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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A Win for the Blogosphere

Posters on this blog have had their first official impact on our operations. That’s right, less than one week since we began the blog and already you’re affecting security in a very positive way.

On Monday afternoon we began receiving questions about airports that were requiring ALL electronics to be removed from carry-on bags (everything, including blackberrys, iPods and even cords). This practice was also mentioned on several other blogs and left us scratching our heads.

So…we checked with our security operations team to figure out what was going on. After some calls to our airports, we learned that this exercise was set up by local TSA offices and was not part of any grand plan across the country. These practices were stopped on Monday afternoon and blackberrys, cords and iPods began to flow through checkpoints like the booze was flowing on Bourbon Street Tuesday night. (Fat Tuesday of course).

So thanks to everyone for asking about this and for giving us a chance to make it right. Our hope is that examples like this validate our forum and show the solid partnerships we can form with our customers - the traveling public - in not only increasing security but in making all of our lives just a little easier.

Thanks again and keep those comments and questions coming.

Comments

Submitted by Dave X on

How did TSA not know that some airports did it this way? Do you not check? Do TSA folk flash some badge & smile and flow through security without noticing these different policies?

Are you really saying this blog is one of the best mechanisms TSA has of regularizing and standardizing their operations?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Very nice!

Power - to the people. The way it should have been in the first place.

Submitted by Anonymous on

There are no Standard Operating Procedures? You guys aren't doing some analysis on where the chain of command broke down?

It's just 'we finally read the internet and turns out we have no idea what our field ops were doing'?

Submitted by Anonymous on

It's an embarassment that the TSA does not know what's going on it its own house without this blog. Rogue screeners have been creating their own rules since the inception of the TSA, yet this is hailed as a major victory?

Please, figure out what's going on in your own house, clean it up thoroughly, then come brag to us about it. This is nothing more than a public relations stunt in which you've allowed things to deteriorate to the point where enforcing your own policies on your employees is considered an improvement.

Submitted by Anonymous on

While it's nice that the TSA is finally admitting it has a problem w/rogue operatives, as well as apparently doing something about it, a quick scan of the many, many complaints that have been filed w/the TSA since its inception would have illuminated the same problem quite a few years ago. As well as all the other areas where screeners have been making up their own rules as they go along, but try starting w/the acceptance of IDs to enter the checkpoint (there is a lengthy thread about this very subject over on Flyertalk.com w/some pretty interesting posts by people at least claiming to be screeners!)

Submitted by Dave X on

I think that considering the amount of people who fly the slight delay in getting through the checkpoints is understandable and in fact makes most of us feel safer.
Keep up the good work.

Submitted by Lmerklin on

I find the TSA's start of this Blog to be a very good thing. I am a frequent flier and have had good experience with most TSA folk. When one thinks of the number of airports and number of employees nationally, one would expect some problems here and there. Let's thank the blog staff for tracking down the Blackberry issue rather than find one more thing to taunt them about!

Submitted by Anonymous on

so let me get this straight. Several of your local offices held an exercise that impacted pasengers, they did not get authorization from a regional or national office, and the only way you found out was through this blog.

Why am I not surprised. How about giving passengers a way to report these activities or abusive behaviour by staff. Other than a blog.

Submitted by Cheebert on

I've seen quite a few private firms that have communications problems that would put TSA into fits of laughter. Keep in mind that TSA is a VERY new agency and like any private firm that has had to deal with explosive growth; it too is going to have some communicaitons issues to find and fix.

Also keep in mind that you always tend to get training inconsistencies when you're dealing with LOTS of new employees. Especially when you're a gov agency trying to compete with the private sector in the job market. Sometimes bad apples slip through the hiring process...I'm just happy that TSA is taking the effort to weed the bad apples out.

Submitted by NoLongerFlying on

With the current policies in place, I suspect I'll never fly again. Not because I'm on a "no fly" list, or other such thing, but because of the extraordinary amount of security drama in the current list.

Thanks for screwing up the airline industry even more, TSA.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Christopher said:

". . . So…we checked with our security operations team to figure out what was going on. After some calls to our airports, we learned that this exercise was set up by local TSA offices and was not part of any grand plan across the country."

Thanks to TSA for recognizing, at least in this instance, that there was a problem and taking steps to address it. If nothing else good happens, the blog has proved its usefulness by helping resolve just that one irritant.

There should be some lessons for all concerned in this episode. These are the ones I see:

1. TSA can be responsive to issues raised by the traveling public. Despite what many here (including myself) may have believed, TSA management is not totally indifferent to pointless annoyance of the public.

2. TSA can admit that they occasionally fail to get things right. I commend TSA for acknowledging that some local managers or screeners were freelancing the policies and procedures in this case. How refreshing to hear an open admission rather than the old standby, "inconsistency is part of our plan."

3. TSA management is woefully unaware of what is happening in the field. Sorry, but if it took a flood of blog comments for TSA management to realize that policies and procedures are made up out of thin air at various airports then TSA management has simply not been doing its job. The easy part of management is promulgating procedures and policies. The difficult part is following up to ensure they are being observed.

I also have one small nit to pick with TSA (and Christopher) about language. Christopher (and TSA) uses the word "customers" to describe the traveling public. I'll readily admit that I'm very distrustful of TSA (and I think that the agency has earned my distrust) and using misleading language like "customer" to describe me increases my distrust.

A customer normally can choose whether or not to avail himself of the good or service being offered; and except for a few cases,a customer has a choice of suppliers. With TSA, I have neither. If I am to travel by air (a job requirement) I MUST be screened by TSA and only by TSA. If a customer is upset with the level of service he receives and complains he is almost never threated with detention, punishment or arrest. The question, "Do you want to fly today?" - with the implied threat to hold a passenger past flight time - and punitive additional screening are common tactics used by TSA employees. Many TSA screeners will call for law enforcement if you look at them crossways or "have an attitude".

I am not a customer and I would rather not have TSA think that I am. I am a citizen. I am an unwilling participant. I am an occasional victim. If TSA truly thinks I am a customer then let me take my business elsewhere.

Submitted by Anonymous on

This is very good news. Thank you for showing that you do listen. Please keep it up!

Submitted by MarkS on

I agree with cheebert. Part of the problem with the American culture is that we tend to be backward rather than solution focused. It's always much easier to criticize than to put thought into a solution.

The TSA identified, what may be a solution to a problem. They now have the best watchdog agency (the traveling public with a means to communicate) working to ensure that policy is followed.

Sadly, we have to have a TSA, but since we do, let's do our best to make it work. It’s not going away no matter how much we complain. I am assuming that the TSA uses this site to find ways to improve and to take suggestions on how to better prepare for unfortunate situations.

My final suggestion is to never propose a problem without at least offering a solution.

Submitted by Goon on

There is no reason to take that stuff out of the bag in the first place why have an x-ray?

Submitted by Beau Woods on

I'm surprised at all of the commenters (most anonymous) who are being so negative about this post. Can the TSA do anything right in your minds? No matter what your opinion of the agency is, you have to recognize that they can only improve a step at a time. And if this blog can help get the TSA provide a higher level of service with less impact to passengers, I would think that you'd support positive news like this!

At the risk of oversimplifying, if your dog takes it upon himself to learn to shake, do you punish him for a) not having learned it before, b) not doing it with the right paw, c) not having also learned to do a flip? No, of course not. You wouldn't have expected him to learn this trick at all so you would be pleasantly surprised and encourage him.

Two weeks ago, would you have expected the TSA to start a blog that makes travel easier and gives you a chance to give them feedback? I hardly think you can criticize them, then, for doing it. Remember, recognizing that they have a problem and asking for help is the first step.

Thanks, TSA. (I never thought I'd hear myself say/type that!) I hope this blog fulfills its potential and can give us a safer and easier travel experience.

Submitted by Tyler on

I am applaud you for the progress so early in the game.

The next thing you need to do is get your "charles in charge" screeners to stop barking orders at citizens. You need a comment/complaint card system at the end of every check point, and employees ID numbers clearly visible in large print on their badge. Every time a screener comes over to me and my girlfriend and yells, "shoes off!, jackets off!, sweatshirts off!" when I haven't even had the chance to do it yet, my blood boils. I want that man/woman to be held accountable for his abuse of power and poor attitude towards the citizens funding his paycheck. Give me a way to do that in a manner that won't have him sending me through additional screening for the next 2 hours. Or worse, arrested and charged with some misdemeanor about creating a scene and subsequently banned from all airports.

I have never in my life felt more like a prisoner than that moment. Yet he continues to be gainfully employed, victimizing people every single day with that attitude. And I'm the one funding his paycheck.

I also want to reiterate Anonymous' comment above:

"I am not a customer and I would rather not have TSA think that I am. I am a citizen. I am an unwilling participant. I am an occasional victim. If TSA truly thinks I am a customer then let me take my business elsewhere."

That's the attitude of many many people I know, including myself. You need to fix that.

Thanks for listening and I look forward to future updates.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Here's another issue: Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines having to be taken out of their bag to go through x-ray. Since the main issue is that they are medium-sized electronic devices with lots of wires, why not just x-ray the entire bag like you used to, then have me unpack it in one place where everything stays together for the swab process?

As a person who carries my CPAP, I am tired of having to unpack, pick up the parts, start packing, get called out and have to unpack again at the residue test area, then pack up again. It's carefully packed (with all the necessary supplies such as the humidifier, connector tube, mask, filters, and extension cord) just like any other piece of baggage, except it happens to be an electronic device.

And don't tell me that it would just be easier for me to check it -

1. It is a $2000 piece of medical equipment. I'm not going to leave it out of my sight (except when it's in the overhead bin) or allow it to be tossed, thrown, shoved or crushed by baggage handlers.
2. It goes on my face and I breathe through it every time I nap or sleep. I don't want other people touching it unless absolutely necessary, and I want to watch them when they do.
3. I have a right to carry it on under both FAA and TSA regulations. It is used to treat a disability. If I am on a long-distance flight, I might even plug it in and use it.

At least there's one saving grace - TSA seems to have educated its screeners about what a CPAP looks like, and therefore most of them ask me, "Is that a CPAP?" I do appreciate that effort, but since it's a common enough medical device, there should be a way to streamline the screening process.

Submitted by Psychdata on

Thanks for this.

Another odd inconsistency that perhaps you can answer. I was in DC (Reagan National) last week and everything was fine, but I happened to get into a line where each passenger had to go through the "bomb blower" machine. This is usually part of the elevated security routine, but in this case, all passengers in that line had to go through the machine. Other lines didn't. Is there there a reason for that?

And while I don't agree with many of the TSA's practices, I do commend you for having this blog and trying to create a spirit of openness.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Newark, NJ, 29 January 2007, 0730. Lots of people in line at the Continental Elite checkpoint in Terminal C.

Two times, the supervisor closed one line and opened another, causing people to have to pick up their belongings and shift position from one place to another. Out of FOUR possible lines, his actions led to there being only ONE line open at any given time.

Also he was fooling around with the formation of the lines themselves, so that newly arriving people were directed to cut in front of people who had already been waiting in line for several minutes.

There didn't seem to be any problem with the equipment, and the TSA employees themselves seemed perplexed as to where they were supposed to be and their exact duties. People were yelling back and forth, and the supervisor verbally corrected several of them in a very impatient manner.

If there were only enough employees to handle one line, he should have just kept it in the same place instead of moving it.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Thanks for fixing a problem, but riddle me this;
Why did your senior managers not know of this problem?

Just who is in charge at TSA, field personnel or management when policy is promulgated?

Does senior managment need to get out of the office?

Perhaps you have people in place that are not effective!

Submitted by Hillary Dickman on

I'm so glad you guys can be made aware of problems and fix them via this blog! I had an experience this summer where my kids' juice boxes were taken away in security when I KNEW they should not have been. I later wrote an email to what seemed like nobody at the TSA, hoping the problem would be fixed for other parents flying through that airport. I was so angry, I even blogged about the experience (http://dickmanfam.blogspot.com/2007/07/victory-for-traveling-parents.html)

Thankfully, and surprisingly, I got a reply AND somebody fixed the problem at that airport. But...this venue seems like it will be much easier and more efficient. I wish every government department had a blog.

Submitted by Jack on

Good.

Submitted by David Nelson on

Christopher,

Back in 1998, I interviewed at the FAA for the position of the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Civil Aviation Security. In 2002, this entire office became the TSA, so, I interviewed for what is now Hawley's deputy position. During the interview, one of the things that concerned me was that the field offices were autonomous and took very little direction from the headquarters. This culture has obviously been adopted by the TSA. Further, it's clear from your incredulous remarks that you at the HQ had no idea that there were "rogue" screeners out there doing whatever they darn well pleased.

Now that you have provided lip service to solve this problem, it's time -- long past time -- for your agency to comply with the Privacy Act. Your own IG has written up your agency for blatant and continuous violations of the Privacy Act. When a screener demands that a passenger produce a drivers license and then proceeds to write down PA-protected information, the individual screener is committing a felony punishable by a combination of fines and jail time. It's in the Privacy Act language -- I strongly suggest you read it.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I’m pretty critical of TSA, and a little disturbed that it took them until February 5 to acknowledge a problem with rogue TSA stations that was posted on flyertalk.com on January 17, but at least they:

1) Admit it was a mistake, and

2) Say they are correcting it.

Now that they’re admitting mistakes, let’s see some additional progress on:

a) TSA ID checkers harassing and sending to secondary people with perfectly valid government-issued photo IDs. Setting aside the fact that identity has nothing to do with security (the 9/11 hijackers all had IDs, and any college student who wants a beer can get a good fake), there is no justification for the sporadic harassment going on at terminals. Valid US passports with stamps and valid drivers licenses with address-change stickers (sanctioned by the issuing state) are being rejected as “altered.” And there’s even a report of TSA rejecting military IDs. The signs at terminals say all that is required is a “government-issued photo ID,” so TSA needs to suck it up and accept any non-fake ID that meets those requirements

b) Retaliatory screening. Just today there was a report of a passenger at TPA being sent to secondary as retaliation for saying impolite things about TSA policy. It wasn’t nice, but free speech doesn’t stop at the airport door. Dislike, disgust, and anger toward irrational TSA policies is not grounds for declaring someone a “heightened concern individual.” Screeners caught retaliating against passengers should be terminated immediately.

c) Privacy Act: TSA at some stations continues to try to copy down passenger ID info either in response to requests for complaint forms or other situations, and yet still doesn’t provide the required Privacy Act disclosures. TSA continues to assemble dossiers on passengers and refuses to release them under PA/FOIA requests claiming they are part of a “criminal investigation.” But TSA is conducting administrative searches, not criminal searches. How can we trust TSA when they won’t even follow federal law?

Submitted by Just Some TSO on

There ARE Standard Operating Procedures. But the SOP is like the bible in the sense that people want to interpret it their own little way.

For example, the SOP might state that "miniature" electronics don't need to be taken out of the bag. But how small does it have to be considered "miniature?"

We might agree that a watch is miniature. Compared to a watch, an iPod might not seem miniature. But compared to a laptop, maybe it is, in fact, miniature. But without leaking any sensitive security information this is just an example as to how the Standard Operating Procedures might be misinterpreted and it is one of the reasons different TSA offices run things differently than others.

Then you also have to consider there's more airports than I've ever bothered to count and it's hard to know every little detail that every airport is doing at all times. If some TSA office believes they are living by the SOP and it's such a small deviation from the SOP's actual intention, they're not exactly going to report to everyone "HEY WE'RE MAKING PEOPLE TAKE IPODS OUT OF THEIR CARRY-ON, HAHAHA" sometimes you have to mention it before it is noticed.

Although I'll tell you what.... When you're a TSO on X-ray, that bag looks a whole lot better without all those little electronics in it, and many times I'll call a bag check simply because there's too much crap in there and I can't tell what's what.

Regarding the CPAP user, I don't know if this is a national thing, but at my airport you can have your CPAP in a clear plastic bag while it's in the bin if you want to. Also, you can ask the TSO who tests it to put on new gloves and use new swabs, and they won't argue.

Submitted by Soss on

Ok sweet, a rogue-terminal policy was changed, that probably amounted to 5-10 minutes of extra time spent in security, at most. Now how about issues that cost passengers their hard earned money?

A flight to Japan last summer resulted in my checked baggage being opened, and $200 worth of equipment gone missing (knife, surefire, cigar cutter), no TSA luggage check certificate. 2 Weeks ago i flew to Salt Lake City from LAX, and my $300 camera goes missing out of my checked luggage, which was wrapped in two tshirts, no TSA luggage check certificate there either.

Is there an internal affairs division with TSA to track down thieves or theft-rings? I've heard numerous accounts of stuff gone missing from checked luggage, and often times passengers aren't reimbursed fully because of TSA or the airline's policy/reasons, which just is ridiculous.

Judging by the recent reports of TSA's ineffectiveness at stopping actual threats through security checkpoints, i'm debating on whether or not to just start sneaking all my valuables (jet lighters, cigar cutters, pocket knives) through in my bath-stuff bag.

Submitted by Dan Kozisek on

Great! One part of one problem down. Now eliminate the need to screen laptops separately and you will have accomplished something.

Next, eliminate the ridiculous war on liquids.

While your doing that, try making your screeners accountable for their actions.

Contact me once you've accomplished these simple tasks.

Submitted by Anonymous on

This is great news! Praise for the TSA blog!!! But it also a perfect example of rogue TSA employees creating their own rules/laws - TSA PLEASE crack down on these people. We will all benefit from it!

Submitted by Ang122 on

This should have been made more clear, apologies if it wasn't. The 100% of electronics screening were not some "rogue screeners" gone bad. This small pilot program if you will, was at only seven to 10 airports (out of 450) as local TSA management was working to determine the impact the removal would have on our x-ray operations and the impact it would have on checkpoint lines. Sometimes with less clutter, like that presented by electronics and cords and all, it is easier for our folks to see threat items wihtout all the mess. Security operations management was aware of the program.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Since ya'll are so busy touting success in figuring out that you have rogue screeners requiring all electronics be search individually. How about this one...
Complaint forms are still not available prior arrival to airport. One commenter suggested having them at the end of the counter would suffice. I don't think so, some counters would be chronically out of stock.

This is something else you can fix THIS week which would improve the TSA. Complaint forms should be available without having to request them from agents. Requests for forms results in threats of retaliation. Remove the opportunity for threat and you might get actionable feedback that can improve staff training/ discipline.

Submitted by Anonymous on

So what you're telling us is that "our" checkpoints are out of control? Who's getting fired for this? In any chain of command, that is completely inappropriate!

Submitted by Anonymous on

I love the fact that the TSA is apologizing, and having a blog at the same time !! hooray for technology.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bradley Airport (BDL) is still requesting as of Tuesday that cameras and other electronics be removed from bags. This is a royal pain if you carry any semi-pro or pro photography equipment. And who pays when the camera is dropped or damaged on the other end of the xray? Damage during screening is not a very well covered topic.

Submitted by Jay Maynard on

I'm plenty critical of the TSA, but I have to disagree with those who are slamming the agency for fixing this problem. The true measure of a service organization is what it does to correct problems.

I, too, travel with a CPAP, and believe that the mandatory intensive testing of the device is nothing less than a naked, deliberate violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. That said, I pulled mine out and put it in a bin long before it became a requirement. I figured that, if it was going to get pulled out anyway, I might as well speed the process so they can check it while I'm waiting on the 5 other items I sent through the X-ray separately to come out.

Submitted by Cautiously Opti... on

Hey, to those complaining about thiss process...at least they now HAVE a process. Congrats TSA for figuring out how to collect this kind of data and check back in with a dispersed workforce.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Terrorist is defined as "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion"

Now which group uses fear to coerce to public to accept a security state?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Question for ang122,

are you an official spokesperson for the TSA?
You indicate that you know about inside operational matters that are not known by management.

Not a slam, just curious.

Submitted by Melissa S on

My boyfriend and I flew from LAX to JFK on 1/17 without incident. On the way home, on 1/21, however, was a completely different story. I hate to check a bag, so I was sure to comply with the one-quart zip-lock bag with only 3oz or less bottles in it. Upon arriving at the scanner, I did regulation everything - take shoes, coat, sweatshirt, scarf off and place in separate bins, portable compy in its own bin, all other electronics in my purse, backpack, or carryon. But as my carryon was about to go through, I realized that I'd forgotten to take the ziplock OUT of my carryon. So I took it out, and the lovely woman who saw me do this gruffly said, "well I can tell you right now, you can't take these liquids through." I asked her why, and she bitterly responded with, "Because they're not labeled." I proceeded to tell her that I'd flown with these bottles at least 10 times before and that the rules are simply 3oz or less. I've never read, heard, or seen anywhere that the bottle had to have a label.

She didn't seem to understand the rules, so she sent me to her manager who proceeded to explain to me that the bottles had to be labeled. I went through my same explanation. He sent me to his supervisor. He proceeded to also tell me that the bottles had to be labeled. Throughout this whole process, I tried to reason with them, which was to bring up the point that ONE of the bottles was labeled as being 3oz and the rest of the bottles were clearly smaller than that one. So why couldn't they just make a rational, logical judgment that the rest of the bottles in there were less than 3oz? Upon bringing up the reason and logic point, he yelled, "My rules are my rules and the rules are ration and logic." At which point I realized I wasn't going to get anywhere with trying to wax logical with him. I decided to check my bags before saying what I really wanted to say, which was, "So you mean to tell me that if the bottle was embossed with a 3oz label, that I could put anything I wanted in those bottles, like explosives, and they'd get through based on some arbitrary rule that there needs to be a label on there?"

Meanwhile, I realized that my boyfriend, who opted to not take his liquids out of his carry on is standing next to me this whole time without incident and with his bags full of unlabeled liquids.

While I was taking my bag to be checked, my boyfriend was waiting with the rest of our things and decided to take his camera out and take some photos. As he's doing this, a TSA agent walks up to him and says, "Sir, I'd prefer if you didn't take photos of the security line." To which he said, "Is that some kind of rule? I don't see any notices anywhere." She looked at him with condescension, pointed to her felt badge and said, "These stripes right here... these are the rules, I make them up."

What an abuse of authority we have running our airports.

Also: I checked the TSA website when I got home and could not find anything anywhere about a 3oz bottle having to be labeled.

I was also told that different airports have different regulations, to which I said, "Isn't this a FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY? Should the rules be blanket across the whole country?" I was met with a blank stare followed by, "Ma'am, you can surrender the liquids or check your bags."

When I checked my bag at the Virgin American counter, I asked the very nice, polite, respectful young ladies whether they'd ever heard a rule about bottle having to be LABELED 3oz. They looked at each other rolled their eyes and said, "I have no idea why those rules even exist. They do nothing to make flying safer. But no, I've never heard about a bottle having to be labeled 3oz."

Submitted by Matt Glaman on

Actions speak louder than words. Let's see if this "hoorah" is actually going to make some kind of "difference."

As a note, I don't plan on flying anywhere, any more.

Submitted by Cris1 on

on jan 28th I was checked by tsa at 5 p.m. at colorado springs airport. I was not happy with the lady that was checking shoes and other things because she checked my lunch. she took my sandwich apart and touched it with her dirty gloves. and made a mess putting it back together. there is no need for that she could have used metal detector wand. or she could have changed her gloves

Submitted by Adalbrecht on
Customers? I am not your customer. I'm a citizen. I do not pay you, I do not like you, I will not put up with your shenanigans any more.
Submitted by Anonymous on

dave x. and others:

Those who are willing to give up a little freedom for a little security deserve neither. Wake up.

Submitted by Dave X The First on

I'm not ripping on TSA for fixing a problem, I'm ripping on TSA for not having management procedures in place that would notice the problem. If this blog post is accurate, feedback through this mechanism is what initiated the change in the system. While that is a score for the bloggers, it is a black mark for TSA management in that they did not notice it themselves.

Really, I'm interested in how TSA management failed to notice this issue themselves. Do they not travel to the different airports? Or do they get special treatment when they visit? Or do they not realize that different places screen differently? Or do they not care that standards are different at different places? None of those explanations would fill me with confidence, but my limited imagination can't come up with any better explanation.

If I'm interpreting the post correctly: The bloggers made some calls, the policies were non-standard, and TSA stopped it on Monday. That really doesn't point to good management, rather it sort of highlights that TSA is reactive.

It's like McDonalds whistleblowers going to the media before McD's ensures they wash their shake machines. Maybe the shakes end up cleaner, and the whistleblowers are to be commended for coming foreward, but it inspires absolutely no confidence that management policies are keeping the rest of the food clean.

TSA management seems out of touch and reactive. Their policies are not well reasoned out or uniformly applied, it looks like they are just winging it and hoping for the best.

There's a real cost in winging it -- the inconveniences and inconsistencies make people choose driving over flying, and traffic fatalities go up when people do that: http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/March05/Sept11driving.pdf

At even 1/4 the excess traffic fatalities per month that study found, TSA's useless screening procedures are probably responsible for killing more people than they can hope to save.

Submitted by Anonymous on

How to make TSA a better agency:

1. Train your people in what they need to do.
2. Train your people in how to do what they need to do.
3. Train your people in how to behave while they do what they need to do.
4. Train your people in why they should do things that way.
5. Train your people how to respond properly to things that are normal.
6. Train your people how to respond properly to things that are unusual.
7. Train your people how to respond properly to things that are wrong.
8. Review. Reinforce. Retrain. Repeat.

I'm tired of seeing female screeners who are more interested in repainting their nails than paying attention to the X-ray screen (LAX). I'm tired of hearing loud "guess who I did" discussions between male screeners (O'Hare).
I'm tired of having to explain what a CAC card is (everywhere but Albequerque and Norfolk) and what it is doing in my passport. I'm tired of seeing groups of uniformed soldiers being given a BOHICA near strip-search secondary screening because they dare to have metal buttons on their uniforms.

Train your people.

Submitted by Ang122 on

In answer to the question, yes, I work for TSA and familiar with the program. Sorry for not clarifying.

Submitted by Rod on

Not a bad start, but you should be working on retiring the really stupid rules you have in place concerning other issues, such as liquids.

As a matter of public news, the TSA allows better than 75% of actual harmful substances through security, but, by God, we're being protected from that bottle of hair conditioner or potentially explosive breast milk.

Do you really want to know why the TSA has such a bad public perception? It's entirely because you persist in providing 'security theatre', while failing to provide actual security.

TSA needs to take their cue from El Al. Their security is real security, not showmanship. Go after the *REAL* threats, and stop stealing water from the honest passengers.

Submitted by Anonymous on

ang122 said: "it is easier for our folks to see threat items wihtout (sic) all the mess."

It would also be easier if your so-called "customers" come naked and have no carry-ons either! You job is not to make your job easier for yourself by inconveniencing us who pay for your salaries.

As USA Today exposed in 2007 and CNN on 1/28, the Red Team and others are able to smuggle fake bombs on majority of the time (75% at LAX)!

So the solution to the problem is better and more consistent training - not 10 local TSA fiefdoms trying out 10 different OPs to make things easier for their staff.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I see consistent reports of people getting bullied by employees with badges. How are you screening your screeners? They need to be reminded that that little felt badge means nothing. We are citizens, not subjects.

After 9-11, was there a huge rush to fill airport security slots? I think it's time to thin that herd as it were.

Submitted by JANE WOOLDRIDGE on

Like many travelers, I have a love-hate relationship with TSA, something I write about occasionally on my blog for The Miami Herald. But I have to applaud this TSA blog, which treats the public the way it ought to be treated...with respect. Other government agencies ought to follow suit. Now, if you guys can just do something about the cranky TSA staff at many airports....

Submitted by Dave X The First on

@Ang122 February 6, 2008 8:30 PM :

Are you saying the all-electronics screening was part of a planned experiment?

In that case: Did the experimenters learn anything useful from the experiment? Did the experiment end early without answering whatever questions it was intended to answer? Did this blogging program interfere with a worthwhile experiment? Or did the experiment end on Monday as planned and the blog post is merely taking credit for something that would have ended without the intervention of bloggers?

From the triumphal tone of the OP, it wasn't clear at all that there was value in the experiment--rather it seemed as if a few blog posters improved security by eliminating a useless inconsistency.

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