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TSA Travel Tips Tuesday - Have You Heard About TSA’s New Passenger Support Specialists?

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013
TSA Cares

More than 3,000 TSA officers have volunteered to represent TSA in a new collateral role as a Passenger Support Specialist (PSS).

PSS’s are Transportation Security Officers, Lead TSOs and Supervisors who have volunteered to take on the responsibility of assisting passengers who may need a little help at the checkpoint. They receive additional training involving scenarios such as resolving traveler-related screening concerns and assisting travelers with disabilities and medical conditions.

So here’s the travel tip: If you need assistance, or you’re concerned about your screening, you can request a PSS and they’ll help you with whatever issue it is you might be having. The goal is to have a PSS in the vicinity of the checkpoint to provide assistance and resolve concerns so you can get through the checkpoint and make it to your gate.

Passengers with disabilities who would like to contact TSA ahead of their screening can also contact the TSA Cares Helpline by calling 1-855-787-2227.

TSA Cares is a helpline to assist travelers with disabilities and medical conditions and their families prior to arriving at the airport. Travelers can ask questions about screening as well as what to expect at the security checkpoint. TSA Cares provides information about screening that is relevant to the traveler’s specific disability or medical condition or the traveler is referred to disability experts at TSA. Travelers may call the TSA Cares toll free number from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday - Friday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekends and holidays.

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.


Submitted by Laura Monteros on

Probably unrelated, but I hope Bob can help here. Since the small blade ban has been reinstated, I got to thinking about how to handle items that I must carry that can't be in carryon luggage. I heard someone comment, "Just put it in your checked bag," but since so many people--myself included--try to avoid checking luggage due to exorbitant fees, how can we get from here to there with things such as a bottle of shampoo or hair-cutting scissors?

Submitted by RB on

How about all TSA employees treating travelers with respect and dignity instead of with disrespect as so often happens today?

They are all are highly trained TSA screeners, right?

Submitted by Anonymous on

The fact that the TSA has to provide "special assistance" says a lot. I suggest the TSA begin by training its workforce properly.

Submitted by Anonymous on

You finally have to take the Americans with Disabilities Act seriously, eh? Got put in hot water by people who KNEW the law and complained? We have held you accountable and you will be accountable to US, not the other way around.
You had better make sure that your new Passenger Support Specialists are compliant with TSA policies as displayed on your website and know the definition of a "reasonable accommodation" - otherwise, it will be just the same... sue sue sue!

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA postpones new knife rule!

Instead of allowing small, innocuous knives onto the plane, TSA has yet again decided to change the rules, with very little notice. (Where were you this Bob?)

Yes, with no mention anywhere on this site, at airports, or otherwise; TSA has decided to not allow knives after all.

Why? "The delay is necessary to accommodate feedback from an advisory committee" Which is odd because they sure didn't get feedback before installing the nude scanners!

They sure didn't wait to institute the grope 'em if you got 'em policy.

But here's the really odd part. Knives are harmless. They simply don't pose a danger to the airplane. Who says so? This guy:

It's unlikely in these days of hardened cockpit doors and other preventative measures that the small folding knives could be used by terrorists to take over a plane.

Who said this? John Pistole. Head of the TSA.

Submitted by RB on
TSA "choice" @SMF: open sealed baby formula or 1 parents gets grope

"Traveling with my wife and 1-year-old through SMF, after my wife and I were both let through the WTMD and were re-packing our stuff, the female screener who grabbed our tray of formula and baby food off the x-ray had a new speech. She needed to do "tests" that would require opening the factory-sealed sterile pre-made formula bottles (which you are supposed to throw away an hour after opening), *or* one parent would get a patdown."

Bob, is this how highly trained TSA screeners are trained to treat people?

Why are TSA employees incapable of acting like humans?

Submitted by Anonymous on

How long before the job of the Passenger Support Specialist devolves to parroting the "Do you want to travel today" mantra?

Submitted by Anonymous on

So did the TSA create yet another filter layer for me to have to deal with when some TSO in San Diego or Chicago tries to steal my collapsible cane because it is a "baton" (even though I have to PULL it open)?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why don't ALL your screeners have adequate knowledge of your policies and procedures?

This is like a police force saying they'll have some cops who actually know the law.

Submitted by Anonymous on
TSA supervisor caught stealing pills from luggage in Syracuse

Supervisory Transportation Security Officer Jeremy Hemingway was either fired or resigned, according to an internal TSA email obtained by The Post-Standard.

Hemingway confessed to stealing pills from the luggage. He said that while he searched the bag, he noticed a bottle of pills and removed some of them, the report said.

Hemingway told police he slipped the pills into his gloved hand then took the glove off, turning it inside-out with the pills inside. He then put the glove in his pocket.

Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokeswoman in Washington, D.C., would not clarify whether Hemingway was fired or allowed to quit.
Submitted by Anonymous on

How about having all your people support passengers?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have never had any problems with the TSA staff. They have always been professional and patient. It's time to say "THANK YOU" Yes there are times when someone is delayed or may be slightly inconvenienced but rather that than the worst case situation.

Submitted by @SkyWayManAz on

Laura Monteros said:

"Probably unrelated, but I hope Bob can help here. Since the small blade ban has been reinstated..."

Is anyone really surprised Bob didn't mention this on the blog? Inconvienent turn of events for him to spin. Unfortunately ignoring this gives license to screeners to continue incorrectly telling us everything else we saw on the website isn't true.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Can you tell your boss that flight attendants who are terrified of tiny knives should speak to their employers (the airlines) about their security needs, since TSA was created to combat terrorism, not unruly passengers? As a taxpayer, I do not want my tax dollars spent on things that the airline should take care of itself (e.g., bodyguards for flight attendants and/or revised carry-on policies).

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am travelling out of charlotte tomorrow with my service dog. I am so anxious about it. Last time I flew with him, TSA was so horrid to me and to him...I can't even begin to say what was done. But I will say this as a,warning to folks traveling with a service animal. They removed his vest with the leash. He's a small dog so I ended up holding him. After a half hour, they took him from me - he was acting perfectly btw - and placed him out of my vision on the other side is the screening center. They left him alone without ID-since it was on his vest sitting in one of the gray buckets on the wheeled ramp. He fortunately just sat in the bucket. That was not only the only event that day. After another half hour of me asking for a supervisor, which got met with "do you want to fly today?" I was risked because I have a knee replacement. The problem they said was they didn't know how to handle someone with a knee replacement and a service dog. I am a white woman in my 50s (which shouldn't matter) but just in case you think I was being profiled ot being nasty etc. It was a nightmare for me. I travel with a psd for ptsd. That certainly helped things. Calling tscares right now. Glad there are now pss so there is someone to help in real time.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Nice tips!

Submitted by Anonymous on

I don't know what constitutes a "small" knife. However, the rule is in place to protect the passengers first, the plane and crew second. If I hold a 2" blade to the throat of another passenger, I could slit their carotid artery with it, disabling them instantly followed by certain death within seconds. If you are in doubt about carrying an item with you, I suggest you ask yourself if it could be a lethal threat to another human on your flight. If it can, pack it with your check-in bags.

Some restrictions defy the human threat rationale. I once flew from Vancouver, BC to Whitehorse, Yukon Terr. I picked up a roll of duck tape at the last minute and tried to carry it on. Nope. Duck tape not allowed. The safety people were polite - this was Canada, remember - but firm. The only justification I can dream up was that duck tape can be used to tie up or gag someone. But then, so can a tie or a belt. Go figure...

Submitted by Mehcaver on

A tip for the anonymous lady with the service dog: Remember, some other passengers are likely to be allergic to dogs. I'm one of them. Sitting within 10 feet or so of a dog will make for a very uncomfortable flight. Cats are worse, but AFAIK, cats for any purpose are not allowed in the passenger compartment. They aren't, are they???

Submitted by Christina Whale-OCDS on

Thank you so much, Allegiant!!

I am a disabled woman of size. I will need a wheelchair to and from the gate. I will need to carry all my medications & only my medications in one bag & my C-Pap machine in another. I also need to sit in a disabled seat. All of my questions were answered and taken care of. Brenda A. has been a Great Big Help to me, so a Big Shout Out to her! Everyone I have had contact with has been a big help. Thank You!

Submitted by Heide on

I have been thru TSA in multiple airports with my service dog and never had a problem. I used to be a little nervous as I watched one too many YouTube videos of people supposedly having problems. One woman in ATL was slightly irritating but otherwise everyone at TSA and both Southwest & American have always been wonderfully accommodating. I can't help but wonder if people go in predisposed to a hard time, maybe a chip on their shoulder about God knows what, or if they are even 'real' service dogs as there is an unfortunate increase in people buying ID tags on line and trying to pass their beloved pet off as a service dog in stores, restaurants, etc. I think TSA workers got a lot of crap they don't deserve and I wish there was a way to recognize all the wonderful ones who try to be kind despite all the entitled jerks that pass thru those lines every day. Next time you go thru TSA try a genuine smile and a thank you, I'm sure you'll make their day, probably even their week!

Submitted by Arminakter on

nice post

Submitted by Hazel on

It is bit unreasonable asking international travellers to US to have to phone TSA. why can’t email be enough or have a pro forma we can complete

Cost of making such a call and major time difference make it almost impossible for international travellers to call

Submitted by Info Only on

Yes, cats are allowed in the cabin under certain guidelines only (ESA, or paid extra to transport). Allergies are not a legit reason to ban service animals. BOTH allergies AND the service animal need to be accomidated. You might try calling ahead of time to prep/locate your seat. Most service dog teams will notify in advance that they're coming.