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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maudy grunch said...

Why are the metal scanners set at different levels at different airports? I have a good gold bracelet that I always wear and sometimes I forget to take it off. Why? Because it never sets off the metal detector in JAX, ATL, CLT, JFK, ALB, MSP, STL, or DEN, but it does trip the alarm at IAD, DCA, and SFO. This never has any relationship to the threat level, either.

Jake said...

My first name is Jacob, but I go by Jake. And I traveled for years with my airline tickets saying "Jake" and my id's saying "Jacob". Suddenly, one day in the Las Vegas Airport this wasn't good enough for the security screeners. I was treated like a criminal and escalated to three different agents, all of whom refused to believe that my picture idea was for the person on the plane ticket. All because the ticket said "Jake" and the i.d. said "Jacob". I was harassed and yelled at. And TSA made such a point of scrutinizing my luggage that they actually thumbed through every page of all three of my books to make sure that there was anything hidden. They also wiped down and individually x-rayed every my cell phone, camera and ipod. I was so late to the gate that the entire plane had already boarded.

BrockLi said...

I didn't experience this myself, but it seems that SFO is now requiring the removal of ALL electronic items from bags:
Laughing Squid post

Santa Fe Jack said...

Because of the shoe "thing", I have chosen to wear "Crocs" when I travel. At my advanced age, it is just too difficult to have to replace regular footwear after the screening. Needless to say, wearing those ugly "Crocs" is not my first choice, but since TSA insists on maintaining shoe removal, I am forced to adjust. I would really like to hear about how many suspect shoes have been discovered since 9/11. I doubt there have been any, but because of that one person (Reid) millions of us have to go through the shoe removal inconvenience every single time we travel (in my case that is several times per year)!

Anonymous said...

My wife had her cosmetics in a "clear" makeup bag with a zipper and not a "BAGGY". This was totally ok in columbus, Ohio. However, when we came home from Portsmouth, NH, this same clear makeup bag was NOT acceptable because the TSA person said that it was not a "BAGGY". Made her leave the line, go back and have her bag checked as luggage. This was without doubt an inconsistancy and caused great embarassment and inconvenienc to us and the passengers in line. It is no wonder the the TSA is the second most hated goverment agency in the country, even ahead of the IRS. Can you believe it...the IRS????

TSO Tom said...

I'm a TSO in Philadelphia, I get complaints all the time about inconsistencies in TSA policy. Usually something like this, "well, I cam through Boston with that 26 ounce toothpaste and they didn't say anything!" or something along those lines. I usually tell the passenger that procedures are the same nationwide, but I get the feeling they don't believe me. :-) But no matter how many complaints I get about inconsistencies, or whatever, its the one or two comments per day (sometimes more) thanking me for the job I do, or telling me "I'm glad you guys are here, thanks!" that make my job worth while and take away all the bad feelings left behind by the "complainers".

CommonSense said...

Jake aka Jacob -

Geez ... why would you want the ticket to say Jake when your ID says Jacob and you need an ID to travel?

Sorry but I have to agree with the TSA on this.

In this day of high security how can we expect the TSA to accept colloquial names when its clear we need a valid IDENTIFICATION to travel?

I applaud TSA for sticking to the rules ... tomorrow I could call myself "King" and fly with an ID that says "Elvis" ... will that fly? :)

Anonymous said...

I recently was traveling by car from Washington state to British Columbia Canada. Going thru Customs from the US to Canada was like stopping to pay a toll (one time when I went to hand them my passport they said just keep moving) But going from Canada to the US we had lines they were checking passports, opening trunks, dogs walking around with boader patrol guards and let me tell you I am felling a lot safer that at even at an out of the way boder crossing the boader patrol is looking hard.. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK dont worry about the complainers 15 to 20 minutes out of their life down the road you may safe their life..
Mark from NJ

Anonymous said...

In retrospect, I'm just glad Richard Reid didn't try to hide a bomb in his undershorts.

Andrea said...

Santa Fe Jack-
Thanks for your comment. I can tell you that as an employee of TSA that shoes really are a threat and that we have seen shoes that have been manipulated even if it has not been a Richard Reid incident per se. Because shoes remain a threat we have now asked that all passengers remove their shoes so that we are consistant where in the past we only asked shoes of a certain profile to be removed. You are right on track with wearing shoes that are easy to take on and off as I do the same.

Anonymous said...

During my travels post 9/11 I have had occasion to fly out of airports on private and leased aircraft. I've simply walked into General Aviation and walked onto private aircraft. TSA doesn't even regulate these flights or do security checks or luggage inspections. During one trip my girlfriend was waved onto the tarmac and drove within thirty feet of the plane. The co-pilot carried my luggage to the car trunk, and thanked me for flying with them. In December of 2006 a friend helped me rescue Tuxedo, a
working English Cocker Spaniel that I was adopting. We rolled his plane out of his rented hanger space at one Air Force base, taxied past C5A's and Warthogs, and landed at another Air Force base 40 minutes later. We met up with the dog rescue folks at General Aviation, and picked up the pup. We loaded him into the plane and flew back. Granted we filed a flight plan, but encountered no security or TSA during the trip.

Anonymous said...

Ever since you started x-raying our shoes, I've been forced to carry all my plastic explosives in my pants which I find most inconvenient.

Jay Maynard said...

I've been through a hundred airports in the past several years. I never, ever know what to expect. Some want to run the explosives test on my CPAP, some don't; some want to examine everything, some don't; some want shoes in bins, some complain if you do it.

Every time - without a single exception - I complain about inconsistency, I get the reply that "those other folks aren't doing their job properly". This isn't exactly calculated to inspire confidence.

There should be one consistent set of procedures applied the same at every checkpoint in every airport. That way, we'll know what to expect. To those who say that the bad guys would also know what to expect: if the screening is good enough, this won't matter.

Anonymous said...

I am not a frequent flier, but I do fly at least 4-6 times a year out of Boston's Logan Airport. When you are getting in line for security check, an agent (usually not TSA) checks the name on the ticket against the name on your ID. Then, when you are going through the metal detector, they are checking if you have a valid ticket. At no time any of the agent was checking the picture on my ID against my face, and I can tell you, I look a lot differently from the 7 year old picture on my drivers license

Anonymous said...

Probably the biggest frustration I have as a frequent traveler is lack of consistency. What is standard in one airport is not standard in others. Sometimes you have to take your shoes off, sometimes not. Sometimes if you go through the puffer that counts as taking your shoes off, sometimes not (what's the point of the puffer if I still have to take my shoes off?). Sometimes you can take water through, sometimes not. And there's little method to the madness.

Colin said...

I have flown several dozen times since 9/11 created thousands of entry-level citizen harassment jobs, and at least a dozen times since some terrorists invented a "liquid explosives" plot that every chemist in the world agrees was ridiculously implausible.

And not once have I put my toiletries in a clear plastic baggy. I have used a zippered leather bag since I was 12, and you never bother me about it. Sure, you confiscated a bottle of shampoo and a new tube of toothpaste, but you don't seem to care that I'm not subsidizing ziploc.

That is inconsistent.

PS, on an unrelated note, I hate you and everything you stand for. And I love America. That is NOT inconsistent.

Mark in Memphis said...

I sat in 1st class last month from Atlanta to Memphis. I had no issues with TSA, but my seat mate did. She was a former Miss Georgia, and said that the screening area smelt terrible. She jokingly said 'who farted y'all?', and a screener took exception and gave her a nasty look. It seems pretty un-hygenic to have everyone stomping around in their socks and bare feet, and I agreeed with her that the screening area STINKS in some airports compared to others. There's gotta be a better way to ensure shoe safety.

Anonymous said...

While I was flying to Europe and back I flew through DTW, ORD and MSP there and back. I was on both trips wearing a zip up sweater, and asked twice to remove it and put it through the x-ray where the other times I allowed to go through with it on. I was just wondering what is allowed to be worn through security as clothing and what is to be taken off and put through the x-ray, this seemed quite inconsistent.

mateosf said...

Can the TSA provide any statistics on the frequency with which they've prevented potential terrorists from boarding airplanes since 9-11?

Can the TSA explain why, if security is such a vital concern, most of the TSOs you find at major airports appear to be at least slightly illiterate and incapable of analytic thought? Like, is it likely that a 92-year-old grandma is smuggling a bomb in her purse? Can toothpaste really be turned into an explosive?

Finally, why isn't the TSA actively securing our ports? I work down the street from the port of Oakland and you guys are noweher to be seen. Is there any chance that it's alll just a game to make us feel safe? Hard telling, not knowing, and judging from the pabulum posted by the TSOs here, I suspect it's all a joke. How about some serious answers to the serious questions?

Anonymous said...

Inconsistent application of policy is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of travel for me. I, for one, don't mind the additional security procedures as long as I understand what to expect when I reach the X-ray machine.
I fly fairly often and tend not to have problems while going through security, but have been harassed for items in my carry-on baggage on the return legs of round trips more often than I'd like to admit. That is, items make the cut on the way from my home airport to my destination, but don't on the return leg.

Doughboy said...

andrea: Can you elaborate? What exactly do you mean by "we have seen shoes that have been manipulated even if it has not been a Richard Reid incident per se"? My step-brother works for the TSA at DIA in Colorado, and he has never found anything suspicious inside a shoe in his 18 months on the job.

And for the record, I have had to remove my shoes (and belt, and earrings) every time I have flown out of DIA. I even had to remove my shoes when I went to the security offices in order to get badged so I could work at the airport (I'm a night-time delivery driver). Come to think of it, I encounter more "tough" security measures at DIA than at any other airport (swabbed, wanded, laptop & iPod checked, etc.)

Thank GOD I haven't been pulled aside for questioning due to mistaken identity or something similar. I think once that happens, I'll just stick to rental cars and Amtrack from that point on.


Anonymous said...

I have an issue with the policy about items (knives, nail clippers, etc…) that are not allowed but personally valuable being thrown away. In 1984, I had an issue where I bought a large knife in Germany and forgot to pack it in my checked luggage. The German security took me aside and searched me (I was 14 at the time). The security took the knife and put it in a FedEx type envelope put a luggage tag on it and sent it to my plane. This is a better way to handle these types of issues than you can exit the secured area mail it to yourself (at an inflated charge) then reenter the secured area possibly being late for your plane. The German security handled the process in a better manner than any TSA agent I have dealt with.

The things, that the TSA puts us through, to make us safe just frustrates us and makes us hate you even more than just being an inconvenience to getting on the plane. Because of my experieince with the TSA and how they treat passengers (lack of any customer service skills, the TSA screeners feeling like they have all the power in the world), If I had the power to disband the TSA I would without thinking about it. The extra hassle of going through your screening process is not worth the extra security.

Jim said...

I don't mind having to remove my shoe as I walk through the metal detector, but I'd really like to know why my infant son has to have his shoes removed when we're always asked to carry him through?

To the TSO Tom from Philadelphia - You just gave an example of an inconsistency in your own blog. So apparently the regulations might be the same nationwide, but they're not being enforced the same. Why was 26oz of toothpaste allowed in Boston but not Philadelphia if the regulations were the same?

When the removal of shoes first started, I was able to get through one airport without removing, but at other airports I was asked to remove. That policy seems to have been standardized and gotten ridiculous (see above). Now as I'm travelling with my children and we bring dvd players on board, some airports say to completely remove the dvd player from a carry-on bag and it's carrying case and have it sit in it's own 'bucket'. Others say it can stay inside it's carry case, it just has to be outside of a carry-on bag, in it's own 'bucket'. If the regulations are the same nationwide, maybe the TSA needs to do a better job ensuring that they are enforced the same way to avoid as much confusion as there already is.

muse0fire said...

Yes, I've had a lot of inconsistency with trivial but annoying things:
* Some airports still require ALL shoes off, some don't. I used to specifically travel wearing shoes I knew would be ok (flats or sandals) so I could get through quickly and not have to remove them. Now most airports make you remove even flipflops - but some don't. Consistency would be nice here so we know what to expect.
* Some airports require that purses and shoes go directly on the belt instead of in a tray. I've had damage done to both as they were caught in the conveyor, so I really object to this. Most airports let you put them in a tray - all airports should let you do this.

Brettod said...

I think that there needs to be clarification to airline employees that post-9/11, they are NOT responsible for security... just giving tickets and checking bags. AA actually refused to let my wife on a plane because her ID had her maiden name on it. They started freaking out and acting as if she was a terrorist... even though the TSA usually just does a puff test and lets you on your way.

Long story short = let everybody else in the airport know that valid ID's HELP the process, but aren't REQUIRED to board a plane.

Anonymous said...

How about we just start passing out TSA's Standard Operating Procedures manuals to all passengers or anyone that wants to know exactly what TSA officers are looking, so EVERYONE that flys out or around of the USA knows what to expect or why not just get rid of TSA and let anyone get on the planes, buses, rails, or ships?

Anonymous said...

I am a flight attendant. In most cities I am exempt from some of what the general public goes through due to the background check we already have gone through to get our job. Why am I "selected" in some cities and not in others? They go through everything I have in my luggage,what is my background check for? These are not random they occur in the same cities. Is this an error and is there anything I can do?

Anonymous said...

The biggest inconsistency I deal with is this:

We take off our shoes, but not our shirts, not our pants, not our underwear, not our socks.


Anonymous said...

I'm a Muslim in addition to being an American citizen, so I've grown used to being treated like a second class citizen- but this isn't the point of my post. I have taken 6 flights in the past month across the country and noticed major inconsistencies. It seems while TSA is immediately drawn to me because of my appearance (brown skin & beard) I've noticed many other passengers going through security without being thoroughly checked. I've even distracted the person working the x-ray machine on several occasions and the bags he missed could have been carrying anything!

Also, I noticed that there was a serious lack of signs and directions posted by TSA. I actually even remember seeing a sign in Laguardia writen by hand in yellow highlighter! Who can read yellow highlighter, and you would think that they could have at least printed it out on a cpu!

The aforementioned observations were at O'hare, Laguardia, and JFK.

Anonymous said...

I am a frequent traveler (1-4 trips a month). I also fly out of many airports. Inconsistency is caused by one of two things: 1) Improperly followed procedures at one site, properly followed procedures by another. 2) improperly followed procedures. As a traveler, you have no ability to try and point out a mistake. Quoting the TSA web pages, or even bringing a print-out, is useless. The answer is always "that's not the policy", or "it's been updated" or "we have our own manual" or (my personal favorite) "we're more secure here".

The problem boils down to predictability. I can breeze through a security site (usually) because I travel so much, and know what to expect, and restrict stuff to the least common denominator of any place I've traveled out of (for example, nail clippers were (at least a little while ago) allowed, if they didn't have the 1 inch file attached. After I had one of those liberated at a TSA checkpoint, I no longer carry nail clippers.).

What's the point of publishing the list of approved/unapproved items and procedures on the web site if they aren't followed everywhere? Clearly, inconsistencies cause huge ill-will, and delays. Granted, nothing will help those who want to carry their 50lb "carry-on" with a jug of water at the bottom. . .

Jack said...

Inconsistancies? I travel with a tool chest worth around $2,000. At first TSA would lose the locks. I solved that by attaching the locks to a chain. I found TSA approved locks to be total crap. They fall apart when impacted during the baggage handling process. My problem is getting TSA to resecure (lock) the locks once they've pawed through the tool chest. What does it take for TSA to properly resecure my luggage after they've inspected it? Who is responsible for my luggage contents if TSA fails to resecure my luggage (hint I've been told by the airlines it is TSA and TSA says it is the airline's responsibility). So which is it? I give TSA properly secured luggage and they fail to relock it on an average of 25% of the flights. I even have had TSA chop the locks off of my luggage after it was inspected by them and locked.

Anonymous said...

The TSA (Terribly Stupid Agency) seems to have the worst type of government functionaries working for it. Combine one part stupidity with one part aggressive bully and one part "I'm just following orders" and you have the description of every TSA person I have ever met. Not all of them show their true character all the time, but it is there in all of them. In addition, they steal things, including money, CDs and electronics from checked baggage, but never even answer written compliants. I guess they expect us to sue in Federal court for the loss of $500 woth of stuff.

Finally, the TSA 3-1-1 rule will do little to prevent enplaning with liquid explosives. Think about it, you can have at least 16-24 oz. of liquids in the overall bag, so all one would have to do is combine the containers in the bag, using the bag as a holding device. Pesto - you have a possibky explosive mixture. However, as many others have said - TSA policies are not about the security of passengers - they are simply about fooling the public and shifting blame if another problem like 9/11 occurs.

The next time you see a TSA official - tell them what you think - that they are worse than useless and helping the terrorists with their security "theater". I do.

Anonymous said...

tso tom -

You say that rules are consistent, yet when I was forbidden to bring a pair of nail clippers onboard at Long Beach Airport by a TSA official, she explained to me that the TSA rules for every airport are deliberately different "in order to prevent terrorists from knowing them" and that I should be grateful that she was keeping me and my family safe. Frankly, the knowledge that she was either lying or didn't know her own rules made me feel a heck of a lot less secure about flying in and out of her airport, but she seemed genuinely proud of the fact that she's sopped me from carrying on such a deadly instrument that I just let it go without argument.

Big Country said...

When is the T.S.A. going to start recognizing people in uniform? I'm a Department of Defence contractor who flies frequently between the U.S. and the Middle East, and I'm usually in uniform (US Army ACUs) and using a D.O.D. Military Issue I.D. I frequently travel with groups of soldiers and in my experience, more often than not, myself (almost always) and the troops with me get chosen for the "five finger mac attack" as we call it and are subjected to what we consider to be excessive and asinine and even embarrasing extra searching. Here we are in uniform, usually on the way BACK to the 'real front lines' in Iraq, and these TSA 'folks' start getting knee deep into uniformed service people?
What is WRONG with you people? WE are the ones on the REAL front line. Not you. You need to be waaaaaaaay more respectful and realize we're all on the same team.

Or Are We?

Anonymous said...

In terms of inconsistencies, I travel throughout the world, and I find great inconsistencies between different countries in terms of security. For example, in most places in Europe, they do not make you take off your shoes, but they do make you take off your belt. Also, only in the US does the TSA agent require you to hold onto your boarding pass.

My problem is less with the inconsistencies and more with the attitude toward the inconsistencies. Many TSA agents will get downright rude when customers are in the habit of doing one type of security search and not doing the TSA-style search. TSA agents need to recognize that the TSA rules are not common outside the US, and those people that do most of their travel outside the US are not used to the US-based rules. A bit of common courtesy around this will be extremely helpful.

heffalump said...

as important as we are told the TSA's services are, it's seems like they are designed mostly to inspire 'shock and awe' to travellers, rather than real security.
Do maintenance workers that work on the planes also have to take their shoes and belts off when entering the maintenance hangar? And are they screened before getting in the airplane to take it back to the airport? A security net is only as good as the biggest hole in it.
How many foiled attacks have been found with all the millions of travellers since 9/11? 2? 1?
I do applaud the TSA employees for being courteous and in most cases very professional - I've only had a few instances where that was not the case.
Quite honestly, I don't think anybody wanting to do harm to flights would try and put themselves through the line of inconveniences at the TSA checkpoint, if they could walk right in the door at the gate from the hangar...just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Hello TSA Folks--

I work here at Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle, and am very familiar with the TSA and it's responsibility. The TSA folks (here or at other airports) are just people, and I'm almost always well treated and also treat them with respect.

That said, my gripe is the occasional TSO who decides to rifle through my wallet. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON FOR THIS, and the TSOs will always stop when I start complaining. What is the reason for this when I have plenty of ID or Port of Seattle (POS) badges? Coming back from Reno a few weeks ago, my wife had won a lot of money at a casino, and the TSOs noted "Hey, there's a lot of money here". Well DUH! Reno's a gambling town and jackpots DO HAPPEN! My wife climbed all over the TSOs and they stopped, but neither her or I need the TSOs to comb through our wallets - often times out of our direct view. At times it's gotten so out of hand I've considered getting their names and personally suing them!

Anyway, the TSA and TSOs have a job to do, and generally they're very helpful and professional - it's just the few bad ones that spoil the crew.

Anonymous said...

I have a big problem with my passport. After I got married, my name changed so I got the addendum added on the back.

9 times out of 10 on an international flight they make me show my marriage license even after showing them the addendum (that I had to provide the marriage certificate for and that was added by the office that does passports)

Also, I think the TSA screening is more of a pony show then any real increase in security.

Anonymous said...

I show up at the airport in a pair of shorts (no underware), a t-shirt, and sandals. And you brain surgeons at the TSA want me to remove my sandals!
Air travel used to be something special; one was expected to dress well, and one expected to be treated like a customer. Now, air travel is a burden, to be tolerated as a prisoner tolerates a jail sentence.
All this aside, I have only one question. Has the TSA actually prevented ANY terrorist activity?P.S. One of the first times I travelled after 9/11, the TSA guy who waved me through was someone who I had recently fired for drug use. Oh yeah, I sleep SO much better knowing the TSA has my back!

Anonymous said...

Although I support in general the rationale behind the TSA, I have to say that I have experienced a casual attitude toward checking to the extreme where an agent pulled me off to the side and then she rummaged through my purse until, triumphantly, she held up a pair of pliers I had forgotten were in the bottom of the purse. Of course, the pliers were red plastic and only about 1 1/2" long, meant for a keychain. By some stretch I guess it could have been considered a "tool". Then, of course, is the idea of only 3 oz. of liquid to avoid being a bomb component. Probably if you really could make a bomb from 3 oz. of something, or if it took say 6 or 9 oz., you could just take 2 or 3 of the 3 oz. containers. As long as they were in "Baggies" it would be ok. In OKC because my lotion was 4 oz., I had to go to the drugstore nearby and get a plastic baggie! It had travelled that way just fine through PIT. I think the inconsistancies are so annoying that we lose patience before we even get started.

ses said...

According to the signs in the Charlotte airport, liquids can be up to 3.4 ounces, but in every other airport the signs (and the screeners) say 3.0. Somebody needs to get their story straight on that.

Anonymous said...

The inconsistencies between taking ones driver's license out of the display window in ones wallet/purse to the removal of shoes (even ones with a shallow sole) is quite frankly becoming too much of a nuisance.

First of all, if one is wearing sandals through the security checkpoint, I do not understand the need for removing them. It was explained to me by one ignorant TSA official that the soles of shoes can carry explosives. May be in 3" soles!!! Explain to me where in world one is to conceal explosives in the sole of a sandal?

Furthermore, the whole practice of now requiring the removal of one's ID from his wallet display window is nothing more than another attempt to create the illusion that the TSA officials are really looking into the veracity of one's identity. Being a former federal law enforcement officer myself, this is completely uncalled for and is just another "to do" box created by the Transportation Security Administration in order to make consumers believe they are being protected.

What's more disturbing is the enforcement levels of these requirements from one airport to another. There is no consistency whatsoever. Get back to the basics and stop with the nonsense!

ang122 said...

Matesosf ---
Have we found a terorrist? Well, it's not like they say, yep you got me, when we find thier water bottles or knives or scissors or billy clubs or other prohibited or illegal item. We have several investigations against people that could be linked to broader threats. I can tell you that last week we found 15 guns at airport checkpoints around the country .. was one of them a terrorts? or just stupid? Now for ports, we have implemented TWIC cards including Oakland and continue to work with our partner agencies. Don't think because you don't see uniformed personnel we aren't there or work isn't being done.

Anonymous said...

I travel a ton for work, in and out of airports all month long. My issue is definitely the inconsistencies. I understand that time have changed and security is tightened. But shouldn't the rules be the same across the board? I'm tired of standing in line as a TSA agent YELLS at everyone because they didn't keep their boarding pass with them. It's insanity. You never know what to expect and the agents don't exactly instill a sense of confidence in the traveler. Shoes on, shoes off? Ticket in hand or not? Can i Put my own belongings in the bin or must the agent do it for me? CHOOSE ONE and stick to it! Then everyone will get through much faster.

TSO Tom said...

One of the things we have to remember about security programs is that inconsistencies are built into them for a reason. In this case, we're talking about aviation security, let us not forget how it was before 9/11/01. How easy it was for people to clear "security" at the time. For those who didn't know, box cutters were not prohibited at that time. Alot of items on today's prohibited list were legal to carry on a plane pre-9/11. The inconsistencies that are experienced at many airports stem from individuals who have to interpret the procedures that are sent down from Washington. At times, procedures are implemented at a moment's notice and they're not going to be perectly executed and they are going to be cumbersome. We the TSO's who have to implement these procedures into our daily duties are not intending to be rude or beligerent, we are trying to understand a new procedure that we were told we had to perform and trying to implement it. As time goes on, we get used to performing that procedure, then it changes....bang....just like that we have to adapt too. So when you tell us that nothing was said when you traveled through Fort Lauderdale, it doesn't affect what we have to do. We know the procedures and we are required to do them, so what you experienced at another airport while it may seem inconsistent to you does not effect how I do my job, or how one of my co-workers does their job. At my airport everybody does the same thing the same way or similarly. Try to bear with us, try to understand that we do not know what a terrorist looks like, we have no clue what a terrorist looks like. He could be any color, and age, male or female, adult and yes even child. Let's keep in mind why we are where we are.

To answer this question:

To the TSO Tom from Philadelphia - You just gave an example of an inconsistency in your own blog. So apparently the regulations might be the same nationwide, but they're not being enforced the same. Why was 26oz of toothpaste allowed in Boston but not Philadelphia if the regulations were the same?
I have never seen 26 oz of toothpaste I was giving an example of what I believe to be some of the excuses we hear on a daily basis. Some of them are beliveable but others sound like they're just saying it to see if you will let it go.

Anonymous said...

One time I forgot I had a pocketknife in my purse and made it through Hartsfield security.

Another time I was harassed about a 0.5 ounce tube of lip gloss. How putting it in a plastic bag, and how a certain size of plastic bag makes any difference in whether it's safe or not I've no idea.

Anonymous said...

This isn't so much about inconsistency as it is about a possibly dangerous lack of accounting.

I flew from BWI to DAL (guess which airline) through HOU (ask my opinion about the Wright Amendment and you're liable to get a real earful) in June 2007. Due to tropical storm-like rain that blanketed practically the entire state of Texas, we were late arriving at HOU, late departing for DAL, and (not unexpectedly) when I arrived at DAL, my luggage did not. That's not what concerned me. I expected there to be some problem due to all the bad weather and the difficulty getting planes in and out of Texas that day, and was pretty pleased when one of my bags, which contained items I needed for the convention I was attending, actually did arrive.

No, what concerned me was going to the airline's baggage claim office to file a claim for a lost bag. I asked what I thought was a pretty straightforward question: Where exactly was my lost bag? I was pretty sure I saw it being loaded onto the plane at BWI, but with lots of bags looking alike, I asked if they could tell me whether my bag had made it to Houston or was still stuck in Baltimore.

The baggage claim agent said he had no idea and that there was no way for him to know that information since there was no tracking info for the bags. As he said this, my jaw dropped. We have to have our bags screened a dozen different ways. We're not allowed to lock them except with special locks, and even then stuff still goes missing. We have electronic baggage tags with bar codes put on them at practically every airport in the U.S., with enough unique information to allow them to be easily tracked ala FedEx or UPS. When I put this question to the baggage claim agent, he said that no one actually keeps track of those numbers anywhere and they're just used to match customers with baggage at both ends of the journey.

This scares me. If he's right, some nefarious individual could easily tamper with a bag and we'd have another PanAm Lockerbie incident on our hands with no way to find out where any other suspicious bags from the same passenger/group of passengers were in the system. I thought all of these new security regulations were supposed to prevent such incidents, but if an airline agent can't even track where a bag might have gotten misrouted en route to its destination, what's to prevent another plane explosion?

P.S. My bag eventually did arrive on another flight from HOU and I was able to claim it about 6 hours after my initial arrival in DAL. However, the baggage claim agents had no idea that my bag had arrived because--you guessed it--no one had actually bothered to check the tag numbers on all these bags that had been circling on the claim belt with no passenger there to claim them. Again, it wouldn't take any effort at all for someone to do something nefarious to their bag, abandon it at their destination, and "boom", there goes a major airport.

Anonymous said...

How come sometimes TSA checks all my stuff, and sometimes they don't. In the past, they've damaged things, so when I was returning from South America, I set a map I bought up against the wall so they wouldn't open it and destroy it. After they checked all my luggage, I went over to the corner wall support and picked up my map and just walked through. They never even noticed that I had the map and when I got to Dallas, TSA never asked me to look at it, and I carried it right on the plane. I can see why it's so easy to smuggle stuff into the country.

Anonymous said...

shoes have been consistent in my experience. one that boggles me though is that i've never been asked to remove my hat/cap, even those with 'metal' clasps. who knows what could fit under a cap.

Anonymous said...

I found the link to this blog on a USA Today article. The ironic thing is that I think the USA Today article had more comments than this blog. Maybe TSA should also read those comments.

Also, I think TSA should force smelly people who sit next to me on the airplane to take a shower.

b1caswell said...

Over the last two years, I have had the displeasure of logging more than 100,000 air miles per year. These trips inclide not just domestic, but Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia.
In the states, the differences in airport TSA staff are staggering. Tke off your shoes in Chicago, but not in Houston. Belt sets off no alarm in DFW, same belt sets off alarm in Logan.

Europe and Asia have been dealing with terrorism long before the US. Yet, when I cleared security in Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, Paris,Mexico City and Barcelona. I did not have to remove my shoes, my belt, take off my jacket and I got to leave my computer in my briefcase.

My conclusion from all of this is simple. American TSA us the worst organization on the face of the planet. You have terrible policy enforcement and no justification for those policies given procedures applied in airports outside of the US. You are to blame for passenger frustration and airport clog; That's what we get when the federal government takes over anything. TSA makes flying in the US a terrible experience.

Anonymous said...

Traveling to NJ via Philly from Pullman, WA last year. Made it through Pullman, WA with my toothpaste (a large, extremely explosive tube of Crest). On the way home, the Philly Airport TSA confiscated my dangerous Crest. Must have been Colgate fans. Why the difference? Is toothpaste dangerous on the East coast and not out here in Washington State?
Doesn't the TSA train all its employees the same? Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

It seems that if you want to make the airports more secure, you would have to hire higher quality TSA screeners. I am in Europe right now, and when I went through TSA, the workers were just kids who were laughing and having fun. No one in TSA really pays attention to non-verbal things. No one really watches people. I don't know if they're too busy watching for waterbottles, or what. But it seems that they've got the minutia. Now, they just need to catch the big things.

joe2171 said...

What really kills me about all the comments and negativity being posted here is that most of the passengers that I hear complaining about airports, and inconsistency in screening, are not telling the truth. I've actually had a woman complaining to me about having to remove her shoes and she didn't have to remove them at "X" airport, and their was her husband saying yes we did. Happens all the time

Anonymous said...

I, too have to agree with TSA re: the Jake/Jacob thing. We all know we need to have the name on the ticket match the name on the photo ID. This has been inforced since the mid-90s. As for the zippered clear bag, good God, how many times have we heard or read the "311" information. I agree with everyone about the shoes...what am I going to hide in my thin-soled flip flops, hmm? Please explain why some airports that have the new screening machine with the "puffs of air" make you take your shoes off before you go through (even though the side states "do not remove shoes"--thank you Jacksonville, FL), and other airports have you take them off after you go through the machine. I appreciate the comment about wearing crocs for east, but you still have to step on a comtaminated surface. Check out the "shoes" section. It states that the airports have no more germs than a locker room. Oh, that makes me feel real good! Back to the 311 thing...get over it, people! Stick to the small size tubes of whatever the hell you need to take on the plane with you and keep them to a minimum.

Anonymous said...

My husband recently flew out of Tucson and when he boarded the flight there was a lady sitting in his seat. She said her boarding pass had that seat number on it. they compared passes and yes, they both had the same seat number...they also both had my husband's name on them!! She had gotten thru 3 check points with the wrong boarding pass!!

Anonymous said...

I have no objection to whatever search/inspect policies are necessary to ensure our safety. What I DON'T accept is former Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta's bizarre and apparently still enforced order to airlines forbidding them to search more than two Middle Eastern-looking men (even non-U.S. citizens) per flight because that's "racial profiling," while any number of white-haired grannies from Darien or middle-aged American corporate CEOs--who, let's face it, are not very likely to be terrorists--can be called out of line and detained for thorough, intrusive searches. Both American Airlines and United--9/11 victims--were fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for "violating" this ill-advised and arbitrary directive. Common sense should trump political correctness, for a change; but I'm not holding my breath.

Bob said...

Please explain why TSA screeners in St. Louis are reserving lines for first class passengers. The supervisor on duty told me that TSA had "negotiated" to do this. It seems that in our class-less society, paying for a first class ticket should entitle one to ride in a particular part of the plane, not to be given preferential treatment in a tax-financed federal process and that TSA has no authority to negotiate the rights of one taxpayer in favor of another.

Anonymous said...

TSO Tom, your post illustrates one of the reasons why TSA staff are so resented.

People are asking you a legitiamte question. If you don't know the answer, SAY SO.

But, instead you tell them that their experience did not happen. Of course they do not beleive you! If you had a roll for breakfast, and someone told you that, you had tea and toast for breakfast, would you beleive them? Well, why should any sane person react differently when told that the experience they had at a different airport didn't happen?

michaelaeckard said...

I am glad that I am not the only traveler that is frustrated with the inconsistencies in airport security. I have experienced the same types of stories shared previously. At my home airport of LAS, you are required to remove your shoes but I've been at other airports where you don't have to. Sometimes they want you to put them in the bins, other times they simply want you to place them on the belt. These standards need to be streamlined and communicated clearly to every passenger PRIOR to entering the security check-point line. On another note, explain to me why smokers cannot bring a lighter onto the aircraft, but matchbooks are okay. On a layover in Chicago I borrowed a lighter from a TSA agent and asked her about this. Her puzzlement was the same as mine. Seems to me that fire is fire and if you're trying to prevent ignition of an explosive device, a fire, etc. matches work just as well. I have some other observations but I will post those under the appropriate heading. I do thank you for taking the time to become a more transparent government agency and commend you on the efforts to keep myself and all of the traveling public safe.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to begin by saying that TSO Tom's posting of January 31, 2008 4:09 PM was very illuminating and frankly quite humorous. I am shocked and appalled that he takes pride in performing a duty where out of the hundreds, or more likely thousands, of people he sees every day that "...ONE OR TWO sometimes more...", thank him for the job he is doing...LOL...seriously how blinded by government propaganda must you be to think that this is a good thing and that the general flying public endorses what you are doing or simply believes you are doing a good job...that my friend is the ULTIMATE denial. In all of my travels I have never once heard anyone express admiration for an agent of the TSA. I personally have told agents “keep up the good work” but I certainly hope they understood the sarcasm and disdain I was attempting to convey…but now I am beginning to doubt it.

Now: on to the issue at hand, inconsistencies in traveler’s experiences. I was travelling with my 3 year old son from Detroit to Atlanta in the summer of 2007 and we were allowed to bring sealed juice boxes through security for him on the flight leaving Detroit but not through security in question is this:

How is the average or even seasoned traveler supposed to report discrepancies? What is the process for disputing the "ruling" or arbitrary enforcement of random rules? There should be a clearly defined and stated process for questioning the conduct and decisions of the TSA agents. I wonder how is a citizen traveler supposed to question the decisions of the agent, most of whom I am sure would be found to have an education average far beneath the average airline traveler...(I would LOVE to see such a study identifying the percentage of TSA agents with nationally accredited collegiate degrees)

One problem I have seen and experienced is that the TSA agents currently hold ultimate power with very little room for recourse; and the vast majority of people are willing to acquiesce rather than face the possibility of delay. There should be a form or card readily available at all TSA check points describing the process of complaint and the identities, perhaps employee ID number or something, of the staff at the check points. Given the hectic pace of trying to get through security and make a flight many travelers are simply too burdened to follow through on complaints. I would bet that you would get more than an earful and some constructive ideas…many more than a blog.

Anonymous said...

First, to the TSA employees, I appreciate what you are TRYING to do. I've heard that some of the inconsistency is intentional because that way terrorists don't know for what exactly to expect/plan. Is this true?
Second, I would make the case that TSA policy SHOULD either give TSA employees the flexibility use their own discretion as to whether someone/something merits further scrutiny (common sense over rigid policy enforcement) or policy should be consistent enough that at least the airlines know the rules and can therefore inform their passengers. Example: In December I flew out to WA, on the way back (same stuff in my pockets/carry-on etc.)and TSA confiscated my lighter, but wouldn't let me mail it to myself. I was told it was a prohibited item and shouldn't have gotten through security any of the ~15 times before (all post 9/11). Then as we landed at DIA, over the intercom of the plane we were reminded not to light up until we got off the plane. So either matches are OK and lighters are not (which doesn't seem to make a lot of sense) or even the airline didn't know what items were allowed/prohibited (in which case how are we, the traveling public, supposed to stay top of this stuff enough to plan appropriately?)

Jeff P said...

I hope the TSA thinks a little bit more about the rules for allowed and forbidden items, as currently, they make little sense.

A tiny swiss army knife with a 1" blade is forbidden, but a 6.5" screwdriver and a 9" metal knitting needle are both allowed - this clearly makes no sense from the standpoint of the danger of each item.

I also question the entire liquid issue. Why is a single 6oz bottle forbidden, but the same exact liquid split into 2 different 3oz bottles is perfectly safe? Essentially, we're allowed a quart of liquid, but it must be separated into 3oz units. Logically, this makes very little sense.

All I ask is that some logic and common sense be applied to the safety rules, so that they actually encourage safer travel, rather than simply respond to perceived threats in inconsistent and illogical ways.

Anonymous said...

The two major things to think about in terms of risk assessment are the likelihood of an event occurring and the consequences of the event should it happen. Unfortunately, we have an answer to the latter. But regarding the former, terrorists are extremely unlikely to succeed with an attack of that nature again because we passengers are now vigilantly looking out for warning signs of potential terrorist activity. And on any given flight there are at least several of us who are willing and able to handle such a situation should it arise. Yet the likelihood of me feeling harassed/annoyed by inconsistently implemented TSA policy after going through security next time I fly is comparatively quite high. For me the increased sense of security is more than offset by the increased sense of frustration this situation creates. That's why I no longer fly when I have a viable transportation alternative.

Jack said...

Michael, I begin the dissassembly process out of range of the TSA screamers. Shoes off, belt off, glasses, jacket, cellphone & keys and change into jacket pockets. Laptop into a bin. Laptop bag, then Pelican case.

I stay there until everything goes into the x-ray machine. A fast couple of steps to get the stuff as it comes out of the machine. Laptop bag seldom gets checked, but the Pelican case gets swabbed down every time I fly. Something to do with lots of cables, 3-4 hard drives, wall warts, CDs, adapters, etc. The only things I ask is to be there when they go through the Pelican case and that what they take out goes back from whence it came.

Jack said...

I've noticed that some of the angrier posts that I've posted (no names, no profanity, no spam, on topic) have conviently gone to the bit bucket in the sky. At least 6-10 of my posts have gone away.

Potemkin security + Potemkin blog=

A total waste of good electrons and photons.

bob said...

Please explain why TSA screeners in St. Louis are reserving lines for first class passengers. The supervisor on duty told me that TSA had "negotiated" to do this. It seems that in our class-less society, paying for a first class ticket should entitle one to ride in a particular part of the plane, not to be given preferential treatment in a tax-financed federal process and that TSA has no authority to negotiate the rights of one taxpayer in favor of another.
If you don't want to publish on the blog please send an answer to Thanks.

Chance said...

Chance here, I work for TSA, and I did want to talk a little regarding the comments anonymous above made about general aviation (GA). While it's true you're unlikely to see TSA personnel while dealing with GA, we do work with the GA community. I myself have traveled to give briefings to local GA airport owners about the threats they face, and our local offices work closely with many GA airports as well. So, please don't think this is just something we ignore. We have an entire office devoted exclusively to GA issues.

Aside from this, GA is a little different from commercial aviation. The planes tend to be smaller and/or slower than commercial aircraft, making them less attractive for terrorists to use as suicide weapons. Even if you packed them with explosives, most just won't have the destructive power of larger, faster planes. One last point to consider: there are about 300 or so major commercial airports in the U.S., but there are almost 20,000 GA airfields. Some are located at major airports, but others are simple grass fields. Securing all of them would probably take a 50 -fold increase in the number of personnel we currently employ.

Curtis said...

I'm a US Navy Captain and I have a lot of metal in me. Why do I have to remove stuff to go through the sensor when I set it off every time anyway?

I get secondary screened every single time I fly and frankly I don't care about setting off the alarms since there's nothing I can do about that. Is there really some need for me to undress before crossing into the TSA wilderness?

Anonymous said...

At Dallas Love Field, a TSA person snarled at me, "Don't you know that you're supposed to take your laptop out of its bag and place them in separate containers?" I said, "No." She said, "Well you are, and don't forget it next time." On my return trip from Salt Lake City, I did EXACTLY that, and got yelled at! I said, "But at the airport in Dallas, they told me to do the EXACT opposite!" Believe it or not, this TSA person said, "Well, you're NOT in Dallas!" What a complete joke.

Nacho said...

I travel around the world and the show "security" is a joke and a taste of the incompetence of the US government. All of these measurement are reactive in nature not preventing nor effective. Lack of ingenuity an naivety. It's a "feel good" policy. Stinks like the shoe that we smell across the x-ray band.

km said...

To all the people who say "Well everyone knows the 311 information" - what about all the millions of people from outside the United States who may be visiting and taking domestic flights? I live in Australia and visit the US every year or two, and I have no idea what the 311 rule is. All I know is that things seem to change every time I visit. I certainly know better than to carry anything sharp or vaguely resembling liquid in my carry-on. But what am I supposed to do with my telephoto lens - the screeners are always puzzled by it, and no it doesn't come apart, and yes it is fragile.

Anonymous said...

I consider the TSA mission statement bit about "to ensure freedom of movement" is a tad inconsistent with its practices.

The shoe searches, patdowns, faceless rummaging through checked items, and complete disassembly of all effects for x-raying seems at odds with that pesky 4th Amendment right to be secure in one's person and effects.

I miss seeing people greeting at the gate, seeing them come up the jetway and run into a loved one's arms. In a generation, that notion will be as foreign to people as smoking sections on flights. This mindless adherence to the belief that "if it saves JUST ONE LIFE it's worth it" is inconsistent with liberty as we knew it.

Anonymous said...

Having flown thru Mobile, AL, Gulf Port, MS, Pensacola, Fl, New Orleans, LA, Atlanta, GA, St Paul, MN, Las Vegas, NV, SLC, UT, Denver, CO, SF, CA, LAX, CA, Sea-Tac, WA, Phoinex, AZ Dallas, TX (which in my rankings is the worst) and Houston, TX to name a few the only thing that has been consistent with TSA is the inconsistencies. I can have a mechanical pencil and a tube of toothpaste in Gulf Port, but I can't in Dallas, I have been "randomly" searched on almost every flight I have taken since 911 to include my return flight from SLC to Dallas to return to Iraq. I know me and the 4 other soldiers with me must have been a threat!

Erder said...

My name is Jeremy. I don't fly terribly often but I do take 3 or so trips a year.

Something that struck me as very odd was that my airline put a code on my ticket it read "QQQQ". I went into security (this was TYS) and was told by the very first person checking ID that I had been singled out for additional screening by the airline.

I don't remember being a jerk to the receptionist at Delta. Perhaps every 50th customer wins a free pat-down.

I've been patted down twice now. Once in TYS and once in Ketchican Alaska. Ketchican was likely a bored screener. Still the fact that the ticket itself "required" additional screening is quite unsettling.

If I actually was smuggling or going to blow something up, I'd see the letters, likely have researched a fair bit and abandon the flight. I appreciate you trying to protect us from the low hanging fruit "dumb" terrorists but quite honestly I think I'm just going to rely on them having technical difficulties or forgetting what day their flight is on. Use a random strategy instead of relying on the airlines in some cases.

"He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither." - Ben Franklin

Ship it said...

Hey Jack you're brave for sending $2000 of tools through as checked baggage. If it's of any value and you're going to send it through baggage out of sight, FedEx it instead. I very rarely check luggage anymore, since once I've spring for FedEx for one thing, might as well just send all my stuff that way. It's expensive, but it beats getting to the destination with no tools because they got dumped all over the floor deep in the darkest heart of some airport.

Anonymous said...

TSO Tom - maybe you should think about the ratio of 'complainers' to nice comments. What do you really do that helps anyone? Not to pick on you, but TSO's are now simply one more burden to deal with on a trip.

My family used to travel by air quite a bit, but not anymore. The hassles are simply not worth it. At Christmas, we choose to drive 18 hours rather than fly for 2 hours, because it is less of a hassle.
With the known history of the TSA 'finding the water and missing the bomb', I doubt I will travel by air much in the future.

Anonymous said...

It is not OK.

It is not OK for a citizen who has done nothing wrong to be inspected one inch short of a cavity search simply to travel. One of the comments by a TSA employee said there is no right to fly. True. There is this small bit though:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Keeping us safer includes respecting our rights, not to be groped, not to have our stuff pawed, and to in general be left alone. My person, papers and effects are insecure every time I fly. It is not OK.

You are missing the point. Your job isn't to decide what's important, and enforce that on us, the citizens. We get to decide what's important to each of us - what we want to do. Limitations on that freedom, especially generally imposed and of long duration are to be undertaken only with dire need, and with great circumspection.

Have we forgotten throwing thousands of citizens in concentration camps in WW-II? Not "Japanese Americans", American citizens - full stop. Have we forgotten the red-menace scare?

You are going to protect me by violating me? Let's be clear. Having a blue-gloved hand sliding over my body, the whole performance on display to a few hundred of my closest random strangers isn't protecting anything - it's a violation. It is done sloppily when it is done. The "rules" are massively inconsistent. And, there are more than a few bad apples on the staff.

It is not OK.

Tim said...

I get so burned up every time I see two lines to go through security, the fast lane for those who pay more, and the slow lane for those of us who can't afford to pay for business or first class. I understand why airlines can and should provide more perks to those who pay more, but why isn't security a burden shared equally by all citizens?

Having people buy their way out of the slow lane is reminiscent of the civil war practice of being able to buy your way out of the draft, and it lead to the biggest riots in American history, in New York.

If you want to keep support for your security measures, they should be a burden shared equally.

Anonymous said...

Please explain why the TSA does not allow me to carry my penknife through security, when several airlines provide metal knives and forks and glass drinkware to me in flight.

Anonymous said...

How many bombs have you caught in shampoo bottles? How many terrorists have you caught? I would venture to guess that the grand total is zero. No terrorist is going to try to walk through security with a bomb in their belongings. Any person who gives this a few moments thought will realize that the whole screening procedure is a farce. It is only done to make us feel better. We see that an effort is being made to catch terrorists, so we should feel safe. It is ridiculous. Every day, thousands of citizens are hassled so we can feel that we are at least doing something.

This is why I don't even fly anymore. I think the whole thing could make an interesting psychological study in how much freedom we are willing to give up for the illusion of security.

Anonymous said...

I don't even know where to begin. But I'll try...

1. Why is it that it is acceptable for workers in the shops in airports to have box cutters (ORD as a example) is when everyone else can't carry a nail clipper?

2. How are the pallets of Gatoraide brought in past the security area screened so much better than a bottle of water held by a passenger?

3. How many tubes of toothpaste at the allowed size would it take to form enough Semtex? In other words, if 5 people all did this, wouldn't they be able to each carry a little bit?

4. Why is it that one way tickets get people 'secondary screened' more often than round trip tickets? I've figured out that you always buy a round trip ticket and this doesn't happen as often. Don't you think others have figured that out too?

5. Why is it that someone can wear a burka through security and not be asked to take it off? If it's because of religious reasons, isn't that the same reason why this happened in the first place?

6. Why is it that if you are flying on a International flight that happens to land in the US, you have to go through the TSA screening process?

7. Does the conveyor belt have some means to weigh how much lithium content is in a battery? I sure haven't seen a TSA agent be able to calculate it.

8. What is the purpose of the airport 'pre-checkers'? Especially in airports where the TSA requires travelers to show their boarding pass and ID after passing through the metal detector? Do they do so bad of a job that the TSA has to re-check? Or is it that the TSA does such a bad job?

9. Why isn't there any signs that inform passengers what the GE EntryScan machines are actually programmed to look for?

10. Why is it that the TSA can't fully man their posts 2 hours before the first flight of the day? If it's recommended that passengers arrive 2 hours early, you would think that the TSA could at least be ready...

11. What is the purpose of the local cop sitting at the end of the security checkpoint reading a newspaper? One would think that the best cops prob don't pull airport duty, so it must be some cripple or about to retire guy...

Someone mentioned here 'Why don't we just give out our manual so people could figure out how to get around the security'? News flash for you... People do anyway. Before the idiotic ban on lighters was lifted, do you think there was a frequent travel who didn't know how to get a lighter pass security?


insertclevernickname said...

Not only is the screening inconsistent from airport to airport, the screeners seem to completely miss things that may really be dangerous.

When we flew out of Seattle, the TSA took my husband's (tiny, dull) pocket knife, but completely missed the (sharp, pointed) four-inch metal nail file I'd forgotten about in my makeup bag. If the screeners were doing their job, I should have been hauled off for some extra-special screening, but instead, I walked right through.

Good thing I'm not a terrorist.

Anonymous said...

I fly several times a month.. and I have asked screeners WHY they x-ray laptops and why they must be separated. Most screeners had no idea.. And really, do they spend enough time looking at the x-ray to determine if there is something in there. I don't think so.

One thing I have noticed that is not consistent is how I pack those 3 oz liquids. Depending on the screener and airport, they make me take them out of my bag and some do not even look at them. I realized I had a 10 oz thing of shampoo that they didn't even notice after I returned home.

handwander said...

Don't have much time here, but...

If you have a complaint, that's fine. We hear plenty.

If you have a solution to your complaint, post it with your blog. Help us help you. As said below, we're inconsistent, stupid, all that good stuff.

Taking your calls now :)

hate_airline_travel said...

On a recent flight across the country, my wife had her tiny eyeglass screwdriver confiscated at the security screening station. (Yes, that tiny little screwdriver about the size of a toothpick.) Ok, no big deal. Once we had cleared the security checkpoint, we stopped in the Sunglass Hut shop and picked up another one. You TSA guys at least get some sort of kick-back for all the business you're throwing their way?

Anonymous said...

Inconsistencies.... Yes there are many-wouldn't it be convienient for Terrorists to know that security in the U.S is completely predictable? My question is - Given the chance would you rather board a plane with 150 other people-that have not gone thru security screening? Please tell me! I would love to know which line you'd be standing in!

jillmie said...

I flew from Atlantic City, to Atlanta, to Key West, back to Atlanta, on to Charlotte, back to Atlanta, and home to Atlantic City.  All within 10 days.  I carried the exact same items with me on all phases of the trip.  It wasn't until the Charlotte airport that my mascara was confiscated, yet my large tube of toothpaste was never questioned.  I'm all for security, but the inconsistencies are very annoying and frustrating.  It sends out a very mixed signal that we're going through the motions but real security is not as important as acting like we have real security.

Anonymous said...

According to policy, you do *not* need at ID to pass security and board a plane so long as you are willing to undergo a bit more screening.

I've tried this many, many times, and have had success in only a few locations: Austin, La Guardia, Syracuse, Detroit. In other locations: Boston, JFK, Dallas, I've been treated like a criminal.

Mostly, the TSA folks don't even know about their own policy until I produce the documentation and they ask their supervisors.

It is highly disingenuous to advance the myth that you need ID to travel by air. Although the TSA apparently has been authorized to require ID, it has not at this point done so, and doing so raises many constitutional questions.

So... straight it out. I'm tired of this "papers please" mentality.

Also, when I see those roaming bands of security officers after the checkpoint, randomly screening people... what are the rights of the people that are being searched? I mean, according to this little document I call the 4th Amendment, they have the right to basically say "screw you, go away", but somehow I think that wouldn't "fly" with some of those power-tripped agents.

Lastly, I highly suggest TSA hire somebody like Bruce Schnieder to rewrite their security policies. Under close examination, the vast majority of TSA security policy does nothing to increase security and seems designed to only increase the appearance of security. TSA is the full embodiment of "security theater".

BenKenobi said...

JAKE: It sounds like you were thouroughly screened because your name did not match your identification. I'm thankful for that. Now maybe you will take the extra what? "One second" to get it right next time you buy a ticket? I'm sure TSA folks get weary of the extra screening simply because folks like you are too ignorant to get the proper name on the ticket.

Anonymous said...

Why will you confiscate a 1" pen knife, and allow a sharp 7" pair of scissors to pass? Why will you confiscate a 12oz. bottle of water from Grandma Betty, and allow Joe to take his because he made the statement "I'm a diabetic." ???

Anonymous said...

I am a heavy traveler, I hold a Clear pass. There are airports I've been through so often I should put a cot there.

In one of these locations - Green Bay - there was one morning a "Barney Fife" TSA on the line working the screen. Many MANY times I have brought different foods back home. Not this time MS Fife decided I was going ot get a lecture etc.

Livid is a great word....everything was sealed. As in store sealed, and some items frozen. She picks on 1 item saying that if/when it dethaws there will be some liquid in the container.

LETS BE SERIOUS! A product bought froma store that is in the same state it was bought in.... what does the store chain set up terrorists? Complete moron.

If TSA could have these idiots pass and IQ and Common Sense test we all might be a bit happier.

Anonymous said...

I too am frustrated by the seemingly different standards, and to me it seems that it is more difficult to jump through the security hoops at a smaller airport than a larger one. Although I understand and appreciate the concept, it seems to me the execution leaves much to be desired. I travel 50-80% of the time. Yesterday, I was delayed an extra 5 minutes while a TSA agent tried to figure out what he was looking at on the xray screen. Word of advice, if you can't figure it out, yell "BAG CHECK" and let the line move on!!!!!

Anonymous said...

1. My favorite was in MSP, back in 2004. I had nail clippers in my carry on that i completely forgot about. Went through security and they promptly informed me i was "not allowed to bring them with me". No problem, 1.99 clippers, toss em, let me get on my plane.

The best part is that i was able to purchase the exact same clippers in a shop just 40-50 feet from the check point.

2. Traveld to florida, MSP-MEM-MCO, for my job to repair a few computers. I flew all the way down with my tool kit, completed my job and tried to return. it was fine to have the tool kit, in Minneapolis, and Memphis the first time. Orlando had no issues on the way back home, but Memphis now decided that i could not have the kit in carry on. As a frequent flier i do not have check my baggage. This poses a problem, fight for my tools ($50) or step out of line, prepare the tools for Mail or Checked luggage AND miss my flight. I chose to make the flight, leaving my tools at the checkpoint.

troutman said...

My 2 big inconsistancies are removal of my belt and TSA personnel not paying attention to their job. I travel about 40 times a year. In probably 20% of the airports, I am asked to remove my belt. I don't get it. On the TSA personnel not paying attention, I witness all the time personnel talking and cutting up with each other while they are supposed to be watching the X-ray screen. The Atlanta airport has the worse offenders. In other airports, they take the job very seriously.

Anonymous said...

If I read one more comment about TSA taking someones nail clippers I will throw up. Give up people!!! the TSA will not take your nail clippers, find someother blog to clog up with your nonsense.

Paul said...

Sometimes it's not the inconsistency of the process but the inconsistency of the equipment. Sometimes I forget to take off my belt or watch. At one airport the metal detector will go off, at others I go right through. I definately think the settings are different at the various airports.

Paul said...

TSA Locks: OK I bought new "TSA Approved" locks, not really to secure my bag from theft because that is ridiculous, but to just make sure my underware isn't strewn across the tarmac when Mr. Baggage Handler decides to shotput it onto the loading ramp. So I bought the locks, at one airport I tell the 'Large Bag X-Ray Machine Person' that I have TSA locks and they say OK, at another airport they ask me to open them up because "the guy with the keys hasn't come in yet". Give me a break, how may types of keys are there. I'm sure every baggage handler in the US has a set of keys. Just let us secure the bags somehow so that our stuff stays inside. Other than that, pretty good job.

Anonymous said...

Jake - I'm on your side with this one for 6 reasons. 1) IDs are hardly worth the plastic they are printed on. No ID is copy-proof. Real criminals with any financial backing would obtain IDs that would pass inspection. 2) Security should NOT be based on identity. One would hope that the TSA is paying as much attention to the average looking Joe than they are to the 5 year old who gets pulled over because his name matches a name on a list somewhere. 3) I highly doubt the average TSA agent is trained well enough to accurately recognize a properly formed ID from all 50 states. 4) Temporary IDs are usually issued on paper and are highly reproducible. I have seen several people get through security on a paper temp ID without any hassle while they were waiting for their renewed license to arrive in the mail. 5) How reliable can a name possibly be if you can just as easily change the name on your ticket? Don't they use credit cards to originate the name on the ticket? We all know how secure THOSE are. 6) COMMON SENSE. Jake is the same as Jacob. Rich is the same as Richard, Mike is the same as Michael, Greg is the same as Gregory. Its not brain surgery. And it does not pose a security risk to anyone to have allow those types of names to be treated as one and the same. Now if my name was Gregory and my ticket said Rich, well that is something else entirely.

Bonnie said...

The final posted blog from Anonymous with a Clear Pass, addressed an issue I had flying out of Steamboat Springs, CO a couple of weeks ago. Knowing that no food of any kind would be served on my two flights, I packed a small container of yogurt (sealed), hummus (sealed in orig. packaging, a wheel of Laughing Cow cheese that contained 8 wedges (still sealed in orig.pkg). The gestapo-like all-powerful TSA agent confiscated the items bec. "they are spreadible". She then would not allow the young college-age student behind me to bring onboard a frozen tub of margarine--"could thaw and then be spreadible!" THIS IS RIDICULOUS! They don't feed us and then confiscate our foods! What am I going to do with Laughing Cow cheese?!
Almost at my destination, my friend offered me a Hershey choc. kiss. I realized we had gotten on the plane with contraband! If the chocolate had melted, it would be spreadible!!!

Anonymous said...

I noticed an inconsistency the last time I went to the airport. When a passenger goes through the security checkpoint, all glass bottles and other items are to be discarded, which is a great plan because those are dangerous items. However, in the terminal stores after the security line, one can freely purchase glass items such as Snapple bottles. These are basically ready made knives because all a potential terrorist would have to do is break the bottle in the plane and have shards of glass to use as weapons. Is this not ludicrous? Someone should probably change that.

jnbjack said...

I am retired from the Military and on my key chain I have a military P-38 can opener, that I have carried since I was in Vietnam. I have flown numerous times since 911 and have never had a problem until I went through security at Tucson, AZ. Tucson considered my P-38 as a dangerous weapon and I went through two levels of supervisors before I was escorted out of the security area to a box where you can mail items to yourself. I was watched the entire time to make sure I put this dangerous weapon in a pouch, sealed it, and dropped it in the mail box.
John Jackson
Sierra Vista, AZ

Anonymous said...

My comment is specifically about Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. As the world's busiest, it should set the standard, but it does not! Some of the inconsistencies compared to better airports include:
1. All passengers for all concourses must go through the same security line. At other airports, there are security lines for each concourse. This makes the lines shorter and faster. Atlanta gets an F on this!
2. The floors around the area where you take your shoes off do not look or feel clean! Other airports appear to be much more clean. Isn't this an OSHA or CDC type of requirement?
3. Often I see TSA agents in Atlanta standing around talking to one another in a lazy manner while the customer lines are a disaster and need guidance. I know the TSA employees must get bored and deal with all sorts of people, but it's no reason to have an attitude (either nonchelant or rude) with me.
Please fix these problems!

Anonymous said...

As a TSO, I can tell you no one dislikes inconsistency more than the average TSO.. There really is no good answer to the question “why didn’t they make me do this at XYZ airport?” answer such as “we are more secure( As mentioned above) is about all you can say…
Big Country Said “What is WRONG with you people? WE are the ones on the REAL front line. Not you. You need to be waaaaaaaay more respectful and realize we're all on the same team.”

Apparently YOU need realize we are all on the same side.. maybe YOU need to be a bit more respectful.. Could you be more of a hypocrite? I am a combat veteran who has served in Iraq, and many of the people I work with are veterans as well. You’re a contractor??? Not even the same.. I ALWAYS go out of my way to do everything I can to help military get through. I always thank them for their service, and always tell them to make sure they take care of themselves.. and btw, military in uniform traveling under orders are exempt from many of the processes.

Anonymous said...

I too have to agree with the TSA on the idenitification rule. I always use my proper name when traveling. nick names are for friends and family not when idenitifying yourself to security.

BenKenobi said...

Okay I know the answer to all of these questions I see from everyone. See, TSA recognizes a danger and wants to make a rule that no "Gizmos" should be allowed. Then, all the whining passengers who think they are so-o-special and will not be able to live without their "Gizmo" get one exception after another, and VOILA! Inconsistant rules. Then of course, it is the same ones who complain because of the inconsistancies. If we passengers paid attention the first go-round TSA wouldn't be forced to bend the rules for all of you "special" passengers (ie; snivelers). Finally, those asking how many terrorists have been stopped must have packed their brains in their bags. Silly people; They aren't there because we HAVE security. Have a nice day.

dmjohnsnx2 said...

I have a complaint about getting a "Random" screening every time I go through the airport and check points because of my name being so common. My name is more common than John Smith. I won't give my first name, but my last name is Johnson.
Also, I understand MOST of the stuff that is done at screening checkpoints because I used to work as security at an airport. I've been screamed at, threatened with lawsuits and with bodily harm (I'm 6'4" 275 pounds). I have had kids think it's funny to say that they have a bomb in their bag or something else stupid.
I have seen undercover testers try to get through the check points to test security and also try to get something through the x-ray. Technology has advanced by leaps and bounds since I worked as a screener in 1992, but the person running the scanners or x-ray machines is only human and things will get by them. It's not that they are allowing things to come through on purpose, it's a very demanding job at times. The screener may have gotten side tracked by a traveler causing problems or any number of variables and then the media gets a hold of the story and makes a big deal of the screeners missing a test item.
It is a very thankless job, but a rewarding one at the same time.

safetyfirst said...

I can't find the best place to write this, so I'm putting it here. Perhaps there needs to be an "other" section???

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!

Anonymous said...

Who was the genius that made up the rule that you can carry a pair of 4" sissors with pointed blades on board but not a pocket knife with a 1" blade. I would rather have the sissors in a fight they are way easier to hold and more dangerous. Course my pointed 3" nail file will do in a pinch.

Anonymous said...

I now have to buy slip on shoes because I have back problems and can't bend over. How do I get a reimbursement from TSA for added shoe costs and costs associated with purchasing special items to contain my liquids (so they don't spill) that are now in my check-in luggage?

Where is the reimbursement address? I have all my receipts.

Anonymous said...

TSA is so inconsistent. Here's a USA Today article stating the amount of thefts midgets cause when they are improperly stowed in luggage. The TSA needs to start cracking down on this:

bwi said...

I bet most passengers wouldn't run into these "inconsistencies" if they actually followed the rules. Being a former screener myself, I know at times, for example, one screener may let a liquid that is in its proper bag, but possibly slightly larger than the size limit. Using their judgement they decide its allowed, while another screener may not. Some passengers may get mad when they are told it can't go through that time. But remember, that screener is strictly following the rules they are told to enforce. They may not even agree, but thats the rule, so why not just follow it, then there would be no chance for these inconsistencies. Many of the screeners I have worked with are educated, hard working individuals who deserve respect, not mocking. Most incidents that do make the news could be avoided with use of better technology on the checkpoints. Possibly use of TSA K9 units doing more active sweeps, instead of the local police departments being funded by DHS at the airports, which at least in my opinion are only used after an incident has occured.

Anonymous said...

How many terrorists have the TSA stopped? What is the ratio of dollars spent per terrorist caught? $100 million to one terrorist?

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be cheaper to fire all the TSA people and hire a few fully armed, federal marshalls per flight?

ARRH said...

Seems to me that one way to minimize inconsistencies between airports would be to set up roadblocks large enough to prevent TSOs from making inappropriate arbitrary and local policy decisions, but not so large as to weaken security or prevent TSOs from enforcing actual policy and dealing with true security threats.

One, but certainly not the only, possiblity in this regard might be uniform signage required to be posted at all TSA checkpoints describing screening procedures and travelers' rights, including the right to know a screener's name and badge number and to obtain a complaint form. The signs could clearly state that these are official TSA policies and that they cannot be overridden by screeners without the approval of a superior (or something like that), keeping screeners honest while giving them flexibilty to deal with any situation.

It's not a perfect idea -- I can think of a few flaws -- but hopefully you understand what I'm trying to say. In a perfect world, screeners would follow the policies as-written and no roadblocks to misbehavior would be required, but that is simply not the situation at TSA right now.

Anonymous said...

Both my husband and I have replacement joints. We have cards and he even has a x-ray on the card from our doctors stating we have replacement joints. EVERY time we fly, we have to get wanded, take off our shoes, sit in chairs which are hard to get up from because of no arms and usually too low. We get no help getting up and have to get up, sit down, get up again. A simple wanding of the pointed out joint should be sufficient.Why do you put us thru this all the time. Makes flying unpleasant. AND we are 59 & 66 respectively. GIVE US REPLACEMENT JOINT FOLKS A BREAK.

Anonymous said...

TSA should look more closely at the lock that they are cutting off. Even though mine was a TSA lock and I told them that it was a TSA. I got home and it had been cut off, they didn't even go through my bag!

TSOVet said...

You have to love all these people who get mad at someone when they are ignorant of, or get found to not be in compliance with established rules and policies. It's easy to call us morons and whatnot from behind the safety of a computer screen and under and anonymous nickname, but I propose to you if you know the rules, whether you agree with them or not, and still violate them, that doesn't say much for your overall cognitive abilities either. You can disagree with the rules all you want to, many of us doing this job also have reservations about some of the things we have to do, but they aren't 'arbitrary' or 'random rulings'. We have to follow the rules set forth by our standard operating procedures and our management directives and staff. There are inconsistencies, yes, and there is always going to be a human error factor, but the responsibility for compliance and research prior to arriving rests with each individual passenger. We are merely performing a job, an essential one, and I for one wish we could do even more. For those who are content to complain while offering no real possible solutions, I submit to you this: Go fly out of Israel. Or Russia. After dealing with their idea of security, you will hopefully be awakened to a few things. I do have a nationall accredited college degree, am a partially disabled veteran, and a single parent, and a HUMAN BEING and proud american in addition to a TSA Screener. It pains me to see such venom coming from the people we are here on behalf of, mainly due to inconvenience and ignorance, but in this new 'what have you done for me lately' society I suppose I should resign myself to dealing with it. The inconsistencies are being addressed, locally and nationally, but there are inconsistencies among the travellers just as much as there is among the airlines, the airports, and the security. Adapt. We had to, we still are. You had to, so still do.

Anonymous said...

Several Canadian Airports have the privilege of feeding passengers directly to the US without having them further screened for security at US locations for their connecting flights.

Here is a very disturbing incident that occurred at 6:45pm Dec 31, 2007, at Gate C Domestic Terminal, Vancouver Airport.

I was going through security behind a Sikh gentleman wearing pink turban. It was very clear that he was not properly screened by the Private Security Contractor called CASA that does screening at most Canadian Airports.

The Sikh was wearing a turban, and he was not required to remove his turban even though he set off the metal detectors. Furthermore, I observed that he was not "wanded" about his head / turban to verify that there are no hidden weapons in his turban.

On the other hand, all other passengers required to remove all jackets, etc.

I understand that the Sikhs religion require them to wear a comb, a knife, be unshaved and wear a turban.

It is patently clear that a knife or other weapon could be hidden in turban.

Furthermore, I noticed that the screeners spoke to him in his own language (i cannot make it out), and it was clear that Sikhs were given preferential treatment by people of the same ethnic group that work for CASA - most of them appear to be ethnic Indians.

What is the point of having great security in the USA when countries like Canada is a gaping hole in the system.

I might point out that Sikh terrorists was responsible for the bombing of several aircraft that originated in Canada.

Anonymous said...

Security is a trade-off. You can have 100% security, checking every bag, bottle and backside, but soon the airlines (and the USA) will go bankrupt. Not acceptable.

Or, you can have no security at all and 1 in every 1000 planes blows up in the sky. Equally unacceptable.

But you must have consistency - and common sense.

Because no hijacker will ever be able to control an airplane ever again (they'd be lynched by the passengers, no matter what weapons they have), that means scissors, nailfiles and all the other not-very-dangerous-at-all items are NOT worth wasting time over.

The real danger is explosives. For that, you should have sniffer detectors on all people and all luggage. You don't. Inconsistent!

What is the point of only allowing liquids in checked-in luggage? Are the holds of aircraft bomb-proof? Inconsistent!

I urge you to read the excellent articles of Mr Bruce Schneier, the famous security expert. Better training, more intelligent staff and less reliance on pointless 'jobsworth' types is far better than banning toothpaste and baby-milk.

And allowing lighters because the tobacco industry moaned...? Dear God, people. Consistency!

Anonymous said...

I am an airline employee that works in Internal Audit, thus, I do not wear a uniform. I was at the Burbank Airport and attempted to get to the boarding area; however, the TSA agent informed me that my airline badge is no longer adequate to gain access to the area that my company occupies (we are a tenant there!!!!!!!). I was not flying. He informed me that I need to show a passport or driver's license, and that this new "rule" was effective today (Sunday, Jan 20, 2008), and that all airports are implementing this "rule."

Well, no other airports are implementing this rule. I have asked other TSA employees about it and they have never heard of it.

You need to take care of the problem you have with rogue TSA agents arbitrarily implementing their own "rules" when on the lines.

Christian said...

I'm an American who travels all over the world, but never get scrutinized like I do in the US. Over the holidays I went through security at Singapore and Frankfurt without having to do the "shoes thing", but once inside the US, the rules change.
I can't help feeling that the TSA rules are a pretty arbitrary way to make passengers feel safer without actually affecting their security.
I get irritated because I am sure that I am being held up at security primarily so that I retain my faith in the safety of the transportation system.
Happy to walk through metal detectors, et al. But taking my wife's mascara from her purse? That's ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Anything that can be hidden in a shoe could easily be hidden somewhere else on the body, right?
Either x-ray everyone completely, or let people wear their shoes.

Robb said...

I'd just like to comment on the inconsistency of the TSOs themselves. I fly about 4 or 5 times a year, and since the arrival of the TSA, I've been struck by the vast variation of TSO competence. Many (not the majority, alas) have had a sharp attentiveness & shrewd decision making ability that made me feel nervous, like I was under investigation. I mean that in a good way: I like knowing that there are people that are willing to take a sharp look at everyone, while knowing when not to go any further than a look.

Sadly, a large number of TSOs have been analogous to mall security - it's a job to them, little more; or worse they're power hungry children who take any authority they're given as an excuse to bully. When mistakes or errors are pointed out to such people, their response is belligerence & anger toward those they're supposed to be protecting. I've seen and been the recipient of far too many lectures on the importance of following vague rules, the rationale behind which are not even fully understood by those that enforce them.

What bugs me is those times (and I've seen this happen several times) when one TSO is clearly more aggressive than he or she need be, and while the pained & embarrassed expressions on the faces of other TSOs around them say how they feel, they're not going to stop the bad egg, just because they know how it looks to their organization.

I'd like to see more hard rules, less frivolous interpretation and more TSOs that are smart enough to know that most of the time, people don't want to do anything but get where they're going safely, but also quickly without unnecessary hassle & stress.

Anonymous said...


I just wanted to point out that even though TSA employees will insist it's a law, you do not have to show any type of ID to fly within the continental US.

Andy said...

When I was in Brazil it was like the old days in the US. You threw your bag down on the belt, walked through the metal detector, grabbed your bag and went on your way. I feel like much of the world doesn't not obsess like we do in the States. I think we have given up too many rights.

Yet you take a train or bus and there are no security checks. Yes, a train can't do damage like a plane can, but people could be killed. There have been train bombings (London subway), you know.

Anonymous said...

I traveled last week with my infant son. Leaving from Atlanta I had baby food, formula, baby juice, and water to prepare the baby formula power all in my carry on as he needs this obviously for the trip. I did not have to take it from my bag at security.

On the return trip from Salt Lake City they made me take everything out of the diaper bag, all food, juice, diaper cream, ALL while managing a squirmy child. Then they told me they had to keep my water that I use to mix my formula but would let me continue on with my juice. He told me I could mix the formula there and go through with it. First the formula once mixed is only good for 1 hour so that wasn't going to be an option on our long travel day. Secondly, what is the point of that it is the same liquid now just combined with formula powder? Is the juice somehow different than water? I could just put water in the juice bottle and tell them it is juice? It is silly they make such a big deal out of a small thing then the big stuff can slip right through....

Every airport seems to be different.

Dave said...

I have a pair of shorts with a zippered pocket on the left leg. I have worn them at PDX, SFO, JFK, LAX, AUS, SEA and HNL without setting off the metal detectors. I wear them for precisely that reason.

But I wore them at Lihue Airport in Kauai, set off the metal detector twice, and was forced to go through a secondary screening with an absolute jerk of a TSA employee. I know nothing happens in Lihue and the screeners are bored, but that's no excuse for turning up the metal detector sensitivity.

Heinrich said...

Ahh yes .... Inconsistency ... I'll not suggest that the American TSA can solve the world's issues, but I'll say anyway that the name of the game is exactly that .. inconsistency. The bottom line to me, is that the modern world is very tightly, very effectively, inhibiting the freedom of movement. All in the name of a perceived safety threat, which to be honest, I disbelieve. Even if I did believe it in its entirety as the dog has been wagged, I still find it unacceptable that the TSA and others have become a major negative force in the world of business, pleasure and life in general. I'd like to hop a quick Friday flight to Disney ... nope, sorry, the lines are too long "you'cew already missed your flight Sir" ... while I stand looking at an hour between myself and take-off. Insane. Uncomfortable. Unnecessary.

I can't take my bottle of water onto the plane ... but Joey behind me can, because he bought it on the airport. My toothpaste and mouthwash and deodorant must fit into a ziplock ... my daughter will never again know the joys of those cute little shampoo bottles from the hotels. Life has changed .... I feel so much safer now ... don't I?

I was recently (not a TSA issue) reminded that a non-US citizen US permanent resident travelling to Europe MUST apply in person for a visa to Europe. And MUST take a retinal and fingerprint scan. And there are TWO locations in the US to do this ... SF and DC. Will I travel 1100 miles just to apply for a Visa? NO. What's the end result? I changed plans, now I'm travelling elsewhere... no more Europe for me. Guess US citizens have some magical born-in inability to commit acts of terror, because US citizens have to show ONLY their passport when entering Europe. Inconsistent? Whatever. You guys and the world are all putting up fancy birdies to look at, while the net effect of your work is to change life as we know it, and make travel REALLY difficult.

Anonymous said...

In all honesty, I'm afraid that pointing out any inconsistencies I've experienced will just result in the most restrictive behavior being expanded to all my travel locations.
I've seen rules continue to become more restrictive, with no elimination of policies that don't produce desired results.

Martini Whore said...

I've never actually had a problem with the screeners or the screening process. The only thing that bugs me a bit is the fact i have to get to the airport so far ahead of my flight. Otherwise, i just simply do what they ask of me, and it's goes without a hitch. I have changed only one thing since my first time dealing with the screening process, and that is to wear flip flops to the airport and during the flight, and keep my boots in my checked luggage. It greatly speeds up the game, you know?

don't_ban_me_bro said...

Inconsistencies? How about illogical?

Not allowed 6 oz tube of toothpaste
Allowed butane lighter

Please explain. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know what the TSA is doing to prevent a terrorist from setting off a bomb *in the security line*. It seems to me that a lot of work has been done to prevent anything bad from getting onto the airplanes themselves, but doesn't a tightly-packed crowd of hundreds (if not thousands) of people and the shutdown of an entire major international airport present a far better target to terrorists than a single airplane?

Anonymous said...

Yes, over all the experience has been fine, but the ones that stay with you are the ones that when I was in Philly airport, they treat you like cattle, come on keeping moving, come on, come on, it was like a round up, very hilmilitating!!! My sister in law no matter where we fly, she always gets taken aside and searched, it always holds us up and she is getting very annoyed over the whole thing, I can't blame her. thank you for you letting me tell you about our experiences.

Anonymous said...

Nothing is consistent when human judgment is involved. I can understand why even high quality TSA employees can differ in their understanding of regulations.

TSA screeners need often deal with cranky, overbearing individuals that don't understand the importance of their own safety. I've seen these Federal employees put up with people that go beyond reason.

Hats off to the TSA employees that keep America safe.

Anonymous said...

4 oz of liquids are considered dangerous, but why are the following not?

a) A regular AA battery and steel wool can be used to start a fire. No check is made of checked or carry on luggage to be sure that a loose regular battery and steel wool are not near each other. Farfetched? No more than 4 oz of liquid being dangerous.

b) No check is made of pills being carried on board to be sure than there are no cyanide tablets. All it takes is one cyanide tablet and a little water to create a deadly gas in the cabin. This is a much more dangerous scenario than trying to set one's shoe on fire.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know on what planet some TSA employees live on when they COMMAND that I send my 3 year old son through security ON HIS OWN without a parent to hold his hand or carry him through? I understand the need for security, howevr I need the TSA to understand the need for SAFETY. At any givn time there are THOUSANDS of people in an airport that any one could snatch my child on the other side of security before I could get to him. It is not the responsbility of TSA screeners to watch my child even for a moment while I am being processed. Their eyes should be on the scanners and potential threats!

Anonymous said...

I am an employee for the airlines. Before the liquid and gel issues, we were able to go through security in our regular clothes and our badge without trouble. Now we need to be in uniform and badge to go through security with our liquids and gels. What is the difference between me in my uniform and me without...I am still a crew member.

I now have to do the Superman thing...change into regular clothes in the bathroom after I get through TSA.

Anonymous said...

My story begins in Mexico City where I went through security (Yes they enforce the 3-1-1 requirement) and into the waiting area. At that time, I purchased a bottle of tequila at the duty free store and it was given to me as I boarded the plane. It was wrapped in clear plastic and banded. When I got to Dallas, I went through CBP and then walked to catch my connecting flight. However they made us go through TSA again (Only international passengers went through this checkpoint) and they would not allow the bottle on the plane. I had just had it on the previous plane. It was the same airline (American). This makes no sense to me at all and an inconsistancy with TSA. If I flown direct to BWI, there would have been no problem. In addition, what is the difference between 2 3oz bottles and 1 6 oz bottle except the later is not allowed?

Anonymous said...

Some TSA X Ray lines have long tables, some have short tables. Having been thru the lines many times I have found the lines with long tables move much much faster then ones with a single table. Even where there is space some airports do not have enough tables. Buy some tables! Also some airports have a lot of gray bins, others have only a few causing us to wait until they are collected and brought back thru the x ray machine. Buy some more bins please!

jessica said...

What I don't get is this: When I was at Burbank Airport this week, the officer confiscated my toothpaste because he said the tube held 4 oz, more than is allowed. But I pointed out that it was almost finished, so it clearly didn't have 4 oz of anything in it. Is it the containers that are dangerous of the contents?

Hardy Haberman said...

I have been through so many screenings at airports where the people doing the screenings never looked at the screens of their X-ray machines. So while I am partialy undressing to pass my shoes, belt, watch , computer etc through the X-ray, they are chatting with the opther inspectors and not watching. Boy do I feel secure!

Anonymous said...

Am I correct in assuming that the reason for the selective enforcement is to "keep the ter'ests guessing"?

Cathy in Cleveland said...

Why do you allow lighters onboard, but ban toothpaste?

Anonymous said...

Okay - what's the deal with the laptops in bins? Do they have to be in a separate bin or no? At some stations I'm yelled at for "wasting bins" and at others I'm told laptops have to be completely separate.

And on the other side, after 5 years of the TSA, I still can't take you guys seriously if you're on your cell phone or having an unprofessional conversation with your coworker. I'd love to know how a screener working the x-ray can watch the x-ray if they're sending a text message. It's beyond me.

Every TSA checkpoint should have a "passenger advocate" that should be in a separate uniform and make themselves available to customers who have concerns about the screening process and keep an eye out for rogue and unproffesional agents.

As it stands now, I have very little confidence in the TSA.

Oh, and can we stop the whole yelling at passengers thing. It's rude, it's unprofessional, and it's insulting.

mercdragonpb said...

To whom it may be a wake up of common sense:

You have a gate/concourse security breech. Some one enters improperly, an object is found near a gate, whatever and the WHOLE airport is shut down as every one is pushed out onto the street and forced to return through security points.

Why the whole airport? Dump only the gate/concourse out into the street and let the passengers know why. Make those removed from the area join the back of the line.

Will not take long before the other passengers take note and you will find a number of people pointing to the offender, so their own trip is not disrupted.


Anonymous said...

Hello, i just wanted to ad that recently while going through security on two separate occasions, the person screening the x-ray machine that your carry'ons go through was having a personal conversation with another employee and even turning around to face them rather than looking at the screen. i was so annoyed the last time, because they didn't provide the little booties that you can put on if you are wearing sandles, so you don't have to walk around in bare feet, so i was standing there, barefoot, waiting for my sandles to come out the other end and i see the screener talking about where some McDonald's is and stopping the machine twice to turn around and give directions. all the while, my luggage was still under the machine. at least he stopped it rather than mindlessly running it through while talking, but it's still very rude and unprofessional in such an important part of the security process. seems like irresponsible workers like this are the reason people get illegal things on planes in the first place.

djp3 said...

The TSA has got to come up with a criteria other than "a terrorist tried to blow up a plane with this, so it's banned" to make security policy. Otherwise we are going to end up naked and anesthetized in coach class until the plane lands.

Otherwise, clever terrorists will start to beat the TSA at its own policy game: The first terrorist that tries to blow up a plane with an explosive identification card is going to get ID cards banned. Then the whole identity infrastructure falls apart.

oregonrose said...

It seems as though inconsistency is the order of the day with every airport. In the Portland, OR, airport my mother-in-law's knitting needles were confiscated, but not when she went through Denver, CO. In Denver, CO, her cheese and crackers were confiscated. I find it incomprehensible that a frail, tiny woman with health issues should have her cheese and crackers taken away. How does that make all of us safer?

But my biggest complaint with the TSA is how my husband fares in the security lines. With a 68% hearing loss, my husband wears hearing aids and reads lips. Because he reads lips, he has to make eye contact to understand what people say. If he does not make eye contact with TSA officials, he is not searched. But every time he makes eye contact, he is taken out of line and his belongings searched. We both find this puzzling and frustrating.

Anonymous said...

Is it 100ml or is it 3oz? 100ml = about 3.4oz.

Please make up your mind, and make sure everyone and all your literature reflects this.

Anonymous said...

After reading a few of the comments (not all), I just wanted to say that I think you guys are doing a great job. Sure, it's a hassle to basically strip down before the metal detector and I hate it every time, but I know that a minor inconvenience to me could mean my safety a little bit down the road. Even if there are inconsistencies, what does it matter if one airport has me take off my belt and the other one doesn't? These things happen, and I for one am just glad that they are there, doing their job, and trying to keep us safe.

Anonymous said...

I have had my share of inconsistencies with the TSA. Most of these problems stems from a lack of leadership, training and good judgment. One time at Logan I asked for the name of the screener as I wanted to send a letter to share my experience.

They took my ID and made me wait while they took down all of my information. What happens with that information? Why are they required to take down the information of "complainers"? How does does that help keep us safe?

Anonymous said...

TSA is just another big government branch that President Bush has wasted billions of our tax dollars to make us so call “safe”. The TSA has wasted billions and billions of tax dollars and somehow all they can do is take water, nail clippers, and knitting needles away – while a tester was able to pass thru TSA checkpoint with a fake bomb or the passenger in Kentucky that got a gun inside the terminal then all reported by the USA Today and CNN. How can anybody say that the TSA really works? Here’s a real question that Washington avoids time over and over because it will hurt big corporations. Why that is every passenger needs to be screened and that less then 10% off all cargo in the bottom of the aircraft plans isn’t ever scan or check?

decaffeinated said...

Omaha (Epply airport) annoys the hell out of me because it requires that you carry your boarding pass as you walk through the metal detector and prominently show it to the TSA agent monitoring the detector. This is infuriating because you can't even get to the strip-off-your-clothes line in front of the metal detector unless you show a boarding pass and driver's license to a pre-screening agent who controls all access to the flight boarding area.

On the other hand, Portland, Oregon's airport does not have this asinine requirement.

I think the Omaha screeners added this extra requirement just because they get their jollies yelling at passengers who forget to carry a boarding pass through the metal detector.

The added ritual of carrying a boarding pass through the metal detector at Omaha really makes me seethe.

Anonymous said...

I am a frequent traveler, flying out of the Minneapolis airport. As part of my job as an inspector, I have to use a Maglite style flashlight in the performance of my duties. On a recent trip, I left MSP enroute to Baltimore, passing through Detroit - 3 cell flashlight in my carry on luggage the entire time. Landed in Baltimore, did my job, reboarded in BTW the next day - no issues with the Maglite - but this time I stopped in DTW for the weekend so I of course left the "secured area". Upon returning to DTW security, I was not allowed to take my flashlight through the screening point because "only 2 cell flashlights are allowed". Oh and this was not handled at all graciously, you would have thought I was trying to smuggle a bazooka through! 5 goons had to join in the conversation and if you argue, they pull the old - "do you want to get on your plane today?" routine. (This only demonstares shows how bored these people are) Was that rule enacted over the weekend? I had to leave the line, check my flashlight and of course was late for the flight.

On another occassion, I arrived with a 6 ounce bottle, 1/2 full of shampoo. That, to anyone with any degree of common sense, would equate to 3 ounces of shampoo right? Nope, "You will have to throw it away or check it", now the best part - "the container is too large!" OK, so its not about the deadly shampoo afterall, its about the container huh?

Here is a fun activity while you are being herded like cattle through security. My favorite thing to do is to carry a bottle of water right up to the checkpoint until one of the TSA goons tells me "YOU CAN"T TAKE THAT PAST HERE!!!!" I then guzzle it right there where I stand and say -"Now its internal, what now?"

The TSA is no better than the so called "screeners" of pre 9-11 days, they just cost us way more and have nicer uniforms!

ionosphere said...

I would like to be financially renumberated for all the things TSA took from me during security checks, including my $3 soap and my $5 3.4oz deoderant spray.

chris said...

Liquids bag beside laptop in tray is ok in STL, not ok in ATL, depending on the agent. The laptop is not obscured in anyway, as the bag sits beside the laptop, not on top of it.

It seems like this should be ok.

Dan said...

If everything were so consistant, were so cut and dried,so out in the open that everyone would understand, then terrorists and criminals would know exactly what to expect and then be able to exploit any chinks in the armor. Get over it, it's not like you can pull over at 30,000 feet and kick 'em out.

Anonymous said...

For all of you people being so smug pointing out how stupid Jake is, and OF COURSE he should have an ID that exactly matches, verbatim, the name on his boarding pass, go TSA! :


Nitpicking because someone used the name they usually use instead of their legal, given name is silly, considering that they don't even need to show ID in the first place. There are ways around it.

Security theater, etc.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to share my horrible experience with everyone. Not only did my flight get delayed so long that I missed all connecting flights to my final destination of Akron Ohio, but I had to sleep in the Atlanta airport because it seems there were "no rooms at the inn." On my return, the TSA employee I encountered was rude, cocky, and obviously had a problem with someone who smiled and was polite. I had a few items in my clear ziploc but had liqid make-up, eyeliner, lip gloss, and a small prescription lotion in a clear make-up bag that he not only threw in the trash but announced to everyone within ear shot that he was throwing it away because if I couldn't follow directions then I didn't deserve the stuff. That was over $100 in merchandise and if I had been the least bit unstable I could see myself hitting him and I don't believe in violence. Who gave these people their athority? I went through two international airports (Dallas and Atlanta-4 times) and I go through Akron-Canton Airport and they treat me like the Uni-bomber!!!
I'll drive the 19 hours next time.

Silkypearls said...

I am a former TSA employee. For all the passengers who are concerned with the inconsistency of really should think about it. If the rules were exactly the same at every airport every long would it take a terrorist to figure them out? The job is very public and TSA can't hide their procedures.

The inconsistency benefits you even though it annoys you. That single annoyance could be the thing that deters a terrorist. There is no guarantee that there will never be another terrorist attack but TSA doesn't need to hand them the keys to plane either.

I worked for TSA for almost 5 years and I feel for you but it really is to protect you.

JayC said...

The blog site is very impressive, I am guessing its outsourced. That is what are government agencies or large former government agencies have to do to get things done right. Introduce performance based pay, customer service comment cards, available customer service kiosks, 800 number for customer service. This is your biggest shortfall in my opinion. Many of my experiences involve dealing with miserable people that just seem to hate their jobs and lives. I would be fired if I ever offered customer service levels like this.

Elmore said...

This is the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Given that you work for the Federal Government, don't have probable cause against me, don't have a warrant against me, and don't know exactly what you are searching for, what gives TSA the right to search me and/or seize my belongings?

If the government does not feel obligated to follow even the most fundamental values of America as expressed in our most important document, what exactly is worth protecting?

A serious response is respectfully requested.

Anonymous said...

"A serious response is respectfully requested."

Remember that PATRIOT act that congress fast-tracked when we were all scared from 9/11?

Anonymous said...

As I sit here reading the comments that have been posted on this blog so far, I have to say that the arrogance (and sometimes IGNORANCE) of the flying public really angers me.

The Department of Homeland Security, including TSA, has thwarted hundreds of security incidents since its inception several years ago. Does the flying public know about most of these incidents… NO. With good reason!

These incidents don’t even account for the thousands of other incidents of illegal activity (baggage thefts, drug smuggling, money laundering, etc.) that TSA has assisted with stopping while occupying the once "unregulated" airport grounds.

Sure, it is sometimes inconvenient. Yes, it is even sometimes inconsistent. But keep in mind that TSA employs over 43,000 federal security officers. Keeping every TSO at all 425+ airports across the country trained to the same standard is a HUGE undertaking. There will undoubtedly be issues.

TSA is here for one job... to secure air travel. Passengers need to worry less about customer service issues like carrying their water bottle through security or taking off their shoes and more about what TSA has already accomplished. KEEPING EVERY PASSENGER THAT STEPS ON AN AIRCRAFT SAFE!

I applaud every TSA employee for the risks they take everyday, the "whining" passengers that they are forced to deal with and the great job they do keeping America safe. THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

We bring food onboard when we travel. Usually there is not much intervention when the food looks like you've just bought it in the airport. This last time we had some packaged food, sandwiches, crackers, peanut butter, and some cheese all in unopened packaging, bought from a Wholefoods store. We also had 4 small Thermos-brand blue plastic freezer packs that were, well, frozen and very cold. I thought these would probably get some attention. They did get attention. The TSA people searched through the food bag, but couldn't decide what to do with the freezer packs. I didn't say anything. After calling over another TSO, they decided to take the peanut butter and 2 of the 4 freezer packs.
I wonder how they knew which 2 had the plastic explosives inside.
What a joke the TSA is. We should be spending money on real security and not this propaganda and harassment to try to keep us all scared.

Anonymous said...


Ok, let's assume that the rules are supposed to be inconsistent to throw off the terrorists. I'll grant that.

So knowing that the rules are inconsistent, and no passenger is going to know exactly the particular hoops they will have to jump through, shouldn't any warm-blooded screener be patient and clear about what they expect? You know, instead of yelling at the people who pay their salary for not knowing the exact rules, even though said rules are different than the ones they know about and the hoops different than those they faced at the last airport (intentionally, as we've already agreed to assume).

Anonymous said...

Once again, as mentioned above. The Fourth Admendment still holds true, however, the searches the TSA conduct are Administrative Searches. Once you place your bag on the x-ray belt, or hand it over the the TSO you have given up that right. You can refuse the searches if you'd like, but then I would suggest renting a car or taking a train because you wont be flying.

Anonymous said...

One of the many gripes I have is when you require people to take off their shoes, how about having some carpet on the floor? Oakland in Terminal 2 has stone floor and any time I have gone through there, it has been very cold. All I can always think is also why are you making people take off shoes here but not at all other airports.

Anonymous said...


"Given that you work for the Federal Government, don't have probable cause against me, don't have a warrant against me, and don't know exactly what you are searching for, what gives TSA the right to search me and/or seize my belongings?"

The Patriot Act. Yay Congress.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love the fact that the american public believes that they know more about liquid explosives and how to package them then the licenced Bomb appraisal officers that the federal government employs. In addition to that the inconsistencies may be a hassle to some travelers but it is important that the screening process should not be predictable to ANYONE. Just know that TSA understands you are frusterated and you hate us for doing our jobs but complaining and cussing at us ususally will not save you any time or energy.

Carrot Top said...

The blog site is very impressive, I am guessing its outsourced. That is what are government agencies or large former government agencies have to do to get things done right. Introduce performance based pay, customer service comment cards, available customer service kiosks, 800 number for customer service. This is your biggest shortfall in my opinion. Many of my experiences involve dealing with miserable people that just seem to hate their jobs and lives. I would be fired if I ever offered customer service levels like this.

jayc - My question to you is what exactly is the TSA trying to sell you that requires customer service? Last time I checked they don't make, market or sell anything. The job of the TSA is judged successful when nobody dies from an airborne terrorist attack!

Anonymous said...

at LAX, I presented a DoD Common Access Card (CAC), i.e. military ID, for identification to the TSA employee checking ID/b passes. It was not accepted as a legitimate ID. I complained, and a coworker of the TSA employee threatened me. After supplying a driver's license (which i shouldn't have to), I followed the TSA employee and attempted to get his badge number. He refused to give it to me and Ran off to a secure area. Coward! Now I can't file a complaint.

TSA employees need to get trained up on what is an acceptable form of ID, and also know that we are the customers, they need to act professionally--not like they are above the law.

I spoke to the supervisor and he shrugged his shoulders. Were i not late for a flight, I would have escalated my complaints.

Anonymous said...

The shoe thing and other stupidity aside, can you guys at least own up to the fact that you profile based on some sort of list?

I know, I know, it's totally random special inpsections. Which Ive been randomly selected for exactly 16 times in the last 3 months. Amazingly, thats how many flights I took.. Getting randomly picked on both my flight out and the return trip.

Either I'm the luckiest guy on the planet, getting felt up by idiots that wouldnt know a weapon if it was clearly labeled, or you guys are profiling, and doing a poor job at that.

At least admit it and give us a way to get off the stupid list, its a waste of my time AND my tax dollars.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with big country. I was travellin g out of College Station, TX a few years ago and happened to be on a flight with a bunch of kids on their way to join the military, air force, I think. I've never seen anyone treated as badly as they were. Thought some of them were going to be strip searched!

Anonymous said...

In the same way that "Did you pack your own bags?" and "Did anyone unknown to you give you anything to carry on?" was shown to be absolutely worthless and ultimately dropped, many of the TSA procedures seem arbitrary, time-consuming, and worthless. Some of my observations:

1. I rarely remember to take out my liquids and yet never am asked about it.

2. I'm amazed at the number of times that one's boarding pass is reviewed. If it was looked at just prior to going through the metal detector, why is it checked immediately after leaving?

3. The War on Moisture is ridiculous. Considering that I can purchase most any liquids after passing security, the fact that you made my ditch my 20oz coke only means that airport profits have increased. The moment that someone figures out how to construct a crude explosive out of water and some other everyday item, watch out!

4. Shoes, shoes, and more shoes. Have you ever had to stand on disgustingly dirty floors at airports? Not a pleasant site, and it's unlikely that the x-ray machine is going to find anything more than the metal detector (which is nothing).

Just more reasons to remind everyone why the TSA is one of the most hated government agencies of all times.

Anonymous said...

I just have to point out that everytime you do a terminal dump you are forcing hundreds if not thousands of people from the relative safety of the terminal into a vulnerable herd standing on a public sidewalk.

Have you ever caught a single individual who breached security and caused a terminal dump?

Anonymous said...

Why are the metal detectors more sensative in SLC and PDX than any other airports in the country?

As a crew member I can attest that both of these cities require far more "disrobing" than the other 62 airports I go through annually!

Anonymous said...

This isn't an inconsistency per se, but it doesn't fall under the other categories either. At the West Palm Beach airport, I've always been amused that there are two checkpoints within sight of one another where your license and boarding pass are checked (prior to reaching the xray scanners). There are ropes up to create a walking path. I'm curious, is there a credible threat of terrorists morphing into law abiding citizens and then morphing back before reaching the xray? Seems like a waste of money to employ two people to do the same job literally within seconds of one another.

mattbrown8888 said...

The lack of consistency with this and other policies is one of the biggest frustrations with the screening process. If all locations had the exact same process, it would speed things up quite a bit. As it is, I have to wait until I get there to find out whether I need to remove my shoes or not (and I am NOT taking them off unless I absolutely have to!). There has to be a better way.

Anonymous said...

i was amused in miami when an official quizzed us about our baby's bottle of milk, while the woman ahead of us was allowed to go through with two foot-long knitting needles in her hand, no questions asked!
i'm not an expert, but i suspect the terrorist was not likely to be the one year old in diapers.

propertyRights_ruleOfLaw said...

If we would have had respect for private property, and allowed airlines to provide security of their private property (their planes), it is unlikely we would be in this "security" mess.

Pilots were disarmed in the 1980s, thus pilots were unable to defend their aircrafts. Now that pilots are again allowed to carry firearms to defend their aircraft, the TSA checkpoints where we have to show our papers is nothing but control of the people.
Planes are defended by the pilots again, so TSA bureaucracy we no longer want nor need you.

Anonymous said...

In this day of high security how can we expect the TSA to accept colloquial names when its clear we need a valid IDENTIFICATION to travel?

You don't need ID to travel. What makes you say that?

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that I've been flying more than I usually do recently, at MSP, MSN, ORD, AUS, SFO, DEN, COS, and honestly, the only places I've felt there be a sufficient amount of customer-oriented security was at Madison and Austin. The rest of the time, I felt not like a paying customer, and more like a criminal, afraid to do the slightest wrong.

I won't lie, I feel that all this "added security" is a huge inefficiency, but if you're not going to go back to what was working just fine before all the knee-jerk reactions, I feel that anybody working at checkpoints needs to become friendlier, and more people oriented. Regardless of the job that they're doing, they are in a customer facing position, and should be acting accordingly. That's honestly the best thing that could likely be changed right now.

Anonymous said...

If every airport nationwide did everything and enforced everything as every other airport, people would still have issues about something. It's a no win situation. The media brings out the bad news as well, but what about the good news the TSA does. People and the media like to focus on the negatives, not the positives. As some passangers are grateful, others are not. That's the world we live in and we must deal with it weather we like it or not.

Frequent_Flier_007 said...

I did over 100 segments of travel in North America last - none of which required going through TSA in Newark. I use the same work bag carry on that I've had for two years with the same kit of stuff (though different hard cover books) that I've had for the last 6-9 months.

Dulles, Logan, Portland, Minneapolis, Columbus, Detroit, O'Hare... right through I go without any additional screening. I've now gone through TSA in Newark 3 times - and every time (on trips which have included going through TSA in these other airports), Newark TSA pulls my bag and swabs it and hand examines it.

It's such a weird anomaly that all I could imagine the first time was they had an alert out to watch for something. Now that it has happened 3 times on three different days of the week - I suspect it's just another irregularity between TSA operations.

Justin said...

On two different occasions I had an airline (the same in both cases) send my baggage to its destination (once was international) without me physically on the plane, due to downsizing of scheduled flights. I've been told by a friend in the TSA that this is a violation of TSA policy, and an utter annoyance and disregard for a traveler's safety and belongings if you ask me.

If you're so stringent at the security gate, why not continue that to what goes on behind the gates? If I knew that someone's bag was on my plane while that person wasn't, I would feel very unsafe and question how effective the TSA is in enforcing its policies.

So please, tell me to take my shoes off, remove harmless liquids, but don't leave the airlines to do as they please once travelers are through the gate.

ybanag said...

If everyone would do a little research before they travel by visiting and read the limitations on what they can take on board with their handcarry then it would be less of a hassle. It does not matter if you were allowed to take it at one airport, you know that someone is bound to enforce the rule and take it away. There are reason for this rules. Do we really need to know them..not. Do the gov't always have logical reason for everything? Just deal with it!

A little common sense. If you have clutter in your bag it is bound to be searched to see if anything is hidden behind the metal, ipod, keys, camera, coins, jewelry, electronics and all the crap we bring. That is why it is best to take the laptop, dvd player out of the bag with wires, charger,etc so they have a better x-ray image.

The trays are primarily for loose items, shoes & large bags do not have to go on it unless something is going to spill out. But if you want to use a tray then do so. There is no rule that says you can't.

If you know anything is not followed according to the rules on the website ...ask for a Manager, not a Lead...a Manager. If a screener was out of its place in dealing with you or was a jerk...ask for a Manager. If you have the same. It has worked for me. My bag was searched once without my presence and the screener was reprimanded for it. They are supposed to explain any move they make if it concerns an invasion of your space and property.

Passengers that do not follow the rules are the ones holding up the lines.

is all it takes.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I have accidentally carried aboard a packet of straight razors, a pocket knife, and other general contraband without being stopped while my miniature tripod has been repeatedly caused extra screening owing to its leatherman tool like appearance. The illegal materials were transported on some leg of a BOS PDX trip while the tripod threw me off in London. Just thought you should know.

I think a far better solution to arriving two hours early to every flight, paying for six people and heavy machinery to sniff me for bombs would be to lock down the airplane cockpits or have the planes be able to fly remotely. This would eliminate any plane diversion mission and one generally does not need to worry about potential loss of life in a failed hostage situation since a much less trained suicide bomber could easily do far more damage in a crowded shopping mall.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said a few posts above:

"In this day of high security how can we expect the TSA to accept colloquial names when its clear we need a valid IDENTIFICATION to travel?

You don't need ID to travel. What makes you say that?"

The TSA itself agrees that you do not need ID to travel domestically.

You will get a Secondary Inspection, but you do not need ID.

We still retain a few freedoms in this country.

Anonymous said...

I have flown through many airports over the last year, the main ones being LAX, SNA, CLT, RDU, IND, and ORD. Nothing is consistent across them. What frustrates me the most, however, is the lack of consistency across the SAME airport. In Indy, for instance, I walked through security with several little "sample size" tubes of lotion and some lip gloss in my purse. I passed through without any problems, no one even commented on the contents of my purse. I'm a 25 year-old woman. Beside me is a woman who looks approximately 75, has a little (probably 0.5oz) bottle of medicine of some sort and the TSA woman is SCREAMING at her about how it needs to be a prescription or she needs to put it in a baggy and go back through security. The woman is old and frail and she's forcing her to do all of it again. Yet, it's ok for me to just walk on through with a couple 1oz bottles of lotion?? Ridiculous, really.

And LAX is nuts, I'm pretty sure I could walk through security with dynamite strapped on the outside of my shirt and they'd never notice.

Jill Brenneman said...

Holy Cow,

Here is an idea. As someone who has flown hundreds of times since TSA took over and never had a problem, the answer comes in just doing what they tell me to do and going on with my trip. I don't need the answers to why things are done. It is better that the answers aren't given as if everyone knows why everything is done the system is easy to defeat. Some doesn't make sense, some pisses me off, some is obvious incompetence coming from much higher than TSA employees at the checkpoints. Try to keep in mind, the people screening you aren't making the decisions. You don't need to know why you have to take your shoes off, take out your electronics, put liquids in plastic. All are annoying. But that is life. Just do what they tell you to do, keep your mouth shut, complain when you have a legitimate complaint not when you are just mad because you didn't get your way and do the rest of us a favor. That favor being when you throw your tantrum, the rest of us have to wait and the process slows down for everyone. You aren't that important so get over yourself, over your ego, do what I have done every time and just do what they say and gee, you don't have problems.

I"m not a fan of TSA. There is a lot about TSA I really don't like. But that has to do with much higher than the people at the checkpoints. But path of least resistance is important. Check your ego as checked baggage, comply and board your flight like the rest of us. If you don't want to take off your shoes, take out your laptop, deal with the liquids issue, then take a greyhound, Amtrak or rent a car. If you want to fly that is how it is. It is like this in many other countries.

Anonymous said...

To the passengers with metal implants... who is to say that you are not hiding a weapon on your body? By only screening your knee, or looking at your card, what else could TSA be missing? Unfortunatly, not everyone has pure and good intentions.

To the passengers who don't like to stand on cold floors...bring socks! Come prepared, you know that you will be required to take off your shoes!! Use your head, innovate. Carpeted floors would be far dirtier than tile, considering they would probably only shampoo the carpet yearly, at best. At least tile gets cleaned daily.

Tired of showing your boarding pass multiple times? TSA needs to check passes at the front of the line,to direct people who have not yet gotten their passes,to clear up ID issues, and to identify those people selected for additional screening, since those people go thru a different process. Notice the "rope barracade" around the checkpoints to keep un-ticketed people out? Ever seen a hurried passenger duck under those ropes, bypass the ticket checker, and race to the front of the line to catch a flight? Checking boarding passes at the metal detector is kind of the "last line of defense". It is the only way to ensure that each passenger has a boarding pass. If there was not a ticket checker in the beginning of the line, then you will be waiting at the metal detector shoeless, with all your belongings in bins, crying kids etc, while the person in front of you shows a boarding pass marked for additional screening. Or maybe he has an ID that says Jake instead of Jacob, or maybe he hasn't even gotten his boarding pass yet. Then you are waiting for them to collect all their belongings, put their shoes back on, laptops back in their case, figure out where they are going to meet their travel companions on the other side, etc. You get the picture. Yeah, showing your boarding pass 3 times is a hassle, but it could be worse!!

I agree that the inconsistancies are annoying. The TSA directives are not inconsistant, across the country the restrictions on liquids, weapons, shoes, etc are the same. The inconsistancy is in the enforcement. Though the strict policies do not allow the TSO's to use common sense, obviously empty container of toothpaste, granny with the knee implant... some TSO's do use common sense, even though they could get in trouble for it. Understand that they are just doing their job. They are following the policies in place, they did not make the policies, and a lot of them don't agree with the policies. Read the comments made about how hated they are, how stupid they are, how uneducated they are. Yes, crabbiness is unpleasant, but imagine dealing with a public whose perception of you is so poor, for just doing your job. Even if the airport security went back to a private agency, the government will still be dictating the policy. Would you feel better if there was no security? You may know that you have no malicious intent, but can you say for sure the person sitting next to doesn't? You, yourself may not like being screened, you may not like your child or your grandma being screened, but would you feel safer if no one was screened? Isn't it better to try to remove any possible source of a violent act, no matter how small the threat may be?

Question Authority said...

Let's face it... TSA screeners are not the 'best and brightest' that America has to offer. In addition, most of the general public (including the TSA) is stupid:

1. given to unintelligent decisions or acts
2. lacking intelligence or reason
3. dulled in feeling or sensation
4. lacking interest or point

The TSA is all a charade. Restricting liquids to 3oz containers in clear baggies does nothing for safety. If you feel safer on planes because of this, you fall into the category above.

Any security measure can be subverted.

Kenneth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The whole TSA is the most ludicrous, worst EVER false security crap I have ever seen.

I just recently came back from a foreign country (that I will not name here because of fear that some idiot will force them to adopt the idiotic rules used here), where the security check was so fast, courteous, and efficient that it made TSA look like amateurs. All the passengers of a full 747 went through ONE line with almost no waiting: No taking off jackets, shoes, no taking out the computer. Just go though the metal detector. I never felt more safe and better.

The thing that disturbs me most is how RUDE TSA people are. I DON'T HAVE to read any sign, I don't HAVE to have my boarding pass (after it has been checked X number of times by borderline illiterate people), and I am not here to he ORDERED and BOSSED around. YOU are there to SERVE me. Check the boarding pass ONCE.


Anonymous said...

My favorite part was flying to Paris out of SeaTac and SeaTac waved me through without hardly any issues. On my way back from Paris, I was flagged as a terrorist and taken aside, checked for chemical bomb materials, told that I can't bring USA purchased goods back to USA, they patted me down and checked everyone on me and with me twice before I was allowed on the plane. You know what... Flying SUCKS!!!!!

Anonymous said...

As far as I can tell the TSA is a complete joke. I've flown at least 10 times since 9/11 and every single time I've had a knife on my keychain and no one has ever questioned it or confiscated it. The knife folds up with a screwdriver to make a shape of a key which someone could easily miss unless they were paying close attention.

This proves a couple of things - 1) The TSA employees don't pay close attention at all, 2) If any terrorist really wanted to hijack a plane they could find a way to do it regardless of any stupid rules the TSA puts into effect, and all we're really doing is wasting billions of tax dollars for something that most likely has had literally zero effect on the safety of travelers since 9/11.

Such a waste of time, money and effort.

Anonymous said...

I was just amazed by some of these comments that travelers posted on your web site.
It is ridiculous that they are complaining about their "inconvinience" going trought security. I travel all the time and I follow the rules and I keep my self updated and rarelly I'm being stopped by you guys. When I'm in your lanes and I hear how people use sarcasm on your procedures I wish that TSA will play a Video of the planes hitting the towers on 9/ it will refresh their's soo sad that people already forgot that tragic day and how many lives we lost!!! Thanks TSA for all u do, for still listening to those complainers with your professionalism and most of all thanks for keeping us safe !!
God bless u!!

tired traveller said...

It's interesting that there is a section in this blog covering consistency in the TSA screening process. This seems to imply that there is supposed to be consistency, but I very much doubt this is the internal policy of the TSA.

Recently when travelling from the US, the signage specifically requested that laptops be left IN bags. In addition I was berated for leaving a wallet full of money in the grey tray that goes through the scanner (no other option was presented to me). The reason given: "there are thieves operating here all the time". I was explicitly told I should, "never do this".

Clearly at many other airports, laptops must be removed from bags, coins must be placed in the trays, and the only items you may carry through the metal detector are your boarding pass and passport.

Then again, at other airports, if you ask, "should I carry my boarding pass and passport through?" you are told, "no, put them in the tray". Presumably this only happens if you actually ask the question... I can't recall if I've ever been forced to part with my passport when I haven't explicitly asked about it...

Anyhow, obviously consistency is not a concern for the TSA.

Numerous people have surmised that inconsistency is to, "keep the terr'sts guessing". No, that doesn't make sense. A knife is a knife is a knife, and a gun is a gun and a bomb is a bomb. If it is deemed that certain items are a threat, and every TSO is informed clearly what items constitute a threat, then one can expect a degree of consistency in what is confiscated. The fact that there is manifestly no consistency indicates clearly that items are being confiscated that are not a threat (and not deemed to be a threat). So what does all that tell you!?

A second point to bear in mind is that there is a difference between consistency in what *must* be confiscated, what *is* confiscated, the different screening *procedures*, the amount of discretionary power employed in any given screening of a passenger and the different responses to passengers based on their demeanour, dress, amount of carry-on, etc.

I've read through all 128 comments in this section, and I've only observed two people who probably know what the TSA is there for. There was also a single TSO who seemed to indicate he might know, but I personally doubt it.

Quite clearly, confiscating toothpaste and water bottles does not in and of itself keep us safe. As many have pointed out, producing explosives from liquids aboard an aircraft is infeasible per se. So what does that tell you!? Obviously if there is no real threat from such things, and the TSA continues to confiscate them, then there is another, much more important reason they are being confiscated.

Those who claim it is a kind of security theatre to, "make us feel safe" are also pretty obviously not correct. An organisation set up on such a premise would be doomed to failure, and you wouldn't invest multi-millions in such a doomed operation. That implies that there is another, more important reason for confiscating water bottles, lipstick and wedding footage. My bet (though I have no evidence to back it up) is that many TSO don't even know that reason in full, though doubtlessly they are well-trained in what is important in achieving that end.

I mean, how can there be consistency in TSA operations. Any airport security operation worth its salt has to deal with:

1) Specific intelligence indicating a specific threat.

2) Specific information regarding sensitive material which *must* pass security for reasons of national security (that should do as a hint for those who want to figure it out).

3) Reacting to passengers according to their degree of beligerence, nervousness, etc.

4) {Insert real reason for TSA operation here.} If you want to figure it out, imagine for a moment you are a terrorist. What *don't* you want to see!?

Now regarding the apparent rudeness of TSA employees. Yeah, they are people, and many of them are damned rude. They also have absolute power over your journey, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But I'll bet my bottom dollar, despite any claims to the contrary, that TSA officials are actually trained to escalate rather than deescalate conflicts with passengers. What a pain in the proverbial that must be for them! But next time you enter a country *with* a valid visa and passport, try arguing with the immigration official. Become defensive in your responses, and see what happens. Having observed the way immigration officials react in such situations, on many occasions (I was not the passenger doing the arguing, it was always the one ahead of me in my queue) I can guess exactly how TSO's must also have been trained.

I'll also bet my bottom dollar that TSO's have drummed into them from day one, "security concerns trump all other concerns, including those of property, politeness, privacy invasion, propriety", etc. This is how they justify to themselves the inhuman things they are forced to do to innocent citizens. There is also the additional element that they are being told to do things by the authorities over them, and if an authority figure seems to validate what they are doing, then it seems OK to them.

But having said all that (it should be obvious that I hate the TSA's procedures, I hate waiting at the airport in queues, etc), the fact remains that they are there for a specific, undisclosed, important reason to do with US national security.

Regarding moderation of this blog, some people see it as censorship and an infringement of free speech. However, here are some reasons such "free speech" may need to be curtailed:

1) Do you want to wade through advertisements for penis enlargements and ads for porn sites? Do you wish to wade through advertisements or endorsements for specific products (incidentally moderator, such a post slipped through).

2) Do you expect the TSA to allow people to post information which will make them liable to being sued by one of their employees because it allowed incorrect information to be posted about them on its website (incidentally moderator, I think such a post may have slipped past)?

3) Do you expect the TSA to allow the posting of information explaining to terrorists how to get something past their security that they hadn't thought of?

4) Do you expect the TSA to allow the posting of information which might lead to mass panic, such as specific threats, etc?

5) Do you want to read abusive threats full of expletives written in an uncouth, unkind manner?

6) Do you not expect the TSA to protect you from making a total fool of yourself by posting a hot-headed rant that you will later regret. If you do expect them to allow you to do this, do you then expect to be able to sue them for not preventing you from harming yourself?

*Some* censorship is implicit in a blog such as one run by the TSA. Obviously they can't allow posts to go online which leave them liable or which completely undermine their mandate.

Having said all that, I do despise queues at airports, I hate being treated rudely at security checkpoints, I think the water policy is a stupid one given the fact that many airlines do not provide sufficient water on (especially international) flights, in an environment where dehydration is a real problem.

I have also personally been the victim of having been told explicitly that contact lens solution was banned on all flights in any quantity (before the new rules) and having my $240 contact lenses fall out and become useless. I've had eye infections from leaving my contact lenses in too long on international flights because of this stupidity (I specifically explained the problem at every checkpoint from the check-in desk to the boarding gate and got no sense out of anyone).

I was also at one time told that my laptop was to be taken and crushed, with no possibility of return. It contained around 18 months of work on highly sensitive material which was not to be out of my possession at any time, let alone put in a crusher and lost. This was all after signs at my point of departure were explicitly posted stating that laptops were now allowed (it wasn't in the end taken, since the rules changed yet again before it was actually taken from me at the destination).

I've been asked to switch a laptop on for a security check when the battery was completely (and purposely) flat.

I resent the stupidity, and though the worst of it has been curtailed by slightly more realistic rules, it clearly still continues to this day.

The worst fear I have is of well-meaning passengers jumping some arabic looking guy for possessing a bottle of water on a plane because they have come to believe that this represents a security risk.

If I were the TSA, I would be worried about being sued for someone's death or severe illness due to the stupidity of their rules, or for the loss of a huge quantity of sensitive material. The only way to avoid such suits is, oh yeah, inconsistency.

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