Friday, February 8, 2008

RUMOR ALERT! LAPTOPS

We have received several questions, comments and links to other blogs about a Washington Post article on confiscating laptops and other electronic devices at airports.

» Click Here to read the Washington Post Article.

As the article correctly states, this is a customs issue and not one TSA is involved in.

TSA does not and will not confiscate laptops or other electronic devices at our checkpoints. Our officers’ are solely focused on the safety of the traveling public and are looking for explosives and other prohibited items. Should one of our officers find something suspicious, we will immediately contact local law enforcement and potentially the local bomb squad. We will not ask for any password, access to any files or take the laptop from you for longer than it takes to determine if it contains a threat.

Should anyone at a TSA checkpoint attempt to confiscate your laptop or gain your passwords or other information, please ask to see a supervisor or screening manager immediately.


Christopher
TSA Evolution Blog Team

2/14/08 8:41 a.m.

Nico Said:

The post referencing LAX Terminal 6 requiring all passengers remove all electronic items piqued our interest, so we have done some digging. First thing this morning we checked with our Lead TSO at Terminal 6 and we spoke with our Assistant Federal Security Director for Screening, who both refuted the posting and stated, "passengers are not required to remove all electronics, in fact, we are requesting they put all small electronic items in their carry-on bags to help keep them together." Additionally, the Screening Manager at LAX who is responsible for the operations in both Terminals 5 and 6, is in the process of conducting an employee by employee inquiry to determine if anyone has required this of passengers in the last couple of days. So far, there have been negative findings. Is it possible that one passenger had to remove all electronics after an initial pass through the X-ray because we had trouble identifying possible threat items? Yes. But again, all passengers are not required to remove all electronics.

Blog Team Member

117 comments:

ZoomInfinite said...

What a great use of the new blog. It was clear from the article that it related to customs officials and not the TSA. The internet has a way of spinning it's own story however. Being forced to hand over passwords is still a disturbing prospect, but crossing national borders is certainly much different than a flight from ORD-SEA.

Anonymous said...

thanks - so we need to curse US Customs now.

Anonymous said...

Please define "something suspicious". Thank you.

Anonymous said...

BTW... does this mean that we should ask to speak to screening managers if a supervisor is being unhelpful? I thought they didn't come to checkpoints.

Anonymous said...

On the topic of disclosure of policies, could you clarify exactly what sort of policies govern the behavior of TSA agents during screenings. I have been asked, by TSA agents, invasive questions regarding my sexual orientation and medical history. Do I have a right to refuse to answer these sorts of questions without fear of retaliation in the form of extended screening? Also, given the number of incidents of theft by TSA agents, can I request to remove sensitive documents from my wallet (i.e. credit cards and social security card) before it is searched?

WTHDIK said...

"please ask to see a supervisor or screening manager immediately."

Have you not read the numerous other comments about how these types of requests are answered by many TSA staff?

Tell us please, when we make this request and are told "I make the rules" or "you want to miss your flight?" or "I AM the supervisor/manger", etc, what do we do.

Seriously, when the person we are dealing with threatens us or is totally unresponsive: What do we do?

Anonymous said...

This is off-topic, but I didn't see a place to submit questions for future blog posts.

I've been baffled by something. Recently there were high-profile news reports that showed that it was very easy to sneak a bomb onto a plane back a year or two ago. However, during that time, there were no planes blown up. Doesn't that indicate that nobody is trying to blow up our planes and we're making travelers miserable for no reason?

(I'm not debating that we shouldn't have security, but more questioning the continued "threat level orange" and wondering why we haven't reverted to a more relaxed security stance. This is something that I've never seen addressed - there's just an assumption being made somewhere that I'm expected to buy into.)

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and I think it's a great communication tool. I do have one concern though and it's not merely stylistic. The syntax and diction of the blog postings aren't really commensurate with the professionalism I'd expect from a government agency.

For example: "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)."

I applaud your efforts to include the general public in policy making but don't make it at the expense of professionalism and maturity.

TSA TSO NY said...

Seriously, when the person we are dealing with threatens us or is totally unresponsive: What do we do?

Copy down as much identifying info as possible. Ask for the name of the AFSD/DFSD/FSD, etc. When you get to where you are going call and as to speak to the AFSD/DFSD/FSD, whatever that airport has as it's top dog. Believe me, that is the person who will act because he hates it when complaints get to his level.

Anonymous said...

Oh, well, that makes it all better. TSA isn't asking me to surrender my data, some other government organ is. WHEW!

/me goes looking for customs blog.

TSO Tom said...

Anonymous said...
Please define "something suspicious". Thank you.

February 8, 2008 12:57 PM
***********************************
I will give you an example of something suspicious. A laptop came through our checkpoint with shoes on top of it. I was going to simply re-run the laptop and the shoes separately, until I noticed a rather large hole in the lid that had been covered with epoxy glue. I decided instead to ETD the laptop. Upon further investigation, I tried to open the laptop to inspect between the lid and keyboard, but the lid would not open. So I contacted the supervisor who agreed that this particular laptop looked "suspicious". The passenger was delayed in making his flight as we investigated a little further. This is only one example that I personally was involved in. Hope this answers any questions as to why laptops need to be removed from the carrying case.

Anonymous said...

tsa tso ny - Huh? None of those acronyms mean anything to anyone not in the TSA structure

Anonymous said...

I don't suppose that US Customs has a blog so that we can berate them for their unreasonable searches and theft of property.

This blog is a great move by the TSA. I appreciate that this form of dialog is possible.

tallanvor said...

Speaking of laptops... Passing through Heathrow this week, I was overjoyed that they have stopped requiring us to take laptops out of our bags. Considering that the second busiest airport in the world can safely screen laptops in the bag, why can't our airports manage the same thing?

Anonymous said...

Agree -- too many acronyms!

TSO = Transportation Security Officer. TSA has taken to calling screeners TSOs in the past few years.

FSD = Federal Security Director. That would be the most senior TSA employee at that airport, i.e. the top dog or "sheriff."

AFSD = Assistant FSD, or the # 2.

Anonymous said...

TSA should have a right to visually inspect electronic devices to ensure the safety of the traveling public and to ensure that there is no illegal contraband entering in the sterile boarding areas.

However, there must be and there should be accessible legal recourse for travelers to file federal lawsuit against the TSA worker and the agency to recover the cost of computer including the cost of attorneys, court costs.

If electronic devices are not banned by federal law or executive order. Then TSA has no business of confiscating property that is not their own.

Anonymous said...

Why do you not require the staff to wear photo ID, or at _least_ a name tag where we can _easily_ see them?


Please consider making easily readable ids a requirement. If you are serious about improving things, we need a way to id the problem person without being vulnerable to their retaliation.

jeremy said...

"ask to see a supervisor or screening manager immediately"? You're kidding, right?

If you think that would work, or that we would have even the most remote chance of either talking to a supervisor or getting on our flight after saying something like that, you have some serious disconnect with the reality of the situation.

That you would even suggest someone do that shows that you have a long, long way to go here.

luis said...

OK, the its the customs the will be correcting my post. Any way its kind of scary to be asked to log in to my laptop just to show the content.

dcstattic said...

For the most part I approve of many of TSA's policies to protect airline travelers, however there is one policy that is difficult for me to understand. What is the problem with a mother who is traveling without her child carrying milk she has pumped onto an airplane? Many studies have shown the benefits of breast milk for infants and throwing away such a precious lifegiving liquid just doesn't make sense. Why can't there be an exception for breast milk?

devwild said...

I appreciate this post, which directly addresses my previous post, though I would note that there are documented cases of the TSA confiscating data in the same manner as described about Customs.

That said, having a from-the-horse's-mouth statement that this is inappropriate for a TSA officer is certainly appreciated.

winston_of_minitruth said...

tsa tso ny,

It's all well and good that we know what to do afterward. However, what do we do when we don't agree to their request? What if it is a request that is in direct violation of our 4th Amendment rights, or the TSO has no right to make? For example, if I refuse to let the TSO rifle through my wallet, which is not something that they should be doing. After all, it could easily be run through the x-ray machine. If I refuse to comply, then I am punished with whatever retaliation they decide to serve up. Is there something that I can do while I'm there, since it's possible that I'll miss my flight, to resolve the issue? I guess I'm asking who do I speak to if the TSO is uncooperative? Mind you, I've never run into that situation, but it'd be nice to know should a similar situation arise.

ToastyKen said...

I read about the Customs issue the day before I read about the existence of this blog, and it made me really appreciate this blog! While Customs is being sued by the EFF and Asian Law Caucus because they ignored a Freedom of Information request, the TSA has done the opposite: It has decided on openness and transparency. On engaging the people its serves in dialog instead of just telling us to shut up and trust them.

Thank you for starting this blog, TSA. I hope it continues being useful for further communication in both directions.

(And here's hoping Customs decides to be this open!)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blog, keep up the work and I hope you can respond to the many questions and concerns raised here.

I particularly appreciate the tone of writing, in that it is informal, extremely readable, and puts a human face on TSA.

Please ignore the anonymous commenter who thought the blog was unprofessional -- they clearly do not understand the dynamics of modern online communications.

MSP TSO said...

In answer to the "Breast Milk" question... You CAN bring breast milk. If you are traveling with a toddler or infant, milk, jars of baby food, and juices are allowed. It just needs to be a reasonable amount for your flight.For example, someone with one child wouldn't need 16 juice boxes for a two hour flight.

As a TSO in Minneapolis, I know that if you request to speak to a supervisor, you will get a supervisor. Usually TSO's are all too happy to turn a disgruntled passenger over to a lead or a supervisor.

Also, I have NEVER asked a passenger to turn on their laptop or hand over their password, nor have I ever been TOLD to do that. So, I don't understand what that is all about...I can only speak for Minneapolis.

Anonymous said...

I've never met anyone more critical of the TSA than myself, but this blog just might thaw my cold cynical heart. It's too easy to scapegoat government agencies as faceless, nameless Big Brother entities but this is a great reminder that behind every (at times seemingly idiotic) policy, there is a person or group of people sincerely trying to do the right thing.

Thanks for showing those faces and shedding light on some of the decisions behind the policies. Maybe they aren't so idiotic after all and maybe I'll stop being so passive-aggressively rude to screeners.

Anonymous said...

So here's a question, why is it that when you go through the screening you have to take your laptop out of the bag but not camera's and other electronic devices? I would think in the age of x-ray, that a simple laptop bag would be easily scanned by such expensive and sophisticated machines.

On the same note, has anyone really looked into efficiency gains in terms of ways that you can speed up the lines? Have you ever noticed where the bottle necks really are? It seems like the line sort of just waits and waits and waits and then all at once for a period of say a minute you are in a frenzy to:

- take your jacket off
- hats
- shoes
- belts
- empty pockets
- cell phones and other devices off your person
- carry on bags
- laptop
- laptop bag

all of this has to be disassembled and then put into too small bins, that you end up having at least 2 of, plus your carry on, plus your laptop bag that you are pushing through to the conveyor, and then you have to walk through and reassemble yourself on the other side, when there aren't enough chairs or people trying to do this at the table and holding up the people behind them.

This isn't rocket science, so for people who have taken so much time thinking about the 3-1-1 (I'm figuring that took several million of my tax dollars to figure out by the way), that you should be spending time figuring out how to speed up the lines and make it more efficient. Here are some thoughts.

First, let's make the tables longer. So instead of waiting until you are at the point of entry and you have to disrobe, start that process well in advance. If you are in the line anyways for several minutes waiting, then you could be waiting and doing all of this at the same time and you are just then pushing your stuff on the table long to the conveyor to the x-ray machine.

Second, once you get through, put CLEAR instructions on what you expect people to do on the other side. So taking your 3-1-1 approach, say 1-2-3, 1-pick up your items, 2-take them to a chair, 3-put yourself together (that took no effort at all and saved you a million bucks!) This will move the line along because you don't have people standing in line on the other side of the detectors trying to balance on one foot while putting on their shoes and jackets.

Third, put enough chairs on the other side to accomodate people putting themselves back together. This seems fairly common sense, you have nice plastic rooms and things to give people a pat down, but no place to sit and no place then to put the bins after you are done putting yourself together?

Fourth, monitor your staff to make sure they are using their time wisely. At most jobs people have to focus at their task and the time for watercooler conversation is set to breaks and lunches. Talking of the TSA staff should be limited to business only conversation. Every time I go through the lines, it seems like the people are gossiping and gabbing about something else other than how they can work just a little harder or a little faster to ensure people get moved through. I understand you feel like a robot you are doing the same thing over and over and over again, but that's life. Take pride in the fact that you help people stay safe, but you do it respecting their need to speed through what is a major inconvenience. STOP CHATTING or waiting for your breaks or taking your time walking from here to there. You are paid to do a job, and it would seem like a lot of efficiencies can be gained by more careful monitoring of the people who are suppose to be the ones monitoring us. I was in a line once and the TSA agents basically just stopped because it was a minute or two from their breaks, and they just waited and chatted while the line was standing patiently until someone relieved them from their tiring day of sitting on a stool and looking at a monitor--only then did the line start to move again. What do you do, you don't say anything for fear of what they will do or can do because of their power, but still you feel that you are getting the low end of the stick because you want to move on with your life.

Lastly, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Take the power away from the TSA agents to do ANYTHING but screen. Have actual police offices or federal marshalls monitoring the lines and keeping the peace. TSA agents should be trained on customer service or service delivery as this is no different than any other job. You want people to fly more, than make it easy to do just that. Take a lesson out of the Southwest playbook, and teach your staff to be nice, you will get more reception from that.

TSA TSO NY said...

"However, there must be and there should be accessible legal recourse for travelers to file federal lawsuit against the TSA worker and the agency to recover the cost of computer including the cost of attorneys, court costs.

If electronic devices are not banned by federal law or executive order. Then TSA has no business of confiscating property that is not their own.

February 8, 2008 3:45 PM


Did you actually read both the header for this comment section and then all the comments above yours before you actually posted?

TSA DOES NOT CONFISCATE LAPTOPS!!
On RARE occasions we will examine one more closely if the is suspicion that it may have been altered. If this was in fact the case, it would be turned over to a Law Enforcement entity or one of the Bomb Appraisal Officers. We DO NOT examine data!!

2nd - And I know people will argue semantics here but here goes anyway - TSA DOES NOT CONFISCATE ANYTHING!
We allow you to go put a prohibited item in a checked bag, give it to a family member, drop it into your car, etc. If YOU can't figure out a way to get rid of it OUTSIDE the screening area, we ALLOW YOU to VOLUNTARILY surrender it to us for disposal.

You can not fly until that item is resolved. If you don't have time to leave the Checkpoint or have no other way to get rid of it then you give it to us. Trust me, we would rather not have to PAY for a hazmat disposal company to come and pick up all the crap that we have to store from passengers who can't read a few simple signs.

We have a steady stream of traffic her of people leaving the checkpoint to go back to the airlines to try to get back thier checked bag so they can throw in their bottles of liquids that shouldn't have been brought to the checkpoint to begin with.

The airline will usually NOT get the bag back as it's already loaded on the plane. Then the passenger, now frustrated, comes back to the checkpoint, throws the liquids (pocketknife, straight razor, belt buckle that looks like a derringer, etc.) at us and says "Here, take it then."

Then they have to get screened all over again, MAY make the flight, then go home and say "TSA took away my --------"!

TSA TSO NY said...

To the person who spoke about having thier wallet searched.

Sorry folks, While we appreciate that wallets contain person information, they are sometimes searched. We ARE allowed to do this.

MOST of the razor blades we find here are concealed ("forgotten") in a wallet. We have seen them placed INSIDE of drivers licenses which have been seperated and resealed. That is why we do not allow you to remove anything from your wallet until it is searched. I personally have found X-acto blades, razor blades and falsified ID in wallets.

To answer another poster jeremy said...
"ask to see a supervisor or screening manager immediately"? You're kidding, right?

If you think that would work, or that we would have even the most remote chance of either talking to a supervisor or getting on our flight after saying something like that, you have some serious disconnect with the reality of the situation.

No, I'm not kidding. I work on the floor. I've been promoted from Screener to Lead to Supe and am now a Manager so I've seen checkpoints operate since day one. I can GUARANTEE that if you keep a level head and a civil voice and ask to speak to a Supervisor or Manager, one will be gotten for you. Unfortunately, if you are screaming at a TSO they are likely to respond in turn and you may in fact be targeted for addition screening.
Some TSOs and employees on here will tell you different - that there is no retaliation & I probably won't be popular for saying this but it is a fact.

We are human. When someone gets in MY face and starts screaming profanities, threatening me, even physically abusing me, sorry but I'm probably gonna react in kind. Sorry folks - fact of life.

however, the person who may be upset over the loss of thier shaving cream or who fels they were traeted unfairly and asks for a supervisor in a calm tone is gonna get satisfaction.

If that fails, and I'm sure it will in some cases, Simply write down the time, place, as many details as you can remember about the screeners descriptions and what occurred and call later. Ask for those individuals in charge.

Believe me, a TSA FSD who sits in an office and is far removed from checkpoint activities DOES NOT want a complaint going to his boss and will respond! Remember, he's the ultimate authority at the airport and he's making over $100 grand a year and doesn't want that jeopardized!

HOWEVER, a passenger screaming at a TSO is perceived to be a threat, unstable, whatever, and is treated as such. Sorry, but your credibility just went out the window. Not only that but you're yelling at someone who makes about $12 an hour and (sorry TSOs) in SOME cases really doesn't give a crap about customer service.

I know this may not be the way things are supposed to be but I'm being honest here.

TSOs are constantly being disciplined for "Customer Service" issues and we DO try to weed out the abusive ones, but it's hard to identify who is wrong when 2 parties are screaming at each other and a passenger is being led away in handcuffs because they got so frustrated that they pushed a TSO.

Keep calm, comply with any thing you are asked to do (I know, but this is not the time to start an argument). THEN ask to speak to a Supervisor or Manager. Failing that, take notes and call later. Witnesses who will collaborate on paper what happened are always an asset. You will see resolution this way.

Not a perfect system folks but there are WAY MORE good TSOs then bad apples. Try thanking a couple for thier service as you come through a checkpoint and you would be FRICKEN AMAZED at the type of service you will get!

sirbrent said...

Its particularly upsetting to me that I am constantly told that the laptop has to be alone in the plastic crate -- i cant put it on top of my sweater or the laptop case. But the plastic tubs have two problems... they constantly scratch laptops (it doesnt help that security is pushing them around without thought to the precious content) and they often have a very strong static charge, which is very bad for electronics! Please change this policy!

FEHERTO said...

Hi, one strnage thing I experienced in the last years.
I am from Austria and frequetly travel to the USA and also I make a lot of doemstic flights.
In the last year I made 28 doemstic flighst and had been each single flight selected for the Special Security Screening, irrespective with airline or class I had been flying.
Are foreigners generally selected ? I am definitely in favour of strong security actions, but this seems to be more than by accident.
Thanks for any comments or additional infos.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for running this blog. Maybe you could explain in a post my the hell boarding pass/ID are checked TWICE during screening. At most airports you have to show ID and boarding pass to get in line and they do check both fairly thoroughly and mark something on it. Then you unpack all your crap ... but have to keep the boarding pass in your hand and some TSA official will glimpse at it. Thats retarded. It slows everything down having to keep the boarding pass out, people keep forgetting (and get yelled at), or they leave it somewhere and have to be called through the PA system. I travel a lot and I have seen this at several airports, including SNA (Orange County). I am all for security, but check the boarding pass/ID once and do it right the first time.

chrisqi said...

The problem with TSA isn't so much TSA itself, it is the U.S. Congress which passes the laws giving TSA the authority to do what it does -- however lacking in common sense it may be.

To make matters worse surrounding this fact, Congressmen and women have exempted themselves from airport screening. All they have to do is show their US Congress IDs and they can bypass all the lines and aggravation the rest of us have to go through.

Now I don't know about you, but I think there are probably more career criminals in the US Congress than there are in the general flying public.

Until citizens tell Congress it needs to follow the same rules they subject the rest of us to, nothing will be done.

How can these clowns in DC know how bad it is if they don't ever have to experience it themselves?

Call your member of Congress and tell them to fix TSA and to quit exempting themselves from all the rules the rest of us have to live by!

Anonymous said...

Dear TSA,

Did the would-be conspirators in the UK "liquid explosive" plot actually have a working, binary liquid explosive? Please answer yes or no. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

This is in reply to chrisqi- The airport knows when VIPs are arriving ahead of time. VIPs are escorted through the airport by an "airport representative" or "security detail". I assure you they are not just arriving at the airport and jumping line.
Although, it may appear this way to the average airport passenger.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous on the boarding pass checks. Airport checkpoint configurations vary from airport to airport. YOu may show your ticket and ID once at one airport and twice at another. The ticket checkers are looking at your ID and your boarding pass to make sure they are legitimate and also to make sure you are at the right gate. The person farther down the line is making sure everyone that passes thru the checkpoint has a boarding pass or an escort pass. You are not allowed in the secure area without one.

Andy said...

I am confused about what is valid ID. On a recent flight I used my drivers license as ID. My license had expired but I had been issued a paper extension by my states DMV. I was told this was not a valid form of id because the license with the picture on it had expired. When I showed the extension I was told that was not valid since it does not have a photo. I then used my city issued fire department ID that has both my name and photo. I was told this was not valid because it was not a standard ID. I was asked if I had my social security card available. I did not. Why is a social security card, which has no picture or any security measures on it, a valid form of ID yet my drivers license extension and department ID are not? Why is a drivers license that had expired not a valid form of ID? It was still issued to you after having verified your identity.

hawthorn said...

Sorry, I accidentally hit Publish too fast...

chrisqi said "The problem with TSA isn't so much TSA itself..."

This word-for-word identical posting appeared in the Liquids section three days ago, where it was immediately refuted by an anonymous TSO, obviously with no effect. Members of Congress are screened like anyone else.

This blog is big enough with repetitive spam.

Anonymous said...

TSA IS OK WITH ME. I WISH THE SUPREME COURT WOULD MAKE CLEAR THE EXPANSION OUR FREEDOMS IN THE EVER CHANGING LANDSCAPE TO REPRESENT THE EBB AND FLOW OF OUR FUNCTIONAL SOCIETY. I AM A MEMBER OF BOTH THE FEDERALIST SOCIETY AND THE ACLU AND REALIZE THAT OUR SAFETY IS DEPENDANT ON OUR TOLERANCE BUT THE GOVT NEEDS TO STEP UP TO THEIR GAME AND USE CURRENT TECHNOLOGY TO ELIMINATE DUPLICATE INVESTIGATIONS. THIS IS AN EXCITING TIME!!!

steve said...

if you officially don't confiscate laptops, i'd like to report one of your employees for theft.

i find what the TSA says and what the TSA does are two entirely different things.

JMink said...

Does anyone at the TSA work on optimizing the speed of lines?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this blog. My one confusion about the article is the story of Maria Udy. She was flying from Dulles to London, so I don't think it would have been US Customs that would have confiscated her laptop since they only search inbound luggage. The article in this part just says "federal agent". Who else would that be other than the TSA?

tammy said...

With regard to the person who apparently had his laptop confiscated and says this is theft, if a TSA employee confiscates something of value (whether they should or not), do they issue a receipt? Which includes the employee's name (or some other form of id, to id the employee but protect his or her privacy)?

I disagree with the TSA poster who said if a passenger becomes upset the TSA employee has the right to become upset also. Do the police act that way? No, they (hopefully) remain civil, at least they are supposed to. Passengers should not be put into a state of fear that if a normal protest is interpreted by the TSA employee as being upset the passenger will be subject to some retribution.

A physical assault is one thing, but intimidating people, which apparently happens quite frequently, by TSA employees on power trips is something else entirely.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't there a "post a comment" link on the home page?

TSO Tom said...

Anonymous said...
Why do you not require the staff to wear photo ID, or at _least_ a name tag where we can _easily_ see them?
***********************************
FYI we ARE required to wear a local airport ID card, AND a name tag with our employee number is part of our standard uniform protocol. So the answer is, WE ARE

Anonymous said...

On 21 Jan 07 the Washington Post published a reader's description of her experience with two TSA screeners at BWI. One TSA screener was a no-class bully, and the other TSA screener seemed to act as though he didn't notice any inappropriate behavior by the first TSA screener.

Of course, TSA can't tell us what discipline wasn't applied -- privacy blah blah blah -- but TSA should try to give citizens and other travelers some feeling that the behavior described in the Washington Post is not actually built into TSA training.

Here's a link to the Washington Post article; if TSA responded, the Post apparently didn't publish the TSA response: http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=%22black%20girl%22%20BWI

Anonymous said...

"3 ounces" is the TSA version of metric "100 millilitres", which is actually 3.5 ounces and is the size of a lot of small bottles of stuff sold in the U.S.

This traveler assumes that TSA screeners aren't able to accept a bottle labeled 3.5 ounces or 100 millilitres because the TSA screeners have heard "3 ounces" endlessly and don't comprehend the interplay between U.S. measure and the metric measure that is used by 95 percent of the world's population.

Why won't TSA publish acknowledgment that the 100 millilitre screening standard used in Europe (and presumably other parts of the world) is acceptable even if 100 millilitres is more than 3 ounces?

Anonymous said...

It is very refreshing to see this blog. At a minimum this shines a light on the typical opaque & faceless Govt bureaucracy. On the laptop issue, even though it is the CBP and not TSA that is perpetrating this egregious 4th amendment violation - most of the US traveling public cannot distinguish between the myriad US Govt agencies that all have 3 letter acronyms. You can be guaranteed that DHS, CBP, ICE, TSA, DOJ will all be tainted with the same brush in the eyes of the typical American.

Anonymous said...

RE commnets by TSA TSO NY said...

So you condone your TSO's going off on a citizen passing through your checkpoint.

Abuse happens does it? Thats what the people paying your salary have been saying here. Abuse happens all to often.

I think you have just explained fully why you should not be in charge of anything much greater than the fryolator at McDonalds.

You and your people probably do have some very tough days and some very hard to deal with travelers, but to ever allow yourself or other people on duty to abuse a citizen in anyway puts you in the wrong at once, no matter what led to the situation. Nothing else you can say will change that fact.

My suggestion to you is to find a line of work that is more suitable to your temperment. Maybe the fryolator position is still open.

Anonymous said...

To msp tso --

Is there a rule about bottles v. sippy cups? When I travel with my 14 month old, I have had breast milk confiscated because it was in a sippy cup, not a bottle. Since her doctor recommends that 14 month olds not use bottles, I don't understand why the TSA at MSP (out of which we fly) continuously makes me dump my milk because she doesn't use bottles.

Also, I read that now nursing moms who are traveling without kids can bring milk with them? I've been allowed to bring back my pumped milk when I've been traveling solo from diverse airports such as EWR, LGA, SFO, ORD, XNA, LAX, and BNA (within the last 4 months). Before that I was Fed Exing milk on dry ice, which adds up. What is the exact policy?

Anonymous said...

I would note that TSA TSO NY, who, I believe to be a TSA agent, said the, "TSA DOES NOT CONFISCATE ANYTHING!" It wasn't the TSA, but when my dad saw me off on a flight in November 2000, he had a pocket knife confiscated. The airport security agent who took it didn't give him the option of putting it in the car, mailing it home, or anything else mentioned in these comments--he just took it. It wasn't the first time we've lost property at the airport checkpoint; I've had an airport security agent (this was in 1999, I believe) up-end my wallet after it was X-rayed; not really confiscation, but the result was coins wound up rolling all over the security area--I managed to pick up perhaps half the change I originally had. (Since they don't let you crawl under the X-ray machines, and there were other passengers passing through the checkpoint, I had to give up fairly quickly. I'd bet that the screeners managed to walk away with a few of those coins.) As for the TSA, the only time I've flown since 9-11, both my father and I had the "random" suitcase search in both directions. I'm guessing we were singled out because we both have the same first and last name and because we traveled at the last minute (since it was for a funeral, reservations months out weren't an option), but I've also had a sneaky suspicion--unproven and likely unprovable--that that our libertarian politics might have also resulted in us being flagged. The bottom line is that I've had bad enough experiences with airport security that I will now only fly if I have no other way to get where I need to go. I have never detected in any airport screener I've encountered any respect for freedom or individual rights--indeed, I've had the impression that they had nothing but contempt for those values which they supposedly defend. I can't say I'm impressed with this blog--in the two entries I've read ("RUMOR ALERT! LAPTOPS" and "Why We Screen Veterans and Active Members of the Military"), I've seen a lot of "we don't do that"/"it's not our fault" and a lot of "we're just doing our job,"--but I've seen nothing to make me think this is anything but a stunt to feign transparency, or to change my opinion of the TSA. I'm not convinced airport screening make us any safer, and I am convinced the erosion of civil liberties is bad enough that we ought to at the very least seriously considering scrapping the whole TSA. Thank goodness we still have options besides air travel, where we need not be subjected to these unconstitutional searches!

Anonymous said...

Wait... So they started this asking what they could do to make life easier for travelers?

That's easy, abolish this entire agency. Let me protect myself on the airplane. I'd rather take my chances with bombs or terrorists than an overzealous TSA agent who thinks I'm "suspicious."

Besides wasn't TSA around before 9/11. Maybe they were called something else, but they didn't stop anything then, and looking at my laptop or shoes, or making me buy new nail clippers, isn't going to stop anything now.

aaugh said...

Will the TSA be disbanded when Bush and Cheney catch Osama? The workers are great, however, it is a huge time waster.
.

Anonymous said...

I've had to move twice in the last two years. Each time I had to take my valuables with me by air since the distance was too great for driving. Each time I went through security, a screener would look lovingly at my valuables and fondle each one. I had to watch closely because I've had screeners steal a watch and steal cash. Why must screeners spend so much time handling my valuables, time they ought to be spending on true security risks? My valuables are small and solid: they're ordinary things made of gold or silver and some are family heirlooms that I'm not going to abandon just to make my airport experience easier. But I'm stuck with having to put up with screeners who are more interested in stealing than in working.

Anonymous said...

Andy, who posted February 9, 2008 3:16 PM brings up a good point about IDs.

I'm retired from a federal agency, a very small one that is barely known, even inside the government. It is not a 'secret' agency, just small and not known.

Prior to my retirement, I was on a flight home from FWA (it was a personal, non-agency, trip to attend the funeral of my father), where I ran into an ID issue.

Because of a medical condition with my sight, I do not drive, and have never had a need for a driver's license. Instead of a driver's license, I presented my agency ID at the screening point. The TSA agent didn't recognize the agency, and told me the ID was not valid, that I was required to produce a driver's license. I explained that I didn't have one, and that the agency ID was a government issued ID, with a photo of me, date of birth, and met with all the other then-current TSA criteria for identification.

I was asked (it was much more a DEMAND than a request) about 5 additional times to produce my driver's license. Each time I patiently explained that I have no license because I do not drive, which every time brought a "Yeah, sure" look on the face of the TSA agent.

In all, she held me up for a good 15 minutes while (supposedly) trying to verify the ID and/or agency over the telephone with who knows whom.

At some time during this, I asked for a supervisor, but was bluntly told who was in charge at the time - the TSA agent in front of me.

I asked if the agent had Internet access, and thus could do a search for the agency, either by going directly to the agency's web site, or through a listing of federal government agencies. The agent said she could do that, but wouldn't, as she didn't feel like doing it - not an interpretation of her words, but her actual words "I could, but I don't feel like doing that."

Eventually she apparently was told by someone on the phone that the ID was from a valid federal government agency, as she got off the phone, then shoved the ID back at me in an extremely unprofessional manner (actually, she almost flung it at me), and we proceeded with the remainder of the screening. How the person on the phone, without being able to actually see the ID, could tell it was valid is anyone's guess.

With an attitude like that agent had, is it any wonder that people get upset and frustrated, and are unwilling to ask for a 'supervisor' who (in the eye of the public) is much more likely to back up the employee and continue the uncivil treatment than straighten things out?

It might be good policy for TSA to:

1. Require name tags or other identification on the TSA agents THAT CAN BE READ from 5 feet away; and

2. Have some type of sign that 'so and so is the on-site TSA supervisor available in case of problems' (or similar wording) for situations like this.

The TSA agents at the check-points might think twice about harassing a passenger needlessly if the passengers knew the name of the agent AND their supervisor, and could ask for that supervisor by name at the time.

The incident I described above occurred on the last flight I have any intention of ever being on. As a result, come hell or high water, I will not fly again unless it is an absolute emergency where I have absolutely NO alternative other than flying.

Anonymous said...

Several years ago when I was flying out of San Jose, CA, two TSA employees appeared to attempt to steal my laptop. I was selected for a special search before boarding in the gate area, and while one spread eagled me against the wall, the other grabbed my laptop bag and started running. Had I obeyed instructions and not turned around, he would have been long gone by the time the first was finished with his "search." As it was, I turned around and yelled "where are you going with that?" This resulted in the return of the bag with a "we thought it was someone else's" explanation - yeah, right, after the two of them instructed me to "put that bag here" before the spread-eagle stunt. The so-called search abruptly ended. Crooks. I now call it "Thieves Steal All."

Anonymous said...

This is to Steve- I repeat TSA does not confiscate anything. TSA does not have the authority..but local law enforcement does. Perhaps you'd like to elaborate on your laptop issue. Were you referred for additional screening or something?

Anonymous said...

Simple solution: quit flying. End of story.

Anonymous said...

this is to Andy- A valid ID includes a valid current US drivers license, a passport or official US government ID (for example a military ID). TSA does not except paper extensions for driver license because they can be made using any home computer. What I mean is that they can be easily forged.

mark edward marchiafava said...

Simple solution: quit flying. If enough, not all, not most, if ENOUGH of you sheeple QUIT FLYING, the already financially strapped airlines would be getting rid of the TSA FOR you !!
Amerikans.

Anonymous said...

There's a lot of talk on here about screening inconsistencies from airport to airport.

The TSA should talk to the folks in the fast-food industry. They have it figured out.

Every McDonalds from coast to coast has exactly the same procedures for processing burgers and fries and handling customers from intake of raw materials to creating the food to getting the right food to the right customer in a timely manner.

And it's all done by 16 year olds!

No one has to depend on a bunch of folks on the "blogesphere" to tell let them know where they're scewing up.

adastragrl said...

I tried posting under the Gripes & Grins, but there was no comment feature there.

This is a note I typed up as a memo/log of events:
Saturday 7 December 2002 -- Mom called about 6:30pm. She talked about photos I had emailed earlier, but I could tell she was upset. She then related to me that Dad had been searched several times in Nashville. This she witnessed. She then left for the mall. My dad was on his way to Hungary to pick up my grandmother who doesn’t speak English and is pretty old and didn’t want to travel by herself. He called Mom from a payphone in Cincinnati and told her the one of the screeners chased after him in Nashville asking for Dad’s id, passports etc. When Dad asked him why, the guy told him that if the plane went down, Dad was the number one suspect. Dad asked for the guy’s name and he would only provide “Greg.” Mom told me in detail the search that dad went through, which, while more than usual, was not something for us to get upset over. However, to have her husband called a suspect, essentially accusing him of being a criminal/terrorist, well, she was upset and I’m furious. I told her that when Dad called to check in again, to tell him to call us (me and Jerry) so we could hear the account firsthand.

I searched the internet to try to find out some contact names in Nashville. I was able to get the Nashville Airport Police dispatch officer who provided me with the complaint number for TSA. I then called that number but was told of the office hours. I left a message. And of course, I never heard back!

Anonymous said...

Frankly, US Customs doesn't have any right to do this either..... there is no reason for them to be searching someone's computer unless they have compelling evidence that someone is doing something illegal.

If Customs told me that they wanted to search my PC, I would tell them "No!" and wouldn't let them copy the drive either.

Customs is truly overstepping their authority in this case, but a lot of other agencies that the government runs do that as well.

mark edward marchiafava said...

Simple solution: quit flying. If enough (not all, not most) fliers vote with their wallets, the financially strapped carriers would be doing your bidding FOR you, demanding the abolition of the TSA. Just another example of a free marketplace working.

Anonymous said...

The TSA is a joke. Terrorism is created by the U.S. government in Washington, DC through our imperialist foreign policy that results in (what the CIA calls) "blowback." The TSA should be abolished and returned to the private sector. And we need to drastically cut back the U.S. government in every area.

Anonymous said...

Steve,
I sure hope you did not wait to post a comment here to report theft. If you have "real" reason to believe that a TSO stole something from you, then you should file a theft report properly.

Anonymous said...

sirbrent said...
Its particularly upsetting to me that I am constantly told that the laptop has to be alone in the plastic crate -- i cant put it on top of my sweater or the laptop case. But the plastic tubs have two problems... they constantly scratch laptops (it doesn't help that security is pushing them around without thought to the precious content) and they often have a very strong static charge, which is very bad for electronics! Please change this policy!


How is your laptop case or your sweater going to protect your laptop from static electricity? I'm pretty sure the small amount of time your precious content (laptop) is in a plastic bin is not the cause of scratches.

Anonymous said...

Valid Id is a government issued photo identification with a visible expiration date.

Anonymous said...

Given the inane reasons I've been given over the years for the insistence by the TSA that PCs must be removed from their carrying cases, I'm not so quick to let TSA off the hook on this one. Let's face it--in England, I never (NEVER!) have to remove my PC from its case. In the EU, I never (NEVER!) have to remove my PC from its case. In Israel (ISRAEL!), I never (NEVER!) have to remove my PC from its case. But the TSA insists I have to remove my PC from its case. It makes absolutely NO sense. None! If the Israelis can do it, why can not the US government? (I'm sure the answer is classified, so no one can comment.) Now we're being told that something politically unpopular is not the TSA's doing? Surprise! Why doesn't the TSA own up to its failings, once and for all. Oops, that's something classified, too, I'm sure. Hard to believe we won the Cold War with all the declassified info that was available then compared with now.

Anonymous said...

FEHERTO said...
Hi, one strnage thing I experienced in the last years.
I am from Austria and frequetly travel to the USA and also I make a lot of doemstic flights.
In the last year I made 28 doemstic flighst and had been each single flight selected for the Special Security Screening, irrespective with airline or class I had been flying.
Are foreigners generally selected ? I am definitely in favour of strong security actions, but this seems to be more than by accident.
Thanks for any comments or additional infos.

Foreigners are not singled out by any means.. but TSA does not do the pre-selecting anyway. You could be selected for many reasons, one may be traveling out of the country/ in the country or many other reason I'm sure. TSA may also pick you out of the line because you are the next one when the TSO is ready/available to do another additional screening.

I fly too said...

Second, once you get through, put CLEAR instructions on what you expect people to do on the other side. So taking your 3-1-1 approach, say 1-2-3, 1-pick up your items, 2-take them to a chair, 3-put yourself together (that took no effort at all and saved you a million bucks!) This will move the line along because you don't have people standing in line on the other side of the detectors trying to balance on one foot while putting on their shoes and jackets.
There are signs all over the airports.. and along the lines in which passengers are waiting to get through security... DO YOU (general you) really think these signs are being read? NOPE! So another sign telling them basic instructions like pick up your items and put on your shoes will not help.

Anonymous said...

OK, so you're patting yourself on the back because you put up a blog where we could tell you that you weren't doing your job right with regard to screening electronic devices.

What's wrong with this picture?

1. You should have known how to consistently screen in the first place, without the public telling you how to do your job.

2. You still have not answered the question about why laptops have to be screened and, for example, iPods, Blackberries, DVD players, etc. do not. Can a bomb or other "suspicious device" be hidden in a laptop more than it can in an iPhone? As I recall PanAm 103 was brought down by a device in a small radio.

3. As others have said, you don't let us make jokes about bombs in the security line, so please don't joke about things "flow[ing] through checkpoints like the booze was flowing on Bourbon Street Tuesday night" on this blog. Your TSOs already come across like a bunch of unskilled clowns. This just confirms our suspicions of the entire agency.

Anonymous said...

How do you monitor the behavior of your TSA operators? I had a completely unpleasant and negative experience, and as well, unproductive (for what I believe you seek to achieve: stop bad guys, prevent dangerous materials being boarded to a plane, enhance security,et.).

Your TSA operator at LaGuardia told me that my briefcase needed to be searched. I immediately agreed and gave him it. In addition I asked if he needed anything else -- my blackberry, etc. Then I turned down to chat with my colleague. A couple minutes later suddenly the TSA guy turned around and screamed irate that I should immediately sit down. I asked why and he screamed again. He also said that I needed to stop talking. (I was having a normal conversation, in a low tone of voice pitch, about the business matter my colleague and I where traveling for). I already had been searched before. TSA's behavior achieved nothing productive except to annoy one of your customers (remember who pays your salaries -- people like me who produce and pay taces)!!!!

Anonymous said...

To anonymous who does not have a driver's license:
I am not defending the actions of the TSA in your particular case.
However, you might find it helpful to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state and get a state-issued ID. Every state issues these. They are just like drivers licenses but not for driving.
This might save you inconvenience in any situation in which an government-issued ID is required.
A passport is another option.
Again, not defending the TSA, but even showing up unconscious in the emergency room, god forbid, it's good to have something that looks like a drivers license so people know who you are.

Chance said...

To the last Anonymous comment,

Kip Hawley has posted a new entry on this very topic, please check it out.

Anonymous said...

I've not noticed myself but surely the check points are being sound recorded and video taped?

If they aren't the surely should, just like the police car cameras often "explain and show exactly" what occurs.

And, these recordings "should" be monitored by management just like most all quality control managers do.

How many TSO's would behave inappropiately if it was being recorded?

BTW, thank you for opening up this line of communication. I think it's a very good thing!

Anonymous said...

Chance, Are you a TSA blogger or just a member of the flying public? This blog does not make it clear who is who.

Anonymous said...

"Simple solution: quit flying. End of story."

Precisely what I have done. I would rather drive, nay, WALK, than set foot in another airport run by these mini tyrants. At least I'll keep my shoes on.
I have to wonder how much business the airline industry has lost on account of the almighty TSA? They certainly lost mine.

GlobeTrot2000 said...

What about laptop BATTERIES? The TSA website goes to great length to explain the new rules regarding unattached batteries in carry-ons and in checked luggage, but it raises several concerns:

1) If a traveler unknowingly places a prohibited lithium battery in his checked luggage and you discover it, what do you do with the battery? (These things can be very expensive!)

2) If a traveler arrives at the security checkpoint with a battery that is over the size limit, what are his options at that point? Again, it's not as simple as throwing out a $1 bottle of water.

3) Few batteries are labeled with their effective lithium content or even their Watt-hour rating. (Sony batteries don't even contain this information in their specs; they are rated in amp-hours.) How does a traveler -- and more importantly, how dose a front-line TSA agent -- know whether a particular batter is actually over the limit?

4) The rules about batteries are not well known by TSA agents. I tried to ask the above questions to a TSA agent at JFK last week, but she told me she was totally unaware of any rules about batteries. These are highly technical rules; how can you expect your agents to understand them, even once they are properly promulgated?

amg said...

TSA TSO NY:

Comments on previous posts which denied the existence of bad apples in TSA's workforce have already cost this blog enough credibility. Do not continue.

Screener Joe said...

Anonymous wrote: "during that time, there were no planes blown up. Doesn't that indicate that nobody is trying to blow up our planes and we're making travelers miserable for no reason?"

No. It only means that no one succeeded during that time frame. The possibility is that someone out there wants to try, but hasn't been able to make it happen yet.

One of the biggest problems with any security structure is: it's always easy to prove when it fails, but it's impossible to prove when it works.

T-the-B on FlyerTalk said...

In response to 'tsa tso ny':

"We are human. When someone gets in MY face and starts screaming profanities, threatening me, even physically abusing me, sorry but I'm probably gonna react in kind. Sorry folks - fact of life."

I appreciate your candor but you don't seem to understand that statement demonstrates your unfitness for the job you have.

If you choose to respond in kind to verbal abuse, "attitude", threats or physical abuse you are more at fault than the person who initiated the incident. Why do I say that? Because you are supposed to be a professional and therefore you should be held to and should want to uphold a higher standard of behavior than the public at large.

The proper response to someone copping an attitude or verbal abuse is to ignore it and perform your job. The proper response to a credible threat is to call for support. The proper response to physical assault is to call for law enforcement. It is sad to see that either TSA failed to give you training in how to properly interact with the public or the training didn't take hold.

"HOWEVER, a passenger screaming at a TSO is perceived to be a threat, unstable, whatever, and is treated as such."

And thus TSA security is exposed for the Potemkin village that it is.

Any imbecile can understand that a true terrorist, seeking to subvert security, will try to be as unobtrusive as possible and blend in with the crowd. A passenger who is agitated with TSA is probably the least likely threat to the traveling public possible. He may be a threat to the TSA employees comfort but that has nothing to do with the security of those flying.

Even if we assume that the screaming passenger is acting as a decoy, drawing attention to himself to allow an accomplice to slide through, by "perceiving" him to be a threat and focusing on him you have just played into his hands.

Let's face it. The truth is that if a passenger manages to irritate a TSA screener the screener will "perceive" him into punitive secondary screening just to teach him a lesson. That sort of petty retaliation: 1) is common, 2) detracts from security by needlessly diverting resources, and 3) breeds resentment of TSA, thus lessening the likelihood of future cooperation by passengers.

If TSA were truly serious about security - let alone being serious about "customer service" - we would see punitive secondary screening be a firing offense.

Anonymous said...

The TSO's all wear shoulder boards on their uniforms. To help you identify who is who :
No shoulder boards = trainee
One stripe = screener
Two stripes = lead
Three stripes = supervisor

If you have any issues with a screener, look for two or three stripes on the shoulder boards.

plutherus said...

tsa tso ny wrote:

2nd - And I know people will argue semantics here but here goes anyway - TSA DOES NOT CONFISCATE ANYTHING!
We allow you to go put a prohibited item in a checked bag, give it to a family member, drop it into your car, etc. If YOU can't figure out a way to get rid of it OUTSIDE the screening area, we ALLOW YOU to VOLUNTARILY surrender it to us for disposal.


There is no functional difference between TSA confiscating something, and TSA ALLOWING you to VOLUNTARILY surrender it if you want to catch your plane.

Once the bag is checked, it CANNOT be retrieved, under TSA rules. You CANNOT have a family member accompany you in the security line, under TSA rules. Even if you brought your car to the airport, after you have already waited an hour in the security line, there won't be time to go back out of the airport, wait for the shuttle to the long-term parking garage, go to your car, wait for the shuttle back, and then go through the entire line again.
So, you can split hairs all you want over whether TSA has "confiscated" anything, but of the three options you gave, two are impossible under TSA regulations, and one is so rarely possible as to be discounted. There is no difference between being forced to "voluntarily" give an item up and it being "confiscated."

Then you go on to say that"

Trust me, we would rather not have to PAY for a hazmat disposal company to come and pick up all the crap that we have to store from passengers who can't read a few simple signs.

Except, of course, that TSA does NOT pay for a hazmat disposal company to come pick up "all the crap". As has been very widely reported, most of that "crap" is harmless stuff that is given to their contractors who are allowed to do what they want with it. Including selling it on Ebay.

Dave X the first said...

TSO Tom February 8, 2008 12:57 PM:

"I will give you an example of something suspicious. ... So I contacted the supervisor who agreed that this particular laptop looked "suspicious". The passenger was delayed in making his flight as we investigated a little further."

So was your big example yet another false alarm?

I'll give you an example of something I think suspicious: Ebay:TSA

You may not "confiscate" things, you just give travellers offers they can't afford to refuse.

Anonymous said...

Someone please explain why expired IDs aren't valid. Does my identity expire when my driver's license expires? That's kind of scary.

TSO Tom said...

Dave X the first said...
TSO Tom February 8, 2008 12:57 PM:

"I will give you an example of something suspicious. ... So I contacted the supervisor who agreed that this particular laptop looked "suspicious". The passenger was delayed in making his flight as we investigated a little further."

So was your big example yet another false alarm?

I'll give you an example of something I think suspicious: Ebay:TSA

You may not "confiscate" things, you just give travellers offers they can't afford to refuse.

February 11, 2008 11:59 AM
***********************************
Dave X;
would you RATHER I tell you that it was a REAL bomb? No in fact it was not, but it certainly gave us cause for concern, and we investigated it. That's why we're here Dave.

caseyh said...

To andy and others in regards to "Valid ID":

The TSA does not require any identification, but without making arrangements at the ticket counter for this type of situation, you probably will get all sorts of trouble. This is because when you obtain a boarding pass from an airline, they check for valid identification. So it doesnt make sense if you show up to the TSA with invalid id. The TSA might treat you like you found the boarding pass on the floor! I am sure the TSA performs all sorts of sanity checks such as these to determine your security risk.

I have made the mistake of losing ID at the last minute once, and I have found as long as you state the truth to both the ticket counter and TSA agents (don't play dumb) nobody will give you trouble. Be prepared, you will go through some pretty intense screening, but you will at least get on the plane.

They won't detain you in a room for a half hour, its actually the same screening as you would get if you were a "selectee" (random extra screening).

I do have some comments for the TSA:

While i like photography and decorative pictures, I dislike some of the photos on top of x-ray machines. usually smaller airports it seems. I have seen one picturing a 767 smashing through one of the WTC buildings in PSC airport (pasco, wa / tricities) with a big, fiery explosion and I found it distasteful. I dont fly through there very often, so it was 2003-2004 timeframe.

Im not certain what the point is. I see these from time to time, and all i want to know is if these pieces of "art" are a) a way to make people submit calmly to long security lines and lots of screening b) non-standardized local office art policy

I dont mind flags, eagles, TSA logos, etc. but pictures exploding buildings and crashing airplanes piloted by terrorists? Just what the traveling public needs to think about before they get on board.

And finally one last comment:

I have found a lot of small, regional airports TSA screening to be a little too intense. These airports only have a couple flights a day in and out, and it seems like these guys get bored standing around all day, and become overexcited when passengers transit through the security line. I don't think i could even list all the small, regional airports like this.

They like to take everything apart, inspect everything that pops up in the xray, make me show laptop batteries, turn on and off every electronic device in my possession, and show various small metal items that happen to be in my bag (in particular, jewelry) that were permissible on the aircraft. They proceeded to do this to every passenger for a 20 seat plane we were flying out on. This particular location was "YKM" a few years back...which i drive into now due to TSA hassles instead of using regional air travel.

I never, ever get this treatment at large airports, and I don't travel with anything unusual either.

Is the experience in YKM the TSA's ultimate dream of security screening if you had unlimited resources? Is it because regional airports are the biggest target? Are you even aware of how regional airports are driving passengers nuts?

Chance said...

Hi Dave X, TSA does'nt sell the the items left at the checkpoints. Generally, the state the aiport is located in is responsible for disposal, and every state is different. For more information on those items you see listed on ebay, please see the following links:

LA Times Travel Blog
and
ABC News Article


Chance - Evolution Blog Team Member

Hannah said...

This only serves to increase my fears about bringing my computer with me. I already know I need to pack it in my carry on, but now it could get taken from me?! This is absolutely outrageous. And scary.

But, my question for you is, in reading the comments on this blog, I have heard far too many examples of people who had their carry-on bags searched out of sight, and then things were missing. Is it legal to search my bag out of my sight? Am I at least allowed to insist such a search be done by an upper manager and that I get his or her name & employee number?

Finally, as someone who has worked in many, many different areas of the customer service arena, I have a suggestion. The TSA should really talk to other large customer service organizations to see about the ways they work to keep their employees happy and cordial. Try going down the list of the top 10 places to work in America. If you make the TSA a desireable employer you will attract quality employees.

Anonymous said...

Is anybody posting about ID on this blog aware that in the not so far future, you will be REQUIRED to have a valid PASSPORT for all travel including within the United States. So your driver's license will no longer be accepted as ID when traveling. Now you've got something to complain about. And by the way, it has nothing to do with TSA its a National effort.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous with breast milk in the sippy cup:

Is there any reason you can't bring the breast milk in some kind of acceptable bottle along with an empty sippy cup and then just pour it from the bottle to the sippy cup once you get past the checkpoint? How hard would this be?

Dave X the first said...

@ February 11, 2008 3:07 PM TSO Tom said...
Dave X;
would you RATHER I tell you that it was a REAL bomb? No in fact it was not, but it certainly gave us cause for concern, and we investigated it. That's why we're here Dave.


Tom: yes I would, if I didn't think you'd be lying. I think TSA is a bureacracy which justifies itself by chasing shadows. If you had something more than fantasy threats and false alarms to balance against the increased risks of death due to people choosing more convenient modes of travel, (See here) I might grant TSA screening some legitimacy. As it is, TSA is a net drain on society. We really would be better off if you were not there.


@ February 11, 2008 3:37 PM Chance said...

Hi Dave X, TSA does'nt sell the the items left at the checkpoints. Generally, the state the aiport is located in is responsible for disposal, and every state is different. For more information on those items you see listed on ebay, please see the following links:

LA Times Travel Blog
and
ABC News Article

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

Hi Chance.

The first link is broken. The second article says someone is selling some of the TSA "voluntarily surrendered" items. I know TSA TSO NY thinks "TSA DOES NOT CONFISCATE ANYTHING!" But really when the choice is potentially missing a flight or separating from your party versus "voluntarily surrendering" something, it is no different than a confiscation. Whether or not the government goes on to sell the items as in those stories, or as other posters have posted here, the screeners take the items for themselves, it is a confiscation.

bwi said...

Is doing a secondary test on a laptop that is glued together and has some large epoxy filled holes a fantasy threat? Honestly I don't think so...glad someone is checking that out. For the person who doesn't fly now, because they lost some change in 1999, a) tsa was not around and b) seriously no one is gonna steal that, if anything it would be picked up by an airport cleaner.

Anonymous said...

Are customs looking for google bombs in laptops as well? ^_^

Anonymous said...

i was recently at the baltimore airport on monday feb. 11th, and they currently have posted signs that state and display that electronic equipment of all kind needs to be removed from its bag and placed in a bin.

not one to cause i scene i complied with the posted signs, but i would appreciate it if you could look into the matter. thanks

netcrusher88 said...

Good use of the blog. Also LOL at anonymous's remark on Google bombs.

Anonymous said...

I think the reason that people are confused about whether it's Customs or the TSA that is searching laptops is that they have found that increasingly aggressive, intrusive, even militaristic treatment has a tendency to trickle down into all facets of officialdom. So they reasonably expect that the kinds of things that are done in foreign countries will be done at our external borders, and then at our internal borders.

Furthermore, we have a tendency to use draconian extra-judicial punishments for certain kinds of unpopular laws rather than invest the expense and risk of giving people jury trials.

For example, I'm thinking of things like solicitation of prostitution, possession of marijuana, or failure to make child support payments in a timely fashion.

You know, if you owe ten dollars of child support for 90 days, the state will suspend your driver's license. What do the two have to do with each other? Nothing, but as a family judge once told me "we have a lot less problems with compliance now." The concern for efficiency of law enforcement has trumped the concern for justice.

So why does the TSA care if someone is flying with a marijuana cigarette? Do we have a heightened threat of Rastafarian terrorism? No, it just happens to be very efficient to enforce possession laws when you're searching people for prohibited weapons and explosives.

How long until we see travel bans extended to people who have unmet child support obligations, or owe some back taxes? Really, it wouldn't be hard to put those people on the no-fly list, and I'm sure "we'd have a lot fewer problems with compliance."

Jason said...

So it seems the problem isn't one of the TSA's *policies* but rather the inconsistent enforcement of them and the unaccountability of their agents.

What good are rules if there is no consequence to disobeying them? The TSA may not practice discrimination / profiling, theft, intimidation, abuse of power, etc, but that does not mean that *individuals* who are employed by the TSA don't do these things.

What the TSA needs is oversight.

The TSA reps who post here are all decent people who would never engage in some of the reprehensible behavior being exposed. Evidenced by the fact that they seem to care what regular folks think and want to understand our experiences and explain issues. However, it is naive of them to think that there are no abuses happening by any employees since they are given such a wide range of power, the limits of which are poorly defined.

I try not to fly when I can avoid it, but that is how I've always been. To me, it has never *not* been too much of a hassle. If you're worried about the TSA stealing your stuff, (http://www.unclaimedbaggage.com/) some folks don't need any help losing what's theirs.

Anonymous said...

"So here's a question, why is it that when you go through the screening you have to take your laptop out of the bag but not camera's and other electronic devices? I would think in the age of x-ray, that a simple laptop bag would be easily scanned by such expensive and sophisticated machines."

Think about it. Think about how a laptop would look on an X-ray. If you have a laptop in a thick bag, with your power supply, notebooks, PDA, binders, pens, and other basic office supplies, don't you think it would be difficult to get a clear look at your laptop? The TSA looks for things that don't look right. If you have a laptop come through in a bag with everything else, you can't see if there's anything hidden inside the laptop. And if you think that people don't do EVERYTHING in their power to hide things in electronics, you're wrong.

Dave X the first said...

@February 12, 2008 12:07 PM bwi said...

"Is doing a secondary test on a laptop that is glued together and has some large epoxy filled holes a fantasy threat? Honestly I don't think so...glad someone is checking that out."

Honestly, unless they find a bomb, it is a false alarm.

If TSA counts false alarms as successful detections, it will always be the muddle it is. Heck, with that logic, if I'm suspicious that TSA is a bureaucracy of clueless idiots, it is confirmed by this blog simply because other posters here think so too.

The idiocy of TSA is wasting people's time and is probably responsible for killing more people than they could hope to save.

Flying is safer than driving, and when the inconveniences and fears cause people to drive rather than fly, more people die:
http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/March05/Sept11driving.pdf

Anonymous said...

@tsa tso ny

"We are human. When someone gets in MY face and starts screaming profanities, threatening me, even physically abusing me, sorry but I'm probably gonna react in kind. Sorry folks - fact of life."

You are 100% wrong. In all the jobs I've had from my teenage days at McDonalds to my job now working with judges I have never, EVER been allowed to respond this way to an irate customer. If I had I would have been fired. No, I don't enjoy getting yelled at, either, and I try to be as nice as I can to other service workers but the "it's a human reaction" excuse CANNOT be used to explain away bad customer service. I'm not saying all TSOs are bad at customer service but most of them I've seen don't seem to care or are out and out bad at it. Perhaps those at the top should implement some sort of customer service training program and implement disciplinary actions against employees who, like you, think they have the right to react to an angry passenger with anger. It's not professional and gives all TSOs a bad name.

Anonymous said...

Question regarding juices allowed for children: Is there any specific containers they need to be in? Will sippy cups or small water bottles be allowed, or is it limited to small juice boxes or baby bottles? The TSA "rules" pages are very ambiguous about this aspect, and I don't want to go through the anguish of explaning to a 3 year old why we have to leave her favorite juice behind.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with TSA TSO NY for saying ;
"We are human. When someone gets in MY face and starts screaming profanities, threatening me, even physically abusing me, sorry but I'm probably gonna react in kind. Sorry folks - fact of life."
This is something that I am fighting against; these kinds of screeners who are so unprofessional that makes all of us look bad.
I have been screamed at and called all kinds of names for doing my job the way I was instructed to. I managed to keep my professional coolness and allow passenger to say what’s on their mind without interrupting and escalating situation for worse.
More often I received apologies for their behavior and I was able to complete what I needed to, as well as keep the lane flow.
I don’t let things get out of control or take insults seriously, because I know, that passenger has nothing against me personally, it just hates the rules we implement on travelers. I bet if I met some of the people who yelled at me in a different environment we would be good friends. :)

Stefan said...

Perhaps a solution for the confiscation issue would be what Zurich airport in switzerland is doing for a while now. They offer you the possibility to deposit the item at the airport. For a small fee you can then pick it up at a later time (or have a friend to it for you using your receipt), against a small fee.

Worked for me.

Anonymous said...

TSA TSO NY, I'm heavy and was struggling once to gather up my belongings, get redressed and to hold up my pants. A tsa type told me "lose some weight." You wonder why the public sometimes responds to inappropriate comments from TSA workers with inappropriate comments of their own?

You've got some serious house cleaning in order.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, There is alot of blogs posted about TSA screeners being thieves. Just to reassure passengers that travel through Austin, TX, there are cameras in the checked baggage screening room to help alleviate the theft accusation problem. But remember there are other entities that handle your bag before it gets on the plane. It is very aggravating to be a screener, that takes their job seriously, to be blamed by passengers for stealing. So the cameras are also there to protect us from being blamed for stealing your most prized possessions. The cameras that are posted at Austin are viewed by management on a regular basis. I don't mind the cameras because I am an honest person and really don't care to own anything that the passengers carry in their checked bags. And I often wonder why business travelers pack their $2,000 lap top computers in their checked baggage when God only knows how many other bags are going to be stockpiled on top of your bag in the belly of the plane by the airline employees that are in charge of loading the planes. I am sure your employers would be happy to know why millions of laptops are carelessly handled and thousands of their dollars wasted. So think twice before you go pointing your fingers at a TSA screeners for your broken laptop or a watch that was stolen/ misplaced!

lulu said...

I am a TSO and try to treat everyone the way I would like to be treated but I can only speak for myself just like you can only speak for yourself. I am not responsible for all TSA and you are not responsible for all passengers.Things happen on both sides of the fence and I guess this is a great tool to bring those things out in the open. I do ask that just as easily as you go up to complain about bad experiences, please go up and acknowledge your great experiences also. It makes my day to know that someone appreciates my professionalism and respectful services. It may encourage others to be like me if they see great work being noticed. You will know me if you run across me at my airport.

Anonymous said...

I flew out of LAX yesterday at around 4pm, through the southwest terminal, and was told that i had to remove the speakers i had from my carry on bag. When i responded that this was not the policy, the agent told me it was a new policy.

Patented Patience said...

Retaliation and Screener I.D.s:

TSOs wear more than one badge, visible at all times, usually hanging from a lanyard opposite our uniform badge (upper breast, shoulder area, depending on length of lanyard). On the opposite breast is a nameplate with a name and an identification number. I can't speak for all screening managers, or supervisors, but I can't come to work without these two peices of my uniform. Without them, I will be sent home, and possibly considered awol for the time I am missing from my duty assignment.

As a passenger you have a right to speak to my supervisors at any time during the screening process (and after). As a screener, if you feel offended or abused, I WANT you to use that right for several reasons: 1.) I may have failed my duties in some way. Those duties need to be carried out. 2.) I don't come to work with the desire to make anyone miserable. Please let me hand you off to my supervisor if you have an issue you feel I can't address to your satisfaction. It's unprofessional of me to call my supervisor over, just because you're giving off a vibe that you don't like me. 3.) That's why my superiors' pay and rank are greater than my own. It's their job to insure a safe smoothly-functioning checkpoint.
This is the U.S. You have Freedom of Speech, use it. Do it in a constructive manner that will effect change. The one thing you passengers have drilled into my head from so many of the posts, is you are received in the manner you present yourself.
So, please speak up if you think something is wrong. In the time I've been with TSA, I've never seen a passenger subjected to extra screening for their opinions, but I have been called to the mat to explain my actions. Most of the time, standing on the mat has been a valuable learning opportunity. One that could have been missed, had the passeger been afraid to speak.

uddin said...

Why cant we all just get along? Why cant TSO's follow their rules tot the letter as humanly possible? Why cant passengers shut up and follow the rules? I bet if we all stopped bickering about minor things (and yes taking a laptop out of a bag and placing it in a bucket is simple..i should know i fly 4 times a week)..wy does everyone have a problem with taking off thier shoes? becasue the floor is dirty? heres a soultion...wear socks..if everybody just stopped for ONE second and realized where they were i bet things would go much smoother. For cryin out loud..your at an AIRPORT...your surronded by ALOT OF GASOLINE AND JET FUEL. Taking things out your bag shouldnt be a hassle..if you can out them in a your bag theres no reason why you cant take them out of your bag. It only takes 5 minutes..maybe 10 TOTA L to clear everything. Life would be easier if we ALL (passenegers and TSO's) would just follow the rules..
------my 2 cents...if you don't agree with me then lets have a constructive conversation about the issue at hand..thank you

Rashid said...

My Ghosh! how would you define the "threat" that could lead officials to peep through the personal data?

Anonymous said...

It's not the TSA (of the DHS) that can confiscate and search your computer without probable cause...it's U.S. Customs (of the DHS) that can confiscate your computer and search it without probable cause. Feel safer?

Big brother is watching...

J. said...

It seems that your policy has changed.

Care to explain?

Stan Victor said...

Thank you so much for sharing this great article. But, I dont think that the checkpoint of TSA attempts to confiscate the laptop or gain the passwords or any other information.

Anonymous said...

They're really getting carried away...and I thought the newburgh town court was bad.

technology news said...

If you think that would work, or that we would have even the most remote chance of either talking to a supervisor or getting on our flight after saying something like that, you have some serious disconnect with the reality of the situation.thanks