Thursday, January 31, 2008

Inconsistencies, Part 1 (Commenting Disabled)

Did you have to take your shoes off in Ohio but not Colorado? Post all of your thoughts about inconsistencies on this blog post.

In response to an cmac's frustration with those who seem ungrateful for the job TSOs do each day...

Don't take negative comments left by a few to heart. People have the right to voice their opinion even when some of those people don't do it with the same courtesy and respect they expect from you. Without question a lot of our brothers and sisters feel the very same way you do sometimes. This blog is intended to bridge the gap with people who have legitimate issues with the TSA, but let's put the negative into proper context. Consider there are at most a few hundred complaints on this site. Of those complaints there are without a doubt many posts by the same author. Now consider there are some 35, 000 domestic flights per day in the U.S. with millions of passengers using our transportation system, all of which have experienced the professionalism and security provided each day by our Officers (and don't forget this site is accessible worldwide as we've seen people from different countries leaving posts). So if this were an election one might consider those numbers to be a landslide victory.

There's no doubt some people have had a bad experience with the TSA. Our job is to fix what's broken, but hey let's face it - security is a tough business. There's an old saying, "Security is a great thing... until it applies to me". Sure some complaints are valid and we need to improve in many areas, but when you look at the posts there are an awful lot of complaints because people brought a prohibited item into the checkpoint which was identified, and when TSA identified the item they claimed the rules were stupid or ineffective. Those stupid rules weren't that ineffective obviously.

Keep doing the job you do, take constructive criticism constructively, and if it doesn't apply to you or your team – take it with a grain of salt. Your commitment and professionalism are appreciated and never go unnoticed.


lancifer, said

Q: For everyone telling the rest of us how we've not had another terrorist attack simply because of beefed up security, I ask you this: Prior to September 11, 2001, when was the previous terrorist attack against the US? Where was it? What happened? Now, when was the attack prior to that?" When was the last terror attack against the U.S.?"

A: Have you been living under a rock? The answer to that question is simple, available, and lengthy.

Q: "We've seen evidence of potential plots for attacks. The fact is, terrorist attacks in the US are rare and isolated incidents."

A: Thankfully yes terror attacks on U.S. soil are rare events. But when you consider these facts: the last terror attack cost 3000+ innocent lives in a matter of minutes, it has heavily impacted our foreign policy, it has placed military service personnel in harms way costing more lives, and in short order has cost our economy in lost capital and venture to the tune of more than one TRILLION dollars - the investment to protect U.S. interest if even only for the rare or isolated attack is worth the return.

Q: I could get a boat and troll Lake Michigan all day long, catching large fish, and talking about how my vigilance has kept the lake secure from shark attacks. Never mind that the likelihood of a shark attack in Lake Michigan is little to none. Prove that I don't prevent shark attacks in Lake Michigan. That is how I feel about our increased security. We've got the government telling us about how much danger there is around us, but only a handful of people are questioning the validity of their claims. So if you don't mind, I've got to go keep Lake Michigan free of shark attacks.

A: Lake Michigan is a fresh water body; there are no sharks in Lake Michigan.

Your fishing venture on Lake Michigan doesn't change the fact we are still surrounded by sharks.



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Anonymous said...

I fly 2 to 5 times a year. Right after 9-11 I was flying a lot more than I do now and things really were in disarray. Things have gotten a lot better. I think it is useful to remember that.

I usually check the TSA rules at home if I have any question about something, and try to make sure I follow the rules. I've had very few problems. Most TSA employees are very courteous and helpful.

Most recently I was caught on the "shoes in the bin with the computer thing" At SMF shoes and computer (side by side) are fine, but at MDW, the laptop is to be in its own bin (at least it was that way last December). It was a little embarrassing and frustrating to get it wrong because of the difference, but only because I try so hard to get it right.

To the professional and caring TSOs out there (and I know you know who you are), thanks for making life a little easier in the lines.

thecollective said...

Here is my issue. My wife traveled to Mexico a while back and went with our 2 year old child. Was forced to dump out his sippy-cup and then go through the typical gate security. Trip in Mexico ended and she came back. The screener there let her walk through with while holding our child, and there was no scrutiny of bag contents which included a chocolate milk and a juice--all of which she expected to lose. Upon arrival at customs in DC, she answered customs question and came back into the country.

I called both ICE and TSA colleagues that I know about this incident and was stunned by the answer. ICE deferred to TSA and TSA told me that they cannot tell other countries what to do at their airports. My question is this...Why are Americans given the 3rd degree when leaving the country, a direction the threat has not come from, but are able to come back through other countries where screening policies are lax. This is the direction the terrorist threats come from. From my wife's experience, hypothetically, all a bad guy has to do is send a woman and child through Mexico City with a bomb etc and they stand a good chance to get into the US-bound airplane or the US itself. All because we cannot tell others how to enforce security for jets coming into our land.

Anonymous said...

I've seen more than one x-ray machine offline at airports. It's really neat that the TSA has put up opaque glass around most of them now, so passengers can't see (for the most part) if the machines are in working order or not.

Oh, and the 'sniffers' ? Don't even get me started on that. LEO's walk through with bomb residue on their clothes and it 'puffs' them right along.

Please, it's comical to see the 'security' folks screening people. I feel about as 'secure' on a plane as I do about Social Security.

Thanks for nothing.

LeisureFlyer said...

It's frustrating to have TSA people say, "You people complaining about inconsistencies are just not obeying the rules, you're taking large tubes of toothpaste, you're not putting belongings in 1 quart bags, if you only followed the rules, you wouldn't have this problem."

No. I literally PRINT OUT a copy of the current TSA standards, and pack accordingly. Every member of my family is used to me being very firm about this -- my children, my SO, they all get to hear me go over and over, check their bags, look through their carryons.

When I express frustration about inconsistencies, it's because I can have a printed out copy of the TSA standards saying that I am allowed 100ml toiletry bottles, but when I go to present my clear 1 quart zip lock back with my 100ml or less bottles of toiletries, my travel sized 1 oz tooth paste, every makeup item, EVERY possible item including lip balm included, it's *still* a roll of the dice. Maybe the TSA screener will respect and follow the TSA rules. But about 25 percent of the time, the screener tells me that 100ml is NOT acceptable, because the rule is 3-1-1. That's not a question of me not following the rules. The problem is that even if I show them the TSA's own "print this out" page, they will tell me something like, "That's discretionary only" or "Our airport follows different guidelines" or "I could lose my job" or "Obey me or don't fly."

Sara said...

I am surprised that no one has pointed at the TSA's own page about unpredictability. This page says, "We incorporate an element of unpredictability to our operations so that terrorists can’t use the predictability of security measures to their advantage. That means we may change airport inspection routines on a daily or hourly basis."

This element of unpredictability directly contributes to an element of inconsistency. If TSA behavior can change "on a daily or hourly basis," then no two security screenings must be alike.

I fly regularly, and each screening is a little different. Sweater on or off? Purse in a bin or on the belt? Is chapstick a liquid or a solid? Is the maximum 3 oz. or 100 mL, which is more than 3 oz.? But do these inconsistencies fall under the published policy of excusable unpredictability?

While it is true that varying some patterns and behaviors may be advantageous, changing the rules (or unevenly enforcing them) just makes the screening more confusing and stressful for passengers and TSA alike.

Anonymous said...

It still isn't OK.

Second attempt. I'm not too happy about having my previous attempt to share this story - respectful, free of personal attacks, containing no names or terms targeting ethnic or racial groups, or vulgarity - apparently censored. I have come to expect this kind of inconsistent, summary judgment when dealing with the TSA.

The shame is that most of the TSA folk I've met on the ground are trying to do some good.

I'm out a pocket-knife - an heirloom I lost before the idea of letting people get out of the line & mail stuff to themselves happened. I'm out a second pocket-knife *after* one could sometimes, and I can't tell what makes the difference, have an oops and go mail the thing to yourself.

Here's the thing. It's early. I'm jet lagged. So, I had a mental lapse. Never happens to you?

In what sense is confiscating my pocket knife at that point "reasonable". There I am, calm - barely awake, really - cooperative, ID in order. *I'm* the one who found the pocket knife, while emptying my pockets into a bin. Ask the nearest screener: "I messed up here. What do I do?"

The only answer is I lose my property? I'm not on an airplane yet. I'm not trying to slide anything past security.

We have standards, or did, limiting when and how people operating under government authority can take from a citizen.

What would it take to organize the screenings and make the policies to impose the *minimum* impact on citizens who are not terrorists? How about policies, procedures and indeed comportment that recognize that most of the people being screened are 1) citizens 2) have done nothing wrong and 3) are being inconvenienced?

It is not OK to take my pocket knife from me when there are alternatives.

jeffwalter said...

I've traveled a fair bit and have had some rather entertaining exchanges with TSA agents. My home airport is SJC, so I'm most familiar with *their* procedures, and thus I use these against all others I happen across.

I have been asked remove my Rainbow flip flops ("thongs" to some) when a woman wearing wedge heels was allowed through without being required to remove her footwear. I'm terribly sorry, but I couldn't hit a sewing needle in the thin piece of leather and foam that adorns my foot without stabbing myself in the foot; she could have sneaked in a half stick of dynamite.

There was another day when I flew SJC to SAN in the morning, and SAN to SJC in the evening. I kicked off my poor needle hiding devices as usual in SAN and was then asked to remove my jacket...

"Um, why do I need to remove my jacket?"
"So we can check it for explosive materials."
"I didn't have to remove it in SJC this morning."
"It's the way we do it here."
"So if I had something in my jean pockets, you wouldn't know? Would you like me to remove my jeans as well?"

Let's be serious here, if anyone was going to smuggle some explosive onto a plane, I don't think they'd put it in the jacket or jeans pocket.

All I ask for is consistency. And apparently, that's too much.

I won't even touch on the "laws" that your agents refuse to show people, saying they're classified. Laws are not classified, you just think they're laws because you were told they were. Too lazy to check for yourself, eh?

PZet said...

Why are there "express" lanes for first/business class passengers? If we are all accessing the same government agency for screening, why should preference be given to those with higher class tickets? If it is the airlines/airports that are controlling the lines, why are you honoring their system? Witnessing this "separation" simply adds more bad feelings to the whole screening process.

Anonymous said...

And this is exactly why I now travel 100% AmTrak.

Anonymous said...

STOP COMPLAINING! Notice that not one plane has just dropped out of the sky since 911? Before that an average of 4 did a year! If you dont like how we (TSA) does its job, DONT FLY!

Anonymous said...

Havent u people heard of the terrorists in the UK that planned on blowing up multiple planes with liquids and gels? People!! Wake up !! Kick your dog or something!! I for one don't care how much semtex or nitro it takes to blow a hole in my plane I don't want any on it, even if it means taking gramma's iced tea away

Anonymous said...

European airports don't allow short knives on board aircraft.

U.S. airports do allow short knives on board, even though that was the tool used by the 9/11 terrorists.

EU airports don't require shoes to be removed. U.S. airports do.

Liquid policies seem to vary by the mood of the security employees:

- Some don't allow empty water bottles, e.g. they confiscate transparent sports bottles.

- Some (Dublin) do allow factory sealed 6oz baby formula without requiring that the parents contaminate by breaking the seal.

- Some (Birmingham) do allow factory sealed 6oz baby formula only after the seal is broken and parents drink from (and contaminate) it.

- Some (Shannon) don't allow liquids acquired after security to be taken on the aircraft.

- Most don't allow liquid through the X-ray security area, but do allow liquids purchased past security to be taken on the plane.

Anonymous said...

4 a year? You're dreaming.

I think the "fast track" through security for "very frequent business travelers" is a bad idea. It would just take the bad guys longer to establish themselves in this category and then waltz onto the plane without being screened. C'mon, we've spent all this time erecting this elaborate security system - let's not deliberately open up a hole in security that can easily be gamed.

Mattguy999 said...

Why do the TSA employees at some airports rigidly (and belligerently) demand to see your boarding pass when you pass thru the metal detector while at other airports they look at you like you are brain dead if you try to show them your boarding pass? Is this inconsistenly on purpose (to keep postential terrorist off guard) or is it due to different manaagment policies?

mattguy999 said...

I travel 50 weeks a year. The worst inconsistency I have experienced was going thru security at the Tulsa, OK airport (TUL). After one of my carry on bags passed thru the detection machine, it was pulled off and I was asked if it contained a printer. I alway carry a small printer with me for business that has been through similar machines many times. I replied to the TSA person that I did have a printer so he asked me remove it and the ink cartridges inside of it which I did. He then asked if there were any other ink cartridges in my carry on. I replied yes and he asked me to remove those. He then stated that these were considered liquids and I would have to go back through security, get a plastic bag and have them reexamined. I was running late for a flight so I had no choice but to throw $120 worth of ink cartridges in the securty bin. Since then, I alway put my new ink cartridges in my checked bag. However, I leave the used cartridges in the printer and have never been asked to remove either the printer or ink cartridgess from my carry on bag at any other airport. Why does Tulsa have a different policy about ink cartridges? (And, I know, the lesson is not to run late to catch a plane)

Anonymous said...


SMF Having to take all of my digital cameras (two SLRs and one point and shoot) out of my camera bag prior to sending them through the Xray machine in June due to "new regulations" but not in August - I didn't have to take them out at all at the return airports.

SMF TSO checking boarding pass and ID approximately fifteen feet prior to the security check point and then a second TSO checking boarding pass and ID at check point. This is the only airport where I have had to have two ID checks at a check point, not to mention the TSO agents are so close together they could see and speak to each other.

Anonymous said...

I fly for business reasons and use my government issued credentials from the agency I work for, who I am traveling for. I flew out of BWI last week and was informed that they cannot take Government issued credentials because they don't have an expiration date. The TSA employee insisted to me that this is the rule in every airport and that it has been the rule since 2005. I have traveled with my credentials numerous times in the last three years and this is the first I ever heard of this.

Anonymous said...

Please explain why, at all airports, where we must remove shoes, that there are no easily accessible seat for putting said shoes back on? There's nothing worse than traipsing through JFK or LaGuardia or Logan, trying to balance a laptop, shoes, carryon and purse, than to be walking on the mucky floor, unable to reassemble everything TSA has made us take out of our bags. Heaven forbid there be an area with chairs or a table to do this that's out of other passengers' way.

Drew said...

I know that it is requested that you produce a valid, government-issued ID when you fly, but I want to know if it is REQUIRED to produce it.

According to what I've read, you are not REQUIRED to produce an ID, but it will allow you to go through standard screening. If you do NOT produce an ID, you will be subject to extra screening.

Is this correct? If I show up to an airport without my ID, can I still make my flight, provided I make time for the extra security?

Anonymous said...

I travel, 2-4 times a week. Because of this I can generally get though a security point rather easily. It has been my experience that inconstancies come from mistakes on the part of the TSA agents. When you ask one who enforces the rules they are reluctant to simply tell you "that is because the TSA at XXX simply failed in their jobs".

1) Take off your shoes, remove your belt, remove your jacket. Even if you do not want to. Place them in a bucket. If the agents tell you to not put them in a bin, just do it. Do not argue, ask questions or otherwise, just do it.

2) If it has a printed circuit board place it also in its own bin. Yes I travel with two laptop, and yes they both go into their own bin. If you do not, you will get to stop the whole line, and go though again.

3) Take all of your cosmetics, expensive toiletries and check them. In fact check EVERYTHING you can. Do not carry on bags to the plane at all (and yes I check my roller board bag because it is easier).

4) Drink whatever it is your brought (yes at DFW the parking attendants will give you a bottle of water) before you enter the line. No yo can not drink it while in line. Again do not argue with the TSA, just do it.

Never forget the agents at the checkpoints can not make policy. They can not change policy. All the do is enforce policy. And if they think its a policy, its a policy, period. Just follow what they say. That way the 100 people in line behind you can get though too.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking on my last flight that you used to be able to smoke on an airplane. That was what - thirty years ago? Why do we still have no smoking signs still plastered all over the plane? Has anyone honestly tried to smoke on an airplane in the recent past?

But seriously - as many times as I go through security, it's always different. Some guy at DCA made it to the gate w/ a gun. He then realized he still had it with him and turned it over. That's reassuring. I've left my liquid baggie in my bag w/ no result.

The best one was when I had a network hub in my carry on. The screener took the hub out, left it on the conveyor belt, ran my bad through again, put the hub back in and let me go. Never ran the hub through the xray again.

I'm convinced that all of these measures are doing little good - just the illusion of security.

Remember the 80's when it seemed like there were hijackings every other week? What happened with that? I mean, why did that stop? Was that related to security measures or was it due to foreign policy changes?

We're addressing the symptoms by pouring hydrogen peroxide on it...

Darren said...

Hey guys,

Please realize that this is security. I do know that all of the officers don't always act as proffesional as they should but what government entity or work place should i say is 100% fool proof in that area.

I work for TSA and i'm not gonna say that all my co-workers are proffesional 100% of the time but they get the job done. Don't be calling them things like illiterate or degenerates. Who are you to judge. We see so much that we can't tell the public mostly because we don't want to encourage any copy cat artists or the such. My motto at the checkpoint that I work at is "Make like you've been tehre before" When we catch things we just treat it as business as usual.

As for Mr. "I work on the real front lines" I appreciate the work that the military does in the middle east. I give them much props. But if I were to tell you how many times we've caught military in uniform carrying magazines, live ammunition, grenades and the such. You'd probably stop asking why we screen everyone. Given, I do believe we should trust them, but we do not scrutinze on who we screen. That is why it's security.

And as for Mr "I work for the government" and then state that we "Work for them" because it's their tax payers money.... Hello.... you work for the government as well, so my taxes go to your paycheck too. Some people can be so ignorant at times.

I just wish people would treat it like a speed limit in terms of security. Its there to protect the public. You wouldn't tell a police officer that caught you speeding that it was f'in rediculous would you? You'd probably get in more trouble that way right? The rules are there and yes they are inconsistant at times because people are unpredictable. Could you imagine getting a ticket everytime you went above the speed limit? You would be dead broke!

So please stop with the nit picking. The website has all the info on contrabans or so to speak. So if someone let you go consider it a mistake. But if they follow up on the rules don't get mad at them. You should already know better.

Have a nice day!

Anonymous said...

For everyone who wants TSA to have the same rules (which they do, they are just enforced differently) I would just like to know how you propose to enforce all the rules at EVERY airport NATION wide to make sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are all being followed the same. By the way when you work for the D.O.D you should spell Defense correctly because when you complain about another group of peoples' stupidity it doesn't give you much credibility if you cant even spell the name of the governmental agency you work for correctly.

Anonymous said...

Complaining to TSO's about the policies is to a certain degree pointless and frustrating to all persons involved. The passenger in question is obviously frustrated to the point of making sometimes rude and insensitive comments to TSO's about the policies. (And in some cases, not about the policies at all. Rather, launching into personal attacks on our character and even things we have no control over, such as our parents' country of origin.) It is frustrating to TSO's because we know ALL of these decisions were made far beyond our airport and without input from us at all. If you can do my job better than I can, or if you can make our measures more sensitive and sensible, please apply and make a difference.

Anonymous said...

SOmeone wrote: "all a bad guy has to do is send a woman and child through Mexico City with a bomb etc and they stand a good chance to get into the US-bound airplane or the US itself."

I also remember that the Shoe Bomber and the Liquid Plot Bombers were on flights TO the US FROM other countries. Maybe TSA is making it too hard for the bad guys to get through.

Or not...

Anonymous said...

"Let's be serious here, if anyone was going to smuggle some explosive onto a plane, I don't think they'd put it in the jacket or jeans pocket."

Isn't that how the two Russian women got explosives onto a plane and took two airliners down?

Anonymous said...

I love how TSO's are getting on here pretending to be fliers...waving the patriotic flag and thanking God for the glorious work these fine American heros provide. I can see right through it.

The TSA is a farce.

TDDragon said...

Hi Guys,
First off I applaud that you are allowing public comments.

Next about inconsistencies.

Our family has been flying with a VITAMIX blender (for making our own babyfood) - (where the blade CANNOT be removed) - for many years since 9/11.. and NEVER had any problems. TSA agents always just checked if the blade can be removed or not - and once determining that it cannot - let the blender pass. Then last month I was flying out of Hartford to Florida for a family vacation (and we took the blender to make our own babyfood) - and the TSA agent not only did not allow the blender to go through, but he also implied that I must be lying about other TSA agents letting it through since its completely illegal (somehow suggesting that I could break the very hard plastic of the large cup, and thus get at the VERY SMALL blade (not longer then a nailclipper on each side.. and also not the very sharp pointy one since its a vitamix that blends through sheer speed not sharp pointy blades like regular blenders) - and supposedly could do great harm with this on a plane.

The other places I have flown from and never had any problems were Boston, DC, LA, Long Beach, JFK, CHO and many more.

So I found this completely off the mark. Especially since he acted as if I was guilty until proven innocent (with lying about taking it etc.)


Anonymous said...

I would like to say to all air travelers,using locks on bags are dumb.First of all you can get into any bag easily by just breaking the zipper or cutting it with a knife.The number one thing is never put nothing valuables in baggage.

TSA Screener said...

TSO Tom:

Funny, they say the same thing about you guys in Philadelphia. And Atlanta. And Los Angeles. And Miami.

Passengers, we have a work force of over 45,000 screeners working at many airports in many checkpoints on many shifts. And all of that takes place under many supervisors with all of us screeners trying to adapt to our local environment. There are bound to be inconsistencies with an organization this size.

Anonymous said...

I live in MIA, and I frequently fly between MIA and ORD and MIA and STL. Many times when I fly, I do not have plastic bags accessible when I am packing... in these cases I take out my toiletry bag (which is transparent) and I open it so it's just as transparent as a plastic baggie. And I set this bag in it's own bin (just as if it were a baggie).

This works about 90% of the time. I live in MIA and last year I flew from MIA to ORD and MIA to STL several times (roundtrip). No one in TSA has ever mentioned my impromptu baggie, so I figure it's fine... except when I leave STL a few times a TSA handler there has told me I need to have a baggie and handed me one, except they let all my toiletries go through without it....

what gives? why the inconsistencies... is it just a few screeners who are anal and don't understand the intent of the policy? or are the 90% of screeners who accept my transparent toiletry bag jeporadizing the security of the plane?

I never say anything to these people because TSA employees NEVER admit to inconsistencies, they just stick to whatever they think is right. So I just go along and let them do whatever they're gonna do, and play the game... Probably just like the terrorists, unfortunately.

I guess this is unavoidable bc no handler is perfect or perfect every day. But it does seem that some of them don't really understand the rules they're "following", which seems like they may be missing the bigger picture or slow to adapt?

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed at the number of people complaining on the inconsistencies thread that that their treatment has been, well, consistent. Soldiers, airline attendants, airport employees---all complaining that they get the same exact treatment as the rest of us. If a particular badge works as a "get-through-free" card, then that badge becomes a security target. Bruce Scheier, noted security expert, has spoken to this point many times. With any luck, the next president will convince him to head the TSA.

Anonymous said...

Why do you have to show your boarding pass after walking through the metal detector in some cities and in others you don't? I'm tired of the TSA agents telling me that it's the same everywhere. It's definitely NOT.

Anonymous said...

In Detroit, I was scruitinized and searched because I didn't had too much shampoo (they should see how much the full size bottle holds). However, in Florida, on the way back, I was allowed to bring opened white cheddar popcorn through the checkpoint.

I guess hunger takes precedence over cleanliness. I'd rather sit next to the clean guy than the hungry guy any day.

Questioning Traveller said...

I'm not sure if this should go in "inconsistencies", "liquid" or "shoes":

Why are gel-filled bras and bra inserts allowed but gel-filled shoe insoles aren't?

It seems you could hide as much liquid or gel in a bra as in an insole. Either allow them both or allow neither of them.

Jayman said...

Why does this blog not allow posting from Firefox? In this day and age, that is almost criminal since Internet Explorer is not available for many of the popular operating system and is know to be terribly insecure.

I have several suggestions.

1. Install cameras at all stations where TSA personnel touch luggage. Require two personnel to be present anytime luggage is being inspected without the presence of the owner.

This step would reduce the number of thefts, vandalism, etc. Failing to close the lids of liguids that are in checked luggage and failure to reseal the plastic bags the containers are take out of is vandalism by any objective standard. Theft of electronics, money and other valuables also seems to be a problem that is encouraged by a lack of supervision and accountability. Having video of the inspections and having two people involved should dramatically reduce the number of incidents.

2.Enforce your uniform standards.

TSA personnel are supposed to have an identification tag clearly visible on their uniforms. Please make sure that these are in place, visible and readable.

3. Have a "feed back" form available at the exit from the security check point.

This would give victims/customers a method of documenting poor perfomance, bad behavior without having to deal with the subtle or sometimes not so subtle threats and intimidation that are commonly mentioned when a TSA employee gets out of line. As it stands now, there is little that a passenger can do to make a complaint unless he is willing to miss his flight and have to purchase a new ticket to get to his destination.

4. Base managers evalutions and performance reviews partially on customer feedback for his employees.

If bad behavior by the TSA screeners has an impact on the managers raise, the problems will get straightened out much faster. As it currently stands, the manager knows that you will be out of his hair in 30 minutes to an hour so why should he care that you feel you were treated badly.

5. If you really have evidence that a 20 oz. bottle of water is a terorist threat, please post it.

Personally, I call BS on this one. If you are going to continue confiscating sealed beverage containers, you should at least ensure that the cost of the replacement bottle inside the "secured" area matches the cost at the local convenience stores.

6. Take a close look at your denied/allowed list.

A rational mind would realize that there is no logic to allowing 7" scissors with a sharp pointed blade 4" long but then denying a pen knife with a 1" blade.

What is the logic of denying a half empty 6 oz tube of toothpaste but allowing a 3 oz. tube of the same paste?

Why must liquids be enclosed in a clear zip locked baggy but are not allowed in a clear zip sealed makeup bag of the same or smaller size?

Why must my chapstick be in a quart sized bag when that is the ONLY cosmetic or "liquid" that I have with me?

What makes a 1" pen knife more dangerous than a 7" screwdriver or even a Bic pen? A bick pen is a sharply pointed solid object that could penetrate to the heart, into the brain or other vital organs?

I guess what I am trying to say is use a little common sence when making rules. These arbitrary and capricious rules do nothing for security but do create tremendous amounts of ill will and hard feelings. They undermine the entire reason for the existance of the TSA. When so many people look at the rules and ask just how is this supposed to increase my security, they start to feel like the TSA is a bad joke. This leads to people oplenly trying to circumvent what they believe to be stupid rules implemented to give the appearance of adding to security.

Anonymous said...

To quote this very site:
"The purpose of this blog is to facilitate an ongoing dialogue on innovations in security, technology and the checkpoint screening process. "

What innovations in security? Behavior screening which the TSA's own report shows a 100% failure rate for?

Who screens the baggage handlers and ground crew before they approach every plane?

Better yet, why aren't the airport wheelchairs screened before they are sent down to the gates to pick up passengers? What's to stop a terrorist from hiding contraband under the seat of a chair and simply waiting for it to go through the exit lane of the security checkpoint then recover the contraband.

The problems with your security system are:
1. you are completely reactionary you have no ability to foresee a security threat until it's shoved in your face.
2. When shown a legitimate potential security threat, you completely overreact to it.
3. I've read several responses here that there are "no inconsistencies between locations". BS, each airport has different equipment, different layouts and different interpretations of the rules. If your security actually worked they way you claim it does, every security station in every airport would operate exactly the same way. They don't and it doesn't.

I have, over the past several years, specifically decided to NOT take a trip because it would require flying and I don't want to put up with the baloney that is served up as security in the airports.
The single biggest "shot in the arm" the government could give this economy is to stop this charade called the TSA and let people move freely about the country again.

Robert Johnson said...

Quote: "STOP COMPLAINING! Notice that not one plane has just dropped out of the sky since 911? Before that an average of 4 did a year! If you dont like how we (TSA) does its job, DONT FLY!"

You, sir/madam, as a TSO with this attitude is exactly what's wrong with this agency and why it's one of the most despised federal agencies.

Screening didn't fail on 9/11. The argument that it did is a red herring.

TSA has no evidence that it is the reason that planes aren't falling out of the sky. How do you know it's not my magic rock keeping terrorists at bay?

Planes didn't fall out of the sky prior to 9/11 either. As tragic as 9/11 is, it was a one off event that took advantage of the fact that America cooperated with hijackers. The fact that planes could be used as guided missiles wasn't a situation we as a whole thought about.

That's changed now. People aren't going to put up with someone causing trouble on a plane. There are numerous news reports about it happening.

On the other hand, we see reports how TSA has an 80-90% failure rate at most airports and the number is questionable due to reports of advance notice of testing. With general incompetence in security practice with TSO's and an agency as a whole, I think it's a miracle planes aren't falling out of the sky today.

We're not safe because of TSA. We're safe DESPITE TSA.

Robert Johnson said...

Designed inconsistency is Kip's way of acknowledging that he has no clue how to get control of all the deviations from TSA's SOP.

So instead of working to solve the problem by overhauling TSA management and plicy, the problem is "solved" by saying it's meant to be inconsistent. That way he's off the hook, no one's accountable, and TSA can make up and change the rules as it goes.

So what it comes down to is this:

"Harassment and inconsistency is TSA's way of looking like it's doing something without having to provide real aviation security."

It's a great show folks.

mdoneil said...

I would like to see common signs from TSA in all the airports. Some signs are crudely made and taped to the wall with spiffy TSA red,white and blue tape.

Having a list of languages and brief associated instructions available at each checkpoint would also be helpful. A dozen or two lamintated booklets with the 40 or 50 most common languages would certainly be helpful as I've been in line behind people speaking languages that I thought were from a different planet. AT&T Language Line has a brochure that might be used as an example, the reader picks out his language on the first page and is directed to a brief page of instrutions for using their service. These could be given out at the first ID check and collected after the checkpoint. Heck a few in English might help too.

Additionally wheelchairs that do not set off magnetometers that wheelchair bound travelers could transfer to would be helpful. I've seen similar chairs made from pvc pipe and lawn chair webbing used in pools at nursing homes. I fly from Florida frequently and I this would certainly help many older travelers.

I fly frequently and I have found several tips that make my journey through TSA checkpoints stress free.

Arrive on time, or don't take the last flight of the day to your destination. I try to get there as the airline suggests, but in the unusual instance when I am late I can always take the later flight.

Wear slip on shoes; wear socks. It makes it that much easier. If you can't take off your shoes (I twisted my ankle once and found this) you can ask for secondary screening in which you can leave your shoes on. I told them I hurt my ankle 2 days before and I had an elastic bandage and it was hard to get the shoe off and on. I was able to sit and have my shoes swabbed in a fairly private area. Just ask and I'm sure they will find someone who can help.

I am lazy and I don't like to carry luggage on the plane. I paid for the ticket, let the airline lug my luggage. Sure sometimes it goes astray but it shows up intact most of the time. I put my liquids in my checked bag.
In the infrequent event that I fly with just a carry on I just don't bring liquids. I can pick up a tube of toothpaste at most hotels or a drug store for less than a buck. Sometimes it is kind of interesting, in Mexico I once got toothpase that was in a small cake in a snap closed box -minty fresh and a solid. Tooth powder is also available - I bet a small bag of that white powder in your carry one would be an intersting diversion if they hand search your bag.

I found a belt online that has a buckle that comes off easily. It is a fairly nice leather belt but made specifically for travel so you just have to unbuckle it and then unsnap the alligator like end rather than removing your belt completely. Ten seconds beats trying to hold my laptop case and shoes while reaching around trying to put on my belt.

I try not to carry a lot of keys in my pockets. I may stash my keys under the lip of the dashboard below the steering wheel of the car and carry a single key that does not set off the metal detectors if I forget to remove it from my pocket. I do have one of those RFID keys so it was about $30, but then again I have an extra spare key.
I try to avoid bringing change or other things that might set off the metal detectors thus limiting the 'what is metal' dance I have to do before the magnetometers.

I throw out all of the junk the airline wraps my ticket in - I don't need an envelope with car rental or credit card ads on it. I need the boarding pass and the luggage claim check (in case the luggage goes to France when I go to Newark). The boarding pass goes in my shirt pocket because 37 people will want to see it. The bag tags go in my wallet to be torn up and thrown away when I get my bags - they do have your name and flight number on them so that is why I make confetti. I also put my passport or driver's license in my shirt pocket because a few people will want to see that too.

I do say thank you to the TSA staff members and I usually go to the desk and ask for a supervisor. Sometimes I get the 'what now' look, but I offer my thanks for a quick trip through the checkpoints, or if it wasn't at least for their diligent work. Supervisors like to tell their staff that someone complimented them, nobody likes to be the bearer of bad news all the time.

I've never missed a flight because of a delay at the TSA checkpoints when I have arrived on time. Heck I've only missed on out of several hundred when I've arrived late. (several hundred flights, not several hundred late arrivals)

So far no one has blown up any of the aircraft I've flown on since TSA started its job.

Thanks. I don't have the patience to deal with the public (I find most of them to be real pains in the neck who can't follow directions -myself included sometimes). Dealing with the public, combined with the monotony of the job would make me tear out my hair, but I know I appreciate your good work.

thevoiceofreason said...

Several posts have commented quite rightly on the number of times a boarding card is checked often within a walk of about 50yds. I have been told that each check is looking for something different. Well then they should deploy someone who can cope with more than one item at a time. The growth in security personnel around the world must have had a significant impact on unemployment figures.

Anonymous said...

The scanners are set at the same level nation wide. Interference from other things (such as how close the x-ray is, outlets close by, etc.) around the walk through is what causes inconsistencies in alarming or not alarming.

Anonymous said...

Inconsistencies are frustrating to TSA employees also. It's not fun to tell someone they can't have their lotion just to have them say another airport let it go. Why don't we all follow the same rules? Good question. Coming from an airport that is strict with policy, I wish we did all follow the rules. I would just ask that the passengers take into account that it's not the TSO's fault. Don't be mad at us for enforcing the rules. You should be mad at the airports that let things go that shouldn't go. Please also keep in mind that we are just here to do a job. Read through some of these comments and think of how it would feel to have this stuff said about you. I may or may not agree with all of the policies, but it's my job to enforce them. I have kids at home to feed too and I need this job. It's not worth risking my job or my bonuses to let you take your 8 oz. lotion. We don't make the rules. As far as people with metal implants being screened. How else could we clear that person? Should we take their word for it that's it's a metal implant? Can't a terrorist have a metal implant too? The second we exempt any group of people (children, elderly, etc.) from screening, don't you think the terrorists will use someone from that group to accomplish their mission. We know they're not against using children - they've proven that. Please just don't take it out on the TSO's for doing their job. If a TSO is rude, that's another story. But don't be rude for us doing what we're paid to do. Maybe if passengers wouldn't talk to TSOs and treat them they way they do (just look through these blogs), the TSOs would be in a little better mood at work.

Anonymous said...

After reading these comments it seems to me that so many of you have forgotten. There may have only been one shoe bomb found, but what if it would have gone off. What if your family was on that plane? We need to remember the reason for this. If we can prevent anything like 9/11 from ever happening again by you removing your shoes or only taking a small amount of shampoo then WHY NOT? So many children lost a parent, so many parents lost a child, so many people lost a spouse. Quit whining. Removing your shoes is a small sacrifice.

Anonymous said...

I have traveled quite a bit --- both pre and post 9/11. Being an experienced traveler, there are just a few things that from my experience and personal knowledge I would like to clarify:


Policies *do* change. Sometimes it is not inconsistencies – but a change in the policy. On their web site, TSA tells passengers about these changes. Some I have seen recently:

---Lighters are no longer prohibited (Not only do I think it was a hassle for TSA to bother with those, as a smoker, I’m glad this one changed! You can now take one lighter and up to 4 packs of safety matches in carry-on.)

---Electronics are screened differently (Don’t know all the details on this one because I don’t carry electronics when I fly.)

----Remote control cars/toy are screened more carefully (This, I think, had to do with suspicions of remote controls being used for bomb-making.)

---Lithium Batteries have a limit in carry-on (Again, I don’t carry electronics, so I don’t know all the details about this change.)

I’m sure there have been other changes. TSA has sections on their web site about exceptions to limits on things when it deals with medications or parents traveling with children. When in doubt, read the information they provide online at It isn’t like they are keeping secrets about what gets scanned or what is allowed. You just need to be an IMFORMED traveler. Learn about the rules that will impact YOU as a traveler, and then the screening process is faster and simpler for you, TSA and all the people in line for screening behind you.


It is not TSA who sets these up, but rather the airports/airlines that set up the special shorter screening lines for First Class Passengers. If you are told differently by the airlines / airport, then they are lying to you. There are OTHER shorter security lines in a few selected airports that have begun using the Registered Traveler (CLEAR/ VIP/ Other names) programs, which allow frequent flyers who submit to intensive background checks and pay an annual fee in order to get through security more quickly.


Those passengers who consistently get extra screening or cannot use kiosk and online check-in seem to think they are on a “No Fly List”. Not true. Those people who are on *THE* “NO FLY LIST” are *NOT ALLOWED TO FLY*. Let me also clarify this: TSA does not add or remove names from the No Fly List. The FBI, CIA, CDC and other federal agencies do. TSA simply provides the list to the airlines, which then perform their own vetting (verifying) of passengers against the list. If your name is *similar* to someone on that list, you can be required to go through extra processing/screening all the time. *OR* you can go through the Redress process (DHS-TRIP link at and get a letter from TSA verifying that you are allowed to fly.

When you are sent that clearance letter, so are all the airlines. PROBLEM: Airlines use different systems for vetting (i.e. verifying) passenger data. If the airline you are flying with has a system that doesn’t check date of birth when vetting, then you could still be subject to this additional screening even after undergoing the Redress process --- until that airline upgrades their system or TSA takes over all vetting of domestic flight passengers.

The process for TSA to take over all passenger vetting (so it is done consistently the same way and on the same system at every airport and every airline nationwide) is in process. The program – called SECURE FLIGHT – has been postponed, delayed, etc. so many times now that no one knows when it will finally get government funding and come to fruition. Until then, however, you can use the Redress process AND (***this is key***) place yourself on the frequent flyer list of the airline you use most. Since these frequent flyer programs usually require a date of birth or other personally identifiable information, it can eliminate those issues with passenger verification on that particular airline’s vetting system.


Please do not assume TSA is responsible if your baggage is damaged and/or items are missing. Yes, there are bad apples in EVERY environment, and TSA is no exception. I'm sure there are times when TSA employees are caught stealing --- and they are fired and prosecuted for it. I cannot say the same for hourly wage airline baggage crews. Consider this: TSA has a very limited amount of time to x-ray/screen all those bags going through checked luggage. In many airports, even if YOU can’t see their screening process, the CCTV camera *does*. However, after the brief time TSA has it, your bag can sit in baggage “holding” with the airline until your flight is boarded. So….where do you think theft is more likely to occur? In the less-than-5-minute-in-and-out screening process by TSA (that is more likely than not on video camera)? Or the hours upon end that your bag sits in “holding” with airline employees (where there are no cameras)?

If your lock was broken and you used a TSA-approved lock, why would TSA break it? They have a way to get it off. Think about the way baggage is tossed and stuffed onto and off of planes and all the conveyor belts. They can damage your bags --- and they belong to the airlines and the airport, not to TSA.

If your bag was opened and rifled through, was there a TSA “Notice of Inspection” (NOI) on the top of the bag? (Not in the bottom of the bag ---- that may have been one you left in the suitcase yourself from you last trip when you forgot to throw it out). If it didn’t have a NOI, then we should assume that TSA did NOT open your bag. They x-rayed it and sent it on to airline baggage. Is it possible for them to forget one of those NOIs once in while? Sure it is. But, chances are, if you didn’t get an NOI, you didn’t have your bag opened by TSA --- especially if it is in an airport where TSA screening is video-taped. That means you should not automatically blame TSA, but rather please consider who *else* may have plundered your bag during that 10-hour delay you encountered.


Lots of complaints are received by and about TSA that have nothing to do with TSA employees. Just because the person is in a uniform, do not assume they are TSA. Airline, airport and private contracted personnel all wear similar uniforms. Look at the person’s name badge and SEE if they are TSA. Lots of times, passengers are yelling about “TSA did this….TSA did that….” And the person who was rude was an airline or airport employee --- not one from TSA.

I’ve heard rumors that TSA is considering changing their uniforms so they look DIFFERENT from all other airline/airport employees. I hope they do.


Even if you are a frequent traveler, a newly discovered threat could change policy relatively quickly. TSA updates their web site regularly with any new information. Go to and *LOOK* for updates *BEFORE* you pack for your next trip. You can also call or email the TSA Contact Center. Their information for contact is also on the web site. By not knowing the rules, you make the screening process longer not just for yourself, but for all the other passengers in line behind you.

Here are a few examples of how NOT KNOWING THE RULES can turn into an unpleasant experience for a passenger. Below is a quote from an article about complaints against TSA:


Take, for example, a mother and daughter traveling out of the Dallas/Fort Worth airport on Sept. 4. In an e-mailed complaint to TSA, the mother said the TSA screener was rude and inconsiderate. While she was in secondary screening, the mother was made to face away from her daughter. "Someone could have taken my daughter," the woman wrote. "I understand you have to have security, but your people don't need to be rude!!!"
On Sept. 3, a man leaving Orlando, Fla., filed a lengthy complaint because he said a screener touched him "like no man ever has — not even my doctor."


For the record: If these passengers had followed the 3-1-1 rule, it is likely that neither of them would have even been subjected to the secondary screening that ultimately resulted in their complaints.

In her complaint to TSA, the woman reveals that they confiscated items loose in her purse (nail polish, lip gloss, hand lotion). The woman incorrectly assumed that these items – just because they were less than 3 ounces each -- did not require being placed in the 3-1-1 bag. Wrong! ANY liquid, gel or aerosol in carry-on luggage *MUST* be under 3 ounces *AND* also *MUST* be placed in the 3-1-1 plastic bag. By making assumptions and not being aware of or following the 3-1-1 rule, the woman attempted to carry items that SHOULD have been in a 3-1-1 bag loose in her purse----at which point they become prohibited items. When they were removed from her bag, she (expectedly) got angry. When she got angry at the TSA Screener, I’m sure the TSA screener was not-too-happy that the woman was agitated at TSA for doing their job and taking the prohibited items. It was the passenger’s total ignorance of the rules that most likely resulted in her secondary screening in the first place. ~~~~ The male passenger was also unfamiliar with 3-1-1 rules. He complained about having his pudding and soda confiscated----both of which were greater than 3 ounces each and therefore prohibited items in carry-on. BTW: If you wish to verify this information, feel free to contact the AP Reporter (ASSOCIATED PRESS) who did the story. They had to file a FOIA request for the release of the full customer complaint records. This important information [left out by the reporter] was in the records provided by TSA based on the FOIA request.

In the same article, Paul C. Light, professor of public policy at New York University, defended TSA as misunderstood. The professor stated that because TSA is highly visible but cannot brag about its successes, TSA is “an agency that's damned if it does, damned if it doesn't". I agree with the professor. The public never hears about TSA’s successes. For TSA to publicly declare them would only provide free publicity to the terrorists who may have been thwarted or the group whose plot was foiled --- and it just might scare the crap out of some people if they really knew all that TSA does/has done successfully.

Anonymous said...

with any people / agency that pretend they have control over other people there is always inconcisistancy - take for example police - there is no consistancy in them either - goverments be it federal / state or local should dictate policy then give it to all people that come in contact with the public i.e. laminated cards and follow them adding or subtracting those items which no longer are needed - that way some other company can create them and distribute them to all travelers or people so we know what to expect when traveling or with any run in with the law

Jon said...

Why are flight crews and TSA employees permitted to bring "banned" items such as liquids through screening? Other airport employees do not receive this privilege even though we never step foot on a plane.

Anonymous said...

St Louis Airport traveling on Continental when passing through security a TSA agent checks both ID and ticket before getting in line for the screening. Then, after going through the screening process, a TSA agent wants to check ID and ticket again immediately after passing through the magnetometer. The TSA agent acts astonished when passengers do not carry their ticket and ID with them through the magnetometer. This is the only US airport I have been through that requires this and I don't see the value of a double ID check within a secure area.

Capt. ROn said...

Why is it that some (most) airports will allow flight crews to bypass security screening and some won't? When will TSA realize that it wasn't and isn't the pilots and flight attendants that are terrorists! I can have a big crash ax that I can put through someones skull right next to me in the cockpit, but man don't leave that little 2 inch pocked knife in my flight bag! Get with it TSA, stop harassing Flight Crews!

Anonymous said...

It would be encouraging if I thought someone at TSA was really reading these about some TSA responses?

Anonymous said...

First off, I'd like to say I'm glad we have an agency such as the TSA keeping us safe from threats. But, I do have a few questions/complaints.

While in Greensboro recently, I was behind a young man, obviously from another country. I watched him get singled out and his belongings raided through. Turns out, this man was also on my flight. So, after the security incident, two TSA agents followed him and came up to him for "additional screening". He was wanded and, to his embarassment, literally made to look like a criminal in front of all his fellow passengers. If this wasn't racial profiling, I don't know what is. The main felt so bad after this incident I could tell he was uncomfortable. It also did not help that the plane was two hours late, so he had to sit with all of these people who just witnessed this happen.

Why is something like this such a common practice with airport security? Why isn't a thorough evaluation the first time enough? To me, that just means the TSA isn't doing their job thoroughly enough to begin with, and something needs to be done about it.

Anonymous said...

Someone asked why TSA doesn't discriminate in the screening. They asked why old grandmas get screened when there are young Middle Eastern males on the flights.

This country hasn't followed the Israel's anti-terror methods. Hands down, Israel's anti-terror methods are the best in the world. However, in the US, the ACLU would have a fit. So, the airlines cover their butt.

This raises a very good question--kind of along the lines of Guatanamo Bay. Do terrorists have rights? It may appear as though the TSA believes every terrorist should be given a fair chance to board a plane--fake bombs are often not detected, and people who match the apparent "terrorist profile" are not searched.

This is an extremely difficult issue. If the TSA really wanted to crack down on terrorism and use Israeli methods, the ACLU would be mad. On the other hand, if every Middle Eastern-looking person were stopped, it wouldn't be fair to them either. They are human beings.

I hesitate to give a solution to the problem because everyone has their opinions, and quite frankly, I don't want my ticket prices to increase anymore. But the only real solution would be to train TSA people better. So often, I see TSA people not present to what's going on around them. Their minds are elsewhere. I know it takes a lot of training and discipline, but if you start looking more at non-verbal body language and try observing what's really going on, it can reveal a lot. Sometimes not. But everyone who's ever been in a relationship with someone knows non-verbal communication (reading between the lines) is really how we communicate 70-80% of the time.

I do agree with the poster that searching grandma on a consistent basis may not be the best use of time. It's good for TSA because people can clearly see TSA isn't discriminating.

In many ways, I wish the TSA just stuck to its mission of catching terrorists. The only problem with that is that not everyone has wisdom or common sense. Some idiot TSA purpose would completely abuse their power. Now, if the TSA could teach common sense, it could get away with successfully profiling, and I don't think people would get uptight. The whole problem is they would go bankrupt trying to teach common sense to people who their whole life never had any.

Anonymous said...

An individual commented that when his wife was coming from Mexico, she never got searched at the airport.

Yes, that is true. I frequently travel to South America. Going down, I mostly take empty luggage because TSA always searches and damages things. Since things are so cheap down there, I load my carry-on and checked baggage as full as I can. I always bring back things I'm not supposed to. Last time, they didn't notice that I didn't lift one of my bags up to the lady who was screening luggage (they didn't have machines to do it--it was all done manually.) I just pushed it through underneath and no one noticed I never screened my carry-on bag.

You can bring into the US whatever you want. Depending on what country you go to, you can brining as much liquid onto the plane as you want.

Toby said...

I've noticed many TSA employees on this blog say something along the lines of "we really do find dangerous stuff in the screenings and we're really protecting you!"

A. I want proof. Trustworthy organizations of all kinds allow themselves to be scrutinized, audited, and assessed publicly. Untrustworthy organizations do not. Crying "national security" as an excuse to clam up is not acceptable since we pay your salaries.

B. I don't care if you do find dangerous stuff. I don't want your protection. I simply want to be free of government intrusion into my life.

C. Catching a few items now and then neither excuses nor justifies the abuse than many CUSTOMERS of the TSA have received. Can you name ONE TSA AGENT who has served prison time for abusing someone or for stealing from passengers?

Just one?

Out of all the stories of abuse I've read?

If there is no redress for the abused, then there is implicit motivation to abuse passengers built into the system. This is in fact true of almost all areas of government. The government exempts itself from the rules it places on us.

Dare you to post this!!!

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many of you would fly tomorrow if the TSA stopped searching everyone?
And why do you blame the TSA when YOU refuse to check any baggage because "THE AIRLINES" might lose them?
And why do half of the people out there not think that their cell phone will cause the metal detector to go off?
Common sense has been lost by most air travelers.

Anonymous said...

I have a question about photographic equipment which I can't find answered anywhere on your web site. Are tripods and monopods permitted to be carried on to the plane in your carry-on or personal item?

I've seen both of these pieces of photographic gear permitted and rejected at security.

(I posted this question elsewhere, but apparently it wasn't the right place to get a comment or an answer.)

Anonymous said...

all TSA agents need equal training in human relations & doing the job with manners & courtesy ! i have had knee replacement surgery so i have a titanium pin in my leg. i have flown from SJC WEARING SHORTS which showed my scar & still felt like i was being accused of being a criminal & about to be strip searched in preparation to go to prison. THEY WERE SO RUDE & i was so embarrassed standing in the middle of the room! on the return trip from PDX, they did their job with kindness & humanity but they DID THE SAME JOB as the SJC agents did so rudely. the job can be done without being rude to someone who doesn't deserve it. are they just power tripping? most people who fly are NOT criminals & should NOT be treated like they are. Pam.

Anonymous said...

I have found inconsistency with the TSA "approved" locks, that after you buy them all TSA airports have the key to open the luggage, but then, you find the expensive lock broken inside your luggage or not at all, leaving you to presume it has been broken...

flyguy said...

I am an airline pilot for a major airline and I go through security at many different airports every month. Without a doubt inconsistency from one airport to another is everyones biggest complaint. Some places are great and the screening personnel are sharp and speak when spoken to and although some of the policies seem a little odd, as long as the person requesting the odd policy seems sincere then it isn't a big deal. Then you have the "other" airports. These may even be in the majority, where the screeners are on a huge power trip. It is getting better, but DEN and SLC in particular are this way. The screeners seem to take delight in harrassing passengers and want them to to get mad and argue so they can threaten to have them arrested. Most people don't realize that the TSA can't arrest anyone, but the local cop that is always sitting there at security can. These are the places that I really dislike. I do not need to be told to take off my watch because it doesn't set off the metal detector - I know because I wear it through the detector every day, but a guy in SLC always tells me I have to take it off. I just ignore him. Finally, when there are huge lines backed up and there are six metal detectors and xray machines available and six or seven TSA people lounging about and only one line is open, then the taxpayers, the people who pay the TSA salaries, get irritated. There may be a good reason for this but it isn't readily apparent to those in line and you guys end up looking bad. Just some thoughts.

Anonymous said...

It is the inconsistencies that absolutely drive me nuts! I understand the concept of changing some things to keep people from learning routines, but some of the things I have been through are utterly rediculous! I take a lot of medication and one of the pills I take requires me to take 1/2 a pill three times a day. This required a pill cutter as using anything else would cause the pills to shatter. The cutter I used had an attached blade that was exposed about 1/4 inch and was recessed into the cutter and very safe. I couldn't cut anyone with it if I tried! I have had more than one cutter taken away. My medications are very important and I have packed them in my checked luggage before with disastrous results...luggage didn't make it. I have a hard time understanding why insulin syringes can go through but not a pill cutter. I tried cutting them before flying, but they always deteriorated being juggled around so I wasn't getting the dose required. Leaving things discretionary opens too many doors for abuse! I have noticed many occasions where a TSA screener who seemed to be having a bad day was more like Hitler than someone trying to protect me! Give me a break people. I observe the rules and do what I am supposed to do, but how can you plan appropriately when so much is left to human discretion? Maybe some better guidelines would be appropriate? Liquid insulin is not the only life saving drug a passenger can take.

hgrihorash said...

My 2 children fly to see their father in Michigan every summer. We have 2 terminals in Minneapolis. If they fly out of Lindberg (which is the bigger of the 2,) I do not have any problems getting through security accompanying them to their gate (which is required of me until my oldest is 16.)

Everytime they fly out of Humphrey, I get a "boarding pass" type pass to get through security with a great big red "S" stamped on it. Which pretty much means that I have to be searched. So when we have to use that terminal, I bring as little with me as possible, usually just my cell phone, wallet and slip on shoes. I leave my purse and jacket in the car.

The last time this happened, even the TSA agent couldn't understand why it happens everytime, when I asked the ticket agent who issues me the pass, she said it was standard procedure for adults accompanying thier children to the gates.

I have no problem being searched, but it does get embarrassing. Esspecially when they yell back and forth between each other about the "s" stamped on my pass, hand me a red bin to put my 3 items into and yell for a female to come search me.

One time, I was late picking up my children at their gate, because they had a hard time finding a woman to come search me, even though I told them a man would be fine. I used to work in a jail and know that there is a proper way to search, but that wasn't good enough, even though I was standing right out in the open.

Another time I had my 3 year old with me and the lady kept yelling at her to stay away from me while I was being searched. She started crying because she was scared. I am a single mom standing there with my kids and they are being yelled at to stay away from me?

Anonymous said...

What I find inconsistent and annoying is at some airports a recorded overhead announcement is heard while you are in the checkpoiunt advising you of the rules (ie. laptops out of case, shoes off, etc.), and in other airports the TSA personnel SHOUT out instructions which I find to be unprofessional, unwarranted, and irritating. Why cant there be a standardized announcement at every checkpoint so that I am not shouted at by TSA peronnel?

Common Sense?? said...

I too have come across inconsistant application of security measures in my travels (10-15 times a year), but I am not here to complain about those situations. This is for all the travelers. Wake up! I know some of the rules are tiresome i.e. shoes off, belt off etc. If you don't like the 3-1-1 rule check those items. The 3-1-1 rule is to protect the cabin area from threats. Most people don't think things through to the extent that true terrorists do. It would be extremely hard to blow up a plane with the amount of liquid/gel allowed by the 3-1-1 rule, but not hard to light one on fire during something critical like take off where flight staff response is limited. Thanks TSA for allowing lighters on board when its against federal law to smoke on a plane. If everyone would use some common sense, its free, and prepare properly for their trip security would run much smoother. In my observations passengers that are getting "hassled" by TSA seem to be people that didn't pay attention to how they packed or are trying to push the quantity limits because they didn't try to pack properly. By the way half of the time I dress up to travel, I wear nice leather shoes that are easy to remove, a leather belt with buckle that is non magnetic. I allow for plenty of time to wait for those don't plan properly. Do I get the big search? Yes, I sometimes do and sometimes don't. I think a lot of travelers go into the airport with an adversarial attitude and then are shocked when it comes true. Most travelers have weeks or months to prepare. If you try to prepare to make it through security smoothly you most likley will its not hard. I don't like that I have to jump through the security hoops, but its so much easier with 15 minutes of preplanning.

Nathan said...

I wanted to mention about the consistently bad attitudes of the TSA screeners at the Delta terminal in PHL. I am a former native of the area and live in Atlanta now and fly back and forth frequently to visit my loved ones. During my off days I generally don't dress up in a suit, but when I go into the elite/first class security line I inevitably get hasseled and my ID scrutinized, possibly because I don't "look" like I would have a first class ticket, elite status, and a club membership, all of which give me access to that line. I never have any issues anywhere but Philadelphia and take offense to their very poor treatment of people that don't "look" like a first class passenger. I feel that they stereotype their passengers; I wasn't aware that they have so many problems with people counterfeiting first class tickets at the Delta terminal in PHL. It's ridiculous and I wonder if other's have had the same experience.

Dwayne "the canoe guy" said...

I was stopped in Oklahoma City a few years ago because I had a 'gun' in my backpack. The 'gun' was the piece from the boardgame Clue. Yup, a gun with no trigger, no barrel, no bullets and less than an inch long was almost confiscated.

I also had the wrench, knife, & candlestick but those were okay because "the blade on the knife is less than 3 inches."

I had no other problems with the same items in SF, Denver, & SLC.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see a procedure enacted for travellers that have implants. My two replacement hips trigger metal detectors at every screening leading to hand wanding with the inherent delays that accompany it. Replacing and lacing shoes is also not without difficulty when afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis. While I don't forsee relief for the shoe removal exercise, I would not object to obtaining another photo ID card from TSA that attests to the presence of implants in order to forgo (or abbreviate) the hand screening each and every time.

Anonymous said...

I have had a couple of joint replacements and always have to go through a separate screening. It is very difficult to get my shoes and socks off while standing and most security areas do not have chairs. What happened to the Americans with Disabilites Act?

Anonymous said...

As I read through this blog I often wonder if the traveling public really knows what is going on. I am a TSO and I am an Army officer who has been deployed to Iraq several times. One item that stands out in my mind from here is that everyone seems to have the BIG misconception that all terrorists are middle eastern men. This is simply NOT true. For example, was Timothy McVeigh middle eastern? Umm no he was a military man trained by the United States of America. No one really knows what a terrorist looks like. Yes it can be that 92 year old Grandma, it can be that 1 yr old baby, it can be ANYONE! TSA regulations are standard across the nation, but here is why people think our airports are different. The best way I can explain it is similar to a cop. When you get pulled over for a speeding. You really have no idea if you are going to get a ticket or not. You might, or you just might get a warning, or you might not get anything at all. TSA officers have been given the right to make decisions on there own. Although us supervisors can guide them to the right decision. Just as the cop might say I will let you off with a warning, we TSA officers may say, well I dont think this particular item is dangerous. For instance, if you brought a pair of scissors on a plane and wanted to do something dumb with them, you would get your face beat in b other passengers. You people need to realize that TSA is doing wonders, especially compared to the previous way of doing things. I hear you say we need accountability. We have it, there called the GAO-Government Accountability Office. If everyone would stop taking it personal and thinking we are picking on you, then your travel would go much smoother. We do this for EVERYONE so you can have freedom of movement. If you dont like it, ride a bus!

Anonymous said...

"Quit whining. Removing your shoes is a small sacrifice."

Except that X-Ray machines don't find explosives.

Anonymous said...

The thing that bothers me most as a very frequent traveller is that I should know exactly what to do when I am going through the line (take off shoes, belts, jackets, take pc out of bag, etc), but often the TSA workers are so inconsistent that they almost yell at you for doing what you were told to do in ohter airports. Ie, putting your shoes, belt, etc in a bin rather than on the belt is expected at one airport and you get chastized at the next one for "wasting " a bin! If I weatr a suit coat that acts as a shirt too, ie it is buttoned all the way up with no shirt under it, it is ok, but if I wear a light shell under it and leave a few buttons open, it must come off. If they can see a shirt/shell under hte jacket, it must come off. If not you can keep it on. It is ridiculous. 99% of the time I don't take the baggy out of my suitcase and it is never a problem. Oen time, i took it out ad placed it in a bin and the TSA agent told me it was unacceptable because the items inside the bag did not fit comfortably. I was like, what does tht mean....they re all under 3 oz and they all fit perfectly and it zip locks closed just fine. She said I know, but the items are not comfortable. ??? She let me through but warned me that other airports were going to stop me. That was 2 yrs ago and no one has ever said my items were uncomfortable since. I am a CLEAR member and it is the best service ever, but they need to allow us to keep jackets on, shoes on and pc's in our bags. We are all screened with a federal background check and that should get us some leeway besides just bypassing the line.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I really need some help... I have never flown before and I recently visited a web sight that listed travel tips. I was some what confused, I read that you are aloud 1 carry on bag and 1 personal item such as a lap top, a purse, or a camera.. I planned on taking my carry on, purse and my camera could I not take them all? Also my make up I usually keep it in my purse, do I have to baggy all my make up to.. Forgive me but I'm lost..Can anyone help?

mmichellew1 said...

Recently I flew from LAX to Houston (IAH) Hobby and back. At the LAX incept, they xrayed my belongings and wound not accept my bag for carryon because of a can of hairspray. Ok, fair enough, I checked it. On the way back through Hobby, I had my purse totally pulled apart, piece by piece, all over the counter, and my bag was searched. It was a mess when I got home, jewelry strewn, a bottle of nail polish broken open that was sealed (new purchase, unopened). What they didnt find was the multitool that I forgot was in my purse still after a recent camping trip. So much for security.

Anonymous said...

I have an artificial knee which means that the TSA does a "wanding" and "pat down". There is a wide disparity as to the consideration I am afforded, in the context of my personal materials in the plastic tubs. At best, the agent asks me to identify my tubs, and he collects them for me and brings them to the screening area. At worst, the tubs languish while I am given the extensive security check, and my personal belongings are available to anyone who might choose to take them. Second, why are we subject to a "pat down", which is not required of passengers who pass through the magnetometer without alarm? The wanding buzzes at my knee, and I could see patting down that area, but why my entire body??

Jim said...

I fly 2-3 times a week and find certain airports lacking in security, especially smaller ones like Myrtle Beach where you can walk in through the exit area due to no security guard posted there. The scanning equipment is not consistently set as my belt buckle will set it off in Long Beach California but nowhere else. I belong to the CLEAR program which makes it a little easier where there is a CLEAR lane but even there sometimes I have to take my shoes off and sometimes not.

Anonymous said...

A previous poster commented about an AA employee who 'had a problem' with ID (maiden name) being different than what was on the ticket. FYI - The airlines ARE required by law to make sure the ID MATCHES the ticket (that means you, too, Jake!), as per my wife who works for the airlines, and the airline which lets someone through with a mismatch can be heavily fined. This is especially true for international flights, where US Immigration checks your ID when you return. You could be held and questioned for hours - I kid you not! It happened to me in Bermuda when my documents weren't in order. If you change your name when you get married, you can save yourself a LOT of trouble by getting a new passport issued with your new married name, like my wife did. Haven't you heard that ID's (including addendums) can be faked? That's why you see agents using a UV flashlight to check the holographic coating on your drivers license - which must be removed from the wallet so the hidden design can be seen clearly. Many of the complaints I see here are from people who simply don't WANT to try to work with the system, and their obtuseness causes them their own headaches. If you act like a jerk you'll get treated like a jerk - if not by TSO's then by me in line behind you because you're holding me and everyone else up. Be early. Be patient. Wear shoes that can easily come off, and socks if you're concerned about cold/dirty floors. Don't wear that metal belt buckle as big as a satellite dish. I wear a plastic Casio watch when I travel, and have every metal item already stowed in my carry-on or jacket pockets (which goes through the detector) before I even get in line. Use some common sense! Go with the flow! If you insist on fighting the system, don't be surprised if you get singled out for special treatment. You're creating your own headaches.

Anonymous said...

There are even inconsistencies in the same airport. I was flying out of a small regional airport with one check point. I went through the screening process just fine (for a change - I usually get to be the "passenger of the day" as I call it and receive extra screening) but not this time. The woman behind me had a very small pair of scissors that was taken away. Now, for the part of the story that gets interesting - I am a quilter and had recently went to a quilt retreat (a day or two before my trip) and forgot that I had a huge pair of cutting scissors and rotary cuter with a blade in it in my purse until I looked in the purse later for some Kleenex. How could this have been missed? I know the screening folks are only human and there are bound to be things that get missed but if they missed my huge 12 inch scissors and a rotary cutter, what else are they missing? Kind of makes me wonder if the screening process is more about giving us a feeling of safety than actual safety sometimes. Of course on the flight back I put both items in my checked luggage.

Anonymous said...

Flying is a choice folks, you definately do have rights at the checkpoint. You choose to buy a ticket and show up at the airport, you choose to get in line and you choose to submit to the required inspection of your belongings. You also have the right to opt out of the screening before you place your items down for inspection. If you don't like the show, change the channel and take the train. Screening is a requirement for flying much like holding a license is a requirement for driving.

Some people have legitimate concers about the apparently different policies at different airports and I am sure they are all well founded, but other people on this board just want to complain, which is their right. Everyone needs to vent and this is a place to come and let those things go but some people go to far. Every TSO I have ever met has taken their emoployment because, at least initially, they wanted to help. It is not their fault that the policies and procedures are inconsistent. I can GURANTEE that they are just as frustrated as you by this. You only deal with it one or two times a day (For the average business passenger) or once a year for most folks. TSO's have to hear the same gripes day after day. Yes, that is the job they took but it does not mean that thay should be verbally abused. Everyone in the US has the right to be a jerk, some folks just abuse it.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure while this doesn't have much to do with policy inconsistency, but it might.

Back in 2005, I had to take an emergency flight back home to California when my father died. I know that last minute bookings get a special code for extra screening. I had my purse and my laptop with me, and in the laptop, shoved my cd player and a couple of books.

I got snarked at for wearing tennish shoes (I needed them for support, slip ons don't work for me), for not taking off the shoes in a timely manner (gee, I didn't realize I only had 20 milliseconds to kick them off), snarked at for taking so long to put them back on (darn those laces), snarked at because I had two cd players - well one of them happened to be the dvd player/cd burner on the laptop. Not really the same thing. And finally told that I was wasting my time reading such dirty books - they were romance novels and not really good ones at that. I didn't think it was the TSAs business to police what I read.

Oh, and I was told that next time, I'd better not book such a last minute ticket. Yeah, I'll remember that next time and ask my mother to plan her death accordingly.

Anonymous said...

I have several concerns: 1) Why are the TSA agents so disgruntled. A smile or thank you goes a LONG way in "customer" satisfaction. Most fliers are NOT terrorists and perhaps by being nicer to those going through the lines would make everyone a little happier. 2) When traveling with a crippled arthritic mother the treatments for her have been down right embarrassing. She no longer wants to fly thanks to the handling she has had. She can hardly walk and they still treat her like she's a terrorist and pat her down and never say a kind word. At 86, I think she has earned some respect in life. 3) The policies change so frequently that no wonder fliers seem a little "testy". I don't mind taking off shoes, putting any liquids in a small baggie, taking off jackets, etc. However, when all of the sudden you find out something new you have to do while in line, no wonder fliers seem frustrated.

Susan said...

(I posted this question elsewhere, but apparently it wasn't the right place to get a comment or an answer.)

Have you not noticed that nobody is getting any answers or comments....

Anonymous said...

I have a story for you:
My sister was flying from JFK to Brussels, Belgium, and was asked the usual questions: did you pack your luggage yourself, did you accept any packages from anyone, etc. Then she was asked if she carried anything on her which could be "construed as a weapon". At that time, she was filling out a luggage tag and she simply held up her pen. Of course, they said, "Oh no, that's not a weapon". As we all know, some time ago, a prisoner held a reporter captive by grabbing her pen and holding it against her carotid artery, threatening to stab her. So TSA, you guys are obviously not doing your job. Let's get rid off all our writing implements while we're at it!
Oh, yes, how about all of those people with a black belt in karate, their hands are lethal weapons you know. Let's not let them on the plane, oh no!
Come on TSA, all of this BS is just to keep our ordinary travelers in a STATE OF FEAR so that the government can get away with removing as many of our basic rights as they can. And all you suckers at TSA are eating it up, loving how much you can denigrate and embarass your everyday travelers. You know the old warning about giving a man a badge..... Wake up America!

Jim said...

I can understand a need for intentional inconsistency. And I think profiling and observation (as in Israel) are important. If I am assessed as less of a risk at the time, and TSA lets me get away with a less-stringent check, fine. If I'm tagged for some reason am held to the strict rules, fine. What I don't want is for something obviously on the okay list to be suddenly not okay.

And I'd like a way to fix my oops in a timely manner, if possible. I don't mind you throwing out the bottle of water I snagged from the meeting room and forgot in my briefcase, but I would greatly mind losing tools or something I bought in duty free.

And is there some way to protect my checked baggage from theft while still allowing inspection? TSA is accused of stealing in the blog, but the airline baggage handlers have my bag for far more time and can conveniently and temporarily misplace it long enough to steal. Airline and TSA can blame each other all day long and I'm out of luck.

Anonymous said...

I was at an airport restaurant (after going through security) and got served my meal along with a plastic knife and a metal fork. I would imagine taking the plastic knife and snapping off a sliver to create a very dangerous weapon would be something the TSA would have thought of. What a waste of time and energy! We are being completely misled as to what constitutes dangerous items to bring on board. If you use your imagination, there are hundreds of items you can use as a weapon, none of them on the TSA list. Get real!

Anonymous said...

I fly over 20 times each year so I have some experience (unfortunately) with TSA.

My solution to the "take your shoes off" policy is to not put them back on until I get to my gate. Don't like my socks or bare feet? Let me leave my shoes on.

The liquids policy is a pure joke. Is there someone in TSA HQ who gets paid to actually think these things up?

My biggest gripe is the lines to get through screening. One agent directs traffic through the detector. One agent sits and watches pictures on the machine. Then there are 3 or 4 agents in the background of each machine standing around talking - to each other or on their cells - while 4 to 6 machines are idle. Get to Work !!! Even two more lines open would ease the congestion and reduce tempers.

As for being more secure, pah-leze. I feel less secure now than before 9/11. If TSA is REALLY thwarting terrorists, announce it. Yay, we caught a bad guy! Nope, nary a word. All that's happened is we've given jobs to thousands who have become bullies.

And as for ID not be a legal necessity to travel in the US? Go ahead. Try to fly anywhere in the US without ID. Let me know what happens.

Quote (again):
"He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither." - Ben Franklin

Will TSA/PHX said...

Many comments have been made about TSA,however not that long ago many lives were lost and America wanted change and accountability. Many of us will never forget that infamous day that we as American citizens were faced with terrorism on our soil. Now its been about seven years and many people complain about inconsistencies and all the negatives. Have they forgotten?
Here is a question which would you choose? 30,000 feet with security screening or without?
Are you willing to gamble with your life or trust in a system put in place that has protected the airline industry since its inception.

nvn8v said...

I have a plate and 8 pins in my left elbow and consistently set off the metal detectors at any airport. My "home airport" is RNO, and I have been to STL, ORD, IAH, DFW, PDX and DCA in the past year or so. I tell the screener before I go through the metal detector that I will need a secondary because I am guaranteed to set the bloody thing off and the screeners that I have dealt with have been somewhat nasty to me because I set it off, even with my warning. There should be some type of card / security system for those of us with hardware or other disabilities to make travel a little easier. I am willing to pay the $ 100 a year for the secure travel card, but I'm afraid it will not be worth the effort because I have the same problem every time I go to RNO or any other airport.


I see inconsistancy everywhere. If it is the intention to keep people from taking over a plane, then think! Cockpit doors were made of cardboard and how long did it take for your "experts" to figure out that may be a problem? If you want to keep it safe, make the seatbelts so that once snapped they can only be opened by the attendant. If you can't get out of your seat, you can't storm the cockpit. Stop wasting billions on useless machinery/people. If you want a safe plane, let people who have a license to carry bring their gun on board. No "terrorist" would be willing to jump up with a box cutter if the plane was loaded with 200 gun carrying Americans. The practice of grabbing anyone and jerking them around does not make the flight safer. It is just mindless. I (now 68 and two artificial hips) was put through the machine three times, hand searched and researched at boarding. It's just idiocy.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think inconsistentcy is a plus..........this will keep the terrorists guessing!

Anonymous said...

On an outbound trip through LAX's international terminal recently the TSA officer accused me of having contraband in my backpack. then proceeded to take everything out and individually search the items. She of course found nothing, and seemed almost resentful she didn't. No apologies, nothing. On the other hand, I found the security at London Heathrow extremely polite and efficient- maybe we'd have a better view of TSA if you took cues from security in other countries.

Jack said...

I wonder how many of you would fly tomorrow if the TSA stopped searching everyone?

I would.

And why do you blame the TSA when YOU refuse to check any baggage because "THE AIRLINES" might lose them?
And why do half of the people out there not think that their cell phone will cause the metal detector to go off?
Common sense has been lost by most air travelers.

When I give TSA an unlocked tool chest I expect them to relock it so as to prevent loss of contents. A TSA hireling recently gave me grief for suggesting that the tool chest be resecured by the folks at the X-ray machine. FYI I travel 49 weeks out of the year and find driving much more pleasant than dealing with either TSA or the airlines.

Common sense? Both TSA and some passengers have lost it. Stop complaining about the liquids. Get used to it. Be prepared to remove your jacket, shoes, and have a plan to deal with change, keys, cell phone, etc that will set off the metal detectors. That makes common sense. Give TSA what they want and perhaps they'll leave you alone. TSA types, I don't suffer fools gladly. You've got a real public relations problem that won't get solved any time soon. I will spit in any container before TSA conficates it. Bon appetit. Don't like it? Then don't chow down on the contents.

Again I ask, if I give TSA a properly secured piece of luggage and they fail to replace/relock the luggage then who assumes responsibility for the contents if something is stolen due to TSA's failure/incompetance/neglect. TSA says that it is the airlines. The airlines say that it is TSA. I say that it is TSA since they had a properly secured piece of luggage given to them.

Kristy said...

I am a TSO from Minnesota. I hear every day about how LAX or Ohare or where ever didn't do what I am doing now. My answer to that is "I can't answer to what someone else has done, and I am sorry for the inconsistency, but I am going by the policies in place and I can find them in writing for anyone to see if there is any question. I pose 2 questions to the complaining flyers... Are you able to control your coworkers actions?
And if TSA was disbanded or if security was lighter and something did happen, could you look in the face of the survivers of 9-11 and say "it was just too inconvienient"? ... I can't. I do my job and I have personally found knifes, ammunition, pepperspray, and drugs on several different occasions. And these items are not with the people you'd "expect" so profiling doesn't work either. If your sweater is hiding the contours of your body I am going to ask you to remove it. I need to be sure it's just you to sleep at night. I hope this answers some questions... I do my job with respect for the passengers and I care if something happens to anyone of them. I try to be as friendly and courtious as I can, I understand it is "inconvienient" and confusing, so I talk to people with respect and make sure they understand what I am doing and why. I always ask if they have any questions also to clarify...
Thanks to all people that understand and the TSO's that do their jobs.
Be Safe... and patience IS a vertue

Jack said...

Many comments have been made about TSA,however not that long ago many lives were lost and America wanted change and accountability. Many of us will never forget that infamous day that we as American citizens were faced with terrorism on our soil. Now its been about seven years and many people complain about inconsistencies and all the negatives. Have they forgotten?
Here is a question which would you choose? 30,000 feet with security screening or without?
Are you willing to gamble with your life or trust in a system put in place that has protected the airline industry since its inception.

TSA/PHX, until the US puts into place the same security system as EL-AL all we have is the illusion of security. I would suggest that by your attitude that you are part of the problem.

Girl4God said...

Inconsistency is an excellent layer of security. If security becomes routine and things are done the same way all of the time, then it would be easier for terrorists to figure out ways to attack us. Thumbs up to the TSA Officers who protect all airline passengers; even the ones who don't appreciate them.

Brian Hartung said...

I tend to give the TSA a bit of a pass on this one. Lots of the complaints I've read so far can be explained pretty readily by just a few considerations:

- People (agents and travelers alike) are imperfect. Lots of them are even downright stupid, mean, impatient, defensive, possessive of a high sense of self-worth and entitlement, quick to point out but not admin fault--any or all of the above. Some are professional, courteous, decorated veterans, highly educated (in Philosophy, Theater, History, or Political Science, for example) and unwaivering in their desire to believe that the man or woman seated next to them is basically a good person (even if they did pass gas on a long flight).
- Creating policy to goven millions of tiny everyday interactions is, it would seem by definition, a no-win game (who'd want that job...). The "we keep it inconsistent to keep them guessing" thing smacks of rationalization to me, but hey, what do I know...I'm just a simple caveman confused by your bright lights and fast ways...
- Airports in smaller cities and countries are unlikely to do things the same way as the ones you'll find in New York, Atlanta, or Chicago, for example. It's a simple matter of scale (meaning some cities on average are more obese than others)
- Someone in a New York airport was rude to you??? Now I know you're just putting me on...

It would be unfair to simply dismiss the TSA as being on average uneducated or drawn from the same worker pool as the typical service industry and therefore lesser beings. I know there are people who will conclude this (refer to point 1 above). Others might say that it's a moot point given that the average traveler graduated in the bottom half of his or her class. (I myself say that 50% of people have a below average understanding of statistics).

The fact of the matter is, times have changed. Whether you personally believe it's all motivated by greed or a need to put on a big theater show is immaterial. Public policy has changed and we've all got to deal with it. It's nice to be able to have a voice in the process (whether you believe it will be ignored or not). I personally am not a conspiracy theorist, nor am I rude (well, sometimes I pass gas on a long flight, but that's just a consequence of airline food and Boyle's Law).

grynch said...

I have prosthetic knee joints. And I've always wondered what would prevent someone from concealing a bomb inside their body and triggering it with say... a magnetic switch. What does TSA do to guard against this possibility? And I'm aware that knives exist that are made of ceramic instead of metal. Is there any reason someone wouldn't be able to smuggle these onboard the plane if they were carrying them in their pocket(vs. their carryon bags)?

Anonymous said...

I do work for TSA and I am a supervisor on the floor. I do read this blog and no one from work has asked me to. I want to see what the public is thinking and feeling. I see the frustration on both sides. Do I wish some of my screeners would treat people with more respect? Yes, I do! Are all of my screeners rude, NO! I see screeners who get tired of being treated rudely day after day who become hard and callus. I go down on the floor and work beside them and try to help them remember why we are here. Why we wanted to be here, why we chose to be here. We hear a lot of the comments that are posted here hundreds of times a day. If I, or one of my screeners came to your place of work, bank, store, wherever and acted like you do to us you would be thrown out of the store. There have been some really good questions asked here and as a supervisor I would love to have some of those answers for myself.
Toby 2-3-2008 asks if anyone has gone to jail from TSA because of their actions, yes they have. Can I tell you their name, no I can not, but I do know they were arrested. Every place of employment has people who do dumb things. We just happen to be the place the public can now attack, somewhere to place your frustrations. Whether it is TSA doing security at the airports or some private organization, it will have to be done now because of 9-11. We do have airports that have private screeners who are not TSA and I have noticed in this blog that the flying public clumps those airports in with TSA not even knowing that TSA is not in those airports. So that shows me that is some ways we (TSA)are being wrongly accused because you do not even have all the facts together.
I try every day to remind my screeners that everyone needs to be treated with respect. If this was their mom or grandma or family member how would they be treating them? And for heaven sakes if a screener is not watching the x-ray for whatever reason, talking texting etc, find a supervisor immediately and they SHOULD do something right there and then. I would never permit that on my floor. Help us help you. If you do not like what is happening please give us the solutions. Don’t just complain find the answers we will listen.

Robert Johnson said...

Quote: "Many comments have been made about TSA,however not that long ago many lives were lost and America wanted change and accountability. Many of us will never forget that infamous day that we as American citizens were faced with terrorism on our soil. Now its been about seven years and many people complain about inconsistencies and all the negatives. Have they forgotten?
Here is a question which would you choose? 30,000 feet with security screening or without?
Are you willing to gamble with your life or trust in a system put in place that has protected the airline industry since its inception."

9/11 was a terrible event, but good grief people, it's NOT the end of the world.

America wanted changed and accountability? We got 1 out of 2. We got change. We still have no accountability. Otherwise, Kip wouldn't be trying to justify 80-90% failure rates in bomb detection.

I haven't forgotten, but I'm not going to let terrorists ruin my life and make me fearful. TSA as it stands now is a reaction to fear. A lot of what TSA does is promote that fear in order to keep itself relevant.

It hasn't caught any terrorists. Otherwise, they'd be trumpeting it from the rooftops. Any time it's dumped a terminal it has never found the person responsible for causing it. They can't pass their own tests without advance notice. They have a CYA mentality. And lastly, they have to trumpet "criminal" catches and college kids with false ID in order to look like they're doing something, even though NONE of that falls into the scope of their charter. Talk about mission creep. They should learn to be competent in their core mission (which they're not) before they even attempt to try anything else.

Do your really think those who died on 9/11 would be proud of the America we've come? One that's willing to give up rights, put up with harassment, and be fearful? All with an organization that hasn't proven to be any more effective than the security we had pre-9/11?

Screening didn't fail on 9/11. American complying with hijackers did.

TSA is the poster child for the mess you get when Congress does something kneejerk to appease the people.

And no, I don't expect this to be published.

Anonymous said...

I would just like to point out that there is a national SOP for TSA in all locations...and then each city has ITS OWN SOP. So yes, inconsistencies will happen.

randyjet said...

As a retired airline captain, I have to protest at the preference given to Sikhs for bypassing security rules out of concern for profiling. When I was denied the ability to carry a nail clipper, they were allowed to carry their KNIVES.
While I must remove my uniform HAT, they do NOT have to remove their turbans which can carry a whole LOT more than my hat can. It is quite obnoxious to me that they get prefered treatment for their religious practices while as a captain and military veteran, I am considered more a suspect than they are.

I am also outraged that you will NOT post this comment as well. It is NOT compromising security since I have posted this on public web sites which have a FAR wider distribution than this blog does. Any person who reads can find out that they can dress as a Sikh and bring as much contraband on board a plane in a turban as long as it does NOT set off the metal detector. It is high time that you closed this security loophole.

Anonymous said...

Stop the whining and suck it up. All of us have to go through the same thing even us TSA people that you hate so much!

stop murmuring said...

Everyone sighting the 4th amendment really needs to take a look at what it says. Last time I checked the AIPRPORT IS NOT your home!!!! Get a clue, grow up, and act like civilized adults instead of children throwing a tantrum.

Frankie said...

I understand that there are inconsistencies in the screening depending on which airport you go to. We are (yes I work for TSA) under the same SOP and are "suppose" to apply the same rules to all. Unfortunately there are those that think their way is better than the standards set by TSA. I myself have experienced these people in my travels. It is truly up to the Supervisor on duty to make sure that they know the SOP and are "supervising" their employees to ensure that they are applying the standards. Yes there are times that I feel sorry for the traveling public when the get accousted by a screener that really has no customer service skills. They are quickly corrected (9/11 video usually gets them back on track)or eventually weeded out of my airport if they are not able to correct the problem. But in the same sense I am also feel sorry for my screeners when the passenger comes through just irrated at the world and we are their outlet whether it be for them running late, problems they have had at other airports, intoxicated, or just down right verbally abusive. I just want everyone to know that every airport is not the same (based on their support system). Nor can you make 46,000 people apply the same rules consistently based on one's interputation of the SOP. I know that at my airport we strive to go by the book and are customer friendly but also being security minded.

Freedom Angel said...

I am a Screener at OGG. I also come across alot of passengers who can go online to book a ticket with an airline.. They can take the time to go online and research the weather and hot spots to visit here in Maui... However, they can't give it a second thought about going online to look up the new rules of travel. of which that have been in place for at least a year now. I wasn't the terrorist who decided to be the thorn in your side and make you have to think about your safety when all your trying to do is relax on vacation.. So please when you are going to travel GO TO TSA.GOV!! LOOK UP OUR RULES AND REGULATIONS! Your not allowed to just get in a car and drive LEGALLY!! Therefore if you can't learn the rules of flying please try to understand that I am only here to make sure you are just as alive when your flight has come to an end as you are when you came through my checkpoint. I am here for YOU. Granted I get paid for every second I am there.. Sometimes thats not enough. The situation is going to be the situation no matter how much you agree or disagree. So can't we all just chill out and look at things as positively as we can?!!?! Please remember to thank and encourage the screeners! I would bet you a million dollars that will be the highlight of their day and its way more rewarding than the money we are paid. When you boil it down.. How much would you have to be paid to come into work for 4-10 hours straight knowing that someone is going to be cursing your name?! Sometimes its very hard to walk into work.. But its those passengers who remind me that they are PEOPLE and actually care and appreciate my job!

Remember when we travel we have to check our liquid/gel/aerosals too! Nobody is exempt from these rules. The less you try and distract everyone by wasting your energy yelling and screaming about the rules THE SAFER YOU WILL BE!! LESS DISTRACTIONS MEAN MORE FOCUS ON THE REAL ENEMY! TERRORISTS!!! Have you forgotten why we are here? JUST REMEMBER ALL THE LIVES THAT WERE TAKEN BY 9-11 THE NEXT TIME YOU ARE DELAYED BECAUSE YOU Neglected to research THE RULES. We don't create them.. we just enforce them...

Anonymous said...

"I have had a couple of joint replacements and always have to go through a separate screening. It is very difficult to get my shoes and socks off while standing and most security areas do not have chairs. What happened to the Americans with Disabilites Act?"

Same thing that happened to the Privacy Act at security checkpoints: Federal law totally ignored.

But something tells me that this won't get posted on the blog.

Jack said...

I recently flew from Columbia, SC to MPLS. After the grief I got at Columbia, and them not properly resecuring my tool chest, I talked with a TSA supervisor for about 15 minutes. That supervisor was polite, fyi not all TSA supervisors are polite. Did my problem get resolved? No. Someone did listen to me though. Am I on TSA's frequent complainer/crank list? Most likely and other than some issues with out of control airports (reading this O'hare?) TSA does at least go through the motions of attempting to provide people who infrequnetly travel a sense that something is being done to provide a secure flying environment. Potemkin security/grand theater/smoke and mirrors. All true.

The liquids ban is still a head shaker for me, since I know how volitile some liquid explosives are. They call TATP Satan's Sister because it is so unstable/deteriorates explosively. The terrorists know this and when they go for a high value attack they plan accordingly. They want success with their attack efforts because we close the barn door after the fact so as to block off that venue. You want good security? Adopt the El-Al methods. But be prepared to get to the airport 5 hours before your flight because given the volume of airtravelers and the screening methods involved you wouldn't much like that one either (i.e. why are you going to Chicago? Why are your carrying a tool chest?)

TSA is probably the best they could do on a short time scale. Does it need fixing? Yes, but do you have any suggestions for fixing it? Come on people I complain a whole lot about the snotty attitudes TSA types have. Would you like to deal with people on a daily basis that they do day after day?

TSA, open up your rules and regulations for inspection. Your SOP manuals keep classified. Spouting off made up stuff as fact and then hiding behind the "it's classified" doesn't hold much water.

An Officer of the USA said...


Please make it so we can answer specific comments, not just throwing one more comment onto the end of a laundry list.

Thank you

Anonymous said...

So, why does the TSA feel a need to engage in propaganda to convince the American public that giving up our rights is a good thing?

Take, for example, this blog. Or the column published in the Washington Post that was written by a DHS PR person (but was not attributed as a PR post) discussing how great it was to work as a screener for the day.

Most True Americans see though the charade and kabuki theater at the checkpoint. That it is inconsistant from checkpoint to checkpoint is exactly counter to what was intended. And then there are the arrogant screeners at some airports (BWI comes to mind) that couldn't care less about the passenger - if the screener I encountered worked in a customer-facing job at any commercial enterprise, they wourd be summarily fired. The Supervisor did nothing, and I had to fight to get a complaint form, which was ignored by the agency.

mxs360 said...

Hello, I have been hassled by one airline every time I fly with them, I have to go through extra security check and they search my bag. They say it is random, but it has happened past 7 times. After countless phone calls and emails, they have finally told me that it's TSA question and they can't discuss it nor can they help me. The thing is, it doesn't happen with any other airline but them. Could you please email me in order to help me clear this up. It is becoming a major hassle to fly with them.
Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

I get a kick out of reading and hearing passengers complain about inconsistancy. According to some (unseen statement), it's a matter of convenience vs. security. I don't like taking off my shoes... Why was he allowed to go through without taking his shoes off??? This airport is so inconsistant. Waaa waaa waaa. Think about it. That person which did not remove their shoes probably went through an extensive prior 10 year background investigation, was questioned, probed, ect. They probably also have an airport ID. Passengers... Why not ask yourself this... Do I really want all of TSA to be consistant? Yes??? The answer is NO! Why? Because if you know TSA procedures, then you can bet the terrorists and criminals do also. That is why TSA has so many different layers of security. Everyone cannot be apprised of all procedures. Over 300 U.S. airports cannot be consistant either. The trickle down effect prevents consistancy, which is Ok by me. I don't want Osama and his buddies knowing what is going on at the airport I am flying. Do you? Just because you are some high end corporate frequent flyer does not mean that you are above the law. The next time you decide to complain about inonsistancy, instead of complaining, why not thank a Transportation Security Officer for doing their job and keeping you safe.

Anonymous said...

Jay Maynard said...

Jay do we really want absolute consistancy? I would think that would allow the bad guys to find ways to beat the system. I think it is better to keep em guessing. Thats just me I guess.

Roy said...

In response to those who question the removal of ID from their wallet: I once asked a person to remove the ID, she removed what was a perfectly printer-copy of her ID on glossy paper. She then told me, she kept the original ID in another safe place so she would not lose it. How do I know the photo or ID is real without doing what I have been trained to look for? She provided the original ID and was on her way. I read our internal briefs and you would be suprised at how many people have been stopped with fradulent IDs. Thank you for your continued support.

Anonymous said...

Its perfectly righteous to be perterbed that TSA has what seems at times unreasonable rules. Lets just be sure that our anger/aggervation is NOT towards TSA but TOWARDS THE TERRORISTS! If it weren't for the Terrorists we wouldn't need TSA. If it weren't for Evil we wouldn't be subject to search. So I understand you were delayed and I understand you feel harassed and singled out... BUT WE ARE A TEAM! TSA CAN NOT DO THEIR JOB WITHOUT THE HELP/COMPLIANCE OF THE PASSENGERS! So go ahead be mad But try to keep in mind that when you misplace your anger on a TSA representative its as if you are taking every american that was murdered and laid down their life for your freedom for granted. Terrorists may have won a battle in attacking the american way of life but if we pull together as a nation there is no way they can win the WAR!

Anonymous said...

Security Through The Checkpoint is nothing more than an attempt to make the general public think they are safe to fly.

Consider this:

The TSA will allow you to take 12 inch knitting needles, 7 inch screwdrivers and very sharp pointed pens and pencils....but not a keychain swiss army knife with a 2 inch blade!!!

Are you kidding me??? Just think about that one statement. When is the last time you felt safe armed with only a keychain swiss army knife? But give me a 7 inch screwdriver or a 12 inch knitting needle and I can actually kill a person with these tools. The TSA is needed to stop bombs but when it comes to common sense about other weapons the TSA has none.

Anonymous said...

The one consistency is unhappiness. The public voicing opinions is generally unhappy with the TSA; the TSA is unhappy at having to answer to the public (except in a pseudo-blog they can load up with shills.)

Anonymous said...

Several thoughts:

a: Quote "Please do not assume TSA is responsible if your baggage is damaged and/or items are missing."

Agree, but on one recent trip I arrived at my destination with someone else's jean jacket in my suit case. Conclusion: TSA opened up two suitcases and did not care what suitcase they placed items into. I am sure the other person thought theft was involved. When I returned to the originating airport, I could not convince TSA that they should take the jacket and figure out who was the real owner, looking for a missing item report at the date, time and airport that this happened at.

b) I recently traveled through LAX asking for hand inspection of a camera loaded with film. They swabbed it and announced it registered as an explosive and had to be x-rayed. When I pointed out there was no problem at my previous airport with the item, I was surrounded by TSA folk who gave me a thorough pat down with two policemen standing by, ready to arrest me for questioning why the camera suddenly became suspect.

c) In the past year I boarded about ten flights in South America and Europe and at no time had to remove shoes or produce liquids, and I felt perfectly safe on those planes knowing that other passengers also did not do these things.

d) The TSA folk at Ithaca, NY are friendly and courteous while they do their job.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I have an idea about consistency:
I'm in the military. Let's allow me the freedom to shoot at whomever I want without any oversight or UCMJ, and then say afterward that any inconsistency I displayed in picking targets is to confuse them (the targets.)

And another point: I swore to uphold the Constitution, including the Fourth Amendment. When I'm on orders, in uniform and presenting ID, my commanders have told me that I'm exempt from your exhaustive searches--and sometimes I am, and sometimes I'm not. How's that for consistency?

When I asked for the badge number and name of the TSO that most recently did this, I was told that "this number doesn't mean anything, it's just a laundry tag." This certainly reinforces the idea that TSA doesn't hold itself accountable for anything. And yes, I wrote it down anyway, put it on a card, and mailed it in, complete with my information, and asked for a response. I never got one.

So, just to protect my privacy, and because it's easier than entering a password, I'll just post anonymously, because my experiences with your agency have proven your disinterest.

When I vote, this will be a factor in deciding who I pick.

Toby said...

Anonymous at February 5, 2008 2:50 PM said:

"Its perfectly righteous to be perterbed that TSA has what seems at times unreasonable rules. Lets just be sure that our anger/aggervation is NOT towards TSA but TOWARDS THE TERRORISTS! If it weren't for the Terrorists we wouldn't need TSA. If it weren't for Evil we wouldn't be subject to search. So I understand you were delayed and I understand you feel harassed and singled out... BUT WE ARE A TEAM! TSA CAN NOT DO THEIR JOB WITHOUT THE HELP/COMPLIANCE OF THE PASSENGERS! So go ahead be mad But try to keep in mind that when you misplace your anger on a TSA representative its as if you are taking every american that was murdered and laid down their life for your freedom for granted. Terrorists may have won a battle in attacking the american way of life but if we pull together as a nation there is no way they can win the WAR!"

Are you for real? You sound like some fascist poster-boy from the Hitler youth.

Your statement "we are a team" is a joke. We are not a team. I believe in freedom, liberty, personal responsibility, and constitutionally limited government. You believe in winning a war even at the cost of all those things--a war I don't even believe is real.

So, how can we be on the same team when we don't even believe remotely the same things? We are at odds with one another. This is unfortunate, but it is reality.

It is in fact the fundamental reality underlying this blog. If I believed in the same things you did, I wouldn't mind the inconveniences either. But since I think those small inconveniences represent the encroachment of fascism the I cry "FOUL!" at the first sign of them.

I simply believe that the elected officials who took and oath to the Constitution violated that oath in enacting the Patriot Act, et. al. It irks me that no one cares that they violated their oath since they did it "to protect us."

Read some Thomas Jefferson, C.S. Lewis, something written by Patrick Henry, Ludwig Von Mises, or even Lew Rockwell to get a little more of my drift.

Jack said...

And another point: I swore to uphold the Constitution, including the Fourth Amendment. When I'm on orders, in uniform and presenting ID, my commanders have told me that I'm exempt from your exhaustive searches--and sometimes I am, and sometimes I'm not. How's that for consistency?

I agree with you. My son was at the range firing a .50 cal machine gun the morning that he was scheduled to fly. They detected explosives residue (gun powder)and nearly kept him from flying. He is an NCO in the Navy. Another military man said that he was given the 'treatment' because his gear tested positive for explosives (he recently was in an IED and survived). Military, traveling with orders, military ID card, and uniform, should get the walk through. An E9 with lots of ribbons (think metal backing) was also given the 'treatment'. So what is it TSA? Why is the US military treated so shabbily by you when they travel via aircraft? Why is the military telling military personel one thing and TSA spouts off something else. TSA get your act together.

Anonymous said...

Purchased some Olive Oil in Turkey; more than 3 oz. Packed it for carry on to Minneapolis and decided if there was a fuss, I would simply check the bag.

I asked in Turkey they said sure, fly with the olive oil in the cabin. Flew it to Amsterdam. Amsterdam x-rayed it and okayed it through the first check point when I was issued a boarding pass. But, at the gate, there was a fuss.

No problem, I asked them to simply check the bag with the 5+ oz of olive oil.

I got a nasty lecture about my obnoxious request for 'special treatment' and my suspicious request to check a bag with 5+ oz of olive oil.

I believe the quote from the American NWA employee was "...If I had to take the time to check every bag with a bottle of water I couldn't do my job!"

They refused to let me check the bag with the offending liquid. They simply took the olive oil.

I shrugged...a gamble and a loss with the TSA. I am not going to be tazered or worse over an $10 bottle of olive oil.

BUT: 4 flyers behind me a loud fuss while they took a 'check on bag' from a woman and insisted she check it. It had to be checked instead of carry on because it had some sort of contraband liquid.(wine?) She was angry because her bag also had some fragile items, apparently.

So, mine is taken, hers is checked; it is all BS.

It is all about control and teaching us not to question the police state.

My friends and I just laughed and reenacted the Soup Nazi episode from Seinfeld. One of us ordered 'correctly'. One of us didn't.

Oh, and I am sure that all this "lost luggage" site has plenty of wine, perfume, make up, and somewhere, my olive oil from Turkey.

JL said...

in response to "safetyfirst" who wrote:
"I once read a really good article about how Israel has never had a plane hijacked. That would be Israel 0, America 4 for those keeping score. There was no new technology they were using, no dogs sniffing luggage, no random screenings, or large military presence at the airport. Their secret was to talk to the passengers . They said their best method for picking out terrorists was to actually have a conversation about the flight, reason for flying, where flying to, etc. Probably some nonverbal language training wouldn't hurt, either. The article stated that it is easy to pick out terrorists once they begin to talk to them. In our rush rush rush society we try to get people to the gate as quickly as possible, but safety shouldn't be a time issue. I don't mind 30 more minutes in line if it means a safer flight for everyone. I also feel that sometimes America feels we are so powerful that we can go it alone and don't need anyone's help. If I were head of TSA, I'd be calling Israel and asking for their training manual because the score is still Israel 0, America 4!"
You really need to read up on your history, El Al, the national airline of Israel, has had 1 hijacking in it's history. The country of Israel may have had many aircraft depart from it's airports that have been hijacked but only El Al is mentioned. They have a sterling record since that unfortunate day back in 1968. The way they do business is not without it's own problems. they do not "just talk" to passengers they surveil them. Most of the complainers on this blog would find their brand of security unacceptable just like the TSA's policies. I have worked on El Al flights and am knowledgable in their methods and some of them would have people screaming about their rights as soon as they got off the plane. Regardless of how they do business they are successful but at a significant cost. In 2002 it cost them over $90 million to operate their security system, and that is for about 40 flights a day to only 50-60 destinations. I can not imagine what it would cost to cover all of the domestic flights in this country on a daily basis alone, not to mention the internatuional ones. American Airlines alone flies 50 times as many daily flights alone, that is a lot of air marshals not to mention the support personnel on the ground. How well do you think it would sit with the American public to know they are being profiled? That is one of the major tools El Al uses, down to ethnic profiling. I can hear the clamor from the ACLU already. How about being pulled aside for extra screening, and we are talking full interrogation and strip searches, just because you do not speak english. How about when you call to book a ticket your complete background is checked before you are issued one. Could you imagine trying to book a flight when the airline, frequently, systematically and randomly keeps changing their schedule and flight numbers, El Al does this. I can not see American travellers sit quietly while up to 3 different "screeners" ask them questions at different points during the screening process. I can also not fathom how they would react every time a flight is delayed because of extra screening processes and questioning which El Al does. El Al clears checked bags almost the same way the TSA does except they also use a decompression chamber to simulate an aircraft ascending to detonate an IED with an altimeter switch. Some of these processes are used by the TSA but some would definitely be costly, while others would bring a stampeding herd of lawyers and activist's the likes of have never been seen in the history of this great nation. I for one am not opposed to the screening we go through and see it as a necessary hiccup in our daily lives. Then again I have had an Uzi pointed in my direction while carrying out my duties around an El Al aircraft so maybe I'm biased. I think though that a little research into the subject would have been better than to point fingers and spout inaccuracies. It is not easy to pick out terrorists, no matter what an article says, because if it were there would be no terrorists left, and we all know that is not the case. Take it from someone who knows a little about the subject of security, you are never as safe as you think you are but there are people at the DHS and TSA who are working night and day to make sure you are as safe as possible.

Anonymous said...

Hello People I am a TSO in ATL and would like to comment on the complaints we get from passengers about inconsistency from one airport to the other. I agree totally that we should all do the same thing across the board, but unfortunately it does that happen that way. In fact there are standard operation procedures we should follow. When you feel inconvenienced the most, chances are that screener is following the proper procedures. Passengers think we come to work in the morning just to get on their nerves, what about my nerves and how i feel? I am here at 0430am everyday trying to keep them alive and in return a simple thank you for doing your best to keep me alive would be nice. God forbid if another aircraft gets hi-jacked we will be the first to blame for not being thorough enough in the screening process. Either you want us to protect or you dont.

cmac ATL

Anonymous said...

ps: to those who think our job is pointless i would love for the president to eliminate all security in all airports and allow whomever, where ever and when ever entry onto the concourses and the planes without checking anything just for one week. no just one day will be suffice. or better yet those who despise security, just allow every person flying on that flight with the HATERS free checkpoint entry into the checkpoint without us looking at any of their property. how safe would you feel then knowing that no one had to remove their shoes, no one put their bags through the xray, no one was wanded for alarming the metal detector and they are sitting next to you on your 3-4 hour flight. I can tell that you people obviously don't care about your lives or the lives of your fellow co passengers, so a word of advice grey hound runs world wide, hertz enterprise, dollar, and budget all have plenty of rental cars and you could drive to your destinations without even taking your shoes off.


Frankie said...

There will always be inconstancies across all the airports in the United States. Although TSA does follow the same Standard Operating Procedures and it should enforce the same rules all around it doesn't. This is due to the human factor. People interpret things different. Different supervisors and employees of TSA view the rules in many different ways and apply them as they see fit. There are also many grey areas in the Standard Operating Procedures that force TSO's to make their own rules on things. For example there was a point where if you didn't put your liquids in the zip lock back they would go straight to the trash. Even if you had some kind of a plastic bag, if it wasn't zip lock it would get trashed. Now the SOP procedure hasn't changed on this, but now some airports are more lenient on the rule. Why? Too many people complaining? Who knows, but again, just go with the flow at whatever airport you are going through because yes there will be inconsistencies. But look at it this way, your still getting on your plane, and because of all the rules you must follow you will be safer believe it or not, TSA isn't trying to annoy people although in many cases it seems that way. They are just trying to do a job like you and me, so next time you fly, try not to give them such a hard time.

Anonymous said...

There are many inconsistent things at a TSA checkpoint, granted, but in the end you have to decide whether or not it’s worth it to get from one airport to the next. You can ask all of the questions you want and complain till your blue in the face, but no matter what answer you are told for any given question you will still not be satisfied. Complainers will always complain about something. The reason for the security measures will never be good enough or pacify them. The majority of complaints come from people who want to be treated as special. They feel as though they are the exception to the rule and shouldn't have to do a certain task. Also, if you are asked to do something at one airport and not at another, just comply with what you’re asked to do. Stop trying to do the least amount possible to get through the checkpoint and be consistent yourself. If your asked to take your shoes off in Ohio and not in Dallas then always take your shoes off. There is YOUR consistency! It amazes me to see how many people stop using their higher level problem solving skills when they try to come through a checkpoint. All common sense is lost. This blog is to open up lines of communication and to be fair 99% of passengers have no problems with the security process. Most of the people I interact with on a day to day basis are great people and I enjoy interacting with them, but the complainers will never be content. They will always have an issue that needs to be addressed.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe some of you people. I used to be a corrections officer at a federal prison and the inmates treated us better than passengers treat TSOs. I hope someone shows up at your work some day and treats you like garbage and then has the nerve to complain about you. I have one word for you.... GREYHOUND!!!!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe some of you people. I used to be a corrections officer at a federal prison and the inmates treated us better than passengers treat TSOs. I hope someone shows up at your work some day and treats you like garbage and then has the nerve to complain about you. I have one word for you.... GREYHOUND!!!!

February 6, 2008 11:13 AM

Chill out.... Or better yet, get yourself some professional help, before you become a real problem to yourself, TSA, or the passengers you are supposed to protect. You seem to have some unresolved "issues".

Dr Know said...

This is all rubbish!

There is no way that security checks ever made travelling safer. Simply because you cannot find everything. When I travelled last year from Madrid to Washington I went through a couple of checks that all cleared. Arriving home I found in my carry on luggage a huge "Rambo Knife" that I used at a BBQ prior to departure. I accidentally took it in my carry on luggage. Thus all the security checks are just there to make people feel safe and feeding the legitimacy of the "security maffia". However the result is that clearing security nowadays takes a whole lotta time with all the frustration of missing connections ect ect. When I am transit (e.g. flying Europe/Canada/South America/Asia withou a stop-over in the US) I try to avoid to connect in the US like the plaque.

jimbo46920 said...

The first thing I'm wondering is why most of you have to post your comments anonymously. Maybe it's because some of them are so stupid that you don't want anyone to know who you are....hmm that could be. The worst comment I have read was left by someone named "colin" who said that he hates TSA and everything is stands for.....well I don't know about you, but I haven't seen any planes blow up lately. It is ridiculous that you are going to complain that your shampoo and toothpaste were not allowed in your carry-on, but yet you were allowed to take the rest of your liquids without a plastic bag. The ONLY reason your liquids have to be in plastic bag is to LIMIT the quantity of them you can take with you. I do not agree with the fact that you personally have NEVER had to put your liquids in a plastic bag, unless you were coming through with only a few. If you are trying to get through with just a couple little liquids, maybe they gave you a break, especially at larger airports who might not be able to stop everyone. Obvioulsy if someone only has a few small liquids, they are going to fit in a quart size plastic bag. You should just be thankful that you were given a break. And if you try to bring liquids through that are too large, that is your own fault. You need to be prepared before you fly and know the rules. Yes, there are always going to be inconsistencies...there's really no way around that. Yes, there are some small factors that vary from airport to airport, but you have to remember that there are also CONSISTENCIES. It's funny how everyone seems to get caught up in the small inconsistencies that we forget what TSA is doing for us.....and that is keeping our airports safe. And to the person that said TSA is nothing but "entry-level harassment jobs", TSO's are not there to give you a hard time. They are there to keep the airports SAFE. You may think that getting your shampoo that is too large taken away is harassment, but if you want to avoid being "harassed", then put it in your checked's as simple as that.

Jared said...

I am a pilot for a regional airline and I had problems in BNA TSA. It took 15 minutes to get thru in uniform. My tie and crew badge were xrayed. Nothing was found. That is very embarrassing as passangers watch there flight crew get frisked. Rampers are not checked before they are allowed onto the ramp area. Why am I, and with such throughness? I have watched the Japanese crew get treated very poorly in ATL. I was embarrassed to have witnessed that verbal abuse they received. I hope they didn't understand english very well.

Anonymous said...

Okay, attempt number two at this since it didn't make it through the censors the first time. I'd like to know why the TSA needs to copy down my personal information when I request a complaint form. I'd also like to know why the TSOs never give me a copy of my rights under the Privacy Act of 1974. While the TSA is exempt from certain aspects of the Act, it is still subject to 5 USC 552a (e)(3), which requires them to provide disclosure on how my personal information is used.


Anonymous said...

Complaints have been filed with the TSA about the "all electronics out" stations for weeks, if not months.

I think it shows a profound administrative problem that you read aboutit first in this blog.

TSA TSO NY said...

" Anonymous said...
Okay, attempt number two at this since it didn't make it through the censors the first time. I'd like to know why the TSA needs to copy down my personal information when I request a complaint form. I'd also like to know why the TSOs never give me a copy of my rights under the Privacy Act of 1974. While the TSA is exempt from certain aspects of the Act, it is still subject to 5 USC 552a (e)(3), which requires them to provide disclosure on how my personal information is used.


February 6, 2008 5:00 PM

The reason TSA fills out an incident report when you ask for a complaint form is as much for your protection as ours. I know some people are doubting this but days, weeks or even months from now if someone looks at your complaint they will have no way of knowing what the circumstances were without that incident report.

You are going to fill out your complaint but I doubt you will have the complete info such as:

Who was working that xray machine when your laptop fell off the conveyer belt? (retraining/liability issue).

What actions (if any) did the Supervisor take to rectify the situation?

How much damage actually occurred to the laptop (protects both you and us).

It also serves to weed out those false complaints which will untimately cost the taxpayer. Believe it or not, there are people out there who will claim damage when there was no incident at all.

By us taking an incident report we can state such.
It also gives us a chance to list all screeners who may have witnessed the event and may need to be interviewed later, etc.

As far as the privacy act, we should not be asking for your Social Security number and you should refuse to give it if one of us asks for it. It is NOT required and we were told not to ask for it.

As far as name/address, etc. We do have the right to ask for this info just by virtue of the fact that you are coming through the checkpoint. It does help us to match your complaint to the incident reports and providing it can help in seeing that you are paid if there is really damage.

Anonymous said...

My sister and I flew from Tampa International's Airside A on New Year's Day. We passed through two separate security lines at about 7:15 a.m. We both were addressed very rudely by TSA agents who barked orders in broken English. As a college writing and speech instructor who has worked extensively with ESL students, I concluded that these agents did not have sufficient command of the language to have mastered its inflections. I do not blame the agents for their lack of English-language proficiency, but I do blame TSA for placing them in a position where clear communication is so important. The market is bursting with unemployed workers. I urge TSA to find and hire the ones who can do the job.

Anonymous said...

In his response to cmac on the home page of this blog, Jay clearly discounts the vast majority of posts in this blog.

35,000 people -not- posting goes not mean they are happy campers. It most likely just means that they haven't heard of this blog.

We don't need apologists for the TSA running this site. We don't need an Agony Aunt assuaging screeners battered feelings. We need someone with honesty and integrity clearly addressing specific complaints with concrete action.

Anonymous said...

Frankly I can't believe what I just read at the top of this page. If the re are TSOs who are amazed at the rudeness of people commenting on this blog then maybe instead of calling all of us rude you should be pointing out that usually where there's smoke there's fire... people are being rude because they've been treated in a rude and inappropriate manner by TSOs all over the country. If this were an occasional problem I doubt the volume of complaints and ill will would exist, this is a consistent problem that is drowning out whatever good will might be generated by those who are polite and reasonable on the job.

totally annoyed said...

Anonymous at 8:03 pm wrote:
"As a college writing and speech instructor who has worked extensively with ESL students, I concluded that these agents did not have sufficient command of the language to have mastered its inflections. I do not blame the agents for their lack of English-language proficiency, but I do blame TSA for placing them in a position where clear communication is so important. The market is bursting with unemployed workers. I urge TSA to find and hire the ones who can do the job."

Are you serious??? Maybe you are in the wrong field, because you surely lack sympathy!
Furthermore, those screeners are essential to the TSA by having the ability to bridge any communication gaps there may be with passengers who don't speak English. I guess the TSA should apologize to you for not hiding these employees in a closet until they are needed to translate!!

B said...

Is it or is it not *required* to remove your shoes. I keep reading that it's not a requirement, but there we all are, walking in bare feet on the gross airport floors... thanks!

Anonymous said...

whine, whine, whine,
waaah waaah waaah,
Some of you commenting on here need to get over yourselves. Sure security isn't perfect, and there's room for improvement. But to disparage the individuals who are actually trying to protect travellers every day, you're all just ungrateful. It's fine to comment on inconsistencies and the like, but to castigate an entire workforce based on the uncomfortable experiences you may have had at certain airports is just not helpful. Some of you leaving negative remarks, I'd like to know what you do for a living and I bet most of you are being hypocritcal as well. And no, I am not a TSA employee, and some of these rules are senseless and frustrating, but I'm not even going to pretend to know what happens out there, because I'm not there. Most of you are whining about a miniscule amount of time in your lives complaining about the screening process. Spare me the drama!!!!!!!!!!!

Curtis said...


I have a TS SCI and authorization to carry a firearm so why is it so easy for a guy wearing a cop uniform so easy to waltz into the security area but because I am extensively contaminated with metal I get the 3rd degree every time I go through security?

Is there some way to get beyond all this BS?

Anonymous said...

Another inconsistency here is that this is not a "blog" so much as a "rolling press release" by the TSA.

Do you folks know what a blog is?

Anonymous said...

Good to know, all we need to do is comaplain too much and the terrorists can get what they need on to the planes

Anonymous said...

Hey Kip,
Treat your employees with a little respect and maybe, just maybe, they will pass it on and treat the American Public with the respect they deserve. I'm not saying give us a million dollar raise or promote everyone to G-Band (who's not an ex-cop or ex-military), but come on. In certain urban areas COL expenses have gone up more than 4%. You want us to stay, give us a liveable wage. The stress of living in a high cost area adds to work stress wich is unintentionaly passed on to travelers.
Just trying to pass on info that airport mangement won't relay to the AFSD.

TSOs Nation Wide

SSmall said...

While I think airline security is very important, the way the U.S. goverment goes about it is questionable. The employees at TSA only make about $12.00 hr. The requirements are minimal U.S. citizen (I Think) no criminal history.A pain inthe butt job I am sure. My biggest complaint is the interpretation of the rules. An example my wife, infant son and myself flew from Baltimore to Orlanda. Tha trip was SMOOTH getting through TSA at BWI. My wife, breast feeding at the time went to the BWI website to determine what we could and could not bring through the security check point, she was directed to the TSA website. My wife having additional questions about bringing breast milk and the ice paks called the TSA help line. They answered all of her questions appropriately or so we thought. After having a nice vacation we returned to the Orlando airport were my wife was treated like a criminal.Our first introduction to TSA at the Orlando airport was a young woman giving the passengers instructions in very broken English.I could not understand a word. Our second meeting with TSA went like this. I had gone through the metal detector and sent my other carry on items through x-ray while carrying our infant son without any problems. Now here comes the problem. My wife sends the bag with breast milk and the ice paks through the xray machine. She gets flagged by some J/O TSA guy who proceeds to open the bag and inspect it.He was very rude! NO problem I understand that, they need to visualize certain things, but he doesn't need to be rude. He then proceeds to swipe the bag for explosive residue which it comes up negative and then proceeds to tell my wife she has to throw away the contents of the bag because of the ice paks. This is were it gets heated. I work in public safety myself so I am used to rules and we have no problem following the rules.I go over and ask for the supevisor, the supervisor comes over and says she has to throw the ice paks away.OK not a problem except the TSA Hotline has already told my wife she can take those through. We had already been through security with the exact bag and contents at BWI and nothing was said other than can you open the bag for a visual inspection. We go round and round wit th TSA supervisor where she proceeds to tell us we should keep the milk cold with bags of ice. I ask her can I take water through security? She states no! I then ask isn't ice nothing more than frozen water? UMM UMM UMM YES! What's the difference? Water is still water even if its frozen. I advise tell her again that we went through BWI no problem and we talked with the TSA hotline and they advised us this would not be a problem. The supervisor finally relents and allows us to leave and we get on the plane without throwing anything away. The TSA agent admitted to us and she was a supervisor that the rules are to hard to understand. So if a TSA supervisor can't understand the rules how can the everyday flying public understand them?
I must say the majority of the TSA folks I have dealt with are nice cordial people, a few are jerks. The TSA needs to do a much better job at training their employees so that there is a common message among all of its employees.

Anonymous said...

Look...the rules are simple...there are thousands of ways to figure out the best way to get through security safely and efficiently...unfortunately, people don't seem to want to take a minute to understand and/or just READ what they can/can't take on a plane with them nowadays...when you guys enter an airport, ever read the signs around you?? have you ever listened to the announcements being played over the intercom?? have you ever watched the advertisments being played over and over?? have you ever listened to a TSA person telling you what you need to do?? honestly..cmon!!! what more do you need???

Second, there are a standard set of rules that are supposed to be followed at every airport. Just like you and me, we're going to have different opinions on things...WE'RE HUMAN!!! it's just our nature!! granted some people do lack sensibility and brains, but you just have to do the best ya can.

Third, WHY BRING a HUGE CARRY-ON suitcase?? extra stuff for TSA to check...extra stuff for you to worry about having to take out, etc. why don't you CHECK it as checked luggage?? SAVE EVERYONE a lot of time.

Seriously though, if you just read what's listed on and can'll be just fine. Also, READ, READ, READ the signs at the airport, don't just rely fully on previous security experiences. <---One way to help with the confusion of the inconsistencies.

Be kind. We're just exhausted from some of the traveling public giving us a hard time and FORGETTING to properly package their liquids. Remember, the TSA personel on the floor did not make the rules up, we just have to enforce them. Just trying to do our job, like any other paying citizen. Just my two cents. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

"Be kind. We're just exhausted from some of the traveling public giving us a hard time and FORGETTING to properly package their liquids. Remember, the TSA personel on the floor did not make the rules up, we just have to enforce them. Just trying to do our job, like any other paying citizen."

I suggest that a bunch of you TSA people leave your TSA ID behind and take a few flights around the country. Have one of your kids pack your bag for you after reading the rules, and see how YOU get treated.
Don't forget to bring some gels and liquids, some food items, and a bottle of water, a laptop, and wear lace up boots. Then get back on your private TSA blog, and share your experiences. I hope you learn something from the trip.

Happy Traveling....

Anonymous said...

My girlfriend and I were flying to an ABA meeting in the Southwest a few years ago, out of Logan. We boarder the plane and were seated in 2 of 3 seats on one side of the isle. A man boarded who was groggy and the attendants had a difficult time figuring out what his problem was, and the flight was delayed for well over an hour. Finally our seat mate, a nurse, assessed the man and determined he was a diabetic and had not taken his insulin shot. Finally EMT's arrived and gently removed him from the plane, probably saving his life. We were rather surprised that he managed to get through the TSA screening. He wasn't very coherent.

Anonymous said...

The most annoying inconsistency is that between what the official regulations are and what individual screeners think the regulations are, or they simply don't know! Small example: Tweezers have always been allowed; however, some screeners insist they are not, and confiscate them. What would happen if I showed them a print-off from the TSA website showing allowed and prohibited items? Would I end up in jail? I understand the necessity for caution and appreciate the protection and can handle a little incovenience in return. What I deserve and have a right to, is people who do their jobs correctly and have the knowledge and information to do it.

pike said...

I have experience a lot of inconsistancies between Phoenix, AZ and SLC, UT. For instance: I have never had a lighter taken from me by the Phoenix TSA agents but always in SLC. I was alone with my 18 month child I went through security in Phx with two bottles FULL of water with no problem. In SLC I only had about 1/4 of a single bottle of water and security would not let me through. Neither time was the liquid in a clear plastic quart size bag.


Anonymous said...

tsa tso ny states
By us taking an incident report we can state such.
It also gives us a chance to list all screeners who may have witnessed the event and may need to be interviewed later, etc.

As far as the privacy act, we should not be asking for your Social Security number and you should refuse to give it if one of us asks for it. It is NOT required and we were told not to ask for it.

As far as name/address, etc. We do have the right to ask for this info just by virtue of the fact that you are coming through the checkpoint. It does help us to match your complaint to the incident reports and providing it can help in seeing that you are paid if there is really damage.

Asking for complaint forms has consistently resulting in threat and retaliation from screeners as noted numerous times on this site. I personally would not ask for a complaint form with out a police escort. WHY- because you have not proven to be trustworthy.
And the fact that some one who does try to follow the rules (prints them out and checks them off as I'm packing) feels this need, shows that inconsistency in enforcement of said rules, fears you. Well it should say something. And it's not something good.
Besides, are you not suppose to be taping the interactions with your "customers". Can you not use that to determine who is involved in a compliant?

And to those who accuse the customers of "whining". We are not whining about the rules, and we are not two year old brats trying to get out of them. We are trying to demonstrate that even following the rules as posted by TSA (even having them in hand)is NO GUARANTEE of ANYTHING.
THAT is a problem and a real one.

annoyed said...

Anonymous at 10:03 Feb.7 said:My girlfriend and I were flying to an ABA meeting in the Southwest a few years ago, out of Logan. We boarder the plane and were seated in 2 of 3 seats on one side of the isle. A man boarded who was groggy and the attendants had a difficult time figuring out what his problem was, and the flight was delayed for well over an hour. Finally our seat mate, a nurse, assessed the man and determined he was a diabetic and had not taken his insulin shot. Finally EMT's arrived and gently removed him from the plane, probably saving his life. We were rather surprised that he managed to get through the TSA screening. He wasn't very coherent.

Yep, just another thing to blame on TSA!!
As a diabetic I know that for people who don't properly care for themselves, the onset of those symptoms you described can happen rather quickly. Since you know so much, do you know where that man had been previous to boarding your flight? For all you know that man had been on a layover for 3 hours waiting for that flight. Assuming that the man did the minimum preparation, and arrived at the airport 30 minutes prior to his boarding time, his medical state would have been better at the time he passed through securtity then at the time you saw him!
Seriously??? Seriously!

Anonymous said...

I dont mind the whole TSA process.

I do mind TSA not rezipping my bags properly after screening.

Four times out of the last 5 times that I've travelled the outer pocket on my suitcase was left unzipped. After losing items in that pocket the I stopped putting items in there.
This is in ATL.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that, for international travel if there's an infant ticket attached to an adult's ticket or boarding pass, the TSA cannot accept that and an agent must write "With Infant" on the boarding pass? Infant edits do not automatically print on curbside-issued, self-service issued, or printed-at-home boarding passes. The INF code is on the infant's ticket. Is too much to ask TSA to flip the boarding pass over and accept as is?

Anonymous said...

How's this: I have two eight-inch metal rods embedded in my spine. It's detected in European screening and at the local high school stadium but not at U.S. airports. Inconsistent?

Furthermore: I have two eight-inch metal rods embedded in my spine. What exactly am I supposed to do about it when you DO have a properly calibrated metal detector? In London they used a hand-held scanner to confirm the location and let me pass after maybe a 15 second delay. Why do I have the feeling it would not be so simple here?

annoyed said...

Anonymous at 10:44 said :"I suggest that a bunch of you TSA people leave your TSA ID behind and take a few flights around the country. Have one of your kids pack your bag for you after reading the rules, and see how YOU get treated.
Don't forget to bring some gels and liquids, some food items, and a bottle of water, a laptop, and wear lace up boots. Then get back on your private TSA blog, and share your experiences. I hope you learn something from the trip."

If that is how you prepare for security, no wonder you have problems!! As a TSO, I do travel a lot. My badge gets me no special privileges. I have had my nail clippers taken away in Mexico, even when the US was allowing them. I had my lighter taken away in MIA when lighters were still banned. Did I blame the TSA then? No, it was my mistake. I should have known better. If you purposely set yourself up to be inconvenienced, that's your own problem!

Anonymous said...

Why is DEN by far the most difficult security to go through in the US...I travel in and out of ORD all the time and never, ever have an issue with liquids I'm carrying or the type of bag they are in...DEN scrutenizes everything and made such a big deal over a liquid which was below 3oz that made the tiny bag they provided not close. I was just in Europe through AMS, MXP, FCO, and YYZ in Canada and never even was stopped...
TSA is DEN is the worst and most inconsistent!

V said...

Wow...people have a lot of pent up anger on this topic! I fly often and yes, there are inconsistencies. And they are minorly irritating while I'm going through the process. But really, people, how much of your day does this take up? Line waiting aside, the actual interaction with the TSA employees is typically anywhere from 30 seconds if you pass through without issue, to maybe 5 or 10 minutes if you require more thorough screening. This is a small portion of your trip, an even smaller portion of your day and a miniscule portion of your life. These people are at this job several days a week, where they have to stare at monitors and try to assess risk in luggage, people, behaviors, etc...the whole time getting yelled at, ridiculed, verbally abused and the like. Maybe if we were all a little nicer it would help them to follow suit. Either way, even if someone is having a bad day and barks an order at you (take out your laptop, take off your shoes, etc) is it really going to ruin your day? Follow the order, smile and know that if your job doesn't make you that unhappy then you should probably have a pretty good outlook...and your attitude should probably match that. I find that if I'm ready as I approach the conveyer - that is, coat off, plastic bag of liquid out, shoes off, etc...if I ask did you want me to take the laptop out, or can I put my coat on top of my purse in the bin, or whatever...I usually get a very pleasant answer and go on my way. Treat people like you want to be treated...even if they don't do the same.

Susan said...

TSA TSO NY, please get your fact straight before you post as you do nothing to improve the credibility of your position by posting inaccurate facts.

The Privacy Act has nothing to do with divulging one's social security number at a checkpoint but everything to do with telling the public what the government is going to be doing with the information you say you have the right to collect.

Read my lips:

Every time the federal government asks for information from an individual, it is required to inform the individual of what it is going to be doing with the information collected.

For some reason or another, the TSA believes itself to be above the law with regard to the Privacy Act.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I have read some pretty nasty words on this blog concerning the TSO's. Come on "America" lighten up on the harshness towards your fellow Americans. These individuals put in some very exhausting hours to provide you and your family members a safe environment. They are dealing with ALL walks of life, happy, sad,angry,frightened,and stressed out people all day.

I can assure you that when they took this job, it was not with the intent to disrupt your lives and make your travel experience a living hell. They are doing there job under the direction of what Congress has mandated them to do.
It saddens me to read the venimous words used towards the TSO's.
I challenge most of you to do their job for just one day, maybe you will receive a wake-up call as to how demanding the job is, with very little thanks from the American public.

I say to all the TSO's "Keep your chins up, Stand Tall and Be Proud"
most of the public appreciates all that you do! Keep up the good
Ignore the individuals who complain and whine, I bet if they were given the option to take one of two flights, One Screened verses One not, they would eat crow and get on the flight screened!

Anonymous said...

In January, Bruce Schneier blogged about a gun slipping through security, and wondered why the owner was arrested for voluntarily admitting his mistake while trying to fix it.

Can somebody at the TSA explain how this helps security? Isn't this punishing people for trying to do the right thing?

Anonymous said...

I am wondering why my updated passport (new name when I was married in 2003) causes confusion with TSA agents. My updated name is listed on the back page of my passport, and I am routinely asked to provide a second form of ID just to "prove" my name is really as it is listed on my passport and ticket. It's very frustrating.

Tess said...

Over the past decade, even post-9/11, I've been given conflicting instructions at various security posts on how to manage my laptop. These days, I'm always told to take my computer out of my bag, but some screeners have told me that the laptop has to be in a bin with nothing else, and others have told me to put other items (like a coat) in that bin. Likewise, some have told me that the bag needed to be alone, and others have told me it could have other items with it.

When I have apologized, and explained that I was following the rules I encountered the last time I flew, I have every single time rudely been told, "No, you didn't." I wouldn't have a problem if the screeners said something like, "We are following nationwide procedures," but I'm appalled that I am instead accused of lying. I've had security screeners in foreign countries wave guns around, and brusquely confiscate my AA batteries, but at least they didn't have the audacity to cal me a liar, in the process.

Anonymous said...

I work for TSA at a small airportin NC. I read this and here all the complaints aginst us on every thing that we do. Most of the complaints are things that we do at our airport. For example how we bark out orders while paeople stand in line. The reason we do this in my mind is to heple things move smoother. Ay my airport the airlines ask if you have any liquids in your bags. Then you give your bag to my baggage TSOs and agian they ask if you have any liquids. There is an anouncement that constantly repeats the rules over the PA. Then there are signs as you wait in line as to the rules. Lastly I try to have some one at the front of the line to help you seperate your items fo the xray and agian that person ask if you have any liquids and they will help you seperate them out and we even will give you a quart size plastic bag. After all that we still get yelled at and cursed at times when we find that item in your bag and we are told that thaey were not told and didnt know. The public asks why we get irritated. I had a passenger yell at me once after I took his knife from him that it wasnt fair and that this was the third time that we took a knife from him. One more can we do to help you know the rules. Many of us enjoy are jobs and are nice a corteous, but all that ever seems to get out is all the bad things that happen to people. I have been here since day one and I have had only one complaint against my airport. We try under bad circumstances and our still looked down upon. I dont think that we will ever make the public happy no matter what we will ever do.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps my comment was too obtuse?
I said nothing about my personal travel routine.

My comment:
"I suggest that a bunch of you TSA people leave your TSA ID behind and take a few flights around the country. Have one of your kids pack your bag for you after reading the rules, and see how YOU get treated.
Don't forget to bring some gels and liquids, some food items, and a bottle of water, a laptop, and wear lace up boots. Then get back on your private TSA blog, and share your experiences. I hope you learn something from the trip."

Maybe I should have added a couple of diapered kids and a stroller to the mix....

Your Reply:
"If that is how you prepare for security, no wonder you have problems!! As a TSO, I do travel a lot. My badge gets me no special privileges. I have had my nail clippers taken away in Mexico, even when the US was allowing them. I had my lighter taken away in MIA when lighters were still banned. Did I blame the TSA then? No, it was my mistake. I should have known better. If you purposely set yourself up to be inconvenienced, that's your own problem!"

Actually, I seldom get hassled while traveling by the TSA. I play by the rules, whatever I personally think of them. I've been through security about 60 times since 9/11, with only minor issues about items not recognized during scanning. I generally dress appropriately, even putting pocket change in a small zip lock bag. I do prefer the much less obvious but equally effective General Aviation security, they get the job done, too.

I simply condensed some of what I have read here and suggested that some TSA employees pack and travel in a similar manner. Just try it, you'll have much more appreciation for the questions and (valid) comments people are making here. It is a tough job, you do have the power to make it less thankless.

Anonymous said...

I used to travel a lot for my job, so here's a few things I've noticed:

At RDU, I always have to take off my shoes, even when I am wearing flip-flops, which seems a little ridiculous. Other places don't seem to care if I'm wearing sneakers or flip-flops, and will wait till I go through the metal detector to see if I need to take them off.

I'm also unsure about how the TSA handles wheelchair bound passengers going through security, since I've witnessed (again, at RDU) them insisting that a man get out of his wheelchair and walk through the metal detector, despite his and his daughter's protests that this wasn't possible for him.

In Chicago, there were lines for the metal detectors, but one of the TSA employees began insisting that we should all press forward into a giant mob of people and THEN separate into lines - once no one began moving out of the lines, he began pulling people specifically out of the lines and yelling at them, saying they shouldn't wait and instead should "make it for themselves" - one middle aged woman almost started crying.

Almost everyone was entirely confused by his behavior, but we mostly attempted to obey since we were sort of trapped there, with the metal detectors standing between us and our ability to get on our planes.

Anonymous said...

I just made a trip to Australia, returning via LAX.

The Australians handled security, searches, and everything else like real pro's, while the TSA People at LAX treated us like cattle. I'm just waiting for cattle prods next time I go through.

I've never been yelled at so much, and generally been treated so rudely as the LAX Crew.

This was my second time through that checkpoint in the past 12 months. The first time was exactly the same.

Would it hurt TSA personnel to treat the traveling public with a little respect instead of yelling, being demeaning, and generally being a unprofessional?

Anonymous said...

I travel every week usually DIA to LGA and back. Why does LGA perform a second check on your boarding pass after you go through the metal detector, whereas DIA does not?

Coko said...

I would like TSA officers to stop asking irrelevant questions during bag inspection. One time, I was travelling with my laptop, and as I was getting it scanned and validated on the conveyor, the TSA agent in Miami asked me "Where did you get the cover for that laptop?" I didn't understand the question, and I was very confused. After looking puzzled, and asked her to repeat her question, she clarified. To my relief the questions was of no consequence. I think small talk and chit chat with customers should be strictly professional. Ask your questions, I'll provide you with answers. Don't get into the personal details of my life because you're bored! You're already on edge going into inspection points just because of the nature of them. I don't need a TSA agent asking me irrelevant information during inspection.

Anonymous said...

Think about this...

would you rather travel knowing that TSA is there, and keeping the bad things out?

...or would you rather them not be there at all.... and letting just anyone in with anything???

I personally feel safer, and aplaud them for their hard work, and determination... They're keeping our Nation - and the World safer..

Thank you.

NYFlyer said...

I think I've got this figured are the same people who complain when they get a speeding ticket for 60 in a 55, aren't you? The same people who show up to city hall meetings, month after month, to complain about the neighbor down the street's cats. The same people who gather in a crowd to whisper and speculate. Come on, give the TSA a break. 3.4 ounces is 3.4 ounces, not 4, not 6, it's 3.4. Shoes come off, period. Coats come off, period. And for all you flight crews who are appalled at having to be subjected to the same screening as passengers... if you're not in uniform... guess what, YOU'RE A PASSENGER!!! You, of all people, should be ashamed of yourselves for encouraging "mob mentality" from the very people you earn your paychecks from as well.

Anonymous said...

I work for TSA as a TSO and i'll be the first to hop on the band wagon that we are NOT perfect. Every one of you on here complaining about rude or ignorant TSO's are probably telling the truth, but I challenge you to take a look at your workplace and see what you find. Every employer has these "substandard" employees. It just so happens that your job is not as closely scrutinized as mine is. Believe me when I tell you how much I would love to rid my organization of these jerks (I work with more than a few). They give us all a bad name. Unfortunately a majority of these complaints could be avoided by simple following directions. I pride myself on being a courteous and friendly TSO who explains things calmly and confidently, but when you cross that line and feel you need to tell me how stupid I am for what I'm doing and you don't look like a "terrorist" I will treat you with respect and professionalism when I get the same in return its common courtesy. So stop your whining and give some viable solutions to your problems. We would love to streamline the security process for you to make it as easy as possible (without degrading security) for you to pass through my workplace. Imagine how you would treat people at the end of an 8 hour shift where upwards of 5,000 angry people stomping through your office throwing shoes at you (extreme case but it does happen) telling you what an idiot you are (because i can't follow simple directions) and verbally degrading everything your trying to do. I'm not looking for your sympathy, I'm merely saying take a look at how you act in my workplace. Wouldn't you expect me to act like a professional in yours?

Steve said...

I thought pre-9/11 was bad. I went through once in my USMC uniform and had to practically strip to my skivvies to get past the metal detector - everywhere: emblems, buckles, pins, medals ... Something like a police pat-down would have been a little more convenient and dignified. It's not like I had a saber or a 45 on my hip for crying out loud.

Post-9/11 ... I absolutely hate to fly now. Nearly every security person I've dealt with treats me like I'm a terrorist before my gray bin even hits the xray or I step through the metal-detector. I wouldn't even mind the procedure, it's the attitude that ticks me off, and it's unnecessary. I'm not saying all security personel are like the ones I've met, but the ones I've met seem absoltely thrilled at the blank check of power they've been given to act like complete jerks. OMG, get the lone wooden chair and the bright lamp ready ... he's got a ... *gasp* ... a paperclip!

P.S. "Jake" is short for "Jacob", it's not like it's a nickname or anything. But now I'm going to be paranoid that my ID says "Stephen" and the tickets my company booked are under "Steve". Hopefully the guy with the rubber gloves will be gentle.

Jon Stanley said...

Well, I've travelled lots since 9/11, including last year, when I travelled pretty much every week. I've not been pulled aside by TSO's, thought they treated me disrespectfully on any occasion.

The one inconsistency that I've noted is that last year, I was travelling between NYC and STL pretty much every week. A screener at LGA calmly asked to look through my bag, asking if I had liquids or gels in it. I said that I didn't think so, but let's look. They found a tube of anti-fungal cream (I think). They let me keep it (where it was), and just told me to get rid of it when I got home. I would have had no problem giving it up, since obviously it's a forbidden item that I had been travelling with in the same bag for who knows who long that no one had ever either caught or challenged, until this very nice, very professional woman calmly told me to get rid of it.

Another positive experience (at EWR I think) that I had last year - I fell and hurt my ankle fairly bad, to the point that taking off my shoes was painful. The screener required that I take off my shoes at the magnetometer - I told them that I really couldn't do that right there since my ankle was hurt and I'd have to be sitting down in order to do it. They said that they could take me aside for secondary screening, and that I'd be required to remove my shoes there, while sitting down. I happily agreed, and they took me to the side, let me sit down and remove my shoes at my leisure, and proceeded with a quick, painless screening process.

I've really got no complaints. If you know the game, play along with it, then everything will be fine. And yes, I make sure to extend human decency to these folks. They're just trying to do their jobs.

The one *minor* thing that I can say is that I just flew from ORD to LGA last week, and the TSO that was checking my ID inspected it fairly closely, and told me that I should expect having to take it out of my wallet more in the future. Why make me take it out? A NJ ID has holograms all over it that you can easily see through the display window. I don't think that removing it serves any purpose other than just snarling up the line.

Jack said...

Are you serious??? Maybe you are in the wrong field, because you surely lack sympathy!
Furthermore, those screeners are essential to the TSA by having the ability to bridge any communication gaps there may be with passengers who don't speak English. I guess the TSA should apologize to you for not hiding these employees in a closet until they are needed to translate!!

So screaming at someone makes them understand you better? Talk about the UGLY AMERICAN. I would like to pick you up and drop in in a foreign country where English speakers are a rarity. Let's see what you eat and drink for a week. Let's see where you sleep at night. Obviously you've never been a stranger in a strange land.

Robert Johnson said...

Think about this...

would you rather travel knowing that TSA is there, and keeping the bad things out?

...or would you rather them not be there at all.... and letting just anyone in with anything???

I personally feel safer, and aplaud them for their hard work, and determination... They're keeping our Nation - and the World safer..

Thank you.

With TSA's 80+% failure rate, we might as well have no one there. People can pretty much get on there with anything now.

I'm glad you feel safer. That's the Kabuki in TSA's security theater. Too bad we're not safer.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Think about this...

would you rather travel knowing that TSA is there, and keeping the bad things out?

...or would you rather them not be there at all.... and letting just anyone in with anything???

I personally feel safer, and aplaud them for their hard work, and determination... They're keeping our Nation - and the World safer..

Thank you."

February 7, 2008 5:54 PM

And Just so the Traveling Public Knows... I do infact work for TSA, I joined with them, so that I could do my part in helping protect the Country that I so love and Cherish... I signed on so that I could PROTECT the world I care so much for...

...and like so many of you.. I travel as well... It isn't hard, or unfair to do what TSA is asking of us.

If you don't think we're helping keep you safe, look to recent events that happen else where because some countries do not have such an upstanding, and dedicated agency such as ours.

Take some time out of your busy scheduel, and note that we don't have to do what we do... we CHOOSE to do so... and doing that, we are serving our Country, and the World... and keeping them safe.


TSO at DFW Intl. Airport

Anonymous said...

A few questions for TSA:

3oz or 100ml/3.4oz. The TSA website still says 3oz?

ID, is my United States retired ID ok or not. Its good till I die so the experation date is unknown at this time (I hope)?

Disposed liquids at the checkpoint. Hazardous material or not? If they are not considered to be possible hazards then they should not require disposal. If they are condsidered hazardous then they should be treated that way which would require Explosive Removal experts and Hazardous Material Handlers.

Collection of personal information. If a screener asked for my ID and records any information should I not be provided a "Privacy Act Disclosure" as required by US law.
If your screener does not supply the required disclosure will they be arrested on the spot since they have violated federal law?

What electronics remain in the carry-on? Your website is not clear to me. How about some clear direct information.

Will travelers continue to be abused with additional screening, threats of delays and such for asking your people to not abuse us in any manner. If you don't think this isn't happening then you need to get out of the office!

I really think that the white shirts and ties need to do a little "managment by walking around" and learning what is really going on in TSA.

Kip should be really proud, "NOT".

Big Country said...

Since my original post I've been tracking this blog quite closely. I've noticed a COMPLETE lack of ANY response in the TSA in their dealings with both Active Duty COMBAT personnel, and us 'obvious' (i.e. wearing the ACU/DCU uniform) military D.O.D. Cilivians and Contractors.

Funny story, and maybe this will help: I flew home on a "freedom bird" from Iraq in 2005 for R&R. This was in June/July +/-

Quick Pause, then I'll continue: Earlier in Baghdad, my trailer suffered a direct hit from an insurgent Mortar shell... amazingly, my Dell survived a direct hit. Unfortunately, The damned thing had MAD explosive residue on it. My company sent me home that week, (09/2004) and when I went home, the security kids (German TSA versions) in Frankfurt did the the 'swipy' test on it, (thats the one where the take the laptop and wipe a little swab all over it, then give it to a sniffer machine) and subsequently, I hit the 'jackpot' so to speak in Germany. Bells, Whistles and "HES GOT A BOMB" alarms went off. Thankfully, I had a letter signed by then Maj. Gen. Sanchez explaining WHY I had residue on my stuff, and the Germans, once reading it were cool with it. In fact they felt bad that I had lost everything I owned in the attack, and were amazed that my laptop had survived with only minor shrapnel damage...anyways...

The jacked up thing, until the incident I'm about to relate, I have been on the "grab your ankles" search. No matter what, where or why, every flight out of or around the US (never going in... international airports seem to have the benefit of the doubt, esp. to a man in uniform, on orders and generally a good guy)

I guess just having tripped the "Bomb" test got me on the "Search him til he squeals" search list until I did what I did on this flight home.

I landed in VA on ORDERS and went to catch my connecting flight. Now mind you, I had changed out of DCUS on the plane so as to appear 'normal' enroute to the states. Didn't matter. At the TSA (Thousands Standing Around (uselessly) checkpoint, they insisted on every aspect of the search that could be done without the assistance of a proctologist. Well... fine n dandy. I was wearing my Harley Davidson UAE longsleeve T-Shirt, a pair of cutoff DCU shorts and Teva sandles. Thats it... no froot 'o ' da looms... no nuthin.

When they told me 'loosen your belt and raise your hands over your head' I did so with MAD glee knowing I was about to cause a scene and give some hardcore payback to the TSA.

See... I don't wear drawers... Nada... Bupkiss.. Freeballing as they say... so as soon as I loosened said trousers, they fell to the floor, leaving NOTHING to the imagination and I raised my hands HIGH above my head and yelled out as I learned in Ft. Benning so many years ago "NO BRASS NO AMMO DRILL SGT!!!!"

You want to talk about a frak out? OMG was it glorious... I was threatened with arrest and beatings and who knows what else. The girl who was my 'minder' turned 900 shades of red. Every time they screamed at me, I screamed back "I ONLY DID WHAT YOU TOLD ME TO!!! ITS NOT MY FAULT!!!!" and I knew, KNEW, just TOTALLY knew I owned it.

Yeah... since then, I've only been subject to minor searches since... of course it only took me dropping my laundry and exposing my junk to hundreds of innocents, but in my book, well worth it.

Anonymous said...

people. if you would just read the signs at the airport, they will tell you everything you need to know, otherwise look at instead of posting your complaints here. use your time online a little more wisely! the tsa are here to help you. for those of you who ask "how many terrorists has tsa caught?" instead, ask "how many hijackings have taken place" how many "9/11"s have taken place since tsa has taken over. instead of asking why tsa doesn't use common sense, ask "why am I not using common sense" the screeners hear the same complaints day in and day out, you know what? it goes ignored. airport security is here for a reason. save your breath and embrace that someone is looking out for the safety of strangers

Anonymous said...

Here's the latest nonsense I've run into...

I have a real, valid, actual, o-fficial United States Government ID. Says so right at the top, has the seal of the agency on it, my picture and everything. I've used it for several years, rather than my driver's license. Never a problem.

Suddenly, some (but only some) airports are giving me a hard time about I have an ID with an expiration date on it? Huh? No, this is valid, official ID. Just because it doesn't have an expiration date doesn't make it invalid. But only *some* of the several people who look at it, even at the *same* airport have an issue with the "missing" expiration date.

Frankly, the repeated checks of ID is stupid, anyway...what exactly is being accomplished here? Verifying that the name on the ticket matches some piece of plastic? How many people here got fake IDs as teenagers? Think a well-funded terrorist organization wouldn't be able to create a bogus ID card? Stupid, and accomplishes nothing.

Anonymous said...

To all of you that think TSA is inconsistent- First of all, I think being inconsistent is the best thing TSA can be! We really never know what can happen next. Second, for all of you that complain about the floor- bring security socks for your trip! To that person who believes TSA officers are illiterate, I believe you are very ignorant to the world and I truely feel sorry for you. I leave all of you passengers with one thought- everytime you fly I want you to say to yourself "What if today is 9/11?"

Maverick said...

about 2-3 years ago I took a couple hard drives on the plane with me out of FCA to SEA, I asked them to look at them by hand so that they would not get damaged in any way by some odd discharge of any kind from someone elses items or the machine itself, they oblidged I asked at SEA and they made me put them in anyways. More recently in 2006 I had a CD with me that I'd copied because I'd lost my disk here at home. well I got home and the disk was ruined, this disk had been checked prior to the flight and found to be working. what's up with that? I also see folks being forced to have other sensitive equipment taken out of their protective casings and put through the xray machines instead of hand checked. this is inconsistent. Items like laptops, Cellphones, and Ipods need to be hand checked and screened in the explosives screener if your concerned enough about that. Why not make people feel better about having their high tech equipment looked at instead of forcing them to or not to put it through the machine? I understand putting it through an Xray machine is faster but having it hand checked and needed compartments popped open on a laptop or phone if accessable without a screwdriver are just as fast. it only delays us a few seconds and puts less stress on both the passenger and the TSA agents. 2006 I was scheduled maybe 2 days after the liquids plot to leave SEA for FCA I had bought and asked prior to going through security at the check in counter about a starbucks drink. was told fine. I was waiting to open it and clearly labled ect in a clear bottle. I was asked to either consume it or get rid of it at the security point. well, I asked to consume it on the other side they said yes. but I had to do so under their watch. I looked like a pig and ended up dribbling some of it down my chin because I was nearly late for my flight as it was. talk about a slightly embarrassing situation. I quickly headed over to the new sushi bar in seatac airport and bought some food, I was asked to toss a closed soy sauce and ended up getting on the plane by accident with one that was IN the box that neither I nor the TSA gate agent saw. on the same trip I got yelled at about my shoes as well. I completely forgot about them and some security guard was about to pounce on me.. mind you that guard had seen me 2 weeks earlier at the airport, recognized me and held off. Secure security? Yeah but my shoes were of the more obvious type that were so ragged in the heels that I couldn't even get them on and off quick enough for the agent.

Anonymous said...

The reason TSA yells is because nobody listens. All the passengers want to get through the checkpoint quickly and safely-- and the TSA tells the people what they need to do in order to process through the checkpoint efficiently. The passengers seem like there are off in space somewhere. TSA tells them, "please take out your liquids", and not a second later, a bag check is called on a liquid.

Anonymous said...

I'm a TSO who was deployed to Iraq. It angers me to see adults throwing tantrums about taking off shoes while men and women in the U.S. Military are risking their lives in Afganistan, Iraq, and other places that you dont hear about. I'm convinced that most of these "checkpoint crybabies" are from the Sixties generation, who were too busy dodging the draft to know what sacrifice means.

Anonymous said...

I am an American living overseas. I travel back to the US several times a year, always through Europe.

This past Christmas I was carrying an antique crystal decanter in my hand carry. I know all about lead crystal and x-rays so was prepared to take it out each time at security.

LHR - I just had to open the bag and show them the problem

Frankfurt - Did not have to open the bag just had to tell them what it was.

Frankfurt - 2nd time due to flight delays...screener just looked up and asked if my crystal decanter was filled. Never once touched the bag or asked me what it was. He just knew

Chicago O'hare - completely treated like a threat to national security. Had to hand them my shoes out of the bin for extra search, had to take the decanter out of the bag, remove the bubble wrap etc. The TSA girl then proceeds to ask me if the bottle was empty. I just looked at her and said, "Yes, that's why the lid is wrapped over here." She then proceeds to open all my paperbacks causing my bookmarks to fall out, and further touching every single item in my bag.

For anyone that has ever traveled in Europe, you know that LHR and Frankfurt airports have the best security out there. Their agents are highly trained and always treat you with respect.

Having someone ask if a decanter without a lid on it is empty does not make me feel secure.

All that being said, that is not what make me angry every time I travel throughout the states. It's the bad attitudes that some of the TSA's have. If you want to go through my things, fine. I expect that. But, do treat me with respect. I don't speak to you at all because I know that it only makes matters worse. Please don't treat my small 5 foot, blonde hair person like the enemy.

winston_of_minitruth said...

If the rules need to be inconsistent to prevent "terrorists" from being able to detect the weak spots in them, then the rules aren't the problem. A team can only be as strong as its weakest teammate. You x-ray our bags, and our shoes, but I doubt a good majority of TSA agents even know what to look for when it comes to explosive devices and the like. We'd all feel safer if some of the agents we had to deal with weren't inept. Consistency doesn't have to mean ineptitude. Of course, people will complain. They complained before these extra "security measures" were in place. The difference was that they didn't have much to credence to their complaints before 9/11. Now, as soon as we near the airport, our 4th amendment rights are suspended under the guise of national security. Heaven forbid anyone should have a "problem" with this disregard for our right to unreasonable search and seizure.

As far as not being customer service oriented, you're right. You aren't customer service, but think about this little fact. YOU represent the airlines. You're the ones that are dealt with right before boarding the flight. In an indirect way, you are representing the airlines. It's too bad that the airlines have no choice in the matter. After all, if we didn't have to go through the TSA security circus, we wouldn't. If one of the major airlines offered that option, I'd gladly fly with them. We're no safer now than we were before. We just have the presence of more personnel to give us that cozy illusion.

Anonymous said...

I am also bothered by the inconsistencies in multiple airports. Some airports require showing boarding passes not only to get into the screening area but then again through the metal detector; one airport told me my carry on was upside down (never heard that one before) and rudely flipped it over (I had breakables inside; I went through several airports with an 8 oz tube of toothpaste rolled up with a scant amount left and one airport threw it away, saying it said 8 oz, when clearly there was less than one oz left in the tube.

One time I forgot to take a hair clip out and set off the metal detector twice and then realized why...but when I started to take it out of my hair and explain what happened I was treated as a criminal, put into the clear plastic room and then searched and wanded right next to the security area for all to see. It was horribly degrading. And it was the hairclip that set the thing off. Could have saved everyone alot of time if the TSO at Oakland had just let me take it off and then go through the detector again.

I'm always afraid to say anything or ask any questions because the attitudes are such that I'm concerned I'll be whisked off to some isolation area and miss my flight. I know this is a difficult job but I feel that some TSOs have "power issues" when dealing with the public.

Anonymous said...

Its crazy we have the bravest troops in the world but the scardest country in the world. Is common sense ever used ? And is there any physical and/or mental standards for a TSA employee ? I would have more respect for you guys if you had more respect for yourselves. Are we going towards socialism, I would like to know and Ill start brushing up on my Communist Maniphesto . Respectfully Submitted Tavarish :))

Anonymous said...

I used to travel a lot. Luckily, my current job doesn't require it. Given my past experiences, I would recommend that companies consolidate offices, encourage teleconferencing, or do whatever is possible to avoid the costs, risks, and hassles of having their employees fly. At various airports I've had a cell phone and its SIM card confiscated, a PDA physically opened and its warranty consequently voided, and a laptop disappear for four hours while its data (including address book, email archives, and browser history) was copied, all without a peep of justification from the TSOs. For those executives who seriously consider the value of the company's private data, the potential for having sensitive information being copied and abused should make employee air travel prohibitively expensive, even aside from the cost of the travel itself. (If you have to fly with any electronics, I advise you to travel with blank devices and restore their data via the Internet at your destination, unless you trust the government with archiving the data for undisclosed uses.)

And this, of course, is in addition to the sometimes draconian and seemingly ridiculous application of the rules. Is it really necessary to discard a nearly finished stick of deodorant because its container reads "3.25 ounces"? Especially when there seems to be no problem with my carrying two of the same product in 2.5-ounce containers (as long as they both fit in the bag)?

The rudeness is another matter. Do my items have to be handled and cast aside with an ersatz smile? The last time I flew, I forgot to remove the 1-quart plastic bag from my carry-on luggage at DIA, and when I wasn't snappy with an apology I was told that there are places in Cuba for people like me! I understand that TSOs don't have an easy job, and that certainly not all TSOs act in such a derisive manner, but when even veiled (albeit empty) threats are challenged, the response is universal: "If you don't like it, you don't have to fly."

I see several themes emerging from these blogs, among them is the inconsistent rules and the inconsistent application thereof. This is a matter of process, only some of which can be remedied by the TSA, given the multiple agencies ultimately involved (which include airlines and airports, among others). Still, better defined rules that can be concretely justified from the standpoint of a passenger would help. Apply the rules consistently and in a sequence that facilitates passengers moving from airport entrance to plane, so that we don't have to arrive two hours ahead of the departure time for a 45-minute flight. Hire some process engineers, for Pete's sake. For example, there's no reason why passengers should be trying to manage their loose shoes at the same time that they're removing laptops from cases and preparing their carry-on luggage for inspection; too many simultaneous activities contributes to bottlenecks. If you insist on inspecting everyone's shoes, have them removed as a separate step after luggage and devices have been taken care of, when passengers are otherwise less encumbered.

Another theme is the lack of redress that passengers seem to feel when confronted by confiscations and rude behavior. These blogs are a good idea, but despite touted influence I doubt that they will be seen as little more than a mechanism by which passengers can vent. A more proactive effort would be to have a TSO at every airport on each side of the secure area whose sole job is to field passenger complaints in real time, with the understanding that most passengers are in a hurry; the corresponding TSO at the arrival destination should be contacted if necessary to address the complaint. As for confiscations, passengers should be given a chit with a tracking number for every item, in order to facilitate redress.

Of course, these are merely off-the-cuff suggestions, which may or may not be pragmatic or even helpful, but the more general problems shouldn't simply be brushed off as the whining of a small minority of a day's worth of passengers. The fact that in a relatively short period of time so many people have gone through the effort of finding these blogs and posting their experiences should only underscore the general public ire toward the TSA. Whether justified or not, there is a sense that the rules devised and enforced by the TSA are ambiguously justified and arbitrarily applied by officers who are unaccountable for their treatment of civilians. The fact that most of those officers are reasonable and kind people is beside the point.

Anonymous said...

Could the TSA please have an on-line, up-to-date, printable list of unallowable items with a time/date stamp at the top of the page so the next time a screener erroneously claims "the list has been updated," travelers can disprove him?

jeffp said...

I want to make clear for myself, and I hope most of the other posters and travelers, that I understand that the individual agents at security are just doing their job, and I don't hold them any personal malice.

I want the people making the rules to take a good look at what they're really accomplishing, and see if they can add a little reality and common sense so that the Safety employees at the airports can be more effective, and the passengers can better participate in the process, rather than be frustrated by it.

Anonymous said...

I wear a fairly significant sized knee brace. Because I can't tolerate the long security lines without it, I choose to leave it on and be taken aside for a wanding, swabing. But that's just it, I fly a lot, weekly. Talk about inconsistencies. Some swab my shoes, some don't, some swab my hands some don't, some swab several areas of the brace, some don't.

As has been noted here, it doesn't do much to inspire confidence.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I would just like to point out that there is a national SOP for TSA in all locations...and then each city has ITS OWN SOP. So yes, inconsistencies will happen.

This is ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE!!! If you have your own SOP in your city, you guys are doing it ALL WRONG. WE ARE NOT TO HAVE OUR OWN SOP. Read up on the real SOP and you'll see how things are really supposed to be done.

Stripped said...

To what extent are you harmonizing your policies with the policies in other countries? In particular one thing stood out for me:

I was about to purchase some make up as a gift in LAX, connect in LHR and then go on to my final destination in Europe.

However, due to the liquid ban, I would not be able to carry the cremes from the LAX-LHR plane to the connecting flight in London, and therefore I could not buy the gift.

Given that the make up store was on the "outside" of the security checks in LAX, I tried the following:

1. Don't give me what I purchased on the far side of the checkpoint, but walk with me to the counter and have it checked in. (Sorry, can't do that.)

2. Can I check stuff in on the far side of the checkpoint? (No.)

3. Can I take the stuff as carry-on (yes) to LHR, and then check it in? (No.)

Luckily the attendants at the store asked me where I was connecting and I ended up not buying anything - otherwise I'd have been forced to dump $200 worth of gifts at the London checkpoint, just because I didn't quite grasp the security routines.

I realize that you're not responsible for security at LHR, but having the ability to buy things tax-free and then be able to check them in would be very appreciated for those of us going on to connecting flights. I realize that technically I may be going in and out of the secure area as I connect to other flights, but from my point of view as a traveler, once I'm through the checkpoint, I consider myself "secured" until I get out of the airport at my final destination.

It would be great if you could have a chat with your corresponding people at other airports so that things like tax-free purchases work "as one would expect", that is, you buy the stuff and there's no risk of having it stripped away by a security checkpoint.

Feeling unsafe in Ohio said...

I am a semi-frequent traveler and often notice that airline ticket agents and the TSA agent who check my ID against my boarding pass do a good job of checking that the name on my ID matches the name on my boarding pass, however, IT IS RARE FOR THEM TO LOOK AT MY FACE!!

what is the point of making sure the names match if they don't actually check that the picture on the ID matches me!?!

I have very little respect for the TSA agents and this one issue is merely a symptom of the overall incompetence I suspect runs quite deep into the institution.

Anonymous said...

Granted it is not a major inconsistency, but it would be nice to know the official policy. When traveling between ABE (Lehigh Valley International) Airport and PIE (St. Petersburg International) Airport we ran into a slight difference in the way they handled film (800 speed, so it couldn't be X-Rayed of course). When going through ABE Security, they simply took swabs of everything, including the camera (with the film left in it). When going through PIE Security, they required the camera to be opened to swab the inside of the camera (thus the rest of the film roll in the camera had to be used). What is the official policy on this? I'm going to assume that they will need the camera opened from now on, and plan accordingly, but it would be nice if it were consistent and/or I would have known beforehand to plan accordingly.

Anonymous said...

As for inconsistencies - why can't I post a comment on the 'grips and grins' section of this site, but I can on others?

Anyway - has anyone run afoul of the new Li-Ion policy? I had been wondering when something like that was going to happen after various laptop manufactuers started posting recalls.

I am amazed that a laptop hasn't burst into flames on a flight yet. I wonder what the TSA would do when that happens. Will they ban all laptops from carry on? Will they walk around and verify that all laptops on the plane are turned off? Will you have to turn in your battery when you get on the plane?

Much of the policies put in place seem to be reactive. Guy puts a bomb in his shoe, now we x-ray our shoes. Li-Ion batteries explode on youtube and now we can only carry so many extra batteries (even though the on in my laptop is good enough to do the trick).

I would rather the TSA determine what is safe to carry on a plane and allow only those items. It is much easier to be very restrictive and open up a few things, rather then allowing everything at first and then disallowing specific items. And much less confusing.

Is my American Crew 'Fiber' a gel or liquid - well, it's more of a wax - is that allowed?

I would say that most of the inconsistiencies come from a lack of clear policy and mis-communication inside the TSA as to how to interpret a policy. There should be no intrepretation.

aninterestingman said...

Why are we asked for ID before accessing a checkpoint when ID is not required under ANY TSA / DHS regulation?

It is clear that TSA does NOT require to enter a checkpoint. In fact, there are zerop regulations on what constitutes a government issued photo-ID card. If there is no requirement that passengers show ID. then why is there are requirement that we submit to secondary screening without ID?

It seems to me that TSA's inspection authority comes from the statute and the regulations it publishes, and not from informal policies, local standards and how the individual screener feels that day. Yet, it is requiring the traveler produce documents for domestic travel they are not required to produce, and then penalize the traveler for not doing so. This is the very definition of arbitrariness.

I would like an explanation of the legal authority that TSA has to demand identfication, the legal basis upon they accept or reject various forms of government issued photo ID and the basis upon which they can require secondary screening of passengers who do not comply with a non-requirement.

sb523 said...

This is a question about inconsistencies in terms of how the screening process applies to airline and airport employees.

At certain airports that I visit a few times a year, airline personnel are not required to remove their shoes, while standard passengers in the same lines are. I have brought up the issue every time I have seen it with the TSA supervisor on duty, and the only relpy I am ever given is that this is the policy and there is nothing they can do. Is it in fact a TSA policy that airline employees get special treatment in the screening process?

I know that workers have gone through background checks and such at some point prior to this, but hasn't it been shown already that those who work in and around airports, especially those with restricted access, are likely to be involved in terrorist plots or other, possibly more personal, attacks? I would think that the people that are in the airports most often, with the best knowledge of the airports layout and security process would be the most likely targets of attackers looking to get an "inside man". Also, a disgrunteled worker would be likely to exploit such special treatment in response to something along the lines of a pay cut or just not liking their supervisor.

Thank you for your time and responses,


Mandy.j.mock said...

The inconsistencies at different airports drive me crazy. I don't mean the differences in implementation, like airport X let me through without a ziplock bag and another didn't. Those are inconsistencies in implementation and, while a minor irritant, not that big a deal. However, there are real differences in policies between airports. The two that occur the most often are whether you need to keep your boarding pass out to show to the agent as you pass through the metal detector and whether you need to take your shoes off. There is real variance in these policies. On top of that, these things are not covered in most airports signage in security. And, worst of all, the agents give you this look like "What kind of idiot are you?" when you guess wrong. This is rediculous. Please, please, I don't really care exactly what the rules are. Just make them THE SAME at all the airports.

Anonymous said...

Why does an expired driver's license trump a valid US Passport?
While traveling from Portland OR to San Jose, the TSA screener my wife was singled out because her driver's license had expired. I quickly pulled her passport out of my carry-on, as I always carry take our passports along when we travel. But, because she had presented the expired drivers license first, she was singled out for a full bag search, trip through the "puffer", and even a PAT DOWN?? Yes, her license had expired, buy 5 or 6 days, but I'm pretty sure a VALID US PASSPORT still qualifies as ID doesn't it? The best part of the whole trip was the return trip when she forgot and gave the screener in San Jose her expired license and was waved right through without a second glance. I have to assume they were TSA screeners inspecting the ID, as there were big TSA patches on their shirts.
As a side note, I would really like to know how a lady made it through Sea-Tac with at least 3 or 4 CANS of BEER in her purse, AFTER the crackdown on liquids. She was sitting in the boarding area getting trashed and providing a lot of amusement to other passengers and airline staff.

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