Wednesday, February 6, 2008

HOORAY BLOGGERS! (Commenting Disabled)

A Win for the Blogosphere

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

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

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

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

Thanks again and keep those comments and questions coming.


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Dave X said...

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

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

Anonymous said...

Very nice!

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

Anonymous said...

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

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

Anonymous said...

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

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

Anonymous said...

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

Dave X. said...

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

lmerklin said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

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

cheebert said...

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

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

NoLongerFlying said...

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

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

Anonymous said...

Christopher said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous said...

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

MarkS said...

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

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

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

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

Goon said...

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

Beau Woods said...

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

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

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

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

Tyler said...

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

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

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

I also want to reiterate Anonymous' comment above:

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

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

Thanks for listening and I look forward to future updates.

Anonymous said...

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous said...

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

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

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

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

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

Psychdata said...

Thanks for this.

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

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

Anonymous said...

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

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

Does senior managment need to get out of the office?

Perhaps you have people in place that are not effective!

Hillary Dickman said...

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

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

Jack said...


David Nelson said...


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

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

Anonymous said...

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

1) Admit it was a mistake, and

2) Say they are correcting it.

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

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

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

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

Just some TSO said...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soss said...

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

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

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

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

Dan Kozisek said...

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

Next, eliminate the ridiculous war on liquids.

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

Contact me once you've accomplished these simple tasks.

Anonymous said...

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

ang122 said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

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

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

Jay Maynard said...

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

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

Anonymous said...

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

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

cautiously optimistic said...

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

Anonymous said...

Question for ang122,

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

Not a slam, just curious.

Melissa S said...

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

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

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

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

What an abuse of authority we have running our airports.

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

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

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

Matt Glaman said...

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

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

cris1 said...

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

Adalbrecht said...

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

Anonymous said...

dave x. and others:

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

Dave X the first said...

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

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

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

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

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

There's a real cost in winging it -- the inconveniences and inconsistencies make people choose driving over flying, and traffic fatalities go up when people do that:

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

Anonymous said...

How to make TSA a better agency:

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

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

Train your people.

ang122 said...

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

Rod said...

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

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

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

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

Anonymous said...

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

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

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

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

Anonymous said...

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

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


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

Dave X the first said...

@Ang122 February 6, 2008 8:30 PM :

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

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

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

TSO Tom said...

One of the things that I have noticed at PHL while working the mag, and running down the list of electronic items that DO have to be removed from the bag and x-rayed separately is that people are always asking me, "how about my camera?" So, here is the list of electronic items that MUST be removed from the carrying case when going through the checkpoint:
These items MUST be removed from the case, and placed into a bin BY THEMSELVES WITH NOTHING ON TOP OR BELOW. This is the best way to make it through security. Keep in mind that your CPAP machine will be scrutinized further once it has cleared x-ray.

TSO Tom said...

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

February 6, 2008 2:41 PM

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

February 6, 2008 2:47 PM
Comments like these make my job worthwhile. Thanks guys.

Anonymous said...

Someone asked a question as to why TSA is not seen at ports (seaports). FYI, Customs and Border Protection is responsible for that function.

Natalie said...

That's great, but I think there are a lot of other procedures that need to be addressed. Like why my four-year old son is on the no-fly list (which is quite upsetting to him), and even though anyone under twelve is not *supposed* to be affected, he still can't check-in online, use SkyCap, and somehow gets extra questions asked of him going through the security checkpoint.

I understand this is off topic, but I hope you might bring this subject up in the future.

trailman said...

Why do TSA policies eerily coincide with the airport hospitality industry's wish list? Having to leave the line to go to the newsstand to get a Ziploc bag that the stand itself says it is paying for? Longer delays are becoming standard as is the emptying of your pockets buying the things you can no longer bring with you, like a bottle of water. You are all profiting from irrational fear. Nothing is safe or safer, and never will be. This is 90% perception and the perception is skewed. We live in the USA, not the Middle East. I'll take my risks along with my freedoms any day, and I'm comfortable living with the odds of my plane being blown up, which if you gave a percentage to this possibliity would be .0-something I will bet. And all you've done is increase the odds with all the attention! Is this perhaps really what you want?

I will say I have seen a much better, congenial attitude in general from the TSA crew, promoting levity rather than paranoia like they were. Yet there is the occasional drill sargeant barking at passengers. The TSA was actually nicer than the airline check-in people on my last flight! Whatever that says...

Have you ever thought of passing out re-usable plastic laminated cards to give to passengers to read while they are in line at security? This would be better than bitching that nobody listens and actually help people prepare on the spot. Have you ever tried to listen over an airport intercom for something? Or to a yelling TSA officer giving details about what's in what's out etc.? This is a Mickey Mouse solution that even a 5th grader would know is ineffective.

Anonymous said...

There are lots of businesses that have to do quality control on the employees that deal directly with customers. It's really pretty simple to deal with - you use the equivalent of "secret shoppers".

Recruit some people who fit the profile of some reported issues/complaints (people with too much liquid, people acting a little nervous, people in wheelchairs, attractive young women), send them through security, and see what happens.

TSA employees get sent to retraining the first time they don't follow proper procedures, and fired the second time.

Second, establish an ombudsman to specifically handle complaints.

This is retail 101, and is frankly a lot more effective at making the right thing happen than additional training.

Anonymous said...

Re: ang122, so you are an offical spokesman for TSA?

Shouldn't that be disclosed?

Brian said...

It's great that you did this. No joke, it really is. The part that disturbs me is that the TSA, a government institution responsible with the safety of millions of people, is equally as organized as the company I work for.

I'd also like to join in with the crowd here who are disturbed and discouraged by the use of the word "customer." We are the airlines' customer. The TSA, however, as an enforcement agency really does exist to protect and serve us, not to provide us with a product we consume.

At its heart I still think the problem is this attitude of "flying is a privilege, not a right." The problem is that this attitude exists, as though every single thing that we are freely allowed to do is spelled out individually in the Constitution. Traveling interstate without having to present "papers" has traditionally always been a right of the people. The TSA should be there to keep us safe, not to prevent us from traveling. Unfortunately, many of the comment posters that claim to be TSA agents seem to disagree. If this attitude really is representative of the TSA as a whole, which it does seem to be, then it's no wonder problems like this come up. Never forget the TSA exists to serve the people, not to sell them something.

TSOL said...

I have a trip coming up to SC. Guess what? I'm driving the 16 hours to ensure my 4th amendment rights are intact.

Anonymous said...

How many formal complaints were issued regarding this problem?
That would provide an indicator on how effective or not your complaint system is.
If you got no formal complaints about an obvious problem with rogue agents, doesn't that prove to you (we don't need proof) that the complaint systems you have is broken.

Anonymous said...

Standardization of the rules is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL. It's ridiculous to have airport screeners go off and make their own rules like this.

The hokey-pokey dance everyone has to do is bad enough ('put your laptop in, put your laptop out'), but there to be no consistency or rhyme/reason to the dance steps is unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

That's great that Tom has listed what electronics ar REQUIRED to be removed from carry on baggages and screened individually. The fact of the matter still remains that individual airports STILL make their won rules about what they do and do not require to be removed. DSLR cameras are NOT on the list yet I am still required to remove it (ANC). They take it out of my back pack, take ut out of the case, handle it, swab it.

The fact of the matter is there are many rogue TSA agents out there. They consider themselves the FINAL authority. They have the ability to detain us on a WHIM long enough to miss our flights. There is practically no oversight. How many people who have complained have never received anything more than a canned response from TSA???

I am not complaining about TSA agents who follow agency rules. I think many of us can resign ourselves to the fact that this is the way it is now. What I am complaining about is rogue agents to institute THEIR OWN ADDITIONAL RULES that we are forced to comply with if we would like to get on our flight. Everywhere we go the rules are different.

I'm sorry if this blog does not instill me with confidence. I bet 10 bucks that when I fly through ANC this tuesday they make me take my DSLR camera out and screen it seperately and paw all over it. I will return and report. Everyone should return and report and then we will see how effective this blog really is.

Anonymous said...

Did the people behind the UK "liquid explosive" plot have a working binary liquid explosive? Please answer yes or no. Thank you.

thattallguy201 said...

I must agree that it's a problem that TSA didn't know what its field operations staffs were doing. That said though, kudos for listening and correcting the problem! Don't you wish all government offices were that responsive? Let's hope this is a precedent continued here and heard elsewhere.

Chance said...

Hi Natalie,
In reference to your son, I can assure you that there are no four year olds on any watch lists TSA maintains. For more information, I refer you to our mythbusters page and our Secure Flight page for more information.

TSA admits to failure said...

my god... it's already been stated a few times in the comments, but this is no victory for bloggers, this is the first admission of failure by the TSA. How did these operating procedures come into play to begin with? Why can local TSA offices arbtrarily set rules? (heaven forbid you question these incorrect and unjust rules while in the airport...)

I'm not a team player said...

Fantastic... Now, lets fix some of the REAL problems you guys have.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful blog. It shows that participatory government can be friendly, light hearted and effective.

Anonymous said...

I've written a couple "gripes" on here myself, I'm no fan of TSA, but I'm not going to blast you with a negative comment for fixing something like some people have chosen to do. I think it's great!! It's great that you were actaully listening, great that you fixed it, and great that you came back and told us that we're being listened to and making an impact. Now just keep it going. Take a close look at other repeated complaints or procedure questions and get to the bottom of those too.

Anonymous said...

I am happy this blog opened the TSA's eyes to the problem. 1 down 3,847 to go.

The fact you did not know there are rouge associates making up their own rules is a bit disheartening. Thankfully there are some fairly easy and inexpensive ways to fix the problems.

1. Secret shoppers. Retailers have been using them for years. Not only does it help to get you information on your operation you would not normally get, it also has the effect of keeping people on their toes. The never know if the next customer will rat them out to corporate.

2. Comment cards. Print comment cards with the TSA associate's employee number and name on them. Require the associates to hand them to each traveler. The cards can have a simple design.

TSA associate name/number.
Was you experience good, fair or poor.
If poor why?

Have a box at the end of the TSA area for the cards to be deposited. Require the cards to be sent to quality control to be reviewed and acted on.

Up to this point they know that most complaints won't be looked into because the traveler can't provide accurate identification of the associate.

This removes the temptation of the TSA associate to bully the traveler.

Anonymous said...

Now if we can only leave our laptops in our bags!

Anonymous said...

Chance: I understand that in theory there are no four-year-olds on the no-fly list. Unfortunately, that doesn't answer why this little tyke:
was detained and thoroughly searched by TSA because his name was similar to that of an individual on the list.

Clearly you need to add another column to your list..."age."

Anonymous said...

I would like to echo the post about the CPAP machine. It is MEDICAL equipment. I have gotten used to having it removed after it's been xrayed in my carry-on bag, and having it hand-inspected and swiped with the explosives-detection swabs. Fine. It's inconvenient, but I understand why it must be done. Inspectors have always worn gloves, handled the machine gently, been respectful and given me space to repack.

But the new policy forcing us to remove the private MEDICAL equipment and place it in the dirty plastic bins where people's shoes and coats go? This is disgusting--completely unsanitary, and totally unnecessary. What does this add to our safety? How does it assist the security process? The same inspection and swabbing steps are still followed after xraying.

I am outraged at this blatant discrimination against the disabled. We have no choice but to carry on this expensive, essential piece of medical equipment, which by now all of your inspectors recognize. Making us put it in the plastic bins violates our privacy and contaminates our medical equipment. Please change this policy immediately.

Thierry B said...

Great work responding so quickly. This is how our government should work.

Brian said...

Can we get an answer or clarification to this Washington Post story? This is very disturbing.

I, for one, would much rather step out of line, ship my laptop to myself, forfeit my existing plane ticket and buy another one than give the TSA my personal laptop. And considering giving up my work laptop would likely result in my immediate termination, I would only give up my work laptop at threat of arrest.

Citizen said...

Here's your next challenge:

What is up with the search and seizure of personal data on laptops, phones, and even MP3 players?

The Washington Post recently did an article on this. Please google it. The article is called "Clarity Sought on Electronics Searches".

I work as a computer tech at a major retailer. About six months ago a college age girl, who looked as far from a terrorist as possible, needed me to reload her Operating system onto her computer because it was confiscated for searching. When she got it back, the entire unit was wiped.

I'm getting ready to go on a flight next week. I'm strongly considering doing a data wipe on my laptop before I get aboard.

And finally, why is it that we feel more threatened by our own government than by the terrorists themselves because of invasive policies such as these?!

maudy grunch said...

One Small Suggestion...
Why don't you give us the plastic bins at the beginning of the security line instead of waiting until we get to the machines? It seems to me that most of the problems occur when a mass of people are trying to undress, empty pockets, take off shoes, find laptop, keep little Johnnie in tow, etc. There's always a feeling of urgency because people behind you with fewer items are anxious to go through. If we had the bins ahead of time, we may not be able to do everything before we get to the tables, but at least we'd have a head start.

Or, if you can't dole out bins at the head of the line, maybe there could be security gates for travelers with "5 Items Or Less" ... kinda like the grocery stores do.

Artin said...

This is a wonderful step in the right direction. Many people complain that the TSA should've known what's going on in their airports but they need to remember something. The only way a massive, all encompassing system like the tsa's security concerns at the airports can work is if the various locales have a modicum of self rule. Every region has different security concerns. That said I think the next step is for the tsa to have some sort of internal affairs dept or "secret fliers" ( ala secret shoppers at stores ).

I guess the next thing would be for the tsa to treat their employees who break the rules as rigidly as they treat us, the ipod carrying, cellphone talking, magnetic disturbance that is the gadget geek.

jubjub said...

Alot of the TSA problems stem from a group of "disgruntled" employees who themselves have "clueless" managment when it comes to enforcing policy, mostly due to many of the private airport security firms pre-9/11 having their say when it came to moving over most of their people into said positions. Why cant we get it gear like our friends in the UK/EU when it comes to screening persons. Even at an airport like Heathrow, one of the worlds most busy, I get through the customs/security line without too many hassles, plus they're polite. Perhaps intensive customer service training should be part of the requirements to pass and become an agent.

Anonymous said...

It's seems a little humerous that passengers seem to know more about TSA regulations than the employees themselves.

I have a couple of questions.

1.How many TSA employees have been reported for theft in the past year?

2.When a TSA employee takes someone's cell phone or computer from them, what gives them the right to alter or erase the data contained on it before they return it?

Walter said...

Um, am I the only one who finds a folksy reference like "flow[ing] through checkpoints like the booze was flowing on Bourbon Street Tuesday night. (Fat Tuesday of course)," pretty distasteful for a government agency? I know blogs are a way of communicating in less than corporate-speak, but really, can't you find an analogy that doesn't involve drunkenness?

Anonymous said...

I'm offended at being called a "customer" that implies that you provide a useful service that I want or require... The government doesn't have "customers"...

Anonymous said...

The illusion of security is not security... and the illusion of participation is not actually participation. If we really had input the TSA would be gone.. I think all but the most ignorant of travelers now realize that the TSA isn't actually making anyone safer. How about closed cockpits and/or armed pilots? now THAT would be some security...

Anonymous said...

A proposal: Each TSA screener MUST present each citizen being screened with a business card including the screener's name, employee number, and supervisor's name, as well as e-mail and physical addresses for complaints or comments. The back of this card will explain commonly confused TSA policies.

Dangerman said...

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

+1. Also, please stop acting like you are doing any of us a favor. Only fools really believe that the TSA screenings will prevent an attack. You want to prevent a hijacking? Load a plane full of Americans with pistols and sub-sonic frangible rounds. Maybe if US Citizens were allowed to assert their 2nd and 4th Amendment rights on an airplane, we would be talking about how 9/11 almost happened.

Anonymous said...

is it too much to ask to have a big poster that states all the major rules (like the poster with prohibited items)? that way there's no confusion. no more announcing "new" rules just by yelling it out--if it's official, it will be on the poster. much cheaper than re-recording the video if "official" rules do change.


* you must take these out of your bag (laptop, liquids, CPAP, etc.). if it's not on this list, you do not have to take it out.

* you must take these off of your person (shoes, coat, metallic objects, etc.).

* 3-1-1 for liquids.

* we have the right to X (inspect with these restrictions), but we do NOT have the right to Y (demean you, yell at you, snoop--see electronics snooping comments).

and, i like the business card idea that another commenter discussed.

Jennifer said...

A few suggestions:

--Stop pretending that shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, drinking water and hand lotion are dangerous weapons;

--if TSA's job is truly "important" (I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here), then it's too important to be done by a high-school dropout. Fire all of your employees who have nothing but a GED, and don't hire any more of them;

--since there's no privacy in airports anymore anyway, have cameras at the security checkpoints, review the tapes each night, and any TSA agent who makes threats like "Do you want to fly today?" or says anything along the lines of "The rules are what I say they are" gets fired. No second chances.

Or, if you won't do any of this, then at least stop lying to me by pretending that threatening to make me miss my flight or rudely ordering me to remove the quarter-sized butterfly-shaped metal barrette from my hair is being done for my own benefit, to protect me from terrorism. Just admit you're a pointless agency invented so the government can say "Look! We're Doing Something about terrorism!"

No, you're not. You are doing nothing to make Americans safer, but you are making the phrase "Land of the Free" more ironic each day.

Anonymous said...

She didn't seem to understand the rules, so she sent me to her manager who proceeded to explain to me that the bottles had to be labeled. I went through my same explanation. He sent me to his supervisor. He proceeded to also tell me that the bottles had to be labeled.

I thought that it was OK to repackage my shampoos, liquid soaps and other liquids in those disposable 3 oz. containers that are now available in Wal-Marts and discount stores everywhere.

It is ridiculous that a TSA agent would essentially expect me to buy a "trial size" just for my trips. In fact, many trial sizes are more than 3 oz. or are in glass (such as one popular brand of mouthwash) so it is actually easier to buy the 3 oz. disposables and fill them at home prior to departure.

And what's to keep someone from refilling a labelled bottle with a dangerous ingredient, anyway?

either Mike or Vic or Jenny said...

Dear TSA folks;

Could you please explain why we are allowed to take a one-quart bag containing liquids onto the plane, but none of the liquids in the bag can be packaged in containers over three ounces? Couldn't passengers just load up multiple three-ounce bottles with the same liquid, thereby easily defeating the purpose of this limit?

This rule, above all other TSA rules that I have encountered, seems the most arbitrary, most easily circumvented, and most likely to do nothing but inconvenience innocent travelers.

When one is limited to only three ounces of their favorite whiskey, it becomes much more difficult to ignore the sounds of fussy babies. For what it's worth, I have noticed that babies tend to be full of a variety of liquids and gels in volumes well over one quart, and perhaps should be confiscated at security checkpoints.

Thanks for explaining/repealing this silly regulation, if you can.

Anonymous said...

It's spelled "blogosphere"

Anonymous said...

As for the articles mentioned above at the Washington Post, where does it mention TSA? Oh that's doesn't. So why are we complaining about this in TSA's blog? That is a problem with CPB, and even though it is a part of the Department of Homeland Security, it is still a completely different agency.

Ayn R. Key said...

The sad thing about this is that the TSA has admitted that the TSA does not know what the TSA is doing, the TSA has admitted they have rogue agents, the TSA relies on complaints to find out about their own activities ... and the TSA hails this as good news?

Dave X the first said...

@ tso tom February 6, 2008 2:41 PM

There are two Dave Xs here, one at February 6, 2008 2:41 PM who seems happy with the system, and another who is beginning to think TSA manages like the Little Rascals:

TSA#1: "Let's pretend we're clueless and lure the terrorists into a false sense of security when they misunderestimate us!"

TSA#2: "That's so crazy it just might work!"

TSA#3: "I know! Lets put on a blog!"

Was this all-electronics out of the bag experiment a useless inconsistency? Or did you bloggers end some experiment that had some value? Or did the experiment run to completion by Monday and you bloggers are taking the PR credit?

A lot of the slight inconveniences add up to a real cost in lost lives: driving vs flying. There's people up-thread that will drive 16 hours to avoid you. Y'all are probably killing more people than you can hope to screen into safety.

Anonymous said...

TSOL said...
I have a trip coming up to SC. Guess what? I'm driving the 16 hours to ensure my 4th amendment rights are intact.

February 7, 2008 12:00 PM

GREAT IDEA! If more people did this, TSO's wouldn't have to deal with ignorance from the traveling public, being shouted at when we are trying to be polite, having people snatch their travel documents back from us after we've checked them, the continuous complaining and griping at the metal detector, etc. DON'T LIKE THE RULES? DRIVE

Anonymous said...

Wow Chris, I'm so glad we have such an amazing blog now...

With people like you responding to the publics concerns, I'm sure this blog will really make an AMAZING difference....

In fact, i think this blog will stop global warming!

Anonymous said...

On a recent flight I was asked to take my laptop and CPAP out of my back for x-ray. Since they are both fairly small I put them side by side in one tray. I was then selected for 2nd screening. I asked why and was told that I had failed to follow the rules by placing both objects in one tray. I can understand about removing these items from your bag so they can be x-rayed without anything on top of them but fail to see how having two small objects that fit side by side in a tray is a security threat? It seems like the individual TSA agents are allowed to make up the rules as they go along.

Anonymous said...

Not only is the 3oz (later updated to 100ml) size and 1 quart bag limit stupid and arbitrary, it is incredibly inconvenient.

Most toiletries are not sold in 3oz sizes -- they are sold in either 1-2oz (hardly useable) or in 6-8oz sizes (almost normal).

If the limit was a 1 gallon ziplock and 8oz containers, I bet you wouldn't hear as many people complain. The way it is now though is hella-inconvenient (and doesn't do a damn thing to make us safer).

Anonymous said...

If you were really interested in public feedback, you'd post 'comment cards' at the end of each security queue so that the public can comment on their latest manhandling. These cards would be pre-paid and pre-filled out with the location of the search (Terminal A at IAH, for example).

The cards would be anonymous, but actionable -- based on the comments received, people would be re-trained, fired, or commended, as applicable.

Relying on a blog to capture this information is as absurd as the idea that a cursory airport screening can have a meaningful impact on terrorism.

Alex in TO CANADA said...

The TSA serves no useful purpose to citizens. It is an arm of the US government to impress upon citizens that they want to foment worry about terrorism and thus only used to prevent outrage from citizens who are required to undergo humiliating searches of their persons and private property. I refuse to visit the USA until such agencies cease and desist.

Mike said...

It's pretty clear that there's a critical lack of standardization across TSA locations and people. So I wonder:
- Do you (TSA) agree with that?
- If you agree, can you give any assurances that this is a high interest item for your senior management?
- If it does have senior management interest, have they established any milestones for achieving consistent practices in screening?

Ben Creasy said...

You're post here is disgustingly snarky. That doesn't reflect well on your agency, much less your own character, and reduces our confidence in you.

Some concerned private citizen is taking the initiative to spread transparency between citizens and government, and you have to criticize it?

I'm glad you're doing something, but this a long time coming. Try not to adopt such a self-important, self-righteous attitude and instead let's get down to solving problems.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say thank you to the TSA for patting down my 82 year old grandmother's feet and the rest of her body the other day before she got on the plane. You never know how many of these old ladies with pacemakers may be terrorists. Thank you for protecting us from the massive granny terrorist threat we have today.

Anonymous said...

While TSA may have fixed the issue of electronics having to be taken out of the bag, I highly doubt they have determined and solved the root cause. You have fixed a symptom, not the cause.

What if ATL decides next week the people wearing pink sweaters automatically get secondaries? Or ORD decides that Right Guard deodorant has to be surrendered, but Sure is OK? How are you fixing the underlying problem of locations and individuals making their own rules?

Anonymous said...

The "all electronics removal from bags" policy has been going on for at least half a year. This is something the TSA should have known. During the summer, Boston news stations were broadcasting it all over television as a rule to fly out of Logan.

TSO Tom said...

Anonymous said...
A proposal: Each TSA screener MUST present each citizen being screened with a business card including the screener's name, employee number, and supervisor's name, as well as e-mail and physical addresses for complaints or comments. The back of this card will explain commonly confused TSA policies.

February 7, 2008 5:11 PM

So let me get this straight, you want my name, badge number, supervisor's name, and email address but you choose to remain anonymous? First of all, we have an airport ID badge, a name plate with our first name and employee number on it, and our supervisor is usually on the checkpoint at all times. There are ways to make complaints on the spot. By the way, many travelers have utilized the TSA comment card to actually compliment TSA screening personnel. You should try it sometime. A little cooperation from some of the passengers goes a long way to make your trip through security that much easier. You're too busy complaining and griping to realize that you're wasting time. The more you gripe about your shoes, jacket liquids, etc. the more time you waste in line. Its common sense, show up early, pack lightly if you can, put whatever you reasonably can in checked baggage, listen to what the TSO's are asking of you and that quick you're on your flight. How hard is it really just to follow rules? None of the passengers that I have encountered have been that ticked off at the rules and regulations that they couldn't get through in a timely manner. Yeah I get gripes about shoes, and the floor being dirty, mostly from women or elderly people who have medical issues. This is understandable, and I truly do sympothize with them. Rules are rules, our society is bound by rules, from the day we are born to the day we leave this earth we are bound by rules. Do we like them? NO Must we follow them? If we want to get by in this world, YES. Work together instead of against each other and see how quickly things flow. Now if you get to the mag and I sound a little gruff, its probably because I've been saying the same thing over and over again for the past however long i've been standing there. I'm not trying to insult you, demean you, or yell at you, but I want everyone in the back of the line to hear what I'm saying so that they can be prepared when they get to the FRONT of the line so I raise the tone of my voice. Most times I say please and thank you. I try to be helpful, because you're trying to get on your flight and I'm trying to get you to your destination in one piece. That's my job. I don't care about the first class line, my job is the same no matter if you're coach or first class. I do care about the possibility of someone in line having bad intentions. Don't ask me if you look like a terrorist, I have no clue what a terrorist looks like and your joke just may raise my suspicion of you a little bit. Don't under any circumstances make jokes about bombs, guns, etc. (yes people have done this), we take it seriously and you will probably miss your flight if you say something like that. As for the business card, I think its useless as there are means to complain on the spot.

Nick said...

Very very very important question: why don't your front line staffers - aka those who ask you for your ticket and ID while in line for security - know that passengers DON'T HAVE TO SHOW AN ID TO GET BY? The law and TSA/DHS policy (currently secret, but read by the 9th circuit) says that passengers don't have to show an ID to go through security. TSA, at its discretion, can opt to provide that passenger secondary (SSSS) screening. For some odd reason, almost every time I fly I have to explain this to the person, who then calls their manager over, sometimes having to call THEIR manager over to confirm that I don't have to produce ID to TSA employees. Why is this knowledge not shared with employees/included in normal training procedure? Why am I asked to step out of line while they call supervisors over to confirm what should be common knowledge - if not by the general public than surely by TSA employees? Please - let me know.

devwild said...

As a healthcare employee who frequently accesses HIPAA protected data, I have to agree that the re-evaluation of the search and seizure of personal data on laptops and other media should be a high priority for the TSA. This is not truly data you have any right by any sane measure to peruse, as you are not only violating the rights of the flier, but those of patients, customers, employees, defendants, plaintiffs, etc, many of whom expect their personal information to be protected under federal law, not violated by it.

A warrant should be required before search and seizure of personal data. Period. And the TSA should be held responsible for violation of protected health information and similar data.

Holly said...

So, what exactly is the TSA's policy regarding a passenger traveling without identification, assuming they're over 17?

Frequent Traveler said...

Great job TSA! Communication is the key to coming up with solutions to any problem and I think I speak for a vast majority of travelers who appreciate you doing your best to protect us. Thanks from California!

Anonymous said...

Why is it after you go though the entire process at, all you get is a silly doublespeak letter back? I would prefer to know if something was done or not instead of a page long rant about things "may or may not" have been changed.

apo said...

My experience with security check points has been nice. However, sometimes I feel they are too loose when they check the boarding pass at the gate to go onto the plane. I remember they used to confirm the boarding pass with photo ID, but now it's like anyone can get on. I guess that's because they assume everyone has been screened so they are safe anyway.

I noticed a new thing called CLEAR at ALB in which you can pay a fee to get your iris and fingerprint scanned so you can pass the security faster. I wonder if someone on this blog could explain how it would work and how can I trust such a service? It doesn't even look like part of the government agency for security.

Anonymous said...

And how would you explain TSA employees first demanding to read everything on travellers' laptops, and sometimes even stealing the laptops?

Anonymous said...

I don't know where to post this, but my question is this:

Homeland Security issues threat levels from green to red depending on risk. How is this information used by the TSA in what procedures they do and do not follow?

Also, if we are always at yellow...when do we officially make that the new green?

Confused said...

Every few months I got to fly somewhere for one reason or another, it seems the rules changed every few months and no one on the staff inclines to tell the passengers about the changes in the security rules. And the fact that I got pulled aside and sat behind a screen to get patted down and wand scanned all because there was a pentagram pendent in my purse that I got for a friend when I was visiting New Orleans. I felt humiliated and missed my flight. When I got through the gate I had to wait 5 hours for the next flight back home.

Anonymous said...

WRONG ANSWER! The correct way to address the concern about a 4-year-old being on the "no fly" list, if you're going to say that the public are your "customers", is NOT to say that the situation is not real because it is impossible in theory. Rather, you should direct her to whatever resources will help her get this error corrected.

Anonymous said...

From the TSA: After some calls to our airports, we learned that this exercise was set up by local TSA offices and was not part of any grand plan across the country.
Excuse me, but it was not too long ago that folks were complaining that the security procedures across the country were not consistent and Mr Hawley insisted they were. Excuse me, a member the flying public, if I will am continually skeptical about policies and affirmations from a Government office, the TSA, about the necessity of screening processes.

vepxistqaosani said...

What about titanium?

I saw a comment by someone who was upset that a titanium knee caused him trouble at checkpoints. I have the opposite complaint. I have a titanium rod in my leg, and the only time it has ever been detected was in Frankfurt in early 2001. No US airport has found it.

What gives? If I were a suicide bomber, could I replace my femur with an explosive-packed titanium cylinder?

And do you have people on staff who think of stuff like that?

Anonymous said...

dave x:

Yes, as a matter of fact they do. I was in line once when 5 TSA officials jumped the line, dumped their stuff in a bin and walked through the detectors. HOW RUDE!

Anonymous said...

My husband is in a band and frequently flies to concerts. He and his fellow band members have had continual problems with TSA personnel treating their equipment and luggage carelessly. A keyboard was lifted by the keys ... breaking it. Guitars have been removed from their cases and replaced incorrectly ... breaking them. Cameras and other electronic equipment has been stolen from luggage.

They are unable to lock their luggage, or they risk having the lock broken off (with damage done to the luggage as well). However, when they leave their luggage unlocked, they risk theft or damage to expensive music equipment.

What can be done to protect valuable items that cannot be included as a carry-on? What kind of recourse is there for travelers whose luggage or belongings are stolen or damaged? In the past, TSA personnel they've spoken to at the airport has shown little concern for damage to personal property.

Thanks for listening!

Crispin Wellington said...

I have a question. Just a simple one. Why don't the jets have lockable doors to the cockpit, that only the ground crew or perhaps pilots have a key for?

Anonymous said...

TSA think just because they are wearing a badge, then they can do whatever they like. They are not well trained, they are rude and if you dare to ever talk back to any TSA agent, then you'll get a payback from a TSA agent. All TSA agents got big EGOS and they need to get rid of it. Every single airport should have the same rules and regulations and not whatever the TSA agent feel like doing, just because he/she feel like doing it, abusing their authority. TSA agents should use common sense when doing things, but most TSA agents don't have any common sense. TSA agents are just abusive, rude and should just be terminated if they are found abusing their position. All TSA agents should have big name Tags and ID numbers on their shirts, and at the other side of the metal detector, there should be a computer where people can enter their comments on all TSA agents. The TSA have a long way to go to fix all the problems.

TVF said...

Fargo ND airport still seems to go most carry bags containing electronics- my carry on goes through at all airport except Fargo! What's up with them? Seems like they haven't gotten the new update on checking electronics?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the TSA needs to revisit their management tree. If I found out my managers where doing something they were not suppose to be doing and took upon themselves to do and are not part of the policies, then I would have them formally written up with a warning or dismissed from their jobs.

If an employee can not follow the rules then why are they still there? All they are doing is making it much more difficult for us citizens to travel.
TSA did do something correct by placing this Blog up so folks can post what is going on and to bring suggestion to the table. Hopefully the TSA will capitalize on this and make improvements.

Mantari said...

Dear Christopher:

You must have a very think skin to wear this job. I don't know how you do it!

Anonymous said...

I personally commend the TSA for the work they do. It is not an easy job to put up with millions of people that pass through their gates on a daily basis. If you have not noticed, American people are rude and disrespectful. We are a society of what’s in it for me and I don’t want to be inconvenienced.
I fly on a regular basis and though the lines are long, I make it a point to always thank the people who are keeping the flights the cross our country safe. Without them, where might we be. Would you want to hold down the job these people do?
While I commend these people for the hard work they do to keep us safe, I do have a question concerning the scanning of our luggage.
I always take great pains in properly packing my clothing to keep them wrinkle free, (or as wrinkle free as possible) packing my breakable items between clothing, my make up between heavier items to protect the mirrors in the compacts. However, whenever they open our bags, remove all the items and repack them, they never take the same care as we do. I understand they go through many bags a day, however, why can’t they take the same care we do in repacking the luggage so our personal items do not arrive wrinkled and in shambles?
Keep up the good work, keep protecting the American skies, but please do it more carefully.

citizen snips said...

1) What's the "blogesphere"?

2) How many TSA employees where fired over this?

3) If the answer to 2 is the number we all know it is, why does the TSA believe it's OK to harass citizens and violate their privacy contra their own policy without consequences?

Jennifer said...

How hard is it really just to follow rules? ... Rules are rules, our society is bound by rules, from the day we are born to the day we leave this earth we are bound by rules. Do we like them? NO Must we follow them? If we want to get by in this world, YES.

Why should adult citizens of an ostensibly free country be expected to obey bogus, pointless, infuriating rules like "Three ounces of shampoo in a bottle is fine, but 3.5 ounces is a terrorist threat so we're going to confiscate your property without compensation?" How hard is it for agents of the government of an ostensibly free country to say "We're only going to make rules that are actually necessary to enhance safety, rather than give our agents carte blanche to invent whatever on-the-spot rules they wish?"

Are you, Mr. or Ms. TSA Agent, seriously saying that Americans, when faced with pointless petty tyranny, should simply shut up and 'obey the rules?' If so, you are a disgrace to everything this nation once claimed to stand for.

TSO Tom said...

Holly said...
So, what exactly is the TSA's policy regarding a passenger traveling without identification, assuming they're over 17?

February 8, 2008 1:34 AM
A very good question Holly. The answer is this:
If you have no ID or expired ID you are referred for secondary screening. That simple. Why? Because we have no way of ascertaining that you are who you say you are. Most times when there is no ID available, the airline automatically prints the SSSS on your ticket. If they don't and you make it to the checkpoint with no ID or expired ID, a TSA officer will designate your for secondary screening.

platinumriver said...

I have always been asked to remove all PDAs, iPODs, as well as any device that has a camera in it, etc.

It is as inconvenient as the requests to show your ID and boarding pass about 3 times before you make it through the line.

Anonymous said...

I travel for a living. I carry all sorts of cords, cables, electronics, and things that can confuse TSA personnel.

I have a system. I have multiple ziplock bags.

Liquids in a quart bag and mini-bin.
Cables in 1 or 2 bags.
Powerstrip in a bin.
Electronics in 1 bag.
Keys, watches, Belts, etc in 1 bag.
Multiple laptops in a separate bins.
Shoes in another bin.

I usually have a 5+ bin train going through security.

I grab the plastic bags/known questions and throw them in TSA bins. The cables/powerstrip will often result in bag checks if not presented separately as they are "suspicious". Frankly, I don't see this as a problem.

If a 9/11 hijacker or Richard Reid tried the same thing today - they'd be pummelled to death by other passengers. The mindset change caused by 9/11 is probably more effective than anything the TSA can do.

While I generally think the TSA policies are ludicrous, I'm pleased that they continue to try. Ice and sealed bottles of name brand water are only a threat to my pocketbook when I have to buy them post-security.

Anonymous said...

"So let me get this straight, you want my name, badge number, supervisor's name, and email address but you choose to remain anonymous?"

WE don't work for the american people... so it's an entirely different thing.. YOU should be accountable... If you don't like it... get another job.

"First of all, we have an airport ID badge, a name plate with our first name and employee number on it, and our supervisor is usually on the checkpoint at all times. There are ways to make complaints on the spot."

And miss a flight? right... so if we want to complain about YOUR bad attitude, WE have to suffer even more to do it..

"You're too busy complaining and griping to realize that you're wasting time."

That's rich... WE'RE wasting time.. the entire TSA screening process is an offensive waste of time for millions and millions and millions of people... complaining about how a passenger's justified frustration is slowing things down is a non-sequitur.

The more you gripe about your shoes, jacket liquids, etc. the more time you waste in line. Its common sense, show up early, pack lightly if you can, put whatever you reasonably can in checked baggage, listen to what the TSO's are asking of you and that quick you're on your flight. How hard is it really just to follow rules? None of the passengers that I have encountered have been that ticked off at the rules and regulations that they couldn't get through in a timely manner. Yeah I get gripes about shoes, and the floor being dirty, mostly from women or elderly people who have medical issues. This is understandable, and I truly do sympothize with them.

"Rules are rules, our society is bound by rules, from the day we are born to the day we leave this earth we are bound by rules. Do we like them? NO Must we follow them? If we want to get by in this world, YES."

How about working to change them by complaining... you'll note that the vast majority of comments on this site are negative... that's true in public opinion as well... we all hate this agency and believe it's nothing but a waste of time, money and people.

"Don't ask me if you look like a terrorist, I have no clue what a terrorist looks like and your joke just may raise my suspicion of you a little bit. Don't under any circumstances make jokes about bombs, guns, etc. (yes people have done this), we take it seriously and you will probably miss your flight if you say something like that."

Good for you... persecute anyone with a sense of humor in the face of your tyranny. I think you people have a highly misguided authority complex... you should be apologizing to every single passenger for the horrible waste of time and humiliation... every TSA employee would quit if they understood the immorality of the situation.

"As for the business card, I think its useless as there are means to complain on the spot."

right... and get a little black mark on your record, then get stopped every time... you know why people don't want to complain to your face? because they are scared of you! and they should be... you have too much power and no value to travelers.

I think you should rethink your attitude here... your "feelings" are meaningless to people trying to get on with their lives.

Anonymous said...

If you can do that, why can't you answer the question on small knives?

Anonymous said...

Has the TSA/DHS considered cross-training personnel at more than one (preferably three) airports? I'd strongly suggest sending TSA screeners to another city for a day or two periodically (once a year) so that they can share their experiences with others and pick up a new bag of experiences as well. This is just good business practice and benefits not only the traveler but also the destination location (as they can learn from the traveler) and the home location (as the traveler will share what they learned when they traveled.)

And of course, this also puts the TSA agent into their customer's shoes--we travel for our work and experience multiple airports (though most frequently our home base airport) and the TSA agents should be exposed to the process from both sides of the fence--as a customer and as an agent.

Although this would have some material costs, the benefits would outweigh that. Even though all sites SHOULD be using the same procedures and have the same training, actual cross-training can demonstrate and reinforce how that common base is interpreted at various locations.

Anonymous said...

It's been said before, but I'll say it again. I too find it interesting there was no knowledge this was going on. In SEA there is a big huge sign as you enter security stating that all electronics, including cell phones, etc... must be removed. It's pretty hard to miss.

Esaba[CZ] said...

Thanks TSA for listening . Being from the private sector and working for a company with 40+ thousand employees I know how hard it is to find "rogue" processes. Unless you have dealt with as many employees as TSA has, you have NO idea how hard it can be to find rouge processes such as the one listed above. I'm sure they have managers that go around to all of the airports, but most of the time employees and supervisors know when that's going to happen, and they make sure the manager doesn't see that process while they are around. I see this all the time when managing this many employees, and it's a very hard problem to stay in front of. The customer's that experience it on a daily basis are in the best position to give accurate feedback.

To everyone who is yelling at TSA for not finding the faster, WHY? They are trying to fix the issues we are complaining about, as evident in the blog above. Expressing yourself in a civilized manor helps fix problems a whole lot more than ranting and raving like a child. Also, from personal experience (with another big company) in dealing with compliant threads / forums like this , the more specific information we give, the better TSA will be able to help us. Saying "I flew to X city last week and it was horrible" doesn't give them much to go on. Times, dates, specific airlines and terminals would help allot in narrowing down where problems exist.

I have to commend the TSA for openings this blog, it takes really really thick skin to open yourself up to the public like this. I understand the pain, trust me. But, its always worth it in the end. Keep it up.

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

"So let me get this straight, you want my name, badge number, supervisor's name, and email address but you choose to remain anonymous?"

Why would ANY screener have a problem giving citizens this information? Only a screener who's got something to hide or doing something wrong would object. All the card idea is is a suggestion for a new rule -- you know, those things society is founded on, and that everyone has to follow.

Why don't you want to follow the rules, hmm?

FFusingTSA said...

It is obvious that the TSA does not have the systems in place to analyze and rate individual locations throughout its system. The obvious solution would be to best practice an organization that has the scope and both geographically and operationally and to implement a similar system. For example the McDonalds corporation has an extensive system of checking the operations of its many independent franchise owners. McDonalds provides excellent service using employees that minimum training. A common tool McDonalds uses is the secret shopper. Someone hired by the company tests the store (unknown to the store employees or management) and rates the results. There is no need to reinvent the wheel just find the right prototype and adjust it to meet the TSA's needs.

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

It would really be, y'know, convenient if there was a clear, printed set of guidelines that all TSA screeners went by and that people could point to. It seems currently that it's all up to the screener's sometimes random or racist/classist judgement. There should be clear rules of what gets on and what doesn't, and passengers should be able to rely on carrying scissors / keychain multi-tools / etc. (or not) and not have to worry. Almost all of my flying is done without checking bags; so packing all the sometimes-allowed material isn't a good option.

Anonymous said...

I had this happen to me when going through Newark International in NJ back in August. Seemed a bit off to me. Whats the point of the xray machine? Funny part was, the girl viewing the screen for the machine wasn't even paying attention to it while mine and others items went through the xray machine. She was talking to another TSA employee. Great security guys!

We'll see if anything has changed next time I fly.

Anonymous said...

I would like TSA to develope and post at each checkpoint a "Passengers Bill of Rights". That way both citizens and government would be on equal footing.

It's a shame that such would be needed yet just from this blog it is apparent that TSA personnel and the public need clarification of what are rights and what are not rights.

Anonymous said...

I am happy to see TSA people post here. I like to hear there side of the questions, however I feel they should state if what they are saying is personal opinion or if they are speaking on behalf of the government.

Opinion is fine but the other is an official act and should be made clear.

Anonymous said...

I had my Leatherman (black case) inside the lateral pocket of my black Backpack. I had forgotten it was there and I went to the airport. I passed through the TSA security and no one noticed.

Please do some tests on this specific scenario. A Leatherman is pretty dangerous in an airplane in the wrong hands.

ChrisfromNH said...

I'm a frequent flyer and for the most part I can say that my TSA experiences have been mostly pleasant.

I don't think anyone would argue that there are many extremely unpleasant. Granted it's more the rule than the exception at this point but they have to start somewhere. Since I know the rules I usually slide through without issue and the few times that I have been taken aside for additional screening it's been quick and to the point. Many of the complaints are by infrequent flyers who feel so intimidated by the angry TSOs and by the other travelers that they are just freaking out. Yes the TSA causes many of the problem but the traveling public is good for just about the same amount. I have some complaints and suggestions (just like everyone else).

1.Rude staff- Generally this is top down and evidenced by the complaints of "pay back" for complaining. I would never even think of complaining to one of the agents supervisors because I am pretty convinced it would simply subject you to punishment in the form of more searches and or forfeited items. The solution is simple. Immediately and publicly fire the supervisor who is abusing the customer. A few of those would send a very strong message to those lower on the food chain. American's love justice and that story would spread like wildfire.

2. Lack of space and bad flow at the checkpoint. They need to have twice as much table length as they currently have allowing people more time to get their shoes off and the like. The tables should be set up to allow for easy rolling of bags and bins. We all hate constantly lifting up the bins and our bags at each junction.

3.Put more agents out in the lines to assist (not intimidate) flyers. If you have agents throughout the line (not shouting LIQUIDS NEED TO BE IN A BAGGIE)and instead were answering questions like "Do I need to take my watch off" or "is this candybar ok" people wouldn't be crammed into the bottleneck checkpoint all freaked out and then subjected to additional searches etc... Additionally have those agents HELP people get through. Traveling with small children has got to be difficult enough but when the agents simply stare at the person trying to get all their stuff in a bin wile holding a 2 year old I feel quite bad. It would be nice if they could lend a hand. I'd lend a hand but... touching other people's stuff is a major violation.

4. Be honest with people. If you are being inconsistent for security purposes just admit it. "Sometimes we have to change procedures as part of our security policies" is a pretty good answer. I hate it when the agents do something arbitrary to a traveler and claim "it's policy". Honesty goes a long way with everyone.

I see the comments about PHL all over this blog and since I fly through there at least weekly I feel it's my duty to chime in. I use terminals D and E mostly and find 90% of the agents to be professional and reasonably friendly (which says a lot for Philadelphia in general). The other 10% makes for some rough times though. My home airport (MHT) is wonderful. The entire TSA staff there is great. It probably has a lot to do with the volume of travelers.

Ayn R. Key said...

Tso tom wrote:

So let me get this straight, you want my name, badge number, supervisor's name, and email address but you choose to remain anonymous?

If we are in line, with our ticket, and you have our ticket while you find innovative new ways to sexually molest us, we are not anonymous.

There are ways to make complaints on the spot.

Yeah, it's called "please flag me for further scrutiny and make me miss my flight and maybe get arrested."

Rules are rules, our society is bound by rules, from the day we are born to the day we leave this earth we are bound by rules. Do we like them? NO Must we follow them? If we want to get by in this world, YES.

If the law enforcement apparatus refused to enforse unconstitutional rules, the politicians would be imptent. For some reason they never do so. "I was just following orders" came the cry from Nuremburg, and it did not work there yet it works here.

Work together instead of against each other and see how quickly things flow.

Don't protest an unjust or unconstitutional rule, don't object to unfair treatment, and everything will be fine.

Anonymous said...

tso tom said:

So let me get this straight, you want my name, badge number, supervisor's name, and email address but you choose to remain anonymous?

it sounds like you don't want to be held accountable for your actions. i think i speak for many people when i say that all we want is some way for tsa agents to be responsible for what they're doing, and a way to report actions we find questionable--without fear of retribution (or a secondary screening).

Anonymous said...

You have declined to post my comment about spelling blogsphere wrong.

You have removed a comment that pointed this spelling mistake out.

Would you please be willing to post this and explain why you have chosen to remove that comment?

Thanks in advance.

TKK said...

I have a suggestion for the airport security check-in area. I think that just before the airport security check-in area the TSA should place change collection bins for the Red Cross. (I'd actually like to see local charities get in on this but this is probably unrealistic.)

I always end up at the airport security line with a pocketful of change and would gladly donate it rather than throw it in the gray plastic bin and the worry about collecting it at the other end while I'm trying to get my shoes back on. I think you could collect thousands, if not millions, of dollars a year for disaster relief this way. It also might speed the security line if people don't have to walk back through because of change in their pockets.

Anonymous said...

Nice try guys... cute little PR move yet again. The fact that this blog even exists ( as well as the illegally used "mythbusters" portion of the website) is a clear indication that you know you are LOSING the PR battle - and will soon start to lose funding and congressional support. The fact is you are even more loathed then the IRS. Now that its not just the frequent travellers that complain - but most of the general public is a good sign that ( although it will take a while), the TSA's assualt on the Constitution will soon come to an end.

Anonymous said...

How about this one, TSA will allow a Sikh's wearing a Turban to pat the turban down themselves instead of the screening agent.

Can I pat myself down instead of the agent since I feel that to have another person touch me violates my personal religous beliefs, violates my personal space and is demeaning?

What is good for one should also be good for all!

bobwhoops said...

Thanks for listening :)

Anonymous said...

Are there any security cameras around when the TSA agents are going through our luggage? That area should be surrounded by security cameras at all times. Keeping an eye on all the TSA agents, not all TSA agents are bad, but too bad the many are ruin the image of the TSA.

TSA TSO NY said...

"Anonymous said...
How about this one, TSA will allow a Sikh's wearing a Turban to pat the turban down themselves instead of the screening agent.

Can I pat myself down instead of the agent since I feel that to have another person touch me violates my personal religous beliefs, violates my personal space and is demeaning?

What is good for one should also be good for all!

February 8, 2008 10:49 PM

Screeners on the front lines have been screaming about this since the day we heard about it. NOT OUR IDEA!! WE THINK IT'S ABSOLUTELY LUDICROUS!!

However, our leadership has bowed to a religious minority and the american public's security is put at risk as a result.

We believe that TSA is putting "Customer Service" before security. If the American public was to complain about this, the TSOs would be right behind you!!

Hmmm, let's see if this gets posted!

Anonymous said...

I think the TSA does a wonderful job of creating security on the screened side of the airport.
Why must this effort also and at the same time create an ideal unsecure area for maximum destruction by a terrorist?
The concentration of people in front of security gates is a much more dangerous area - and concentrates hundreds of people together in unscreened areas. This seems to me exactly the sort of action we should avoid in an unsecure "high value" location within an airport.
Please consider avoiding loss of life during future terror activity. Do not allow security designs that concentrate persons on the unsecure side of gates. Lets change them now before hundreds of people are hurt or killed. Space the lines out (yes add space between them) and protect each line with barriers to limit damage. Do not let hundreds of people wait in any line close together.
We may be protecting airplanes at the cost of many more lives in the airport. Please change this asap and I'll understand if you don't post this or any other suggestion to the public area that may give "bad guys" any ideas.

Anonymous said...

I'd like someone to explain to me why a TSA operative asked my three-year-old adopted daughter what her name was--but not my eight-year-old biological son. When I politely asked the reason, she said "Because she doesn't look like you".

My daughter then became very upset, and refused to talk. Can you please explain to me why this person felt empowered to frighten a toddler with this kind of racist nonsense (my daughter is nonwhite)? What role could this possibly play in security screening?

mark said...

Dear TSA,

I have to say this blog is only the latest indication that your operation is just about the LEAST painful aspect of air travel today. I find most TSA agents to be friendly and efficient, especially compared with airline folks.

You should be congratulated.

Dave said...

Q: How come TSA employees never come up to me outside airports and ask to bum a light, when just about everybody else does?

A: Because they still have my Zippo!

david l. said...

As a frequent flyer my biggest frustration is that, six years after 9/11, airports still haven't reorganized their security areas to provide for efficient work flows. For example, why are there so often not enough bins. Why are so many of the tables (1) too short, (2) lacking rollers so you can't push the 4-5 trays through that you need for a laptop, coat, shoes, carry-on bag, liquids, etc.

Overseas, I typically see large numbers of lines for baggage screening, but only one or two lines for x-ray screening for people. This makes sense, since it takes much less time to do this screening.

It just seems to me that a sensible time motion engineer could improve the workflow of the screening and speed up the processing times dramatically.

Despite all the time we stand in line waiting to be screened, we still end up waiting when we finally come up for inspection because it takes longer to take off your shoes, your coat, unpack your laptop, etc. Or the person in front of you.

Why not have supermarket style conveyer belts with electric eyes?

Why not have much longer roller tables to give people more time to unpack?

I could go on and on about this.

If you make the process more efficient, people will have more tolerance for the inspections and the crazy regulations.

And I just hope that Real ID doesn't create a new snafu.

Anonymous said...

in denver, september 2007. while waiting on line a tsa agent carrying a backpack went through the handicapped area.

i was stopped during the creen because i had an unopened jar of peanut butter (forgot to pack in checked baggage).

took the opportunity to ask agent if i can ask a question. a rarity - a person who listens.

mentioned what i saw - his response was that agents go through screening line once during the day - the rest of the time they are on their honor.

what joke - pay barely living wage - give an agent a few hundred thousand - and let them take things through.

why is n agent's honor any more trustful a criterion - than an 85 year old caucasian lady - with knee and hip implants.

if we want security - make the agents go through.

murders have happened in variouis cities when screeners gave special priviliges to people of presumed familiariry and responsibility.

Anonymous said...

While I appreciate the fact that a positive change has been made, I find it absolutely absurd that it took a blog to alert upper management that this practice was going on.

Is there:

1. No standard operating procedures?
2. No concept requiring approval for deviation from standard operating procedures (if they exist)?
3. No concept of reviewing (auditing) field level operations?

Unless TSA can address these issues, the public is likely to end up perceiving the entire organization as a make work program.

Anonymous said...

Totally awseome..

This is next generation government

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on establishing this blog and soliciting input. I have previously communicated with TSA through the Contact Us links.

My interaction with the TSA is two-fold, 1) as a passenger, passing through checkpoints more than 100 times per year, and, 2) professionally as I am employed in the air cargo industry. My experience in both parts has confirms that the vast, vast majority of TSA personnel are both professional and courteous.

My comments may actually fall into the Gripes and Grins section.

First, the TSO's that are stationed at the walk-through metal detector. They seem to be charged with advising the passengers in line what is prohibited and what to do, i.e. remove your shoes, coats, etc. My specific complaint is the TSO's that use a very loud voice to continually repeat instructions. Making this situation worse is the TSO at the very next walk-though metal detector at the same volume with essentially the same message. Then repeating it after a pause of 10-40 seconds. I believe this creates a very unsettling and unnecessarily stressful screening experience. Many airports have installed monitors at the checkpoints that issue the same instructions in a more moderate tone. Do the TSO's really need to act in this manner?

Second, while you may not control this directly I'm sure you can pass this to the people that do. I will also send this comment to the Airports Council International - North America. Why are announcements made INSIDE security about not carrying more than 3 oz of liquid through security checkpoints? Since everyone INSIDE security has passed through a checkpoint, and has been subject to that restriction, is that announcement really necessary?


Toby said...

Congrats on opening the doors a little wider. I've actually had a good experience with TSA which I posted -

Would love to do an interview with one of the TSA bloggers for Diva Marketing Blog's Biz Blog Profile Series. Contact me if that's of interest. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

But true Americans don't WANT TO "affect security positively." There reason we are a democracy is because we value insecurity over order. What we have here are unAmericans running an unAmerican operation and being proud of it--who needs that? Who wants that?

Mac Prichard, Portland, Oregon said...

Has TSA informed its Newark airport staff of this new policy? If so, the people there are ignoring central office because the Newark screeners are still pulling equipment out of brief cases.

I had the misfortune to pass through Newark at 1:30 PM on Saturday, February 9, to catch a United flight to Chicago. I'm a frequent traveler, so I followed all the usual procedures and was surprised to see my brief case emerge from the x-ray machine opened and my headphones, disc drive, and power cord in a separate bin.

I asked the screener if this was a new practice, thinking perhaps there was a new rule I needed to follow. He curtly told me, "You can't expect to waltz through here."

A short while later in a United waiting area I checked my brief case and discovered my cell phone and several business cards from from contacts I made last week were missing. I returned to the security station to retrieve my phone. No one apologized for removing my phone from my brief case and not telling me. One of the missing business cards was discovered on the floor near the x-ray machines.

The staff said they had no idea were the other business cards might me; I've since discovered several receipts in my briefcase that I need for reimbursement are also missing, undoutedly removed by TSA along with my equipment.

If the TSA staff in the screening areas had told me they were searching my briefcase, (and they of course are welcome to do so), I would have double-checked it before leaving the screening area and not lost my phone or the business cards and receipts. Now, I've got to track down the missing contact information on those cards and call the hotel, rental car company, and a shuttle service to get copies of these missing documents.

Blogs are a two-way form of two-way communication, so I'm curious to hear TSA's explanation on this site for the behavior of its staff yesterday in Newark.

Mac Prichard
Portland, Oregon

Anonymous said...

"booze on burboun st"? Would you like to send that comment to Kip Hawley? Probably not, and not the 40 million Americans that travel. Inappropriate. I realize you are trying to reach out to "the people". But don't write like your age. This is not MySpace. This is the United States Government. Maybe you should keep the "Washington Post" rule in mind. Would you write your posting on the front page of the Washington Post?

Screener Joe said...

"Second, pay attention to the whole customer thing. We're not customers. We're not consumers. We're citizens."

When I started working as a screener I took an oath to the Constitution; just as I took a similar oath when I entered military service. And what are the first three words in the preamble to the Constitution? WE THE PEOPLE... I capitalize that because that's the way it is in the Constitution itself.

Whether you realize it or not, I, as a screener, do work for you, as a citizen. You may not always like how I do my job, but I am doing it for you.

Screener Joe said...

anonymous said: "Are there any security cameras around when the TSA agents are going through our luggage? That area should be surrounded by security cameras at all times. Keeping an eye on all the TSA agents, not all TSA agents are bad, but too bad the many are ruin the image of the TSA."

Perhaps the question should be: are there cameras around where the airline baggage handlers are moving baggage?

When TSA was created, the Department of Transportation hired a commercial human resourses corporation to do the recruiting testing and hiring. Some offices of that corporation, in order to meet the hiring deadline, knowingly hired unqualified people. TSA got the black eye when those people had to be fired, but it was the malfeasance of that corporation that caused it.

Even at airports where baggage is part of the belt system, the average bag is handled by no more than one or two TSA people. And we don't have a great amount of time to spend on bags. Now the airlines ... well, there is the guy who put it on the belt, the guy who takes it off the belt, the guy who sorts it, the guy who puts it on the truck, the guy who takes it off of the truck and puts it on the plane, the guy who takes it off of the plane, the guy who takes it off of the truck, the guy who sorts it, and the guy who puts it on the belt. And that's assuming that there are no layovers in your trip.

Airline employees have been stealing from bags as long as there have been planes in the air. A case in Dallas last fall, in which a dump truck driver reported a suspicious number of suitcases in a dumpster. Turns out the airline employees were tossing bags into the dumpster so that they could come back and ransack them at thier leisure.

Remember, TSA screeners are required to pass a federal background investigation. Most airlines don't even require a records check.

Please stop blaming us for the acts of the airlines.

Anonymous said...

You should have made it clear that it is still a requirement that larger electronics be run through the checkpoint x-rays seperately. You now are going to have PAX all over the country instisting that they no longer need to remove electronics from their bags and they read it here! Please think of the operational impact when responding to these blogs!

Anonymous said...

@scanner joe: Good job at the first three words, now make sure you read the rest, too.

We the People means more than just the People you work for.

Transparency of Public Service said...

Call me cynical, but the TSA suddenly being concerned with accountability with the public during the beginnings of a new election smacks of desperation.

If the TSA really wants the commuters on their side, they should make a more permanent system of interfacing with the public instead of a blog. It should be designed around the the deadlines commuters face with flights, so they aren't faced with the fear of missing a flight or worse if they seek recourse.

"Talk to my superior" doesn't cut it anymore.

Anonymous said...


DHS' sister agency, CBP, has an excellent trusted traveler program on the Northern border called NEXUS. Since NEXUS card holders are vetted by DHS before a card is issued, why does TSA refuse accept a NEXUS card as a valid government ID to get through a checkpoint?

I have tried several times and been refused because NEXUS is not listed by TSA as an approved document. Including NEXUS in the list would simplify life for travelers and increase the utility of the NEXUS program.

Tom Mariner said...

I am thrilled by the use of great technology to solicit responses from the TSA's "customers". I am blown away (probably not the best terminology on a TSA web site) by the number of responses and interest!

We work with the FDA on medical devices and find them to be very effective in representing the public. OK, that's two impressive agencies. Pretty soon, I am going to start trusting the competence of our government again.

Anonymous said...

I think it is great that you are offering the public a chance to talk about TSA issues and that you respond!

I too was confused as to why I was asked at some airports to pull out my i-pod and at other airports not asked. So, I appreciate the clarification.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

re Screener Joe;

"Please stop blaming us for the acts of the airlines."

Well Joe how about you guys not cutting our TSA approved locks all the time.

We try to protect ourselves from the handlers and you guys can't keep up with a set of keys, cut our locks and defeat our efforts at security.

You guys are the last ones we see with our stuff so who do we think is going to get the blame?

Do you really think all TSA people are above crimminal acts. Many of you do it daily by providing Privacy Act Notices as required by federal law!

Anonymous said...

This is my complaint:
It galls me that airlines can use the TSA lines as marketing tools. I encountered special TSA lines for Continental elite passengers at both Bush and at Newark. The people flying economy were waiting for 45 minutes while the first/business passengers breezed thru their own private line. Our fees pay TSA equally and we should be treated equally. This needs to be stopped now.

TSA TSO NY said...

This is my complaint:
It galls me that airlines can use the TSA lines as marketing tools. I encountered special TSA lines for Continental elite passengers at both Bush and at Newark. The people flying economy were waiting for 45 minutes while the first/business passengers breezed thru their own private line. Our fees pay TSA equally and we should be treated equally. This needs to be stopped now.

February 12, 2008 7:41 PM

However, TSA has NOTHING to do with the lines to the checkpoint. TSA's responsibility begins once the passengers have actually entered the screening Checkpoint. The airport/airlines do whatever they want outside the CP when it comes to lining people up.

So, as much as we get blamed for things we actually are responsible for, this one is not ours!! Complain to the airlines whom YOU are paying directly!!

We've even been told that we can't send passengers who have oversize or too many bags back to the airline to check those bags. We have to screen whatever comes to the checkpoint. We end up having to screen those large and extra bags which further causes YOU to wait on line longer.

Natalie said...

Chance: With all due respect, you have demonstrated part of what is so frustrating about the no-fly list:

The TSA's refusal to believe there are problems with it.

I assure you that someone with my son's name has garnered the TSA's ire and it creates problems when going through airport security and check-in. It has been stated CLEARLY to me on more than one ocassion that he (his name) is on the no-fly list. Since airlines have no way of verifying age until we are actually at the airport checking-in, it most certainly does affect us.

Yes, I know about redress, and for a short time my son's name was off the list (I suspect because someone else went through the redress procedure with his name), but I was told the last time I flew that something like 500,000 names had been added back on, and my son was likely one of them. Everyone I have spoken to that has gone through the redress procedure either denied or b. have had their name removed, only to have it added back on at a later date. Technically, I am not supposed to have to even go through the redress procedure because my son is not supposed to have problems! I am not trying to be lazy about this, I am trying to point out flaws. You cannot judge someone based on name alone. Oh wait, yes you can, even if it's ridiculous.

Honestly, it's not the hassle I mind, it's the stares my son will receive as he gets older because he is questioned as a possible threat.

I would REALLY, REALLY like to see this topic brought up. I suspect it won't though because you know this system is incredibly flawed and have no plans of fixing it.

TSA TSO NY said...

But just how effective is spying on people's expressions and body movements?
The U.S. boasts that between January and December 2006, SPOT stopped 70,000 people for questioning, resulting in upwards of 700 arrests.

But that 1-in-100 hit rate involved alleged money-laundering, drug and weapons possession to immigration violations and outstanding arrests warrants.

None were terrorism related. The TSA notes some did lead to counter-terrorism investigations. But the results are not known and TSA officials did not respond to requests for interviews for this story. "

"My guess is that close to 1 out of every 100 people who go through airports have committed or are committing some kind of offence," Christopher Slobogin, a University of Florida Levin College law professor, said in an interview. "In other words, random selection might produce the same hit rate, without bothering with the expense associated with the program. Since we already subject all passengers and luggage to technological and occasional physical searches, why is such a flawed program needed?"

Well Kip?
Why ARE we having members of our screening force, who could be better utilized in running the checkpoint, wasting time by participating in a program whose results approach the statistical norm achieved by just pulling random people aside?

Anonymous said...

I have an idea that might help on the subways.

I am currently living in Jersey City, and take the PATH station into Manhattan for work.

I see the security measures taken and often wonder if it is enough, so I wanted to share an idea that might help get more people involved with security awareness.

I see more and more passengers who carry iPods, which are capable of displaying video and pictures.

Why not create a podcast containing the latest pictures of at-large terrorists, other at-large criminals, amber alerts, etc?

That way, if another passenger thinks that they might have recognized a terrorist or criminal on the subway, they can always flip through the pictures on their podcast to double-check on-the-spot, and alert the authorities if they are pretty sure they have discovered one.

Hope this helps.

Wee Willie Jackson said...

Hey Christopher,

Someone at the TSA has been lying to you!!!!

Guess what! Beginning February 13that about 15:00h, "TSA at LAX terminal 6 is asking for all electronics to be removed from bags. Laptops, cameras, mp3 players, etc."

Christopher, do you think it was, "set up by local TSA offices and was not part of any grand plan across the country."

Are they rogue operatives?

Did you only find out about this because I posted it on your blog?

Anonymous said...


Reports are coming in on various blogs that TSA at LAX are again, requiring "all electronics to be removed from bags. Laptops, cameras, mp3 players, etc. Guess how long the line is"

Anonymous said...

Screener Jane

Dear bloggers/travelers/citizen, thank you for posting all these comments about how horrible we are, I sincerely believe that management will look into this and start firing people who are bullying citizens and treat them like prisoners, I am sadly ashamed of those screeners and the fact that I have to work with them. But no ones word counts like yours; we already have some changes imposed on how to handle CPAP’s and some other things thanks to this blogg. Please take minute out of your busy day and record, date, time and if possible lane number on what airport you where scrutinized by TSO’s. But remember, there are cameras which also record your every step as well, so before you start spiting fire on some screener ask your self how much did you put into the situation.

This is for you to know;
You can always ask screener to change his/hers gloves prior touching your stuff.
You can always opt for pat down instead of removing your sweaters (jacket must come off) , you can always ask for private screening of you items, or your person.
You can request for your stuff to be brought in front of you while patted down or screened with hand held metal detector. You can also ask for hand search of your x-rays of undeveloped films and your request should be honored. In any instances where your request is ignored you can ask to see supervisor.
Please understand that not everybody carries only computer and extension cord in their computer bags, often people carry printers, projectors, hard drives and other stuff which clutters bags and makes impossible for us to see anything, that is why large electronics must come out and be placed in separate bins.
Please be aware that Persons with Disabilities and parents with kids take longer time to divest at the checkpoint, once you see this try to go to another lane instead of standing there and rolling your eyes.
If you had a nice experience at an airport take a minute, as you would do if you had a negative one, and tell us about it.

Anonymous said...

I sent an email to the TSA contact center on 9 Feb 08 with a very specific question regarding acceptable ID.

It is now 14 Feb 08, no acknowledgment of receipt of email (automated response) & no response to my email.

Why have a contact center if one cannot make contact.

Is this not the purpose of having a contact center?

Not encouraging.

Cathy said...

Why do I have to unlock my TSA approved lock at BTV? I have lost 13 locks at BTV necause the idiots cannot put the locks back on. I have talked to the head of TSA at BTV (Alan D) and although said they were supposed to unlock they refuse. They tell me they have only one key and they will have to run way down to other end (wow the airport is sooo long) to get the key. How do I get reimbursed for lost locks??

Anonymous said...

Recently flew from Philly to Orlando and had a good experience with TSA. Upon my arrival at Orlando for my return trip home, the lines were getting long. As I approached the first review of "papers" the female offcier was very efficient and scrutinized my information and openly compared my ID with my face. She was friendly in a professional way. Then the lines were getting long about 20 people ahead of me. Within minutes, TSA officials opened more lanes but the lines were still long. After a few minutes, TSA official notified us of more lane available and actually apologized for the delay. I was impressed. Just wish the experience was the same at Philly.

Phil said...

Someone wrote, "I sent an email to the TSA contact center on 9 Feb 08 with a very specific question regarding acceptable ID."

Please note that such I.D. only gets you into the longer line with the less-intrusive search. You are not required to present any identification in order to fly domestically. Everyone flying domestically in the United States has the choice of either A) being thoroughly screened (metal detector, pat-down, and hand-search of carryon bags) or B) flashing any one of about 60 different kinds of I.D. cards to someone who probably has not memorized exactly what each one of them is supposed to look like this year, than having a quick x-ray of his baggage and trip through a walk-through metal detector.

(Think about that last part -- anyone who wants a less-thorough search has only to provide a card that any under-21 college student can buy for $20 to get himself into the local pub.)

Presenting credentials (showing something that can be used to identify you; "showing I.D.") is simply not required in order to fly within the United States.

For more information (including a great write-up of why it is actually a bad idea to show I.D., read about Gilmore v. Gonzalez at The Identity Project.

The TSA's Web site states that they encorage (not require) "each adult traveler to keep his/her airline boarding pass and government-issued photo ID available until exiting the security checkpoint," then states that "absence of proper identification will result in additional screening."

Assert your right to move about your own country (once you have been checked for dangerous carry-ons) without having to ask permission from your government, or some day, you will have to get permission to travel.

Papers, please!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this forum. I fly several times every week and have seen a few wild inconsistencies in regards to liquids and empty containers. I understand the need for rules that are moving targets, but the things I've seen done recently make me wonder. Last week a woman sat down next to me on a plane carrying an empty 1 gallon water jug-like on a water cooler only smaller. I asked if she carried that through security, and she said that she did all the time. recently, when completing an assignment, my coworker's client gave him one of their logo coffee mugs, whuch he put in his carryon bag. It was confiscated, he was scolded and held for a further secuity search. So it must not be related to capacity-an 8 oz mug is contraband, but a 1 gallon container is not? I have also witnessed the cute, scantily clad female college student age waiver for liquids. On 3 trips through security I have seen these young women bounce through carrying open bottles of water or soda, while anyone else had to surrender theirs. And, while retrieving my bag after the xray, an attractive young woman was rearraning the contents of her duffle bag-including 6 large bottles of shampoo and conditioner-16 oz or larger each. We respect the rules and the need for them-we would just like them to be fairly and evenly enforced-even if we are not attractive young women. We do all appreciate the tough job you have. Thanks

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight...the general public and every terrorist scoping out security should know exactly what to expect every time going through a TSA checkpoint?

The charges of “rouge” screeners making up their own rules are beyond ridiculous. Hey, for the handful of whining detractors, maybe the air carriers and TSA should offer flights with “Honor System” security.

The way I read it, a frequent flyer felt as though he was inconvenienced by being asked (that's right asked, not told) to remove his electronics in order to speed up processing, then complained like a spoiled child and got immediate action from the TSA?
The consistent thing I see in the blogs is that they come from a bunch of people who demand security as long as it doesn’t inconvenience them. Yeah, we’ve seen these types again and again. These are the same people that treasure their personal freedoms as long as they don’t have to risk their necks to defend it. No time for security, but lots of time to seek attention. We can bet that they will be the first to publicly snivel should a plane blow up (heaven forbid).
The sad thing is that the TSA leadership appears to have displayed a complete lack of backbone in this case.

Phil said...

Someone anonymously wrote:

So let me get this straight...the general public and every terrorist scoping out security should know exactly what to expect every time going through a TSA checkpoint?

Yes -- to be screened for dangerous carry-ons. Nothing more, nothing less.

The commenter's attitude is foolish. How can we be expected to follow rules that we are not privy to?

Anonymous said...

Reformated to remove long URL. --ed.

I have very little new to add, but in the interests in showing widespread support, I'll reiterate what I consider to be some of the more important points/suggestions.

First, good job on acting on the feedback. Having multiple forms of feedback is good, because it lets you identify weaknesses in policies and procedures. Sure, it would be NICE if management knew all, but that's not likely to happen in the real world.

Second, pay attention to the whole customer thing. We're not customers. We're not consumers. We're citizens. We aren't being given a reasonable choice, and when we take the unreasonable choice of not flying, nobody at the TSA suffers.

Third, now that there's a feedback mechanism in place that has proven to be useful, expand on that theme. You have folks reading the blog comments, good.

So now, provide a dedicated complaints page, and post the URL near every security checkpoint. Provide postage-paid comment cards at the end of the security process; leave plenty of space for the user to write in their complaint.

Send anonymous (trained) testers thru the line. Make it their job to get the screeners to act inappropriately, and reward them when they can do so without /actually/ crossing the line. All ages, races, socio-economic status, etc.

You've identified that there's an information gathering problem. Fix this problem hard.

Fourth, enforce accountability. Vindictiveness by a TSA employee should not be tolerated, at all, ever. The appearance of vindictiveness (or incompetence) by a TSA employee only serves to erode the effectiveness of the whole process, and there's been enough so that ya'll have precious little credibility left.

You have to fix that.

Abuse of TSA authority should convey penalties at least as severe as the abuse. If screeners can get away with just about anything, some will; if people believe that a screen can get away with anything, they will resent, distrust, fear, hate, and despise the TSA.

Fifth, let's go back to respecting the fourth amendement. (Next to the URL for a complaint form, post the Bill of Rights, in large, friendly, easy-to-read text, to remind everyone of the important things.)

Don't ever search someone's bags without permission. (Fortunately, every time someone has asked to search my carry-on, they've been polite, and asked very nicely. Kudos there, again.) Include this for the checked luggage as well -- scan it with the X-ray, but don't open it without the passenger present.

Too often, stuff has vanished from checked suitcases, or stuff is damaged because the TSA agent (they're the only ones allowed to search our bags, therefore, it's their responsibility) lacks the necessary skills (or time) to repack the bags properly.

Basically, show a little respect.

Seventh, and I think this is a genuinely new suggestion, instead of confiscating all those minor items at the checkpoint, which is one of the most demeaning actions you could possibly engage in, offer a means to mail or check those items. (I try to travel with an envelope or box in my carry-on luggage, but too often I forget.)

Lastly, find people like this "TSO TOM" above, and find them a new job. They have exactly the wrong sort of attitude, and exhibit exactly the sort of frustration and impatience that harms the TSAs reputation.

A quote from:

"It will be a desirable thing
to extinguish from the bosom
of every member of the community
any apprehensions, that there
are those among his countrymen
who wish to deprive them of the
liberty for which they valiantly
fought and honorably bled."

-- James Madison
proposing Bill of Rights to the House,
June 8, 1789


Frequent Flyer said...

Yeah, so why was commenting disabled on the Shoes and Liquids post??

Too many negative comments to handle?

Did anybody at the TSA actually believe they'll be complimented after acting like bumbling knuckleheads most of the time?

I poured out %90 percent of the anti dandruff shampoo I purchased for $12 only to be told "the bottle can't be xxxml not only the actual liquid. Is this some sad joke or what? Does somebody at the TSA actually care about this???

Anonymous said...

It seems this "blog" is used more for posting complaints than for passing along information. Great stress release but ultimately frustrating in that no (or few) answers are forthcoming.

I wish you would make it clear when someone is an official TSA reply in this blog and when it is someone CLAIMING to be with the TSA. For instance: Anonymous Screener Joe said..."Whether you realize it or not, I, as a screener, do work for you, as a citizen. You may not always like how I do my job, but I am doing it for you." If you work for me, then how about showing me the respect most people show their employer? And remember this: You are not doing this "for" me but rather "to" me.

Another purported TSA officer posted: "TSO Tom said...
...A little cooperation from some of the passengers goes a long way to make your trip through security that much easier. You're too busy complaining and griping to realize that you're wasting time... How hard is it really just to follow rules? ... Now if you get to the mag and I sound a little gruff, its probably because I've been saying the same thing over and over again for the past however long i've been standing there. I'm not trying to insult you, demean you, or yell at you, but I want everyone in the back of the line to hear what I'm saying so that they can be prepared when they get to the FRONT of the line so I raise the tone of my voice... Don't under any circumstances make jokes about bombs, guns, etc. (yes people have done this), we take it seriously and you will probably miss your flight ..."

If I were TSA, I would certainly want to make sure this person, with his anger showing through even here, is not assumed to be an official responder on this site. But, using his own examples let me ask, why is it out of all the airport security in the world, only in the USA (in my experience) do the screeners have to yell at passengers? Tom, if you raise your voice while speaking to me, even if only so people behind me can hear, then you are, by definition, yelling at me. And even here, you threaten us with missing our flight. Sad. IS part of your training to exclude any sense of humor? I have had security in England and even France, for god's sake, joke with me. Tom, you want cooperation from us. Let me suggest a smile and a calm voice from you might elicit such a result.

Screener Joe makes some excellent points about where and who is stealing from our luggage. Yes, I suspect that most of the increased pilferage from baggage is due to the airport baggage handlers not TSA agents. But the TSA is repsonsible for my luggage being unlocked and easily reopened by the handlers. So, the TSA should install a plastic lock on every bag they clear. If I find my bag is TSA locked and my camera missing, then I can assume the TSA is guilty. If no TSA lock, then the baggage handlers are probably responsible. Forgetting to apply a lock should be a terminal offense. As should cutting off a TSA-approved lock. I've had to replace two so far.

Now my own complaint: I am a rather well-paid contractor for the US government. Your computers should show numerous trips made by me in and out of combat zones, drug exporting countries, terrorist havens and many third world countries. I try to smile and cooperate with your agents at my "random" secondary screenings. It simply cannot be random when I have been selected for this screening 12 out 12 times I've flown out of the US in the past 6 months. In fact, I can only remember two or three times in the last 5 years I have not been selected and I average a couple of flights per month. This is not "random" this is profiling. Okay by me. But profile responsibly. Don't waste your time or resources rescreening people who have proven time and time again to not be security risks.

More frequent and clearly identified responses from your official representatives, especially those that address a question or policy, would be highly appreciated.

Cyndee said...

Blogging has certainly changed the conversation to 2 way and the speed is more accelerated. I saw a conference presenter this week get thrown by attendees who twittered their displeasure and it was all over the net before she even finished.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I'm the first here to tell a tale of total breakdown in our western society?
Briefly: I've been flying to the usa for 12 years, because we loved the life here, I've been taken off for interrogation 18 times losing our bags, missing connections .. get the picture ? all because the nightmare has gotten worse and the muslim terrorists are winning the war .. get it? I've written to the head of immigration many times and I have a sheaf of apologizes.. "it's the terrorists you know" very true I say but why keep me on a list when you know damn well I am just a "retired" visitor with no criminal or terroristic agenda.
I was once told it was a Canadian problem.. so I talked with the Canadian police.. no way sir they told me it's the "exited states" doing! My last flight: AA from El paso to Seattle I was taken off to one side and given the super treatment again... and then again on the return,,, I showed my wonderful apologetic letters and they just sighed.. it's a mess he said but it all makes work for the working man! well we've had enough and will leave your country to you and your illegals..

Anonymous said...

TSA please use this blog to explain to those on your "special " lists, Why their names are put back on these lists after being assured by immigration senior management, that they have had their names cleared?
I have had untold trouble with this .
Why can there not be a "nexus" type system used, you have every detail of my traveling life on file, my passport details, where I live/travel,my Iris scanned my fingerprints, You have had your people interrogate me on numerous occasions, with the same" honest " results, don't you see how stupid it makes all the screening look!!
Come on: tell us you will stop this insanity and knock at least some of the smiles of the terrorists faces!

Anonymous said...

From a press release issued by the Sikh Coalition, SALDEF and United Sikhs :

Under these procedures, a Sikh's turban will not be touched during additional screening, unless the Sikh traveler permits it.

Instead, if the Transportation
Visual verificationSecurity Officer (TSO) believes a Sikh's turban needs to be screened, the passenger now has three options:

1. The passenger can have his/her head covering patted down in public or in private by TSA personnel;
2. The passenger can pat down his/her own head covering in public or private, and then have his/her hands swabbed with a cotton cloth to check for chemical residue; or
3. The passenger can opt to go through a "puffer machine," if one is available at that airport.
Can you believe this!! no 4oz bottles for the white folks but guess what the sikh can get in hiS headgear.. YOU NEED TO WORRY

Anonymous said...

The problem is back. Mar 24, 2008 CMI (Champaign, IL) my bag went through xray. The woman said it was "too cluttered" and they emptied all the electronics into a tray and ran it again. This happened to the traveller in front of me and behind me.

I'm 1 million miler, Executive Platinum on AA and it is the exact same laptop bag that went through CMI and ATL last week with no problems.

I'm off to flyertalk...

Ormskirk Driving Instructor said...

If only these people were consistant.

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