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Wow! What a Response (Commenting Disabled)

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wow! The number of comments on our blog has been amazing. Many of the posts during the last 24 hours are exactly the types of questions we hope to answer and the conversations we hope to begin with the traveling public. Some have been downright mean and cranky but that’s okay too. For most people, this is the first chance to reach out directly to TSA and tell us about your experiences and we very much want to hear from you.

Frankly we’ve been overwhelmed with the number of response we’ve received, more than 700 comments at last count, and comments are still pouring in. Several of you have suggested a format change to go from a laundry list of: shoes, cranky officers, idiotic rules, you guys sure try hard…, stream of consciousness diatribes to a more logical way of collecting and hopefully shedding light on many of the things that passengers want to know.

Well we’ve heard the comments and we’re making the move. Later this afternoon you will find several common questions or topic areas that have been raised and are on the front of all our minds like shoes, ID requirements, liquids an others. This list will evolve as this blog does and we’ll be posting answers, thoughts and comments on each of these topics on these pages.

Because of the software we’re using to run this blog, it’s up to you to post your comment on the right page, in the correct topic. Today we don’t have any way to move posts from one place to another so we’re relying on you to post in the right place. If it’s not posted under the right topic we will not be able to move the post. Because we have more than 700 comments on the Welcome post, we are closing the comment feature there. Even though that post is not longer accepting comments, we still welcome your feedback and thoughts here.

In the spirit of transparency, we plan to note how many comments we've rejected and tell you why. Mostly the rejected comments include profane language, political rants or abusive posts that we just can't print, and some are completely off topic. Other than these, every post will go up as written and we will continue to operate this way.

Thanks again for the great range of insightful, sad, humorous, outrageous comments. Keep them coming and we’ll do our best to try to keep up.

Evolution Blog Team

electronics in flight said...
electronics in flight said...can someone please explain to me all the fuss about having all of your electronics OFF before we leave the gate?

A good question. Actually it was found that cell phone signals, specifically those in the 800-900 MHz range, did interfere with unshielded cockpit instrumentation. Because older aircraft with unshielded wiring can be affected, because of the possible problems that may arise by having many airborne cell phones "seeing" multiple cell phone towers, and because of all the electronic systems in a modern airplane that would have to undergo lengthy and expensive certification, the FCC (via enforcement through the FAA) still deems it best to stay on the safe side and prohibit the use of cell phones while airborne. It should be noted, though, that such a prohibition is being lifted in Europe.And while I'd like to take credit for that rant...all credit goes to The Mythbusters (with a little help from Wikipedia ).


How about Booties?
In response to anonymous who would like booties for their feet…
I understand your concern on the hygiene issue. While part of TSA’s mission is to promote great customer service the reality is that customer service in aviation is a partnership between the airport authority, the TSA, and the airlines. While I speak only for my airports most of them do in fact provide some type of ‘booty’ to passengers as a customer service enhancement. Those who don’t provide footwear ensure the cleaning crew cleans those floors regularly.
My recommendation is to start with your airport and explain your concern to them…the same could be said about having plastic baggies at the checkpoint for folks who forget to bring them to the airport. The airports also care about customer service and sometimes a gentle reminder goes a long way…




Submitted by Electronics2 on

You didn't answer electronics' question. He or she was talking about an iPod being on, not a cell phone. I can understand prohibiting cell phones from being on, but why prohibit iPods from being on under 10,000 feet? It doesn't seem to make any sense.

Submitted by Anonymous on

How about just a set of chairs for folks to sit down, put their shoes back on and get their stuff back together. instead of limping away from the checkpoint, shoes in hand, laptop half hanging out of you bag, handfulls of change, keys, wallet. Feels like you've been mugged by the TSA. Some places they put these out, others, I generally have to block the entire line while i try to get my stuff together to the point that I can actually move.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I totally understand the need for security and appreciate what adaunting task this is. My only problem is with the attitude of the TSA employees in some airports. In every airport I have been in they are friendly and courteous, BUT Atlanta. I live in Atlanta and am embarassed that our city has to have the worst. They nned some training or need to be replaced.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'd love to see a write-up documenting what you had to go through to get a TSA blog going. This had to be difficult and a bit of background into your posting/approval policy might be helpful to other agencies (or people within conservative companies) wanting to do the same thing.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Was this a real threat? Yes, there was a very serious plot to blow up planes using liquid explosives in bombs that would have worked to bring down aircraft."

You are off your rocker if you believe this. Those guys would have never been able to blow up anything. Just because someone wants to do something, and plans to do that something, does not mean that it is possible. Had they not been arrested they would NOT have been able to do any harm to a plane using the plan they had come up with.

Submitted by Anonymous on

In regards to the comments of anonymous on February 1, 2008 5:53 PM and is a TSA employee.

This person declares that they work for the TSA. Their comments make the hair on the back of my neck stand!

I don't favor retaliation and respect the right to speak ones mind, however this persons attitude to the traveling public is exactly what is wrong with TSA.

This agent should be found and removed from any position that requires contact with the public.

This person is truly in the wrong line of work!


Submitted by Bilgriffith on

I just heard about this blog so I feel a bit behind the curve but here's my take on the TSA.
I travel 2 or 3 times a month so I have spent my time in TSA lines. I think that for doing what they have to do, they do ok with it. I have not felt violated or personally attacked, even tho I've had ssss about 3 or 4 times on my boarding pass. I didn't fly much before 9/11/01 so I really have nothing to compare, but I am very careful about my privacy.
The biggest gripe I have, besides the shoes issue, is that when the lines get long, there are unmanned lines that we can't use. This is especially true in smaller airports like my home airport gso, but I have seen it in many airports. I'd like to see this change. There are frequently people standing around, I know they aren't all goofing off but some are, and unexpected flurries of customers show up, but it just seems the lines could be improved by opening up these unused stations.
I also want to publicly thank the TSA for returning my drivers license to me. I'm not sure where it was lost, but I left gso late on a recent flight and had to run (literally) across the Charlotte airport to make my conector to Baltimore (I debated this and should have just driven). So during that chaos my drivers license fell out of my jacket and I couldn't get a rental car, but more importantly, I was concerned that someone could use that as part of an identity theft attempt. So, thanks a lot to the folks at Greensboro and or Charlotte Douglas for promptly returning my drivers license to me via postal mail.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I've been reading some of the comments on this blog. Most of the comments seem to project an extremely negative feeling from the public towards TSO's. Most of the complaints, in my opinion, are so ridiculously trivial such as the removal of footwear or the 3-1-1 rule. It makes me think about all the sacrifices my parents and grandparents had to make on a daily basis during WWII. They, and all other Americans, did without such common things as silk, rubber, gasoline, and countless other articles that we so much take for granted these days. Have we as a nation become so spoiled that being screened at an airport checkpoint by Federal Employees has become such an inconvenience to the public as to cause such uproar in the media? Have you noticed while reading through the blogs the traveling public has time to spout venom and complain about how they are treated while screened? However, when you ask them if they read the signs or visited the web site they have a “deer in the headlights” look. All we would ask as TSO’s is that the public cooperate with us and make the smallest of sacrifices. Remember we are here for you. Does anybody remember 911?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hi, while I find what you're doing an incredibly hard job, I do have an urgent request. I fly frequently to meet my husband while he is on business.

I travel with a service dog. Some of the TSA folks don't know how to deal with us and many times I have had to go back to the ticket agent and have them walk back out with me to the TSA and have them be informed what a service dog is and the dog will not have a 'ticket.'

Also, is there some rule that no one can help me get through the xray process? I have my laptop which must be pulled out, shoes to take off, xray lead to put on dog so we don't set the sensor off (I try to do this before hand, but she really needs her harness on up to the last minute) and usually a carryon bag, computer bag and purse. Most times I think I'm filling up 3 bins and pushing them through xray along with a dog who doesn't understand all the people and commotion and other travelers who are in a hurry. Yet the TSA agent stands there and watches the struggle. And please, please, please provide a spot we can sit down to put our selves back together and could I just pile all of my stuff once you're done with it into one bin and take it to the seat? And could you make me not feel like a criminal some times and that you hate me cause I have to move slow? And I really miss my little teeny tiny Swiss Army knife that has gone through multiple xrays before in many countries... did the TSA agent really feel it necessary to speak to me like a 4 year old while he was taking it away? He wouldn't even let me leave the line so I could go find an envelope to mail it home. That knife was probably older than he was.

I hope you can get things working better. I honestly don't want to die from a terrorist. But things really need to change and get better. Thank you.

Submitted by Jimbo46920 on

in response to RB
"In regards to the comments of anonymous on February 1, 2008 5:53 PM and is a TSA employee.

This person declares that they work for the TSA. Their comments make the hair on the back of my neck stand!

I don't favor retaliation and respect the right to speak ones mind, however this persons attitude to the traveling public is exactly what is wrong with TSA.

This agent should be found and removed from any position that requires contact with the public.

This person is truly in the wrong line of work!


Hey RB I want you to know that I also work for the TSA and read this persons post and they seem a lot sarcastic. I will say that we don't keep(or at least I don't keep) anything that is taken out of your checked bags. At the airport that I work it is given right back to the airline and they make the call. As for that TSO's attitude there are a lot of TSO's that have never been put in charge or put in a position of authority and you know how it is with people. But if I could just say that if you do have the time please check out the TSA website and know the do's and don'ts of our securityit is the best way to ensure that you can make it thru easily. As for me I try to make people laugh when they come thru and try to make them smile but please relize there are people out there that are having a bad day and take it out on us and it can put you in a bad mood but you can't teach people to let it roll off there backs you know. But RB I want to say we aren't all bad apples and I hope that the TSA can find a way to help the peolpe in bad moods I suggest that if you get chewed out by a passenger then you should be able to take a five minute break to let you cool down not just be put back to work I think it would help with our public perception.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am a frequent flyer logging about 100,000 miles a year, mostlly for work. I also usually carry a small inch and a half pocket knife that I have had since I was in college.
Given that planes now have reinforced doors, and given that I would have to be James Bond to hold a plane hostage with my pen-knife, and given that other common household items such as fountain pens, steel rulers,etc can also be used to hurt someone, why is there a need to ban pocket knives under two inches? Toenail clippers? Nose hair scissors? These items pose an inconsequential threat but are very useful items to many.

Submitted by Write Your Cong... on

I just read the "what about booties" response and realized the big issues here.

1) The TSA blames the airlines and the aiports who in term blame the TSA for the lack of ammenities. I think if the TSA is going to require no shoes, laptops out, etc. they should be providing booties, tables, etc.

2) The TSA is treating interstate travel as a privilege when it is a right. The Founding Fathers discussed this at length, the right to conduct commerce between states is under the jurisdiction of the Constitution. Congress needs to make the TSA accountable, clearly spell out the rules, and consider our rights when laws are passed.

3) This website is not to listen to our complaints and then make changes. This website is a poor attempt at customer service. The TSA is providing the illusion of listening without real change. It's not like it's become a democracy. If anything, we should be writing our representatives and Senators. Honestly, there should be Congressional hearings about the abuses of power, lack of rules and structure, lack of communication, and the poor job done by screeners in many many markets.

While it's nice to know I'm not the only one abused and treating like cattle, reading this has almost become entertainment. The TSOs who respond seem to feel that they have the right to do anything to make us "safer" without regard to the same rules that police and federal agents have to follow. It's like we've given rent-a-cops the keys to the kingdom without ANY checks and balances.

Submitted by Anonymous on

My wife (a legal US resident) is regularly identified for extra screening when she flies. She has lived here for several years. Prior to that she lived in Austria for 20+ years. She is a Danish national.

We suspect she is taken aside because she has visited Jordan (Aquba) several times (she worked in a hotel there when she was young).

I can't find out why she is listed this way and I can't do anything to contest it. That seems to be fundamentally unfair (accused but unable to examine my accusers).

Please let me know what we can do about this...

Submitted by Screener Joe on

"Many problems of TSA checkpoints come down to two issues. 1. They are understaffed for the number of people they need to process. You need to fix that. It pisses off everyone, employees and travelers alike.
2. You've given great power and authoority to employees (with the exception of a small percentage) who have neither personal knowledge or training on how to handle unpleasant situations, and to use intelligent discretion.
And one last thing... while on the subject of bombs: The liquid bomb threat was debunked! Scientifically! Couldn't be done that way! Really. I bet you could read about the studies in journals and on teh internets. Bah."

1. TSA is understaffed because that is how many screeners congress has budgeted for. TSA did not select those numbers, and the screeners agree with you. There should be more screeners. Write your congressman.

2. Two edged sword there. On the one hand, most screeners would agree that we would like more and better training. We speak about that a great deal on our own internal web sites. On the other hand, we might not have such severe problems if we didn't have to deal with unruly and demanding passengers who start with the assumption that we are the problem and create a self-fulfilling prophecy with thier own actions.

And one last thing... Some college professor who has never and will never make an explosive device claims it can't be done becaue he can't do it. I was in U.S. Army Special Forces, and I could do it.

Submitted by Anonymous on

It amazes me what airline passengers blame on the TSA security screeners (specifically with regard to checked baggage issues), apparently without knowing or considering what all goes on?

While it might be remotely possible for "the wrong person" to slip through the cracks, pass all the government background checks, and get hired by the federal government, it is extremely unlikely. At most larger airports, TSA employees have many co-workers who both work with them and often commute together as a group. So it is reasonably unlikely that a TSA employee would steal anything from checked baggage when they only have a very short amount of time to check and handle each piece of baggage. If they ever did take anything, they would have a difficult time concealing it from their co-workers unless it was small enough to fit in one of their uniform pockets.

TSA may confiscate prohibited items from checked baggage, but that is completely different than an individual taking them.

The many airline-employed baggage handlers who handle baggage after TSA security screens checked baggage are much more likely "thieves", this can occur at any airport along a traveler's itinerary.

I speak from personal experience, an airline-employed baggage handler stole from my checked baggage at my destination airport, and what they threw out from my checked baggage was found in an airline-employee security area (long before TSA security screeners). I worked for federal contractors, so I am familiar with the federal government background check procedures, and I have a close personal friend who works for TSA.

For various reasons, I am usually selected for "special" screening most times I travel.

I believe the security screening is important, but I also believe that both airline employees and passengers need to have better training. For instance, in order to fly, you should go through a brief anti-terrorist presentation every so many years.