. to "pretend" we are safe. This is up there with the years of asking us at airports wether or not our luggage was left unattended. Meanwhile, terrorists with the FBI's knowledge/awareness is highjacking planes. Our energies and monies should be targeted to more realistic threats

Submitted by CruiseloverfromOKC on

Here is what we need to do in all airports. When I was going through DFW after checking in to get on my flight home, you had to go through this puff machine, which does not require you to take your shoes off. That way we will not face foot diseases and anything else we are afraid of contracting in our feet.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Leaving the issue of explosives detection aside for a moment, there is at least one really good reason to take off your shoes and put them through the X-Ray that most American travellers don't seem to get: In Canada, passengers are only required to remove their shoes if they set of an alarm or if their is a specific suspicion about them. Because of this, a ridiculous amount of people will walk through metal detectors with their high heels or even just regular shoes with a steel shank in them that of course, sets of the alarm. This means that they will be scanned and possibly have the shoes examined more closely which slows down eveybody behind them. Taking off your shoes speeds up the line (big time!) regardless of what you think about how effective the measure is in terms of security.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am not happy about removing my shoes because it is just gross, but why does the VERY grumpy TSA agent in Ft Lauderdale require that I and my young daughters also remove our socks? He was very GRUMPY (just plain rude). What is the policy on wearing socks through screening? What can be done if I am indeed allowed to wear socks and I am asked to remove them again in the future?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have also had my bare feet inspected before the screener returned my sandals, with velcro fasteners, to me in Seattle. These same sandals had been waved through in Detroit.
I have a problem with arthritis. Pain in my feet makes walking barefoot on hard floors anything from excruciating to impossible. I have never seen the opportunity to invoke the ADA and get through with shoes on.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Too all of you who ask what do we find in shoes? i am a TSA Officer and I found a handgun stuffed into the steel toe of a shoe. so yes there are things we find in peoples shoes.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Putting the shoes in the same bins as my coat, bag, keys, wallets and etc gives me the creeps. Has anyone at TSA ever heard of the term called "CROSS CONTAMINATION"?

Please can we have seperate bins for shoes?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I don't mind all the checking but I do have an issue with the selected checking of only travelers!

I travel every week for work and every airport I travel from I see employees of the airport and other TSA people go through:

1. The begining of the line and not waiting in line for their turn.

2. Never have taken off shoes EVER!

3. Crew with the same process.

So if I was ever late to a gate, rarely because I am still showing 1-2 hours before my flight, I am told that I need to complain to the TSA anout missing my flight. (yeah like they ever care) There all I hear is "You should have been here earlier" and also have seen only 1-2 lines open when 4-6 or more need to be open for the rush hours in the morning of business travelers.

Shouldn't the rule be what is good for one is good for everyone?

Submitted by Dave In Atlanta on

Europe doesn't have this idiotic rule. They have been dealing with terrorists a lot longer than we have in the US. They don't see this as a viable threat. Only in America can we take hysteria to the extreme. This slows lines up considerably! This is insane nonsense. Honestly. I get so angry at airports about this shoe situation.

And I completely agree, they make you take your shoe, belt and everything else off and then provide no nice place to put all this back on. Sometimes some old chairs. Why is that? I live in Atlanta, what is wrong with our airport that they can't have a decent chair to put your shoes back on. We spend millions on people to yell at you to take your shoes off.. a few chairs?

To me this is American stupidity at it's very worst. Really? Shoes? Of course the TSA has planted shoe bombs to test the x-ray technicians. That doesn't make it a real threat and worth the time which then makes the lines incredibly long.

Submitted by Bob on
March 26, 2008 5:48 PM Dave in Atlanta said... Europe doesn't have this idiotic rule.

I can't speak for the last few years, but before 9/11 and before anybody even knew who Richard Reid was, I was asked to remove my shoes in Frankurt, Germany. It was around 2000 or 2001.


TSA EoS Blog Team
Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm just curious why it's so hard to simply follow the rule that are set. In this day an age the only reason you should need is that it is for your best interest to do what is asked, and you will go on your way. No one is making you fly- it is of your own volition that you go through the airports, and thus through the security that is set there. Wear some socks. Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off. It's simple. You can even bring a pair of socks with you that you put on when you take your shoes off, and take off once you are finished. Washing machines do exist. Lets not forget that this is a young organization, and has been essentially tossed into every airport nationwide overnight. They are trying to reconfigure the checkpoints to be most consumer friendly, but they can only provide the space they've been given to use. The airports are often privately owned and don't want to give TSA much space.

As to the comments about how bad our security is in this country- travel out of the country; try going to Israel. You don't get a carry on, you get a full pat down each and every time, and the screeners there carry machine guns. Argue with them about your rights as a passenger and you may get shot.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I wonder... why are the airport and TSA employees exempt from removing their shoes?

Don't tell me it is because they are NOT getting on an airplane. What is to prevent them from giving their shoes to a person that is going to get on an airplane?

We all know from the news reports that their have been some persons hired as airport employees that should never be able to even be at an airport.

So TSA, why? And also why do airport/TSA employees get to cut in-front of the travelers? Does not seem fair to me - get in line just like the rest of the world.

I'm just tired of the whole thing.

Submitted by Divo73 on

Im ok with removing the shoes if it means saving lives.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The shoe thing was a reaction to Richard Reid. Thats a fact. The liquid thing is a reaction to the incident in London. The key thing here is reaction. Since 2001, America has taken a reactive approach to CT. The problem is that the enemy isn't stupid, well, with the exception of Richard Reid ;) He would have blown off his feet likely, but, the amount if triacetone peroxide in question wouldn't have damaged the aircraft.

Anyway, I have a problem with the shoe issue since I was originally told I could walk through in flip flops. Well, thats changed now, and I picked up a very nasty form of Athlete Foot in Atlanta a few months ago. It took 4 weeks to get rid of, and my wife and daughter both got it from me. Very bad experience.

However, I completely agree with the liquid thing, I had the good luck to have lunch with a US Marshall who was a part of that investigation, and while I won't discuss any details of our conversation, I will tell you that the liquid threat is the biggest threat as far as carry on "liquid" explosives go. I can also tell you that the London incident was the absolutely the greatest anti-terrorist airline offensive since the 2001 attacks. The US and British governments did a fantastic job, and save thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of lives, literally. I was amazed how little press the government got on that event. People have no clue just how dangerous that group was. Unlike Richard Reid, that threat was a real one. They would have killed thousands. In my opinion, law enforcement should have gotten way more press on the incident than was given. They truly saved our lives. In fact, I was in MEM that day, and my flight was canceled because of the incident. But, I didn't care, I could have been a victim instead.

On another note, reactive measures are not what we should be doing now. 90 year old ladies on airplanes are not what we need to be focusing on. The fact is that another airline attack in the US by terrorists is HIGHLY unlikely in my opinion. I think they will do something else first. If it is an airline attack, it'll likely be exploding teddy bears, laptop batteries, etc, etc. They aren't going to use liquids and shoes next time. I just wish we had technology to sniff out nitrates. There has to be a way, granted, I barely passed chemistry in college, but, there has to be some way to scan for explosives. I know they can swab for nitrates, but, what about a way to scan for them, if we could safely scan people, and luggage for nitrates, we would be protected. I'm not even worried about box cutters since Americans on planes these days are a lot less likely to cooperate with a nutball carrying a paperclip, cork screw, etc. I for one would gladly join my fellow passengers in a terrorist take down, I miss football, but thats another story. Anyway,

I don't want to say it in this posts, but, we need to look at other security holes like "ventilation" systems in large buildings. Thats what scares me. I live and work in several large buildings in a big city every day and see ground level intakes at street level everyday. Thats what I'm more afraid off. We need to pass laws to make all intakes rooftop set, and alarmed, sensor-ed, etc, etc.

Maybe it's just paranoia, but, personally, when I get sent out on the job, I spend as little time as possible in any high rise.

Instead of constantly reacting, we need to be proactive. Out think the bad guys, get a blog setup where people can secretly notify authorities of potential threats and risks. The London job was fantastic, in fact, we should have parades to commemorate it. People just don't know how close we came to disaster.

As far as airline security policy goes, the TSA needs to apply simple mathematics. Look at historical data on attacks, use that data to target potential offenders. As a frequent flier, and a frequent reader, every time I'm at the airport, I can clearly see that the TSA is incorrectly targeting potential threats. If they would sit down, look at all the data on previous incidents, OR, better yet, get the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit to create a terrorist profile, and use that as a blueprint on where to focus security.

The FBI created that ingenious unit to catch bad guys, why can't the TSA use the same tactics regarding specifically airline threats. It really works, they catch serial killers all the time with it, why not apply the same tactics to catch airline threats???

All in all, the only bad experience I've had was the Athletes Foot problem. To date, I'm still not sure exactly what kind it was, I had it playing sports in College, but, whatever I caught in Atlanta literally caused the skin to peel from my feet. It was unbelievable and highly contagious.

I do have one funny TSA story... I was flown to Memphis to fix something, thats what I do, I fix things. Anyway, I worked 18 hours straight, and went to MEM to return home on a 5am flight. I was "dinged" and taken to the search section. Anyway, while sitting there in the chair, I completely fell asleep. I propped my head up on my arm, and completely passed out, while she was searching my carry on's. The next thing I know the TSA lady is shaking me saying "Are you Okay???" My business partner was flying with me and he was waiting, next thing I know, he's running over saying the same thing. I was totally out of it, completely forgot I was at the airport, it was very humorous. Normally, I would be nervous, etc, etc, but, I was literally so tired I completely passed out while TSA was searching my bags. Notice to anyone going through MEM, the TSA chairs are very comfortable, I guess I would recommend getting rid of them and using something like a stool, etc. A few other passengers we're laughing when I finally came to, I looked like a complete idiot since I had know clue where I was when I woke up. Thats the only time I've been flagged in the past 2-3 years. I used to get flagged all the time, but for whatever reason, they don't flag me anymore, I don't know why. We'll I also put on a few pounds since then, maybe thats it.

In synopsis of my rambling post, I just want to say that the shoe thing has to go. First off, it's a miracle Richard didn't blow off his feet walking down the terminal! That stuff is highly potent (smell) and highly unstable. I know because I had an explosive crazy chemistry teacher in eighth grade. He was a great guy, great teacher, but, he loved to blow things up. The one thing I remember is that the stuff is very volatile and unstable. Come on guys, lets get the shoe thing fixed, and someone, anyone, please invent a way to scan for nitrates. As far as liquids, thats a definite no-no. No liquids at all in my opinion. Literally, a few 4 ounce bottles is all one would need to blow out a window. In my opinion, we need to totally do away with on flight liquids. I know the TSA has made some concessions to allow passengers to carry small amounts, etc, but, the bottom line is that we need to do away with all liquids. But, let us keep our shoes on, please. After I fly, I pitch my socks, and replace my insoles. I'm not kidding. After my fungus experience, I'm done with the shoe thing.

One more thing, All in all, I've had pleasant experiences with TSA officers, just remember, they are professionals who are just doing their job, treat them with respect and they will treat you with respect. Be friendly, smile, just as you would be to a co-worker. If you are unsure of something, nicely ask questions. They deal with jerks all day long, so be nice. In my experiences, even when I've had a TSA worker bark at me, I respond with a smile, and in every case, they've been nice in return.

Also, if you fly, make security easy, wear as little metal as possible when flying. Try to remember to put your cellphone in a bin (I always forget that).

I fly so much now, that I consider myself to be a professional at getting through security. It's like riding a bike, once you get it down, you'll fly through everytime.

Also, when they ask you questions, don't give snyde remarks. Especially when they confiscate something. Just hand it over, and tell them to keep it, and smile. Permagrin the whole way through.

-I love America

Submitted by Anonymous on
Hi, glad to see there is a place for us travelers to offer suggestions.

Joan, I'm so sorry. This is where suggestions come to die.
Submitted by Anonymous on

Ok look, this is what it comes down to. We are doing our jobs.I don't get to decide what the rules are, I just have to enforce them. Do you know what a terrorist looks like?? Because I dont. Desperate times come to desperate measures. I'm sure that if it came down to it terrorists woulnd't think twice about packin some C4 into a childs wheelchair, or usisng the elderly to sneek something in. That is why EVERYONE gets screened the same. So fight it all you want, but its not going to change.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I don't know that I agree that x-raying shoes will actually locate any hazardous substances. For one thing, I could very easily re-mold the soles of my shoes entirely out of some explosive substance, and there'd be no way that you would see a density difference such as you claim.

However, having said that, my real gripe is that I have an issue with my back, and it is uncomfortable for me to remove my shoes while standing in line.

Please allow me (and others with physical challenges) thru the metal detector, and then have a SEAT so that you can wand (or xray) my shoes. I'll gladly show up an extra 60 seconds earlier to compensate.

There are also too many airports where there is no seating within a reasonable distance of the security checkpoint. I can usually manage to get my shoes off, (even though it's painful), but I need that chair to get them back on.

Submitted by Claude on

I travel in and out of the country every month, and don't believe that the personnel that I have met at the "security" checkpoints are capable of seeing anything in a shoe thru x-rays but the shoe. I like many posters on this site would love to know exactly how many verifiable threats have been stopped by x-raying shoes since Reid tried to set his shoe on fire in a plane (lets not forget he was not successful). While you the TSA says it is not about Reid, ask a TSA agent in any airport about why we have to take our shoes off and you will get the answer due to "REID". This has never been an effective method for deterring or stopping terrorism (the catch word that justifies all infringements of constitutional rights).

So lets have the TSA actually answer any of the questions that have been presented on this site, I have seen many many questions and have yet found a reasonable answer to any of them.

Submitted by Anonymous on

As a EOD (Bomb Disposal) Technicion who has flown millions of miles in support of Heads Of State. Having trained thousands of US Army EOD students on how to work with explosives and IEDs. I still think that having everyone remove clothing to prevent a bomb from being carried on to an aircraft is an extremely naive and antiquated way of thinking. Like many of TSA procedures, it is easier/cheaper to train your "agents" to inconvence millions of people everyday then it is to provide proper equipment and training. Detection equipment that can be mounted in the floor/baseboards and personnel trained to spot people who fit within a certain profile is more efficent and professional. I have asked many "agents" why we have to take our shoes off and they have all simply said because it is a rule. It tells me that you are training robots and not professionals.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I flew once from Dallas to Phoenix, and was asked to remove my shoes. This was shortly after the original "Shoe Bomber" incident. Ironically, the airport security scanned my feet - not my shoes. They had me place them to one side, scanned my feet, and told me I could put my shoes back on. Hmm...

Submitted by FedUp on

I saw make the TSA employees work in their barefeet. You all can talk the talk so walk the walk. I'm sure none of the TSA employees would be willing to subject themselves to the dirty floor. What makes you think passengers do?

Submitted by Anonymous on

In reading responses to the shoes from TSA/TSO workers, and in other areas of the blog, the examples that are being touted as how their procedures are working, aren't showing how they are beating terrorism. Examples of finding known felons, illegal immigrants, drug users/dealers are all fine and good, but they are a law enforcement gig, not TSA. They were not terroists. True they are people that are wanted for other things, but then the if that is really what is coming out of TSA, then they should be a part of law enforcement and advertise themselves as such instead of trying to falsely get us to believe they are keeping us safe, especially by my taking off my flip flops.

Submitted by Anonymous on

As for the policy that we all remove our shoes, I'm thankful that the man with the shoe bomb didn't hide it in his pants. We would all be going through security pantsless.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The TSA has destroyed several pairs of my women's shoes. I put them in boxes and they take them out. You may say, "Well, tell them not to." I have done this and they still get taken out of the box by other people. The shoes get ruined because the get stuck and scraped in the rollers. This amounts to several hundred dollars. When I talk the the TSA manager they laugh at me and tell me to just tell the TSA workers not to remove them from the box. Why do they keep taking shoes out of the box? They should be reimbursing people for all the destroyed shoes.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Are bathroom germs from the bottom of shoes in the same bins that I put my coat, cell phone, and laptop? I believe the TSA is forcing a health risk upon us each time we fly.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I understand the policy of having one's shoes screened and am all for it; however, a situation I had concerning shoe screening caused me to question the process.

About 5 years ago, I was commencing my return flight which was to go from Denver to Pittsburgh. During the security process, I was flagged for further screening (random?) and had to remove my shoes (this was prior to today's requirement)...fine. I was a bit concerned what was going on because these were the same shoes I wore through security at Pittsburgh's airport just days before.

Regardless, the TSA waved my shoes with the portable wand and it beeped. The TSA said that he'd need to take the shoes to the back room for further processing and was asked to wait there in the passenger screening area. Fine, I'm not going anywhere --- I have no shoes.

After 10 minutes of sitting there with no shoes, I began to go in search of the TSA who took dice. I asked the other TSA who worked the lane I just went through and she said she didn't know anything because it was a new crew that just started the shift.

I began prancing up and down the security stations in my socks to see if I could find my shoes or to see if anyone might know --- I asked quite a few TSAs what I can do --- no answer. Meanwhile, this is of course all on film --- do you think that anyone would approach me to ask me what was going on? No. One of the TSAs was nice enough to point me to a security desk.

About 20 minutes after my shoes were taken, I finally got to the front of the line at security. To prove a point, I swung my leg up as high as it would go and put my sock on the high counter of the desk. Standing there in an awkward pose with one leg chest-high, I asked what they did with my shoes. I had to speak to the management, who was asking specifics about the person who took them, etc. (like I'd know) Anyway, it took them at least another 10-15 minutes to locate my shoes --- long enough for me to miss my flight. It was almost 45 minutes wasted over this idiotic issue.

The TSAs called ahead to the gate, but the boarding was already done...I'd have to take another flight. So, basically, my luggage went through Detroit en route to Pittburgh, but I went through Minneapolis on a different NorthWest flight. I had to go to the baggage claim area in Pittsburgh to get my luggage when I landed and explain the situation of why I wasn't on the same flight as my bag. Of course, the bag was screened in Pittsburgh because it was left unattended until I could get it when I landed on the other flight.

Apparently, during the few minutes when the TSA took my shoes for further processing, his shift ended and he punched out, leaving the shoes unattended and unprocessed. This was a situation that was completely avoidable...all because someone wanted to leave his/her job at the stroke of the clock when the shift was up without finding someone else to complete the job.

Fortunately, the process has improved.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I agree with everyone that it is a big waste of time to have to take your shoes off but it doesn't look that is going to change any time soon. It would be great if they would in fact put some chairs and benches behind the screeners so that we can put our shoes back on, I for one have arthritis in both hips and just had back surgery a year ago, bending over to put my shoes back on is impossible and I can sit on the floor. A little common sense would tell you that if you are going to have hundreds of people a day take of their shoes you need someplace for them to sit to put them back on.

Submitted by Anonymous on

For sure this paranoia with security obsession need to taper off to a sensible level.I travel much less then I wish to because of it.According to TSA a 5" wrench is OK to be carried on board but this forgotten tool hidden in the crease of my small back pack from a sea kayaking trip was confiscated @ Sitka airport after flying with it from ANC.The reasoning was
"I could unscrew the bolts in the bathroom and have access to the cokpit". Granted all TSA staff cannot be aware of the multiple planes configurations but the irony of this story was that the only toilets were in the rear of the plane.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I just want to say that right before you enter the checkpoint there are machines there that all passengers can get booties to wear on their feet when they remove the shoes, if you are concerned about fungus and bacteria I would suggest you utilize the booties.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I thionk you need to rotate your people from job to job more often. I think they get blind to what is happening by watching for just one important thing at a time. I watched a gal go through with her shoes on because she had carried a second pair in her hands. She put them in the basket and went on through. "If you put shoes in the basket they aren't on your feet" is the flaw in the system.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Taking of shoes is gross. Some men have the nastiest athletes foot and I neither want to see it or smell it. Further, I don't want my purse in the same bins nasty shoes are in either. In the winter time, my feet have gotten wet in these lines, through my socks. Athlete's foot can be transferred if the floor is wet. I understand the danger, but this shoe thing is really difficult. I like icudoc's suggestions. That might make it more helpful, but also, it needs to be more sanitary. I think the germ thing is a real concern. Some of us do have pristine, pedicured feet with pretty polished toes and do not want those anywhere near other people's plantars warts and athlete's foot. I read somewhere else about surgical slippers...that might help.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Requiring everyone to remove their shoes for extra screening is a big hassle, annoyance and time-waster. Finding a single altered shoe in Alaska doesn't make the benefits outweigh the costs.

Until you change the policy, at least provide areas for people to sit down to put their shoes back on after going through the metal detector.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I would like to know why is America the only place we have to take the shoes off? Wasn't it a European airport that Richard Reid got on a plane and tried to blow up the plane? Seems that since this happened overseas and the TSA is global, the same rules should apply over there as well as in the states. But to quote a TSA officer when I questioned her about it upon entering the US, "only in America we ask for the obtrude demands."

Submitted by Anonymous on

I just want to say to all the people that complain about TSA and the job us TSA employees are is for your own saftey, and is hurtful at some point because we are very much underpaid for the job we are doing, as a TSA employee I take my job very serious and have come across many ungreatful people on a daily basis, but to those of you out there who do appreciate the job we do, I just want to thank you, because when you show appreciation, and personally thank us for doing our job, and dont make a big deal about taking off your shoes, it makes all of a better day for us and makes us feel good and proud of what we do..again, after all it is for your safety!!

Submitted by Anonymous on

So Richard Reid tried to set a shoe bomb on fire on a plane. Now everyone has to take their shoes off. However, we are still allowed matches and lighters aboard. Why not limit the source of fire instead of submitting us all to this misery?

And please don't send smoker complaints - buy a patch, or buy matches when you get there! Better still, quit!

Submitted by Anonymous on

As a simple Eathling living in 2008I understand the need for airport security and would never be so foolish to believe we can go back to pre 9-11 days. As an occasional traveler I've seen general acceptance of the need and have seen the both the TSA and public reach an level of accomodation for each other. What I have not been able to grasp is this fanatical need for us to take our shoes off. Getting them off is not to big a deal...but come on- give us the space to put htem back on. Hopping around on one foot while trying to hold on to a boarding pass, carry-on and laptop is a real test for some of us. All you TSA gurus can try this at home tomorrow morning before heading to work.....let us know how you do. In the mean about giving us some place to sit our middle age, overweight, out-of-shape selves down and make this a little easier and less invasive.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Here is the thing about the shoes: I have come to expect it, I have started wearing shoes that come on and off easily and I guess if you guys (TSA) really think it's worth the effort, time and money - then be it.
I only have one question: was it really necessary to have me remove my 4 months old daughter's infant slippers, when I was screened at SEATAC a few weeks ago?