Friday, February 1, 2008

Questions We Hear Everyday (Commenting Disabled)

Throughout the ages, there have been many unanswered questions that continue to baffle the human race. Who built Stonehenge? Is there life on other planets? Why does the TSA make me place my liquids in a clear sealable baggie?

Unfortunately, even the experts at the TSA were not able to solve all of the world's mysteries, but they were able to crack the code on a few.

For your viewing pleasure, we filmed some of our experts explaining a couple of TSA's most frequently asked questions from the flying public. We have others and will post those in the future but for today we have:
We know, we know, what about shoes? Well we're working on a video for this question and plan to update this post with that video this afternoon. In the meantime, check out our post on shoes in the link off to the right. We updated it this morning with a picture of a really funky pair of shoes we found on a guy flying from Alaska last year. We have also posted the x-ray image of a standard pair of shoes. We think it shows pretty clearly that we can actually tell if they've been altered.

You'll notice there's no mention of good old shoe bomber Richard Reid yet. That's because the current rule is not in place only because of one of the more famous residents of the Supermax in Kansas. No, it's all about intel and us knowing that terrorists are still interested in hiding explosives, detonators and other items we really don't want in the cabin of an airplane in their shoes.

Don't forget, we want your feedback but it has to be in the right place because we can't move comments around on this blog yet. Post shoe comments and questions in that link, post liquids issues and scientific research proving us wrong in the liquids page. For anyone interested in discussing screening the elderly and children, feel free to comment right here.

Finally, you'll be happy to know that Kip does not own shares in the plastic baggie business and he is fond of the elderly and small children. I'm also willing to bet you wouldn't even have to take your shoes off at his house. Enjoy...

Evolution Blog Team


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novakyu said...

By anonymous
"I think you may be missing the point on this whole "blog" thing.

Many people have found that a blog is an excellent way to communicate ideas using the written word."

Amen to that! When I saw (by the link) that it was some video, I didn't even click it. I can read much faster than I can listen to some guy, and TSA already wasted more than enough of my time at airports.

Anonymous said...

Bob, You say you confiscated 15 firearms last week. Do you claim that by that you actually prvented even one serious highjacking attempt? Also, When will someone answer the question about why tiny knives are still prohibited? Can't your screeners differentiate between a potential weapon and a grooming tool? If 4" scissors are allowed, why not a 1 1/2" knife?

Jon said...

If liquids and gels are such a security risk, why allow TSA agents and flight crews to bring them through security? Other airport employees aren't allowed to do it.

Anonymous said...

When the TSA actually catches someone at the airport with a bomb, or something as dangerous, I'll believe in them. So far they are batting 0. They didn't catch Reid. He was onboard. The TSA is a joke. They couldn't even catch the guy returning with TB. He caught a flight to Canada and drove back. Didn't get stopped at the border. How safe is that?

Scout said...

"The real question is Why do we need TSA @ all? We don't, it is a complete waste of time.. you check nothing, find nothing, and simply clog up air travel.."

Last week, 15 firearms were found during screening at TSA Checkpoints.



With all due respect, the presence of firearms does not indicate ill intent. How many of those 15 firearms were intended for use in such a way as to endanger other passengers or crew members?

How many of those 15 firearms would not have been caught by the privatized screening done before the govenmental power grab in late 2001?

How many firearms were not caught by TSA screening last week?

I'm not scared of big scary terrorist monsters hiding under my bed. Please stop being scared on my behalf. Please perform any legitimate law enforcement activities within your Constitutional bounds, reminding yourselves that you are public servants, and that the public does not serve you.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, the natural posture of any organization in response to criticism (even when it is solicited) is defensiveness. That is certainly the sense I get from the TSA folks who have responded thus far.

To the TSA: It would behoove you and your organization to read these comments from the folks who have taken their free time to convey their thoughts to you with an open mind. You are being paid to read these. By our tax dollars.

I read about a hundred comments and overall the question still remains. What is the function of the TSA?

Is it to stop terrorists from using an Airplane as a weapon? After 9/11 it is almost unthinkable that passengers would allow that to happen - if it originates from the passenger cabin.

Is it to stop terrorists from blowing up a plane? Why wouldn't terrorists just obtain a shoulder launched rocket and stand outside the 10 foot fence that encloses the airport and let rip? Or ship a bomb via USPS since I still don't think they scan all those packages? Enough has been said on the stupidity of the so-called "liquid threat."

Is it to make travel "safe"? Accidents can and will happen. We do not live in a world in which tragedy does not occur. And it is impossible to pretend otherwise. By setting an impossible goal as your reason for existence you do ensure an infinite justification for your organization, don't you?

Is it to make the travel experience the same at every airport in the nation to ensure a consistent security posture? That clearly is not happening. Over the past 5 years, I've flown through Miami, LA, SF, O'Hare, Minneapolis, Boston, Milwaukee, Heathrow, Tel-Aviv, Paris and others. Almost without exception, every airport handles certain situations differently. Signage is awful, if even there. After all, many folks do not travel regularly.

Absent good direction (and I'm not included randomly shouted directions in a massively domed structure in which every word echoes wildly about) people will make mistakes. The TSA then treats those folks with contempt and suspicion.

Since at some airports, you nearly have to disrobe, why is there not a longer set of tables to get your things together an line up. Why aren't the bins bigger? Have you ever seen anyone use just one bin these days? Shoes, laptop (why can't the machine see the laptop through my bag by the way?), belt, wallet, change, bag of liquids (thought again - only at some airports) add up quickly.

Air Travel has become incredibly frustrating, does not actually make use safer by clustering "dangerous" passengers in a closely grouped, slow-moving line and has very real costs to our economy.

Toby said...

Thanks TSA for censoring most of my comments. You've confirmed my suspicions. I'm now even more distrusting of you than before, and feel even more justified in my position. If you can't take a little heat on a blog then I'm sure your agency (like every other bureaucracy in the history of humanity) has no real interest in serving its customers (even if we are customers only in the sense that we pay the bills for you--not in the sense that we have a choice).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for using my tax money on this blog! Now you can accomplish even less than you normally do - an impressive feat!

Michael Economy said...

So this has happened to me 3-4 times. I forget i have my swiss army knife in my backback, until either before or after the security gate at the airport. Now, i've had this knife a long time and i like it. I'm not gonna just throw it in the trash if i don't have to. So I leave it in my bag, hoping it won't get caught.

Now, despite having to remove my shoes, take my laptop out of its bag, remove my belt and hold my pants up with my hand. Some how i've managed to smuggle weapons through.

Maybe its because as a white person, I'm not the correct "profile" for a terrorist., but i have a little more faith in people and think its just that TSA checkpoints are a joke.

Bob said...

Anonymous Said: So whats the deal with sandals/flip flops cause thats basically all I ever wear, and lets be honest, theres like no place to hide anything. Most of the time I don't have to take them off but one time a TSA person asked me to take off my shoes and I was like uhhh what shoes.

Also along the same point my mom's boyfriend has shoes with a flask built in to the soles by the company cause he likes to drink. Would you guys totally freak if you saw that?

He also has a pair of flip flops with a bottle opener on the bottom.

Intel has shown that prohibited items can be concealed in flip-flops such as sharp objects and explosives. It doesn't take much to make a big boom.

The shoe flask would be detected and would cause alarm. If you can hide booze in there, imagine what else you could hide... If your mom's boyfried flies, I would recommend he simply pay for the snazzy little bottles on the plane.

The bottle opener flip flops would look odd, but would be permitted.

As far as ice, it's a no go unless it is needed for medical reasons. (Gels or frozen liquids needed to cool disability or medically related items used by persons with disabilities or medical conditions are permitted)


Evolution Blog Team

Bob said...

Anonymous Said:"This is ridiculous: a blog that preemptively screens every single comment for "appropriateness"!

Isn't it silly to use such an open medium to do PR for a very unpopular program? The obvious solution (to screen and heavily comments) contradicts the whole point of having a blog.

Agencies like TSA should accept that much of what they do is unnecessary and therefore unpopular with most of the population (who are not stupid and have no problem recognizing what is a legitimate security need and what is not) and should stop trying to push PR on a medium designed for building real communities around ideas and things that people actually respect."

If you like to read racially degrading posts and threats, this blog is not for you because that's the type of comments we're rejecting. I think it's blatantly obvious we're not out to make ourselves look good in the eyes of the public with this blog. We know there are problems. We know there is confusion. We know that many do not agree with our mission. We are not trying to hide these things. We're simply trying to open up communications between passengers and the TSA and maybe make things a little better.


Evolution Blog Team

Anonymous said...

"It doesn't take much to make a big boom."

Actually, it does. Please stop lying to the people who pay your salary.

paul said...

I would love to see the scientific evidence that shows that liquids can be used to successfully make a bomb on an airplane. From everything I've read and researched into, it would be far too dangerous and difficult to pull it off. The quantity of liquids required to actually do damage are ridiculous, and odds are that the bomb-maker would end up only hurting himself or herself. I want to see all the actual scientific research, not just one study done by the TSA that says so.

Along the same lines, I want to know what the quantity of liquids permitted changes so often. It really looks bad that the best of American scientific research can still only speculate about facts that are already known.

Bob said...

I have to sign off for the day, but I wanted to clear some things up.

Blogging is not my primary job. (I wish) I have other duties as well as the other members of the team. While I and others are trying our best to reply to your comments, we can't get to them all right away.

Also, some of your questions and comments are going to be addressed in future articles. So please don’t get discouraged if we don’t answer you right away.

One more thing... Until we can speed things up, it may take a day or two for your comments to be moderated and posted. Simply because your comment has not been posted, it does not mean it has been rejected.

Thanks for all of the honest and passionate feedback from both passengers and employees. I truly look forward to watching and helping this community grow.



Evolution Blog Team

Chance said...

Toby, when I scroll up I still see one of your comments, and a number of other comments which I would certainly consider "a little heat". If I or another member of the blog team deleted your comment, it was almost certainly because it did not follow the guidelines set forth in the comment policy.

Anonymous said...

Response to comment #2. TSA had nothing to do with your mother getting on the wrong plane. All TSA does is clear her and her posessions so that she may enter the secure area and continue on her trip. The airline is responsible for checking tickets at the gate and allowing passangers to board. You can't blame this one on TSA

Chance said...

To the TSA: It would behoove you and your organization to read these comments from the folks who have taken their free time to convey their thoughts to you with an open mind. You are being paid to read these. By our tax dollars.

Just to echo what at Bob said above, I'm not paid or ordered to work on this blog during evenings or weekends, and any blogging done during the duty day must be done only as I find a few minutes here and there. Primary duties take precedence.

So, you're on your free time, and I'm on mine I definitely appreciate that you've taken your time to make constructive comments, and I promise to keep an open mind, listen, and try and give the best response I can give. However, the best response I can give, might not be the one you would prefer to hear.

Does that sound defensive? I certainly don't feel defensive, I feel that the fact that you and I are having this conversation is a good thing, it's a least first step.

"is it to stop terrorists from using an Airplane as a weapon? After 9/11 it is almost unthinkable that passengers would allow that to happen - if it originates from the passenger cabin."

Well, I can think of a few plausible scenarios, so I'm not sure I agree with your point. What if rather than 19 hijackers spread among 4 flights, you put all 19 on one flight? Unlikely? Perhaps, but if you're AQ, you're definitely going to include what happened on Flight 19 into your planning. They'd be stupid not to, and say whatever else you will about them, they aren't stupid (at least at the top levels - many of their followers, eh, no comment).

Is it to stop terrorists from blowing up a plane? Why wouldn't terrorists just obtain a shoulder launched rocket and stand outside the 10 foot fence that encloses the airport and let rip? Or ship a bomb via USPS since I still don't think they scan all those packages? Enough has been said on the stupidity of the so-called "liquid threat.

It's not as if the terrorists haven't tried: surface to air missiles were fired at an Israeli airliner in 2002, (AQ took responsibility) and similar incidents have occurred in both Iraq and Somalia. However, TSA works with state, local, and other federal agencies, as well as to mitigate this threat. Regarding air cargo, is there room for improvement? I believe so, and so does the great team in our Air Cargo office, who are working to implement the guidelines outlined in the legislation passed last year(the "Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007.")

This post is getting long, but I hope either I or another member of the team will be able to address some of the other points you've brought up, either here or in future posts.

- Chance, Evolution of Security blog team member.

Human said...

The TSA is a joke. my 2 cans of pepper spray got through security.
In addition, they are too busy banning Pro Peace activists to catch any "Terrorists".

Toby said...

Chance, it's easy for you to say I didn't follow policy in my comments when no one else can see them and judge for themselves.

Most of my comments amount to questioning the validity of the need for and existence of the TSA and DHS.

The one or two comments of mine that were not censored are representative of the rest of them. It's just that I've had to make about 20 comments to get 2 posted.

This is merely a symptom of the TSA's larger problem. The TSA is forced upon people who don't want it, and who are then told that all of this infringement of our liberties is being done for our own good. When we question that, we are told "trust us."

Doesn't that seem suspicious in the least to you? Would you trust your doctor, lawyer, grocer, counselor, mechanic, or anyone else you paid to serve you without any explanation or verification? Would you have elective heart surgery without a second opinion, or from a doctor who said that he would refuse to treat you if you sought a second opinion?

I am forced to pay for the TSA through taxes whether I fly or not, so the argument "if you don't like it then don't fly" is irrelevant. I am forced to pay for something that is immoral, and then told by smiling faces that I should really like it . . . a lot!

I have received ZERO evidence for why I should trust the TSA. I'm simply told I should because it's the government and they're experts. So was Nixon. Need I say more?

Anonymous said...

There is no way to eliminate the possibility of harm via terrorism. The most obvious example of this is the long lines created by airport security checks -- an ideal target for a suicide bombing. The only sane reaction to this is reasonable steps to disrupt terrorist networks, and an acceptance that risk is part of life. So I'll take the risk. Let me keep my shoes on. Let me travel with bottled water. If an airline or airport wants to offer a higher security standard, then the market will provide it and people can choose. Don't take that choice away from me. And don't let terrorists decide how I live in my country.

Our country started with live free or die - not "live free unless there's some risk involved, then we'll be gladly be less free because that's just how it is and there's nothing we can do."

Anonymous said...

I thought this blog would be a great place to clear up the confusion for the "traveling public" to try to understand the policies that TSA has used. All I can think is the "how sad and spoiled" we Americans have become. I only travel 2 times a year and have traveled in many airports and have had nothing but wonderful people who work for TSA, courtesy, kindness, and respect has always been the case. Amazing that people forget that these people just might be a family member, friend, or neighbor that you are bashing. Just think that these people are only following the rules that are written for them to follow. And I have seen blogs written that say that these people are ignorant morons that do not have any brains. Many of the airports that I have traveled I heard that many of the screeners were in the military, many that have served in Iraq only to return to their job to be spat at by the very American people that they fought to serve. Fine thing! How would you like it if people came to your place of employment and told you that you are a idiot just for following the rules that are spelled out for you to follow in order to keep your job. Shame on you for insulting the people that only want to make sure you and your children get to your destination. Thanks you all TSA
Officers for your hard work and keep up the good work!!! Not everyone out there HATES you!!!!

Toby said...

Anonymous said...

I thought this blog would be a great place to clear up the confusion for the "traveling public" to try to understand the policies that TSA has used. All I can think is the "how sad and spoiled" we Americans have become.

This comment was not censored even though it directly insults people with the clear intent to inflame and offend. Is it OK to insult, inflame, and offend those who disagree with the TSA?

I only travel 2 times a year and have traveled in many airports and have had nothing but wonderful people who work for TSA, courtesy, kindness, and respect has always been the case.

I find that sincerely hard to believe. I go out of my way to be nice to the folks at the airport, not because I believe are necessarily wonderful people, but because I think I should try to be as decent as possible to everybody. That said, I have observed behavior from TSA screeners that would get you fired from your local burger joint. The TSA simply does not treat people like CUSTOMERS, but rather like SUBJECTS. That is the problem. Instead of “the customer is always right,” it’s “the customer’s opinion is irrelevant.” Granted this blog would seem a step away from that practice, but the reality in the field is that to question or disagree with a TSA screener (even if the screener is wrong on the law/policy) is to invite misery on oneself. Take for example (the blog comment of) the parent who was forced to watch her (5 year-old) child be physically searched or threatened with jail if she didn’t allow it. The reason: the child’s name matched a name on the no-fly list. That was unconscionable and abusive behavior on the part of the screener.

Has that screener been jailed for child abuse? Has that screener been forced to pay the family for their lost time and for the suffering of their child? Of course not. It doesn’t work that way.

If however, I walked up to someone’s 5-year old in the mall and did the same thing, they’d call 911 and haul me to jail. They would be right to do so. Government officials should have to obey the same rules they use the threat of violence to impose upon us.

Amazing that people forget that these people just might be a family member, friend, or neighbor that you are bashing.

What precisely does this have to do with anything? A terrorist is somebody’s baby, family member, friend, etc. Does that mean we shouldn’t say that their behavior is evil?

Just think that these people are only following the rules that are written for them to follow.

I am sick and tired of seeing this argument. It is so obviously false that I find it hard to believe that anyone who posts it actually believes it.

Think about it. If your boss said to slap every 5th customer who walked in the door, would a judge and jury find you not guilty of assault because you had to hit them to keep your job? “Just following orders” will not get you off the hook if you work for a business and your boss tells you to cook the books to avoid taxes. You will go to jail. Every adult is responsible for his/her own actions.

And I have seen blogs written that say that these people are ignorant morons that do not have any brains.

Fair enough, but don’t call me “sad and spoiled” because I hold to a definition of liberty espoused by Patrick Henry, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and a great deal of English Common Law since the freaking Magna Carta. By the way, it may be that some Americans are sad and spoiled and some TSA folks are morons. There may even be some overlap. That is irrelevant to the issues involved in my objection to the TSA.

Many of the airports that I have traveled I heard that many of the screeners were in the military, many that have served in Iraq only to return to their job to be spat at by the very American people that they fought to serve.

OK, I’m not sure where you’re really going with this on. What does having served in the military in the past have to do with whether someone should be held responsible for their conduct in the present? Should veterans be exempt from all criminal prosecution? Should they be allowed to do whatever they want because they used to be in the military?

Furthermore, the whole “spat upon” things seems a bit over the top to me. I have observed nothing but sycophantic praise and adoration of all present and former members of the armed services since 9/11. Of course that may be only because I live in Texas.

I don’t believe in a standing army by the way, and don’t appreciate being billed for it. If soldiers are defending my freedom, why am I less free now than I was in August of 2001? Nobody in the military really defended me from the Patriot Act and its ilk. As I recall most of them that I knew personally supported it. End of story. The military simply has not and does not defend my freedom.

Fine thing! How would you like it if people came to your place of employment and told you that you are a idiot just for following the rules that are spelled out for you to follow in order to keep your job.

Again with the guards at the Gulag who were “just following orders.”

If the government forced people to pay for my services whether they desired them or not I would not be surprised if they were unhappy with me.

I’m a Pastor in a Bible-based community church. Let’s pretend that I believe that everyone’s life would be statistically better, healthier, safer, happier, more free from terrorism, and have the added bonus of eternal bliss if they just attended my church, or a church of similar beliefs.

(Whether I believe these things or not in real life is irrelevant. It’s just an analogy. Stay with me. I'm going somewhere good with this.)

Now let’s pretend that I was able to convince the folks who make the laws that everyone should be required to attend such a church, be taxed to support those churches, or go to jail. In addition, and statistical research we acquired to support our claims would be a matter of national security and never revealed to mere citizens. If someone complained during church services I could send them a holding cell for a couple of hours to be searched and questioned just because I felt like it.

What would be the attitude of folks to a system like that? Would they trust me? Would they gushing with thankfulness to me because I care about their physical, emotional, psychological, and relational well-being in this world, as well as their eternal souls in the hereafter?

NO! They would vehemently object, and rightfully so. Meditate on that for a while, and you’ll begin to understand the ire of those who disagree with the DHS, TSA, and Global War on Terror. A war which I predict will be as successful as our War on Drugs, that is, a dismal failure.

Shame on you for insulting the people that only want to make sure you and your children get to your destination.

This statement is mere emotional plea. We should all do our best not to intentionally insult anyone. Some circumstances may call for telling the truth in such a way that folks take it as insult, but we should each do our part to state the truth in a loving way as much as we can and as the situation allows. I’m not perfect at this, or even close. Unfortunately, my personality leans more toward the truth part than the loving part, so I have to watch myself that I’m not a bit rough with the truth.

Thanks you all TSA Officers for your hard work and keep up the good work!!! Not everyone out there HATES you!!!!

This paragraph consists of more emotion without any content that is relevant to the issue. It furthermore presupposes that hoards of people personally hate all TSA employees. It begs the question by defining anyone who disagrees with the TSA a being a hater of those individuals.

I truly appreciate that many in the TSA do their jobs with a clear conscience and with the best intent. I am thankful for sincere people in government positions. I do not believe their sincerity exempts them from general moral responsibility in society. We all have an individual responsibility for our actions, especially our actions that harm others, or that seek to coerce others by violence.

MrAndy1369 said...

I'm deaf and can't hear those WMV files. Can you write them down for us who can't hear, for equal access? Thanks,


Shrike said...

"He who would trade liberty for security will have neither"
Benjamin Franklin

Anonymous said...

My main complaint with airport secuity is regarding people with knee replacements, etc. My Doctor gave me cards to carry to show that I have had knee replacements so that when I went through secutity they would know why the alarm went off. You would think that one swipe of each knee would show them that 's where the only problem is. NO WAY! I am pulled aside as they loudly call for "assistance at security" I stand there for many minutes, remove my belt, empty all pockets and am patted down. I was actually told by the TSA person, that those cards mean nothing to them and that I might as well throw them away. I have!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I thought this blog would be a great place to clear up the confusion for the "traveling public" to try to understand the policies that TSA has used. All I can think is the "how sad and spoiled" we Americans have become. I only travel 2 times a year and have traveled in many airports and have had nothing but wonderful people who work for TSA, courtesy, kindness, and respect has always been the case. Amazing that people forget that these people just might be a family member, friend, or neighbor that you are bashing. Just think that these people are only following the rules that are written for them to follow. And I have seen blogs written that say that these people are ignorant morons that do not have any brains. Many of the airports that I have traveled I heard that many of the screeners were in the military, many that have served in Iraq only to return to their job to be spat at by the very American people that they fought to serve. Fine thing! How would you like it if people came to your place of employment and told you that you are a idiot just for following the rules that are spelled out for you to follow in order to keep your job. Shame on you for insulting the people that only want to make sure you and your children get to your destination. Thanks you all TSA
Officers for your hard work and keep up the good work!!! Not everyone out there HATES you!!!!

February 3, 2008 11:30 PM

This is very nice to hear!

ann said...

I think that the Philadelphia airport has by far the worst, rudest and most disorganized systems. They are so over crowded and the staff on the long wait lines harrass passengers, ordering them is just the lowest experince in air travel that I know.

Don said...

I have an interesting dilemma.

My Ohio Drivers License has a less than perfect photo of me. I got the license last May, and it was apparently the best this agency could do for my $23.

On occasion, TSA employees will question the validity of my ID because of the quality of the photos.

When I presented this fact back at the BMV, they took a look at the license and said it was fine, and refused to re-do the license.

How do I get the TSA and the BMV to argue amongst themselves and allow me to get on with my life?? I shouldn't have to be the stooge in the middle as you each decide on an apparent whim whether or not my Gov't issued ID is "good enough" for the Gov't.

(typing this as I sit in CLE waiting to head to ATL for the week)


Anonymous said...

Two complaints....
1). I have purchased 8 of the large "TSA" locks. As I travel often I now have to place in my suitcase a large sign that says, "Please replace my lock".
Almost 50% of my trips internationally have missing locks when I arrive, and 25% of my domestic trips – all from DFW. Where do these locks go? I have checked often at the lost and found at DFW but no luck – so far lost 6 locks over 18 months. I have talked with a TSA supervisor at DFW asking him to just the locks are placed on the forms put inside the suitcases after inspections are completed – he thought that was an excellent suggestion – but no change.
2). I fly often from Paris CDG where the passenger Reid departed from with his shoe bomb – Why do all US airports request everyone to remove shoes and not CDG? This really seems strange – and no other attempts have been made from CDG?????

Chance said...

I don't know how we can balance between keeping things civil and yet keep things open enough to show our deletes aren't just from spite or defensiveness. Perhaps we could create a parallel website where deleted comments are posted in their entirety, so people can judge for themselves if we made the right decision, but we still keep the main comment area in accordance with the policy. I'll bring this idea up to the blog team, but if you have any other ideas, please feel free to post them.

Chance - Evolution blog team member.

P.S. Thank you for the compliments above, annonymous.

Kintar said...

Moderation has been enabled? Imagine that. Afraid that 99.9% of all the blog comments will be nothing but expletives requesting the immediate dissolution of the TSA?

Let's see if this one even makes it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the opportunity to comment on TSA and its procedures.

Unfortunately your "experts" can only crack the code with help. While traveling through airport security recently some of us witnessed a TSA official passing in front of the X-Ray screener holding up a bag for him to see. He then put it on the x-ray conveyor belt. The screener saw the large knife in the bag on the X-ray (which we could see from about 6 feet away) and called out "supervisor!" The supervisor then came and took the bag away. Obviously a "random test" of the keen inspection skills of the screener and equipment. Made all of us who saw this display feel oh so much more secure!

If you are going to test the screeners, do so to established standards by an independent authority, not an internal self test.

Gerald said...

Flying has become a colossal pain in the butt and the TSA gets much of the credit for that (rightly or wrongly). This blog is a great idea for "clearing the air" and explaining the arcane rules of flying these days. And the fact that you are maintaining a judicious sense of humor throughout the conversation will disarm many of your critics and allow reason to (hopefully) prevail.

Anonymous said...

I travel on business by air over 200,000 miles per year. I wish that the TSA would include in the instructions to their inspectors to return alarm clock settings to the off position after their inspections. They often leave the alarm setting on and the alarms go off at some very inappropriate times causing undue panic.. The first time this happened to me I considered it an honest mistake but since it has now happened numerous times to me I feel like it is just another way the inspectors have found to harass the public.. Please help us to resolve this issue as soon as possible.. Thankyou.......

Anonymous said...

can you publicize when you catch a terrorist. i hear about london and france thwarting yet another terrorist attempt but have yet to hear about any airport in the US no matter how big or small catch anything/anyone.

Anonymous said...

secure the people walking through with security badges. im sure i can duplicate a TSA security tag or anyother official tag used to get through security

Anonymous said...

why does TSA take my shampoo and toothpaste and let me bring my razor sharp leatherman? they opened the nice leather case and clearly inspected the leatherman and then quickly turned around and jacked my shampoo and toothpaste.

Rachel said...

I am so sick of people acting like TSA doesn't do ANYTHING. TSA keeps your plane safe.

There's something I learned in training as a TSO... it's to treat each passenger, search, etc. as if your own family was boarding that plane. I am going to search your belongings and your person in the proper way because I want to ensure that the plane your boarding is 100% safe.

If you don't want to fly on a safe plane, don't fly at all.

R.B. said...

I am a TSO. I ahve to say that I am also shocked at the lack of customer service by my own fellow employees. We have a good group of caring individuals, but there's also a whole lot more individuals who are extremely rude to the passengers. I am ashamed of that kind of attitude.

I, on the other hand, have a lot of pride in my job, and I fully understand that the passengers coming through have paid a great deal of money for their tickets... they are also human beings just like me, and they deserve every bit of respect that they can get.

And if another TSO wants to argue saying "WEll, the passenger was rude to me"... the last time I personally travelled was for my grandmother's funeral. I was in a bad mood. I can look back and hope that I had been friendlier, but quite frankly, I wasn't too concerned about it at the time since I was grieving. My fellow TSO's need to keep that in mind- you never know WHY the passenger is having a bad day. Leave them ALONE!

Hans said...

You'll notice there's no mention of good old shoe bomber Richard Reid yet. That's because the current rule is not in place only because of one of the more famous residents of the Supermax in Kansas.

Right. Try reviewing the time line, media reports, and TSA orders/behavior at the time and try repeating this claim.

It's statements like this, the shoe scare, the liquid scare that makes you guys totally lose any credibility. Try responding to one comment requesting an actual reference or real data, instead of your usual platitudes.

Anonymous said...

I would like my brand new tube of MAC lip gloss back. It cleared security when I, having obtained a gate pass, arrived to pick up my 14 year old granddaughter. But when taking her back, it was confiscated.I explained that I was not flying, only going to the gate to see her off. I asked if he would hold it for me. He told me no, and that if I wanted to keep it, to leave.
I saw her off, then stopped back at security and asked to speak with a supervisor, and only after standing my ground, one was sent for. After approximately ten minutes, a young man came and I asked for my lip gloss back. He said that I was not allowed to take a tube to the gate, even if I was not flying. I produced two other tubes of lotion that the agent obviously did not want, tube's too old perhaps. He then gave me a complaint form.
This took place at SFO. I hope that the gentleman who took my lip gloss, enjoys wearing it.

Anonymous said...

So it's pretty clear from the comments here that just about everyone hates the TSA, and that many see your agency as ineffective and a waste of taxpayer resources. What are the TSA and DHS going to specifically do to actually respond to the complaints posted here? Or is this blog just here in hopes that angry passengers will get it out of their systems and stop whining?

Ayn R. Key said...

I thought this blog would be a great place to clear up the confusion for the "traveling public" to try to understand the policies that TSA has used. All I can think is the "how sad and spoiled" we Americans have become. I only travel 2 times a year and have traveled in many airports and have had nothing but wonderful people who work for TSA, courtesy, kindness, and respect has always been the case. Amazing that people forget that these people just might be a family member, friend, or neighbor that you are bashing. Just think that these people are only following the rules that are written for them to follow. And I have seen blogs written that say that these people are ignorant morons that do not have any brains. Many of the airports that I have traveled I heard that many of the screeners were in the military, many that have served in Iraq only to return to their job to be spat at by the very American people that they fought to serve. Fine thing! How would you like it if people came to your place of employment and told you that you are a idiot just for following the rules that are spelled out for you to follow in order to keep your job. Shame on you for insulting the people that only want to make sure you and your children get to your destination. Thanks you all TSA
Officers for your hard work and keep up the good work!!! Not everyone out there HATES you!!!!

Yeah, and the lurkers support you in email, while you post anonymously to your own blog.

Anonymous said...

Last week it was noted that the New England Patriots went through security at Gillette stadium before heading to the airport for their flight to AZ. Why couldn't a system be set up in which travelers could go through security at a remote location (long-term parking terminal, downtown bus terminal) and then arrive at a secure part of the airport and thus avoid security within the airport?

Anonymous said...

Ok, here's my constructive suggestion which would actually improve the way people move through the checkpoints: please check my boarding pass and ID and then LET ME PUT IT AWAY instead of having to keep one hand free the entire time I'm trying to undress, unpack my laptop, shuffle my stuff along the conveyor belt. Maybe you just want to check the ID/pass twice for redundancy, but you don't need to do it at the exact moment when I'm so busy doing all that other stuff. Having to keep that in one hand at all times is a handicap.

Jim said...

For those who think TSA security is a joke just because you occasionally get through with your Swiss Army knife, maybe your profile and behavior allowed the TSO to cut you some slack. You didn't want to lose your prized knife. You didn't lose it. And now you're complaining?

I don't get it.

I'd like to think I could get some slack because my laptop is out, my cell phone and keys in the bag. My shoes are on the belt. My boarding pass is in my hand.

I don't remove my belt, ring, watch, or other pocket stuff because I've been through reliably with that amount of metal.

And I'm courteous, don't crowd, and I'm patient. Getting impatient doesn't help you get through faster.

Courtesy is almost always rewarded with courtesy.

I imagine the TSOs start yelling out to empty your pockets into the bins because too many fools try to take too much through the metal detector, have to keep backing up, thus slowing down the whole line. It's a suggestion more than an order.

Anonymous said...

Why do the TSO's copy down my ID when I ask for a complaint form? Why don't they provide me with a copy of the Privacy Act like they are supposed to when copying down my ID? While the TSA is exempt from certain aspects of the Privacy Act, it is not exempt from 5 USC 552a (e)(3), which relates to what will happen with the information?


Toby said...


I think the parallel website thing is a great idea! I was actually thinking of starting a site that would allow people to post on my blog anything they posted on this one, and seeing how many of them made it through the screening process, but your suggestion would be potentially more effect.

Obviously, it still depends on whether I trust you to really carry out such a thing honestly, but the fact that you would even mention it ups your credibility with me a bit.

I must be getting soft . . .

Anonymous said...

The TSA doesn't need to exist. Period.

It is a waste of money, time, effort, and annoyance... foisted off on us in an effort to appear like "we're doing something".

Get rid of it. We're not children, and we don't need to be protected by the big bad world.

Anonymous said...

Maybe someone already suggested this, and maybe someone hasn't, but here goes just in case...

Why is the TSA not recruiting the geniuses from the top universities in the nation to overhaul the whole thing so it's more efficient and more relevant? TSA should take a page from Google as far as their interest in recruiting these kids (but look for engineers, architects, foreign policy and culture experts, etc.). The TSA needs people working with the intelligence agencies of this country and every other one we have friendly relations with to determine threats and the forms they come in and to figure out better ways to manage airport traffic (both in terms of people and vehicles). Sure, this costs money, but while you're at it, why not find a few economics geniuses to figure out how to re-allocate funds? This will require investments of money and effort, but it's the only way to make the TSA relevant and effective again. If the TSA expects people who make, say $8/hour, to police the airports, we need to give them the tools to be able to do it effectively--including more sophisticated screening technology--there's way too much "people" effort involved in screening each individual. Besides, that much responsibility should never be in the hands of someone who makes $8/hour--that's a sign of either someone with little experience or minimal ambition and motivation. Please step back and think about the system as a whole. Every time you implement another one of the quick-fix rules, it's just another band-aid on what is becoming a very big gash. You need to examine the system as a whole and completely reinvent it--with smart, innovative people helping you. There is a wealth of intellectual talent out there--you'd do well to put it to use.

another weary traveller said...

Al Qaida never has to hijack another plane--ever--to have its impact felt.

Every time I pass thorough a metal detector shoeless, pants falling down, clutching my boarding pass in one hand, eyeballing my laptop as it comes down the belt while trying to respond politely to the orders being screamed at me by a surly agent; every time I reassemble myself into something publicly presentable in the middle of a busy concourse; every time I arrive at the hotel without contact solution; every time I do the mental calculation of whether driving 6 hours might actually be preferable to flying 1...I am intensely aware of Al Qaida's impact on the world.

And I cannot help but think that the "no risk is the only acceptable level of risk" mentality that seems to drive the TSA's policies and their implementation has a great deal more to do with this than any actual existential threat I face from Islamic extremists.

What is lacking is any serious consideration of the tradeoffs between marginal increases in security against statistically improbable (albeit newsworthy) events, and the significant costs imposed on an integral component of our economy and culture. After all, in a nation--indeed, in a world--as large, dynamic, and interconnected as this one is, mobility is fundamental.

You say we're on the same side. I know you believe this, and sincerely. But please take time to consider the possibility that such a disproportionate response to a remote threat may actually further the goals of those that have employed such morally reprehensible tactics.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to seeing how this passes the comment moderation process.

Anonymous said...

Can you please educate TSA employees about TWIC? It seems silly that they don't know what to do when confronted with this credential.

Jeremy said...

What exactly is the security value of this blog? I venture to say there isn't one, in which case you don't need to be spending taxpayer dollars on it. Spend the money I give you out of my hard earned paycheck to make me more safe when I travel, not to give whiners a forum to complain about the law.

Aren't you concerned that somebody could use certain information posted here to get around security protocol? I've already seen several posts that can give terrorists ideas; this website serves a counterproductive purpose. Your job is to keep terrorists off planes, not to put up PR stunts like this. I wish you'd get serious about providing real security, hire qualified people do do the screening, and stop this "for show" pitiful excuse for security we now see at our airports.

Whiners: If you don't like the law, elect new representatives to office who will change the law, or move to another country where you like the law better.

Max said...

The challenges faced by the front line TSA are enormous and until the general public is willing give up some "Freedoms" to remain safe it will be an ongoing battle.

My question is focused more on the not so obvious holes but huge dangers of airport/airline workers and airport access. This goes from our small airports to our major airports in which all employees are NOT checked equally. I don't belive employees should be mixed into the passenger security lines but I do belive that our security is compromised by allowing an insider to smuggler all forbidden devices into the secure area. Without giving specific examples, will this hole ever be fixed. If not, we will continue to have a huge risk to the flying public.

Anonymous said...

I was curious why my U.S. Department of Commerce Identification has
been denied as valid identification prior to entering the sterile area
and submitting to an administrative search at BWI airport. USDOC
badges state that they are United States Government Identification
(and property of the US government), state my agency, name, photograph
with agency seal in the background, and includes digital security
features such as a smartchip.

Likewise I had to be photographed, fingerprinted, have a background
check by an Office of Personnel Management special investigator, fill
out SF-85P (, provide
proof of citizenship, provide references, most recently an in person
interview, provide my credit and medical history, my official
transcripts from college etc in order to receive and maintain
possession of my official Federal Government identification, accept a
position of public trust, as well as enable me to enter U.S.
Department of Commerce buildings.

I am honestly quite confused why one Executive branch agency has full
faith and confidence in my identity after a far more exhaustive search
of my background and integrity and another will dismiss the expenses
incurred by the public to verify my identity as not being valid

Anonymous said...

Why does TSA always give me a hard time getting through the security checkpoints with my CREW credentials when I'm deadheading out of uniform? I'm in the CASS system and don't need a "boarding pass" to ride on the jumpseat, so why do I need one to get through security? You'd let anybody else thru with a "Photoshop-generated" boarding pass, why question my legitimate credentials?

Hillary Dickman said...

Hey, Richard Reid is in the Colorado Supermax, not in Kansas. Give us a little credit out here in the Rockies, would ya?

Anonymous said...

I'm curious about the rules relating to what is an acceptable ID. I have a citizenship card from Canada that doesn't have an expiration date. I also have a naturalization certificate from the US that doesn't have an expiration date.

When I show these at checkpoints I get one of two reactions:
1) This isn't acceptable without an expiration date; or
2) Acceptable even without an expiration date.

I tried calling the TSA call center but they said what is considered acceptable is up to each supervisor. I find it hard to imagine that there isn't a policy regarding what is an acceptable ID. Can someone please tell us what constitutes an acceptable ID for TSA checkpoints?

Bob said...

February 1, 2008 9:36 PM Anonymous said... I want my Tweezerman nose hair scissors back, please. It's starting to look like the Black Forest in there.

I seriously doubt your nose hair scissor blades measured more than 4" from the fulcrum which makes me wonder why they were not permitted through the checkpoint.

If by chance your nose requires 4" blades, please accept my apology in advance.


Evolution Blog Team

Bob said...

February 1, 2008 9:38 PM Anonymous said... All your security really does is make it more frustrating to bring whatever we want onto a plane in more creative and elaborate means.

--Think that's an empty water bottle? Wrong. It could easily contain a rather generous amount of an explosive, or noxious gas.

--Think a small amount of liquid isn't a problem? Highly corrosive acids, the components to make Hydrogen Cyanide, and other deadly substances are easily stored in clear small PVA containers.

--Spare Laptop Battery? Think spare explosives.

--Wallet filled with business cards? Wallet filled with the occasional business card shaped razor.

In short, you'll have to force this nation to travel naked if you want the reliable security.

I understand where you're coming from. I was an instructor for a couple of years and TSOs often asked about prohibited items that are hard to detect or permitted items that could serve as dual use items. Trust me, you can "what if" the subject to death. You know… What if I broke my juice bottle and had the sharp pieces of glass as a weapon. What if I clobbered somebody over the head with my laptop? The questions can get quite interesting and go on and on.

That's why I was so pleased when the TSA started the Behavioral Detection Program. Otherwise known as "Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques" (SPOT)

This is exactly what the TSA needs. Now we’re not only looking at the items passengers are traveling with, but we’re adding the passenger’s behaviors into the equation as an extra layer of security. This program is evolving quickly and I am very excited to see where it goes.

Read more about the program.


Evolution Blog Team

Bob said...

February 1, 2008 9:49 PM Anonymous said... Hey Blog team, can you repost the videos in ether Flash video (.flv) or MPEG-4 format? I can't view them in an operating system that has a more evolved security system than Windows -- aka, Linux.

This has been discussed and we're looking into using YouTube. Stay tuned...


Evolution Blog Team

Bob said...

February 1, 2008 9:57 PM Anonymous said... I havent flown in quite a while,is there a list of banned materials,items we can get at travel agent. I would like to go back to Las Vegas some time soon and dont want to have my money wasted on stuff that will be taken away from me and my wife. Im not a rich man ya know??

Good luck in Vegas!

View the prohibited items list.


Evolution Blog Team

Bob said...

February 1, 2008 10:00 PM Anonymous said...I had one of 2 pairs of pliers confiscated from my carryon. Apparently, one pair of pliers is harmless, but with 2 you can take over a plane? Moronic. On the same flight was a college baseball player who was allowed to bring his baseball bat on the flight. Brilliant logic, TSA.

Tools are allowed as long as they are no more than 7" long. Just curious...was the one that couldn't go larger than 7"?

As far as the bat, it is a prohibited item that should not have made it past the checkpoint. It's considered a bludgeon and is a no-go. Not sure what happened there...


Evolution Blog Team

Bob said...

February 1, 2008 10:22 PM Anonymous said... I do appreciate your attempt at being a cutesy, quirky blog but could you please make fewer jokes and perhaps act like you care what we think and are going to change things? Right now you are regaling me with verbal banter about how Kip doesn't own stock in plastic baggie corporations. I'd rather you act like you might listen to the people you're trying to protect and let us have our liquids, luggage locks, and shoes back.

One of our goals was to approach articles and comments on this blog in a fashion that would not sound like a bland Govt. canned response. We figured the flying public would rather deal with a more human response. I know this isn’t the norm for the Government, but then neither is a blog.

And have no fear; you’ve got our ear.


Evolution Blog Team

Bob said...

February 1, 2008 10:44 PM Anonymous said... Many travellers carry multiple luggage items and laptops. After you cross the metal detector, it is very stressful to grab stuff like shoes, laptop, coat/jacket, keys, coins, suitcases from different trays because there is little room on the belt/platform and then you have to grab everything without forgeting anything and then put the shoes on standing while others are rushing in. And also to remember to not drop boarding pass and driver's licence while you are doing all this! Can this be improved?

You're right, I travel often and it can be stressful to grab your items after the X-ray. Sometimes I've felt like I was going to be trampled.

This is a boring response, but the future of the way passengers are processed through checkpoints is under heavy review. Stay tuned, because you'll hear more about this in the near future.


Evolution Blog Team

Bob said...

February 2, 2008 8:39 AM Anonymous said... Here's one you may not hear everyday: why can't the TSA make signs stating instructions for the 10% of the nation who is Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing??? Instead you stand there shouting instructions and then get snippy at me for not being 100% compliant. Heard of ADA lately?

Can you hear me now? Or is there an 800 number Deaf people can call and talk to an operator to complain?

This is the second comment I've read about signage. I find it interesting, because the TSA is not shy about posting signs everywhere in the queue lines. If the airports you're traveling through don't have signs posted, they should.

From the TSA Web Page Complaints Section: People with hearing impairments please call the following number: 1-800-887-5506


Evolution Blog Team

Anonymous said...

For all those that think that the Israli model for aviation security is the best for us then move there, try to complain about the security and then call me after your full body cavity search. Anyone else with a better way of securing our transportation system get involved or shut up.

Bob said...

YetAnotherDave said..."Why are you still confiscating nail files when there are now steel doors on the airplane flight deck?"

Hi Dave. While I think nail files were prohibited in the early post 9/11 days, they are currently on the permitted items list.

View the prohibited and permitted item lists.


Evolution Blog Team

Bob said...

February 2, 2008 7:01 PM Anonymous said... Bob said: "Last week, 15 firearms were found during screening at TSA Checkpoints."

How many did you miss? Of course, you'll never know.

The TSA on average (guessing based on recent reports) finds about 15 - 20 firearms a week. I wonder how many of the guns we found would have been on your flight? I guess we'll never know.


Evolution Blog Team

Bob said...

February 2, 2008 8:51 PM Anonymous said... Bob said...
As far as the liquids explanation, what was lacking?

What was lacking?! Bob, you cannot seriously be that clueless!

You're right. I'm not. I didn't realize Kip was working on a response about liquids, so I was gathering info off of the blog for an article. I was merely looking for more questions.


Evolution Blog Team

Bob said...

February 2, 2008 6:23 PM
Zagurim said... Reading through this and you found guns.. Big Deal, in case you haven't noticed, we have the 2nd Ammendment which GUARANTEES the right to keep and bear arms.

Not in the cabin of an airplane...

Look, I've been around firearms all my life. My dad started teaching me how to use and respect firearms at the age of 5. I grew up around guns and I currently own firearms. I'm all for the 2nd Amendment, but you're never going to convince me that anybody but a trained professional with the proper permit should have a firearm in the cabin of an airplane.

I would imagine the majority of the flying public would agree with me on this one.


Evolution Blog Team

Bob said...

February 2, 2008 11:45 PM Steve Elmore said...
So, some suggestions to help TSA repair its reputation:
* Have free bottled water available on the other side of the checkpoint.
* Have TSA screeners address travelers as Sir and Ma'am.
* Have chairs on both sides of the screening area.
* Have TSA screeners help people prepare their belongings for screening - hold a jacket, pass out bins, etc. This could be part of the screening effort if you think about it.
* Pass out customer service surveys: how did we do?
* Frequently clean the floor or get runners that are replaced every 2 hours during peak traffic times.
* Pass out lollipops to kids - at least they will be fans!
* Create a pass system for people w/ CPAPs and similar devices. It is no fun being stopped every time for a swabbing.

Anyway, glad you are taking a first step in improving the flying experience.

Welcome to the blog, Steve. I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to leave us some great feedback.


Evolution Blog Team

Bob said...

February 3, 2008 10:45 AM Anonymous said... When the TSA actually catches someone at the airport with a bomb, or something as dangerous, I'll believe in them. So far they are batting 0. They didn't catch Reid. He was onboard. The TSA is a joke.

Reid's flight originated at Charles De Gaulle (CDG) International Airport in Paris. The TSA does not work at CDG.

Also, even if Reid's flight had originated in the States, the TSA did not run an operation with fully federalized officers until May of 2002 at Baltimore/Washington International Airport. (BWI) The Richard Reid incident occurred on 12/22/2001, 5 months before TSA had assumed operations at any airport.


Evolution Blog Team

pobbys said...

Every time I travel with my friend, who's had a hip replacement, he is yanked out of line while he is frisked, etc. As the population ages (the baby boomers), we will all encounter frequent delays of this type. Why not have people that have had joint replacements, have some sort of government issued picture ID. They could register ahead of time and it would save all of us a lot of time.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Publishing answers to questions only through a video makes them inaccessible to many people who can't play the video due to slow connections or lack of a compatible player on their (non-Windows) computer. Please make a transcript of your videos or text version available.

Also please consider using a more universal video format such as Flash, rather than the proprietary Windows-only .wmv format which many people do not have.

On a positive note, thank you for including the accessible audio version of the capcha word verification.

Anonymous said...

In reference to "Questions You Hear Everyday" I think it would be interesting if you guys ran a poll letting people rank the reasons they choose to fly or not to fly.

Most of the people I know that prefer to drive did not make the decision because of 9/11, but because of the TSA, and I'm wondering how common or uncommon that is.

Anonymous said...

Let's rock on through the lines:

1. Get some industrial engineering done- basic stuff. Forget the airlines with the first class lines- get lines for individuals, adults in parties more than 3, families, people with children, handicapped. Through put is the idea. The baggie idea was good to standardize searching.

2.Make the prepare areas longer- give people a chance to bin their stuff- this flows with the shoe/floor issue.

Now for recommendations for everyone else:

1.Get an additional copy of your drivers license, even if you move it doesn't matter since the non-federal prescreeners just want a license- no worries if it gets lost- you still have your primary to return/rent a car with.

2.Families with children- empty juice bottles and powdered drink are your friends. The TSA lets through EMPTY bottles and powdered drink mix. Mix and shake with the water fountains past the security area. Cheap drinks- no rip offs from the airport.


Media Outsider said...

The compound word "everyday" in the title is incorrect. It should be two words. (Something happens every day, making it an everyday occurrence.)

Anonymous said...

I have 3 small children and I just think that there should be a line for people traveling with children. I am not just saying this because I would like to get through security faster but we seem to back up the line.

I do not know how many people complain that we take to long. My kids are ALWAYS in peoples way and we hold up the line.

I make sure to get to the airport early with my kids so that we have enough time to get through security, but it does not matter what time we get there, there are ALWAYS going to be people in a rush that we are going to slow down.

I feel bad for the people that we slow down and this is why I think there should be some special line for families.

Even if there was a speed lane for single passengers.

Why can't they do that???

Mother of twin 2 year olds and newborn... we fly alot!!

Anonymous said...

As a frequent business traveler out of Newark airport (EWR) , I have become used to the inhumane treatment we are subject to ( i.e.- HAVE YOUR PASSPORT OUTTTTTT !!!! ~~~ TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF!!!!!! in unnecessarily screaming voices)

Frankly- prisoners of war and kidnap victims are often treated with more compassion and respect.

(*** p.s.- airports in Europe & South America are equally safe and efficient at screening their passengers,and amazingly, do not feel the need to de-humanize their guests arriving at their airports in the process****)

I have also become used to having to walk through the metal detector on dirty floors. And to have a TSA employee bark orders at you ( is this YOUR bag? I NEED TO OPEN IT!!"

I can assure you that the entire experience is not pleasant for the bulk of your flying passengers.

Recently, after having had my unopened jar of body cream confiscated in the St. Louis airport ( gel? liquid? hazardous?), and after returning 5 minutes later to retrieve it after my airline guaranteed to place it into my checked bag, the TSA official indicated to me that he was unable to return my item to me as it was now federal property ( in the garbage pail 10 feet away???)as he sneered at me with his answer while giving me the "got-YA" smile.Is that the type of service you advocate with your employees?

Strange how my jar of new body butter becomes such a major security risk that he could not return it to me beyond the metal detector section 15 feet away,and yet there is no risk at all ( with insiders) when you import tens of thousands of bottles of liquor into the money making duty free shops......

I am sure that the TSA has many dedicated , hard working employees, but I am afraid that the TSA has a LONG way to go before the general population enjoys a pleasant traveling experience.

Oneloved said...

I recently had to fly with my 2-year-old and new 7-week-old baby, and I knew the biggest challenge would be getting through security. Why? Because, while I agree with thorough screening, experience has taught me that TSA employees will NEVER help me get through it, even when I ask! I have to collapse the stroller, take off everybody's shoes, put the shoes, diaper bag and stroller through the X-ray machine and put it all together again on the other side, all while trying to hold a baby with one hand, and trying to keep my toddler from running off with my other hand. Some have suggested I don't bring the stroller, but in a busy airport, it's much safer than trying to carry a heavy baby and diaper bag while trying to keep a child from wandering off or getting trampled, or trying to carry both kids when the older one gets tired. Again, I understand that TSA has to screen everyone and can't play favorites. I don't mind having to do all that they ask, but can't TSA employees see my predicament with only two hands and HELP ME??? Does security have to be devoid of customer service? I don't see any good reason why I should have to dread going through security with children, wondering how I'm going to be able to do it by myself, while TSA employees stand by and watch me struggle to comply with their demands, without lifting a finger.

Sergio said...

what happens to the alcohol, electronics and personal property that is confiscated?

i've heard of cases where TSA confiscates LAPTOP COMPUTERS and DIGITAL CAMERAS... what happens to those electronics? do they really get checked or do they find their way to a TSA's employee hands?

my cousin works for TSA... when i was back home we would go to his place to have drinks on the poor american tourists that got their alcohol confiscated... do the same thing happens to the electronics confiscated? because there are some people who were assured they would recieve their electronics back and some of them have been waiting for over a year...

i don't mind going through all kind of troubles for MY security and my family's but loosing personal data? i am a graphics designer and all my work travels with me on my laptop and if i have work on my laptop that i haven't back-up and i loose my laptop, bye bye to my work and how to explain that to my customers???

there are better ways... i know some people get offended by this but... PROFILING WORKS!!!!
sorry if you have a big nose or a beard... and sucks for you if you look like a junkie...

Anonymous said...

Why can't I somehow get a thorough FBI or CIA or whatever background check that certifies that I am NOT a terrorist? I'm sure whatever process they use for FBI agents themselves would suffice.

Then I could go through some fast security checkpoint that I can just flash my CERTIFIED NON-TERRORIST ID and be on my way.

I would gladly pay for this type of certification, it would save me 100's of hours a year.

Brian said...

I wish I knew where to post this, but I have a concern with how roughly my wife is treated due to the under-wire in her bra. She has an "H" cup which consequently requires support that is only made with metal under-wires. Traveling by plane has its issues and we understand that security is paramount. But to be groped and prodded because the only item she has on her person is a metal under-wire has really made her experiences with flying quite uncomfortable. Is the amount of metal in a bra really something that could be that big of an issue? How can we make out trips less stressful without requiring my wife to have reduction surgery?

JK said...

why do I have to take off my shoes when I fly from the US to London but passengers flying from heathrow to the US do not? These iconsistencies frustrate travellers and give terrorists easy holes to pass through.

Anonymous said...

Wow! This comment has me puzzled:
"Frankly- prisoners of war and kidnap victims are often treated with more compassion and respect."

Were you either one, or are you just watching a Hollywood movie ablout kidnappers. Or are you an idiot?

I know that last part wil probably keep this from being posted, but man, it felt good typing it!

Doug P said...

I went through Orlando airport security, Terminal 1, at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday Feb 6. I was in the spceial services line, traveling with an infant. The couple in front of me was elderly, the man was in a wheelchair. The entire time the woman was trying to get their belongings into bins, no one from TSA helped. When I said the woman needed more bins, the TSA agent at the counter pointed and said "They're right there". And no one helped them reconstruct their belongings at the end. They were obviously stressed out, and this porbably ruined their day. That lack of concern for passengers is so disrespectful and lazy. This not isolated, I've been flying weekly for 7 years and seen it al; now I have the opportunity to share. How difficult is it to figure out which employees were working this security station at 9:30 am Tuesday Feb 6th, and make a "more training" / "termination" decision? Hopefully, easier than finding the extra hand cream in my carry on...

Concerned American said...

I am glad to see TSA a Blog site to receive passenger feedback. Many valid, useful suggestions have been submitted by intelligent, thinking people. Among the good ideas are much more training on customer courtesy for screeners, improved checkpoint design to allow more space for passengers to divest their property (longer and wider tables, providing more chairs on both sides of the checkpoint, red shoe trays, customer comment cards and non-removal of baby shoes etc.)
Unfortunately, aside from the possibility of a terrorist threat there is a lunatic fringe group in out society of mentally unbalanced individuals who could cause havoc on an airplane if guns, knives, clubs, pepper spray, brass knuckles were not intercepted at the checkpoint. We have seen evidence of these people at recent school and mall shootings.
Shoes - many dress shoes have a metal shank in them that will cause an alarm, so removing them will expedite the process. Free airport paper slippers are available at the begining of the line for those people who do not want to walk on a bare floor or wear socks of some type.
The ban on bottled water should probably be re-examined and maybe limited to one bottle per passenger.
Passenger screening at airports is necessary because it only takes one passenger to endanger the lives of say 150 other passengers. If there were no security screening, I personally not fly under any circumstances.
TSA can and will do a better job as new technology is put into the airports. Screening will become more efficient and passenger friendly. Be patient and keep the faith.

Anonymous said...

Convenience has to meet is the job of TSA to do this. Get a group of engineers together and figure this out!

Anonymous said...

Why is some of the information provided only in videos? On a dial-up access, my ONLY option, I get one or two words at a time with several seconds of pause. Give us text of the content for those of us living in rural areas and to satisfy those who want other video formats. There is nothing wrong with the written word.

Anonymous said...

A previous post said to print and take the TSA list of permitted/prohibited items with. Make sure you print all the pages because in some places it says 3oz, and in others 3.4oz (100ml). Of course, the TSO will then simply tell you what you've printed is A. Outdated, B. Not official, C. Wrong, D. Altered by you. And will still confiscate your tiny, fold up sissers with the 1.5 inch blades.

Anonymous said...

TSA Bob said in response to a post:
While I think nail files were prohibited in the early post 9/11 days, they are currently on the permitted items list.

TSA Bob also commented that several other items are permitted that were taken. But he didn't answer the real question being asked here.

The items are permitted. We know that. They are on the okay list. The bloggers weren't asking if they were okay.

The questions is why TSO's make up their own rules on what they will or won't allow. The arbitrary, inconsistant application of the rules is what drives me crazy. I live in fear wondering which one of my permitted items will be taken next. The traveler cannot win when a TSO says they have a banned item even when it is on the okay list.

Why is this?

pdemkovich said...

I travel through several airports nearly every week for work and generally find the TSA staff pleasant and professional. Also, as a regularly traveling business man, I don't find the 3-1-1 liquids rule difficult to live with.

Because I travel each week, I am often on the road more than many pilots I know.

Therefore, I found it particularly annoying the other day at Ft. Myers when a uniformed flight crew was allowed to take large cups of Starbucks coffee through the checkpoint. When questioned, the TSA agent at hand stated that they were pilots going to work and they needed their coffee. I was going to work as well on the same airplane.

I believe that the rules limiting what can be taken through a check-point should apply equally to everyone.

This evening I read "Why We Screen Veterans and Active Members of the Military" on the home page of this blog. I believe that all the reasons stated in this article apply to each traveling person including airport employees, TSA personnel, business people, tourists and flight crews.

If the rules don't apply to flight crews, then they should be allowed to by-pass the checkpoints all together and not go through the motions of being screened.

julestate said...

Overall, I think the TSA does a good job. Considering they have a limited budget, its no surprise they can't hire Harvard MBAs to screen - why people don't understand this is beyond me.

I have a solution to the whole liquids drama - enforce a no carry-on policy. Anything bigger than a laptop bag, backpack or handbag should be checked. Firstly it will make getting to your seat faster, because idiots won't be stuffing their 22" case into an already full overhead bin. Secondly, if you can work with the airlines to get the bags to the baggage claim faster, it will be perfect. Go to Changi airport, by the time it takes to walk to the bag claim, your bags are already there - simple.

Anonymous said...

Here's one you should hear every day and every traveler should ask themselves:

Why do we stand in groups of hundreds, often in cramped locations, waiting to be screened?

High visibility, easily accessible soft target. Of course, there are many long lines elsewhere in the airport, but the most consistently large and confined groups are on the TSA's doorstep.

More security (we hope) in the air for dramatically less security on the ground?

Anonymous said...

This summer a San Francisco TSA agent was barking at people to take their shoes off faster at security. His nagging was loud, forceful and directed at no one in particular. This managed to put us all in a panic and it became difficult to remember all the steps of what I call the TSA Hokey Pokey: shoes off, pockets emptied, jacket off, laptop out, liquids out.

I thought he was just a random crank wannabe drill sergeant but this weekend I traveled again and there was a TSA agent in Denver yelling at people to get their shoes off faster. Again, it almost seemed that he was trying to rattle people so they'd make mistakes and he could then take out his frustrations on them.

Please tell your agents that this is all very complicated and if people seem to dawdle it is only because they are trying to make sure that they do what they need to do. Most of us aren't bad or stupid people and it is counter-productive to treat us as such.

Anonymous said...

I understand your desire to open a dialogue with the public and get you and us "on the same side," as you put it.

However, I find a few things disturbing about this venue.

First, it's not sufficiently branded as part of the TSA. The title just says Evolution of Security -- both in the graphic banner and in the title strip. I have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the right gray bar to the see the TSA government logo.

It should say that it's run by the TSA more prominently in the graphic and in the title bar.

Second, the casual introduction of the Bloggers seems much too casual.

Finally, the categories and overall design is too casual. This is a blog about, presumably, a very serious topic. You don't have to act like an army drill sergeant (in fact, that is one of the impressions you want to overcome), but you have to give the impression that you are serious.

Again, I understand you want to be casual and modern. And I understand the medium of the blog. I actually manage web site content and design for a living (you're the government so I'm sure you can look me up). I run a few of my personal blogs and oversee hundreds through my work. I know this difference between a personal blog where people talk about a their personal views and site that represents official business or government views.

It seems you have not grasped that difference.

Just because this is a blog it does not mean you are required to, or indeed should, drop the appropriate indications that this is an official government site that deals with a very serious topic.

When I, or anyone, comes to this site, we want to know that you are serious, that you take your job seriously, and that you take the issue of security seriously.

Please keep the dialogue open, but let us know that you're not just a bunch of guys chatting at a bar after work.

Anonymous said...

Why can't you make it easier for people to do the shoe removal process? I've travelled several times in the past year with my 80+ year old mother and she cannot easily remove and put on shoes without sitting down. She does not use or need a wheelchair, she simply cannot manage to balance on one leg and put a shoe on the other.

How about chairs or benches?

PHL is particularly bad for this. The security folks rush everyone through, while staring off into space, smacking their gum and staring at the clocks wondering when their next break is.

Yeah, we're all so much safer.

Anonymous said...

Where are the answers to the "Questions We Hear Every Day?" I'd like to see somebody address the 4th Amendment question. It's pretty clear that searches without cause are prohibited, with no special exemption for airports...

Daniel said...

Much of what TSA does has obvious purpose, such as searching travelers. On the other hand, the frequent announcements in all airports, including about the current threat level (unchanged for months -- or maybe even years), does little to add to security. But more importantly, it give travelers the (presumably false) impression that TSA is a bumbling and incompetent organization. Every time I hear one, I -- and everyone I know -- thinks how stupid TSA must be to inflict this unnecessary noise on travelers. Your image and security in general will likely be enhanced by eliminating all routine announcements related to security.

Anonymous said...

Why can't we carry pen knife's on the flight? How is it a greater secuirty risk to have a pen knife on a plane than to have a pen knife in a random room full of people?

Jack said...

This morning I passed through Amsterdam and there was no screaming, yelling, or intimidation on the part of the screeners. Everyone else walked through the metal detectors while still wearing shoes. My steel toed shoes set off the alarm. The Dutch security folks asked what was wrong and I told them. A fast shoe removal and a run to the other end of the conveyor was uneventful. The screeners were professionals. The passport handlers were professional. I was treated quite well by them. Also at the American airport I flew out of on Saturday, the staff were polite and professional as well. Sadly, that isn't alwasys the case in the US.

FYI, everyone, just pack your large shampoo, mouth wash, etc fluids in your checked baggage. It makes it much easier on everyone and the whole world seems to be going down that road.

Anonymous said...

The ONLY reason the TSA exists is to remind us to be afraid.

Anonymous said...

Screening the elderly - can we please create a separate line - my 77-year-old mother was harassed by passengers and staff as she took considerable time to remove shoes and coat and then needed a chair to put them back on.

Screening children - reminds me that airports like Orlando, FL need special lines for the many children with many bags of toys to scan. There really need to be a special line for families with strollers and babyseats. I sympathize with these families - but they are always making me late for my flight when I fly through Orlando.

voyager said...

Aloha from Hawaii,

Back in October 2007 I was flying from San Diego to Hawaii. Injured from an auto accident, I was in a wheelchair and with my brother serving as an escort, we both had to receive special screening from the TSA. TSA agents were professional and worked quickly. Perhaps too quickly as I found out at the Hawaiian Airlines gate when I presented my boarding pass. Seems the TSA agents failed to use a special punch on my boarding pass. No punch, no boarding. OK, back to the TSA checkpoint where I explained their failure to the agent in charge. Fortunately she remembered me and gave the agents who checked me incorrectly a real "Stink Eye." Ok, mistakes happen. Would have been nice if this requirement had been posted at the checkpoint, it was not. She apologized for their failure, punched my boarding pass and off I went. Question to the TSA, were any lessons learned on this or could it happen again? Why not post this info at the site so the traveler is aware of this instead of the last minute when trying to board their flight?

Anonymous said...

Would you tell me how TSA gets away with violating the US Constitution?

Amendment 4 - Search and Seizure

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

I know you won't post this because TSA is in violation of Amendment 4.
What you are doing is illegal in the United States.

jimbo46920 said...

In response to
"Where are the answers to the "Questions We Hear Every Day?" I'd like to see somebody address the 4th Amendment question. It's pretty clear that searches without cause are prohibited, with no special exemption for airports..."

I would like you to know that we do have the right to searching you because you give consent as soon as you walk thru the metal detector or place your bags on the belt to the xray I have attached an article that you might find intresting to this subject. I hope I answered your question and yes I do work for the TSA and do want to help inform the public and open a better relationship with the public you think I like being in the second least like government agency?

usmcmom619 said...


Could you explain the procedure for screening at CVG with an assistance animal? My concern is when traveling with my service dog and these new "puffer machines" seem to cause some stress in her. Only when we are required to stand in line next to the machines for while waiting our turn with the TSA screener who will be conducting a hand screening due to the fact both human and dog set off the alarms. Is there a way we can avoid standing in line next to these "puffer machines" at CVG?
Thanks for any help!

Anonymous said...

Three of the last four times I've taken golf clubs with me on travel, I've discovered pilferage of golf balls. Yes, one or two sleeves of Titleist ProV1 balls have been taken each time I inspected my travel bag... each time, a note was left saying that the bag was hand-inspected by the TSA. One incident was particularly troubling as I employed a TSA-approved lock on my golf club travel bag only to find that the lock was cut off. This is very poor form and should be resolved. Your inspectors should respect the policies established by the TSA. The lock was not inexpensive and the golf balls are $45 a dozen!

The cost of the lock, and the pilferage (golf balls) are not normal and expected expenses and the behavior of the dishonest TSA inspectors is unacceptable.

The process of getting and filling out the forms for pilferage is ridiculous. While the job that the TSA does is greatly appreciated, the business of pocketing my golf balls should not be part of the inspectors' job descriptions....

Anonymous said...

What's the deal with the quart size zipper bag. does the size of a clear bag really matter? I travel often and rarely ever get stopped, but today I was stopped and told "you should know better" because I had a gallon size bag with only two small liquid items in it (toothpaste and shaving cream). When i asked why is it manditatory to have a 1 quart bag, they refused to give me an answer.

Anonymous said...

Has senior management ever looked at the TSA screening mess for inbound international transfers after Customs at the Delta terminal at JFK? I had the misfortune to go through this maze twice this summer, taking the new Delta flight from Pisa to JFK, then going on to Chicago. First you have to make your way past the Delta rebooking desks, usually populated by screaming people whose baggage has been lost. Then there's a table with two sleepy TSA people at it, who glance at your boarding pass and put an initial on it. They you go single file through a teeny, steaming hallway, to be greated by TSA people shouting at you to take off your shoes, jackets, etc. These people seem to have been culled from the bottom of the TSA barrel. A great number of people are shoved into a tiny space with two short conveyor belts. Of course none of the TSA people speak any language other than English -- and are incapable of being polite, saying please or thank you. This is our Welcome to the USA?

Anonymous said...

Who is responsible for the fact that there are never enough immigration officers on duty at Washington Dulles Airport in the evenings? We have had one supervisor tell us she asks for more but can't get them, and an inspector tell us that everybody there is on TDY. You can literally wait for hours to go through passport control. Millions for screeners, but not a nickel for agents?

Jeff said...

Get real,
The TSA is a complete joke.

Americans so quick to give up their rights out of "fear".

The TSA is no better then the NAZIs. Do what they say or else!

STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS!!! YOU HAVE PAID FOR THE AIRPORT with your tax dollars, YOU have paid for the salaries of the TSA with your TAX dollars. Don't let them act like a group of elite imperialists. They are accountable to YOU.

Write your congressman today. Write your local newspaper today.
Start an anti-TSA website today.
File a lawsuit to protect FREEDOM today. The NAZI party started out just like the TSA... and they operated in much the same manner.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so what's the deal with the new ID-checking policy?

I now must remove my driver's license from my wallet for inspection by the TSA agent. I had purposely chosen a wallet with the ID window on the outside specifically so I would not have to do this.

With all the other juggling going on (remove laptop, remove shoes, remove jacket, remove cell phone, place liquids bag on top of shoes/jacket, keep boarding pass in-hand for re-inspection), this one more seemingly unnecessary distraction. It's an important one, too. If I misplace my ID I'm really scrood for ongoing travel.

Can't we just accept that a decently trained terroris would acquire realistic forgeries on just about any urban street corner? This technique works for illegal aliens seeking work, why not for terrorists? Why must I be inconvenienced in order to apprehend the poorly-trained terrorists?

Curious minds want to know!

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