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Why We Do What We Do: Additional Screening for People with Hip Replacements

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Monday, February 11, 2008

We've received many comments and questions from people who have had hip replacements and other metal implanted in their bodies for medical reasons. Many want to be able to present a letter from their doctor, some type of medical card, or even an x-ray to confirm that it's for an authentic medical reason that they're alarming the metal detector.

We understand that this is an inconvenience to travelers who repeatedly have to go through additional security measures because of a medical condition, but we just can't accept a letter, a card or an x-ray. I’ll explain some of the reasons.

This is a true story: a passenger told a security officer that he knew he was going to set the metal detector off because he had a pin in his hip. He hoped the officer would give him a pass on additional screening. Instead, the security officer followed TSA guidelines patted down the passenger. Guess what? He found a gun strapped to the passenger’s leg. So, if the security officer had just taken his word for it, a gun would have gotten on the plane—and maybe even been in the seat next to you. Things like this happen all the time, more than you would think.

We know those of you with genuine medical conditions are not the problem. And we realize the additional screening makes your checkpoint experience a frustrating one. But if a passenger alarms the metal detector, our security officers must resolve the alarm or the passenger can't get on the plane. We want to be thorough and protect the safety of everyone. No officer wants to be the one to let a gun, knife or bomb get through to an airplane.

If terrorists (or people who just HAVE to take their gun or knife with them on the flight) thought they could get by with a letter from a doctor or medical ID card, they'd quickly find out a way to make fake ones. How can we tell the difference in just a few seconds in a busy checkpoint line? It may make it a bit easier for you—but it makes it way too easy for them. Unfortunately, the pat down is currently the only way to resolve the situation.

Like you, we’re not satisfied with this result either. So, we’ve been busy exploring less invasive technology solutions that will allow officers to distinguish passengers with metallic medical implants from those trying to sneak weapons through the checkpoint. Last year, we began field testing several different types of whole body imagers in Phoenix, Arizona. Some passengers who were required to undergo additional screening were given the option of going through a portal instead of a pat-down. We've gotten great feedback from passengers on the technology, so we plan to continue testing the technology in other airports like JFK in New York, LAX in California, and others later this Spring. If you happen to go through portal in Phoenix or other airports, write back and let us know what you think.

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have no problem with the need for additional screening of those, like my aunt, who have knee replacements and other metal in their bodies. It is understandable why it needs to be done. However, I feel the TSA could streamline the process if they would simply listen to the person who says "I have xxx. I will set off the alarm. Please do a pat down and/or additional screening". Don't make these people go through the scanner multiple times, setting it off each time, slowing down the line, and then treating them like criminals. Don't assume just because they say they have the medical issue they do, but conversly, don't assume just because they say they have a medical condition they are asking for a "pass" in the screening process.

Submitted by Anonymous on

How about this?

Primary screening consists of metal detector and puffer. Secondary screening (for people who alarm the primary and aren't able to remove the offending object-none of this ridiculous SSSS) is either a pat-down or some kind of imaging, up to the passenger. There's no reason to pat down someone who didn't alarm either.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Something I don't understand ... What was the procedure before 9/11 for such individuals? The anger that some of the folks have towards this perceived inconvenience today, leads me to believe that prior to 9/11 they were allowed to just go right thru ... no questions asked.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have a recent knee replacement. Naturally, it sets off the metal detector. I do NOT mind having secondary screening using a hand wand and with a pat down to resolve the alarm when the hand wand goes off – only on my knee and my back from my bra hooks. I DO mind receiving a “full pat down” everywhere I have clothing – my torso, legs and arms if they are not bare – places that DO NOT set off the metal detector during the second screening! I get the full “pat down” (feels like a full frisk to me!) EVERY time I go through security! Several weeks ago, I sucked up my pride and wore tight fitting shorts and a tank top under a sweat suit in hopes of eliminating the humiliation of a “full pat down”. I removed the pants and jacket and went through screening only wearing only a tank top and shorts. I STILL got the pat down on my torso where I wore clothing when anyone could clearly see nothing was strapped to my body -- though my naked knee didn’t need to get the pat down! WHY? I thought these “pat downs” were to resolve the alarms? WHY do I, and other passengers who would otherwise not set off the alarm, be subjected to “full pat downs” in places where the secondary screening does not produce an alarm? We cannot exactly go through naked! Oh, and by the way, I did get the opportunity to use the new imaging equipment in Phoenix. I STILL got both legs patted down – but at least I didn’t get the full frisk! Please explain this treatment which seems mighty unfair!

Submitted by Infrequent Flyer on

Wow, reading this blog actually makes me think that TSA might know what they're doing.

Whoever came up with this idea, I hope, was promoted to middle management.

Submitted by Pencil Pusher on

I'd like to add (a little off topic)...

I recently went through a TSA checkpoint and placed my carry on messenger bag in a grey plastic bin to be scanned. I then started through the body scanner.

The TSA agent at the luggage scanner made me come back and remove my messenger bag from the grey bin and load it directly onto the conveyor belt. He wouldn't load my bag himself because, he said, he didn't want to be responsible if the shoulder strap got caught in the conveyor belt.

This conveyed (pun intended) to me a lack of personal/agency responsibility on the part of TSA staff for what they are requiring of the public.

I'm like, dude... If it gets stuck in YOUR machine, because YOU want it loaded a particular way then you better accept a little responsibility in case of damage.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Will the TSOs operating the full body scanners be able to tell the difference between cosmetic implants and body packing?

Has anyone looked into wether or not the "up-skirt" reflective floor on the metal detector at the entry to the LAX domestic terminal has been fixed/replaced?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I realize the reason for the patdowns & security for my hip replacement...I don't mind that so much and cooperate fully now that I've got the routine down and can practically do it in my sleep. What bothers me is when someone yells out for "Female Assist" and it takes 10 minutes for anyone to show up even though there are what I assume to be some type of managers since all they're doing is standing around, not looking particularly useful. In the meantime, if I didn't have my husband to grab my belongings, anyone could have run off with them!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Yea, I'll pass on the full body image thing. Thanks. Way to invade my privacy even more. And your puffer machine? No.

If I tell you I'm going to set it off, just listen and let me go for the pat down. It's called the evolution of flexibility. We're the ones who are doing the flying and knows whats going to happen. The screeners are standing there going through rigid protocol.

Submitted by TSA TSO NY on
TSA could streamline the process if they would simply listen to the person who says "I have xxx. I will set off the alarm. Please do a pat down and/or additional screening".

Any passenger CAN request a pat down as opposed to a walk through. Pregnant women, people w/pacemakers, etc. do it all the time. Simply state "I'd like a pat down. Then you will get a FULL BODY PAT DOWN but you will avoid the metal detector, repass through the metal detector, and then the pat down anyway.

As far as patting down the back and torso anyway... Sorry, but terrorists have been known to mold explosive sheeting to thier back, torso, etc. The only way to detect it is to actually feel it.
Submitted by Anonymous on

I have had a lot metal in my body (hips) for over 15 years. I don't always set off the alarm so I chance it each time I go through security that I may or may not set off the alarm. When I set off the alarm, I tell TSA why I set it off. I don't mind the secondary screen however, I do mind that I am treated like a liar first. I would hazard a guess that the scenario posed by TSA occurs infrequently and maybe this is just one instance. More often than not, I am treated like some scum-bag who is trying to bamboozle TSA with some phoney excuse for trying to bypass security measures. What is real joke, is when I see 80 year old men and women pulled aside in their wheelchairs - probably going through the same humilation. So the reality is that the same procedure is applied pre and post 9/11 however, we are viewed as guilty and treated as such with the extensive pat-down. Overall, I am more annoyed that I have to wait extended periods of time for the secondary screen while my belongings sit unattended on the conveyor belt far from my view or ability to get a TSA agent to review them from the line. By the time this is over with, I wonder why I even travel anymore!

Submitted by JustAnotherTSOsays: on

In response to Anonymous at 9:06 PM who asked :

"WHY do I, and other passengers who would otherwise not set off the alarm, be subjected to “full pat downs” in places where the secondary screening does not produce an alarm? "

Hi. I am a TSO, and I will try to answer your question. Why do we pat you down at the end of the wanding process, regardless of the fact that you did not alarm in certain areas? At some point, I don't remember when, the TSA changed our wanding procedures to include a "Bulk Item Pat Down". This is where we pat down the arms, legs, and torso of a passenger. We do this to rule out the possibility of someone strapping an explosive to their body.(I think this was implemented shortly after the fake pregnant women loaded their fake bellies with explosives an blew themselves up). This is also the reason for why we are requiring jackets and other bulky fitting clothing to be removed, if possible. This pat down is currently part of our screening process, and is required not only for wandings, but for other situations as well. It is a step in our procedure that we have to complete, regardless of what you are wearing.
I know this doesn't answer your question fully, but I hope it helps you a little.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have a couple of rods, a plate, and 10 screws in me as the result of a bicycle accident. I pretty regularly travel on airplanes (lots safer than bicycles, obviously) all over the country and I absolutely do not mind being pulled aside for secondary screening. It's a very good idea and I have always been treated well by the TSA people. But I do have a concern: I set off the metal detector in some airports, but not in others - even though I wear pretty much the same things all the time when I travel. Are the differences the result of differences in detection technology or unwanted differences in calibration?

Submitted by Anonymous on

This is probably the wrong sub-forum to make this point, please move to the correct one if possible.

Am I the only one who has noticed that almost all the complaints on this blog can be described as requests for both the TSA and the flying public to ZBM-2? For you civilians out there it means 'Put a qualified operator on the line'.
There are rules and expectations for flying now. Follow them, and complain politely to those who actually made the rules if you think they are wrong or should be adjusted. This blog is probably a good place to do that.

It probably does not help the TSA's morale and ability to attract and/or keep good people if the public heaps abuse on anyone with a TSA badge. Just like any other agency, group, or business they have their bad apples that believe they are 'above the rules'. It's just that the TSA's bad apples are so visible they can't hide them away from the public like most other agencies, groups, or businesses do.

It does not help the flying public's case either for the public's inevitable 'above the rules' types to harrangue the TSO who is honestly trying to do their job. How'd you like doing your job if strangers regularly told you were an idiot? Your interpersonal skills would probably intentionally suffer just a bit, wouldn't they? I know mine would. Just like the TSA, the flying public has their own bad apples. And we've all seen them. They usually show up 20 minutes before the flight.

I would love to breeze through security in 5 minutes or less without a hassle, but until the masses figure out how to work with the TSA (and vice versa) I'll keep showing up three to four hours early just so the complainers can get out of the way. I usually wait for the lines to be short or non-existent, just so the TSOs aren't pressured. I've only got a couple hundred pages left to go to finish War & Peace anyway.

Submitted by TSO PHX on

To anonymous who stated there is no reason to pat down someone who didn't alarm. Actually, there are reasons to pat down someone who doesn't alarm. For instance, if someone approaches the check point in very bulky clothing or clothing that appears as if something is concealed. This person will undoubtedly be given additional screening. It's not uncommon for people to try and sneak things into the checkpoint in their clothing.

Submitted by TSO PHX on

pencil pusher- without seeing the size of your bag...I'm "assuming" it was rather large, bulky and/ or probably full. Placing the bag dirrectly on the belt gives the xray technician a better view of the contents of the bag and helps eliminate the need for reruns after the passenger has already passed thru the metal detector. It's always best that the passenger manipulate their own bag into the machine. It also enables the passenger to keep some sort of control over their own property.

Submitted by TSO PHX on

Infrequent Flyer- I don't know who thought up this idea. Kinda wish it had been me...'cause I have been blogging for years.

TSA does indeed know what it is doing. We are attempting to help the public understand the process.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I wish people truely did understand just how often it is that those "true stories" really do happen. It's sad that they instead get into a mind set that just because it's an inconvience for them or they haven't had or seen anything bad happen to them personally that we must be doing this stuff to just be a pain. My most recent encounter was with a lady that was displeased because I had to open her checked bag and asked her to unlock it, she actually asked me if she looked like a terrorist--WOW!! I just wondered what rock it was that she had just crawled out from under.

Submitted by Dave X The First on

The image I remember of the full-body scanning was of the TSA security laboratory director, and it looked a lot more revealing that the one you are displaying. Did you desensitize your machines to not show people's private parts? Or are you showing us a sanitized image while your screeners will see something more like the pictures below?

See:

http://epic.org/privacy/airtravel/backscatter/ or http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2003/06/59401

@ Justanothertso: "(I think this was implemented shortly after the fake pregnant women loaded their fake bellies with explosives an blew themselves up)."

Was this on a domestic commercial airplane flight or in Bagdhad?

Submitted by Anonymous on

In response to 'anonymous':

An earlier post said:

". . . like any other agency, group, or business they have their bad apples that believe they are 'above the rules'. It's just that the TSA's bad apples are so visible they can't hide them away from the public . . ."

While I agree wholeheartedly with you that only a small minority of TSA employees are "bad apples" I think the main problem is not that TSA cannot hide them away, but rather, TSA management apparently makes no effort whatsoever to weed them out. Those few with "Barney Fife syndrome" seemingly bully, harass and harangue the traveling public with no constraint whatsoever. I know that many TSA folks will say that they take customer service seriously. I'll believe it when I see comment cards racked up and prominently displayed at the checkpoints. Try asking for one at most airports and you'll be in for yet more delays and harassment.

"How'd you like doing your job if strangers regularly told you were an idiot? Your interpersonal skills would probably intentionally suffer just a bit, wouldn't they?"

I'll point to another group of workers who are regularly told by strangers that they are idiots - sports officials. Despite how much we like to shout at, demean, and criticize the referees or umpires I have to say that it is extremely rare to see one ever retaliate against a team or coach for the actions of the spectators. I think we would all agree that doing so would mark a referee as totally unprofessional. We expect professionals to uphold a higher standard of behavior than the public at large. While no one should have to endure verbal abuse, TSA employees need to be professional enough to understand that sometimes it comes with the territory. If they cannot treat it with professional detachment, they are unfit for their jobs. Punitive screening is the mark of someone who is letting his personal feelings override his professional responsibilities. Unfortunately, punitive screening is also quite common.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Save 30 seconds but have your privacy hugely invaded and get cancer a few years later... Tough call.

PS - Would you let your daughter go though the full body-see though cloths scanner while some $10/hour security guy looks on?

Submitted by Wintermute on

OK. So one anecdotal case, which we have no way of verifying as true, allows the TSA to discriminate against a whole population of people?

Submitted by Dave X The First on

TSO PHX said...

Infrequent Flyer- I don't know who thought up this idea. Kinda wish it had been me...'cause I have been blogging for years.

TSA does indeed know what it is doing. We are attempting to help the public understand the process.

February 12, 2008 7:27 AM

***************************

Some indeed know what TSA is doing, and it isn't promoting safety. Some of the public understand that TSA is simply security theatre.

Submitted by Anonymous on

OMG there are reports coming in that BOMBHIPS are being used be TURRISTS to TAKE AWAY OUR FREEDOMS!

Oh wait, taking away freedom is the TSA's job.

Nevermind. Threat level reduced back to polka-dot.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Anonymous said...
Yea, I'll pass on the full body image thing. Thanks. Way to invade my privacy even more. And your puffer machine? No.

If I tell you I'm going to set it off, just listen and let me go for the pat down. It's called the evolution of flexibility. We're the ones who are doing the flying and knows whats going to happen. The screeners are standing there going through rigid protocol.

Ya I dont agree with anything you said.. and I do not want you thinking for me either.. I will also be on that plane and no I dont want anyone to "take" your word about what you have or not have on you if you alarm.
Submitted by Anonymous on

One minute people want better security and not to get hand wanded.. and now you dont like this either.. get over it.. If you will not be happy with anything then move on.

Submitted by TSO PHX on

Dave X and Anonymous- The passengers and the operator of the Whole Body Imager never see each other. Going thru this machine is optional. Yes, I would allow my children to go thru the machine as do thousands of other passengers that travel thru the airports daily. We actually have passengers that request it because it is quick and easy. The following is a link to help you understand the backscatter machine.

http://www.tsa.gov/research/privacy/backscatter.shtm

Submitted by Anonymous on

How is it "less invasive" to go through an imager that presents my naked body to a complete stranger?

Submitted by Anonymous on

While refreshing to see an agency as secretive as the TSA actually create a blog, your collective attempt at positive public relations is failing. If you'd like to actually make it a forum for discussion of policy, however, that is more than welcome. What is not welcome is the invasive measures you use to "protect us" from "terrorists." You instill enough wariness and apprehension in we travelers to also qualify for the appellate. I thought the Schutzstaffel had been done away with. If you spent as much time on foreign and connecting flights as you do on internal hops, you might actually be able to claim you're making us safer - as it stands, you're just inconveniencing we, the People.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why don't we just all fly naked, and make checked luggage mandatory - no carry ons allowed? That should fix the problem of x-rays, pat downs, and metal detectors. Just a quick visual up and down, and walk on through.

Submitted by Glenn Willen on

It seems to me, based on the comments I'm reading here, that it would take exactly two steps to eliminate nearly all of the anger I see towards the TSA here.

1) Insist that TSO's have PROMINENT, READABLE nametags. I understand they have nametags already. But hell, the people I work with every day are required to wear badges, and after four months I still haven't gotten a clear look at some of their names. And they don't have any incentive to hide them. Make the badges LEGIBLE, and include employee numbers or whatever other information is needed to register a complaint, in a LARGE font.

2) Have complaint forms / comment cards PROMINENTLY AVAILABLE on the far side of the screening checkpoint. Give a spot for the names/numbers of TSOs who screened the commenter, and comments on the professionalism of those TSOs, as well as general comments.

These two steps together (assuming you actually read and act on the comment cards -- which I believe you will, because it's probably less effort than it took to set up this blog) will go a very long way towards eliminating the ire currently targeted at the TSA.

Submitted by Marshall on

We have truly become a "Nation of Sheep."

TSA apologists have caved into the fear mongering of our government. Those of you who think you are "fighting" terrorism are, in fact, by your actions allowing terrorism to win.

Stand up to your government. Do not be cowed. Demand the TSA be abolished in its current form and truly effective security be put in place, because folks what you see at TSA checkpoints is NOT security, it is only a show, a show that you are paying dearly for both in terms of you dollars and your loss of your rights.

Do you suppose this will be published?

Submitted by Anonymous on

This is all so very little protection. All people should be searched before boarding aircraft. No exceptions. I worked in a prison once and was amazed at the weapons that inmates tried to bring in through their body cavities. Aircrews, maintenance and service personnel as well as passengers need complete screening. Adults and children.

It looks like TSA will finally start to check pregnant women. A little late, but a welcome change.

Submitted by Anonymous on

i have an artificial knee. just YESTERDAY, i was subjected to a disrespectful, insolent TSA employee at Hartsfield Atlanta. This is not surprising, because Hartsfield has by far the worst TSA personnel. Yesterday after I set off the alarm, I told the TSA person that, "I have a knee." ANYPLACE else in the USA, they understand that and tell you to wait in the tube. But this jerk said -- "take off your belt." I thought he had not heard me so I repeated that I had a knee. Then he yelled at me, "I said take off your belt," and then yelled something else that I was so mad I didn't quite understand, something like can't i understand that, or something equally unprofessional. Had I not been running late because of the long lines I would have demanded to speak to his supervisor. I have been flying with this knee for two years and have NEVER had to remove anything once I set off the detector. This TSA jerk was just BEGGING me for a confrontation. It's so typical of TSA in general, and Hartsfield in particular.

Submitted by Vespucci on

Although respecting people’s right while searching them is a sensitive issue and TSA has hard time to make universal search policy, but we must understand that the enemies will find ways to break into our system one way another. We as responsible citizens of America must compromise our feeling verses security of ourselves and others. I do believe complaining and making TSA’s job harder will affect more on us than government. If our love ones get killed due to pour security and policies that we forced the lawmakers to accept, we will be fully responsible and more importantly we are the one who is going to be affected. As you all know, VIP’s have their own private everything and their concern is not as much as ours. I believe when you walk into the security booth any measures by security administration must be tolerated and accepted by us. Let us be united on this important matter since our enemies will do anything to put us down and hurt us the best possible way that they can. Let us not forget 9/11. Thank You.

Submitted by Cyndee Haydon on

It's amazing once you see the reason things are done how much sense it all makes. Thanks for this detailed explanation. I read once that when people have an explanation.."we do this because.." they are very likely to be agreeable and our primary nature is to want to be helpful. I recently had a behind the scenes tour of the Tampa International Airport with a group of local leaders and it was equally impressive.

Submitted by DAR on

I don't see how the full body scanner is looked upon as some sort of erotic viewing devise by some people. From the images I've seen (and most of the bodies I've seen!) there isn't anything erotic about them.

To me, a full body pat down would be more subject to abuse than the scan.

It certainly would speed things up.

Submitted by CrankyInColumbia on

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety"

I think this pretty much sums up the TSA. The American people have given up their Liberty (The TSA exists) and now they don't deserve their Safety (The TSA will never catch a well financed and determined attacker).

If you (the American people) would like your Liberty back I suggest writing your senator and/or congressman instead of commenting on this blog. They accept email also. Additionally write the airline you fly the most and tell them you would fly more if the TSA worked less. Money is usually a good incentive to get a large lobby behind your cause.

Submitted by Lindasmith on

I think it is simply amazing how the TSA is opening up and explaining things to us.

The more we know..the more we can be supportive.

There is a danger in making the information public...sometimes NOT telling us is better.

The problem is most of us think we should have everything..security and no inconveniences.

Well...that is not reality.

Everything takes sacrifice.

Thank you for this blog.

Linda
www.attentiontodetailgifts.com

Submitted by TKR Husband on

Seeing as my wife and I rarely fly, I guess we will NEVER fly until this issue gets streamlined. My wife had a TKR and was given "the card". While we haven't flown since she got the TKR, we were unaware the "the card" is pointless. If that is the case, this should be pointed out to orthopedic surgeons so they don't waste time creating a card that the TSA won't care about.

I guess we'll be having to take extra time off at our jobs in order to have the extra time to DRIVE a few days to our destination.

It's bad enough to be disabled. It's worse to be disabled, have an implant to help you be "more able" only to have your dignity and personal privacy violated by the TSA screener that thinks you're a liar, "because you're too young to have had a TKR"

Submitted by TKR Husband on

One more thing...if you can have the "no fly" list, why can't there be a "can fly (has metal implant)" list? I would think that people with metal implants wouldn't mind being on that list if it meant less harassment.

Submitted by Anonymous on

You do know that X-Rays are harmful, right?

I mean we use them in medical technology but that is based on the assumption that you receive one X-Ray every year or so maximum.

Each time you get X-Rayed you increase your cancer risk.

How many times will a frequent flier get X-Rayed? Perhaps twice a week? Did you guys study the effect of this at all before you implemented it?

PS - I highly doubt on the ground the staff don't see a hot attractive women and redirect her into the scanner then just snap a picture on a camera phone.

Submitted by Omegasunray on

Why do people constantly say passengers feel like their "treated like criminals"? I've never seen anybody thrown down to the floor and hand cuffed, or had their rights spoken to them, by a TSA officer. If a machine alarms, the TSA officer has to resolve it. I've never heard a TSA officer say to someone who alarmed the metal detector, "hey, my machine alarmed, are you armed?!?" People need to get over this whole, "treated like a criminal" deal. It's not personal, it's business. Just do what they say so I can get through faster. As a traveler, I make it my business to make sure I do what I have to to minimize the chances of getting extra screening. If you have an metal implant, it just means you're going to go through being wanded every time you fly unless you go through one of those portal things.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I work for TSA and am condsidered customer service oriented outside my security duties. I keep hearing about, TSA is just a show. Why do we have to do this, why do we have to do that? I explain processes. But if anyone thinks that the U.S. needs what they "think" is "real" security, I have nothing against donning an all black set of military fatigues and spit shined combat boots with a sub machine gun slung over my shoulder, bypassing x-ray machines and metal detectors, and actually physically searching and dumping everything in your bags and physically searching every inch of your bodies like I did in Iraq when I was in the Army. But TSA's policies and procedures are extremely effective and THAT, I would not change at all. If anything, I would add to it. I'll make you "feel" safe, but prepare to be extremely offended and delayed. All TSA has to do is tell me. As much as I love being helpful to people and seeing them smile, I've had my share of passengers complaining about stuff they just don't understand, even after I explain it to them politley. If you are a person of minimal intelligence or are too caught up in your own selfish desires, you will never be able to grasp the concepts behind why we do what we do let alone see the importance of it. No one will ever know how many lives have been saved because of TSA thwarting terrorists. People still try to hide fire arms on their bodies and get caught daily. The majority of the traveling public will always see security measures as a hinderance and nothing more. This crap about, "one terrorist ruining it for everyone" is utter crap. That terrorist we learned from (sometimes the hard way) helped us see our weak spots and made us strengthen them to help KEEP YOU MORE SAFE!!! Not all terrorists are MUSLIM or ARABIC, or of common middle eastern appearance (as ignorant people believe...along with all latinos being "mexicans"). We can't validate if you are a terrorist or not, but we can make sure you didn't bring anything with you that could cause harm to those around you. You are already receiving "real" security measures, people. It has just been coated with customer service flavoring. You want what you "feel" is the real deal...you're going to get a very bitter experience. Ask the many Iraqi's I've searched while serving my country in Iraq. I treated them like human beings (I wouldn't say that I was friendly, I just wasn't mean...a robot following orders), but I did not deny them a thorough search. I am tired of you selfish complainers, but I will not deny you strong customer service. I also understand that there are people with legitamate complaints out there.

Submitted by Dave X The First on

tso phx: You didn't answer my question.
I don't care that the screeners don't see the actual skin of the screenees. What I wondered about is why the images you are showing on your site are much lower resolution and detail that this:

http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2003/06/59401"

Did you reduce the resolution of the equipment so your screeners hidden in their dark booths don't see such salacious details? Or is the reduced resolution imagery shown on this blog and the TSA site just some sort of PR thing where you pretend you can't see as much as you do?

Submitted by Anonymous on
Why do people constantly say passengers feel like their "treated like criminals"? I've never seen anybody thrown down to the floor and hand cuffed, or had their rights spoken to them, by a TSA officer. If a machine alarms, the TSA officer has to resolve it. I've never heard a TSA officer say to someone who alarmed the metal detector, "hey, my machine alarmed, are you armed?!?"


Do a google search and read the case of the woman who was referred to law enforcement and arrested for carrying an 8-inch leather bookmark, because the TSA brain-trust thought it was a weapon. She was jailed by police at the request of TSA and threatened with a $10000 fine.

Read the stories on this site of passengers who have alarmed the metal detector with a medical implant and are talked to and treated by TSA as liars when they explain their condition.

Read the cases of passengers who have had their expensive laptops declared "suspicious" by TSA, referred to the local bomb squad, and destroyed out of "an abundance of caution." By the way, they don't get compensation from TSA when this happens.

Read the cases where a passenger asks a question, requests a supervisor, or requests a complaint form, and the TSA intimidates them by demanding their ID, copying down all of their address and personal information, and failing to provide the Privacy Act disclosure required by federal law for such disclosure. They do the same thing if there is a false alarm on the explosives detector. And they may send you a $10K fine in the mail (which can only be contested in a Coast Guard kangaroo court that is probably far from your home) if they thought you had a bad attitude or that the false-alarm was somehow your fault. Then notice how TSA refuses to release the incident reports, even to the victims, claiming they are sensitve-security-information but really avoiding any accountability whatsoever on their part.

Finally, read the countless cases here and elsewhere where a TSO threatened a passenger with "do you want to fly today?" for asking a question or standing up for themselves.

So yes, we are being treated like criminals, and yes it is personal.
Submitted by Jim Huggins on

A suggestion: could TSA create lines at check-in where passengers could self-select for secondary screening? This would allow passengers with metal implants, who know that they will fail the metal detector, to avoid the indignity of failing the test and wasting everyone's time. (It would also allow people who were randomly selected for secondary screening to enter the line directly, again, saving time.)

A TSO above said that passengers can always request secondary screening, but I suspect that most passengers don't know about it. Having a dedicated line, posted prominently, would help encourage that sort of behavior.

It can also occasionally help with traffic flow. I fly internationally on rare occasions (once every year or two) on business; when I fly, I usually just have a small carry-on suitcase and a briefcase. About 50% of the time, when I get into the really long check-in line at the airport, I'll be pulled out of the end of line for a manual search of my luggage and additional security questions, but then allowed to check my bag and receive my boarding pass immediately. For submitting to secondary screening, I get to jump to the front of the line; the total time elapsed is usually much less.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The only surprising thing about this is that it took the TSA 7 years to follow the basic guidelines in the International Civil Aviation Organisations Security Manual Doc 8973! The rest of the world was doing it already prior to 9/11. Including the direct to hand search when the passenger alarms the archway metal detector. It's quicker and makes the line move faster.
Hardly surprising though when it was the USA who didn't want the International regulations to apply to domestic flights at the major ICAO conference held after 9/11.
Looks like they are still looking for the silver bullet instead of training people to be polite and efficient in the basic skills!

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have an ICD/Pacemaker implant and while I find the additional hand screening annoying it only seems to add about 5 minutes or so to the security screening process. That I find and consider the whole security checkpoint thing very annoying and nothing more than security theater is another story. Not to say what a waste of our tax dollars this whole process is, IMHO.

Where the TSA screeners could do a better job is in helping us keep track of our carry-on belongings that have to be sent through the scanning machines. A few of the screeners seem to understand this and have helped me locate all my carry-on items before they start the manual full body scan but most of the others could appear to care less and I'm forced to try and keep my eye on my belongings at the same time listening to the manual screener's instructions.

Hopefully they will hurry up with the testing on those new scanners that will allow people with implants to go through the regular scan process without having to require special attention.

Submitted by Fernando Valenzuela on

You know, as much as the vast majority of you hate the TSA, you must spend hours upon hours trolling the site to retort to ANY positive response.

My name is Dave X, I'm a frequent traveller who cannot follow the rules and as a reward, I get the "HASSLE". My only recourse is to preach to the anonymous masses who might read this site once or twice. I'm the TSA's Nemesis. That'll show em!

Hey sparky, no one is reading this blog waiting on your clever responses. No one is having a mind changing revalation because of you.

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