Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Diamonds Are a Passenger’s Best Friend (Diamond Lane Program Expands to 3 More Airports)

The Diamond Lane Self Select Program is spreading like snow on the hills of the ski resorts of Salt Lake City and Denver where the program first originated. The program rolled out yesterday in Spokane, Washington and rolls out today in Boston and Orlando.

We've all been there. You've got your jacket and shoes off, laptop out, liquids and gels in a baggie… You're ready to roll, but you have to wait behind a large family or group of inexperienced travelers. It's frustrating. It's also frustrating for the inexperienced passengers as well because they are feeling the pressure and hearing the obvious sighs of frustration and the foot tapping from the frequent flyers in line behind them.

It's almost like when you're at a grocery store and you only want to buy a pack of gum. You find yourself in line behind somebody with an overflowing cart of groceries and they aren't making any offerings of letting you jump ahead. That's exactly why grocery stores implemented the express lanes and that's what we're doing with the Diamond Lane Self Select program.

I know what you're thinking… Some folks who consider themselves to be experts most likely aren't. Kind of like the person who jumps into the express lane at the grocery store with 28 items instead of 12. How do you remedy that? There are a couple of ways. Part of the program requires an officer as a guide working in the front of the queue lines to help direct passengers and answer questions. Also, just as in the express lanes at grocery stores, anybody who jumps in the wrong line is likely to experience unhappy passengers who will greet them with comments and sighs. Self policing if you will…

What have we learned so far since our last update on the blog? Throughput has increased up to 35 percent during our busiest peak times in the expert lanes at the pilot airports. In fact, in Salt Lake City, a news crew covering the program had to wait several hours to experience a 5 minute wait time.

Also, now that inexperienced travelers aren't feeling the heat from road warriors, they're doing a much better job preparing for screening. We're seeing a dramatic drop in the number of banned items we're discovering in the family lane. All this adds up to a more satisfied passenger, a very good thing in itself but not the only benefit. By allowing passengers to self-select, the checkpoint as a whole is a less stressful place.

By creating this calmer environment, suspicious behavior stands out better, allowing our behavior detection officers to do their jobs more effectively. Where are we going? The TSA plans to roll out the Diamond Lane Self Select program at a minimum of 3 more airports by the end of April. Stay tuned…

Bob
TSA EoS Blog Team


115 comments:

Trollkiller said...

Bravo, you guys found something that works. Have a cup of coffee on me. It is already brewing in your break room.

What is the time frame for getting this into all the airports, or is this still considered a pilot program?

Anonymous said...

A good first step in the right direction.

Dave X the first said...

"We’re seeing a dramatic drop in the number of banned items we’re discovering in the family lane."

Is that really because passengers are bringing less through? Or because your detection rate on the family line is different than normal?

Is it wiser to use your better screeners on the fast lane or the slow lane? Or will the different lanes need different expertise? E.g., detecting fake bombs hidden in laptops vs fake bombs hidden in strollers may take different training.

Anonymous said...

Of course, there's the other option: stop wasting your time on shoes and fluids.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know why my elderly father, who must use a walker to get around, travelling with his two daughters and his grandchildren, was treated so horribly!

He can hardly bend over and he was requested to take of his shoes, step to the side, he was frisked, and his walker was taken from him.

All the while, someone with a staff badge was going on and on about how he was holding up the line.

Alan said...

If you didn't waste time and money on ID checks, shoe searches and liquid rules, all the lines would be faster.

Also, the money currently wasted on ID checks, shoes and liquids could be spent on things that actually provide a benefit.

Anonymous said...

Thank god the TSA did this at Orlando. Every summer when I go there, the line seems to never end. This will most definately be a benefit there!

Sandra said...

"By creating this calmer environment, suspicious behavior stands out better, allowing our behavior detection officers to do their jobs more effectively."

I find it totally incomprehensible that you had to add that statement. There is something inherently WRONG with the TSA and something far worse wrong with our country.

Phil said...

Another way to speed yourself through airport security: exercise your right to travel about your country without asking permission from the federal government by flying without showing I.D. The line for selectees (those who are subject to more rigorous screening) is often shorter than the others.

In case you run into TSA agents who are unfamiliar with security regulations, bring along a copy of this letter from Jeffrey R. Sural of the TSA to Senator John Warner confirming that domestic passengers are not required to show any I.D. at airport security checkpoints. Note that some airports display signs bearing the TSA logo that erroneously state that such identification is required (I've seen this myself at MCI).

For more information, see "What's Wrong With Showing ID" at The Identity Project.

Anonymous said...

If the screening area is calmer, then the stress level and the need for yelling is hopefully lower. It sounds like a positive step.

You might consider a pilot program for screening disabled people, with special attention to seating areas for shoe removal and post screening seating, to get them out of the faster moving lines.

All in all, a great beginning IMHO.

Nate said...

Seating areas are the responsibility of the airport. They determine where they put benches and seats in all areas of the airport, including the security checkpoint.

That letter to Sen. Warner's Office is dated August 2007. Before TSA took over the ID checking function, which obviously, TSA has used it statutory authority and currently examines IDs and travel documents.

Make Money Online said...

Very good first step!

TSA TSO NY said...

" Phil said...
Another way to speed yourself through airport security: exercise your right to travel about your country without asking permission from the federal government by flying without showing I.D. The line for selectees (those who are subject to more rigorous screening) is often shorter than the others.

In case you run into TSA agents who are unfamiliar with security regulations, bring along a copy of this letter from Jeffrey R. Sural of the TSA to Senator John Warner confirming that domestic passengers are not required to show any I.D. at airport security checkpoints. Note that some airports display signs bearing the TSA logo that erroneously state that such identification is required (I've seen this myself at MCI).

For more information, see "What's Wrong With Showing ID" at The Identity Project.

March 18, 2008 5:57 PM"

Phil, if you actually took the time to read the letter you are directing people to, you would see the sentence "TSA has statuatory authority to establish such a requirement. To date, TSA has not implemented this authority...."

So, While, yes, you can fly without an ID now, TSA can legally change it's mind and require you to present one. So, keep pushing people to fly without an ID and when the lines start backing up because of all the extra screening, TSA will make the requirement and everyone will have you to thank!

Anonymous said...

"Seating areas are the responsibility of the airport. They determine where they put benches and seats in all areas of the airport, including the security checkpoint."

So seating efforts would have to go airport by airport. Since the diamond lane program is still growing, an lane for the disabled, including people like the young man, James, with the feeding tube, could be considered. It is a matter of negotiation and implementation.
As our population ages, more people will probably make use of a special lane, making flow through the other lanes faster.

Anonymous said...

The use of average wait times is highly disingenuous as it's unlikely the wait times are normally distributed. A far better metric would be to list median times or how often the maximum wait time is reached.

The TSA would be better off reducing the maximum wait time rather than bragging about how short the average wait time. Of course this requires adequate staffing during peak travel hours such as the early morning rush at many terminals which is never adequately handled by the TSA.

Phil said...

TSA TSO NY wrote:

"[The letter you cited states], `TSA has statuatory authority to establish such a requirement. To date, TSA has not implemented this authority....'"

Yes, Jeffrey R. Sural's August 2007 letter to Senator John Warner does state this. However, Mr. Sural saying so does not make it so. Could someone please cite the statute under which Mr. Sural believes the TSA derives such authority?

"keep pushing people to fly without an ID and when the lines start backing up because of all the extra screening, TSA will make the requirement and everyone will have you to thank"

Assuming that TSA has the authority (I have seen no evidence of such) and assuming that this did happen, we'd all be safer. Under the current system, selectees are thoroughly screened, but anyone who flashes any one of over 50 different identification cards -- likely even a fake one like those many underage college kids purchase for $20 and certainly one that is the best a moderately-funded criminal can afford -- gets to slip by with only an abbreviated screening.

Having passengers present credentials (having them "show I.D.") doesn't make any of us safer. It's security theater.

Showing I.D. only affects honest people. If you're dishonest, you can obtain false documents or steal the identity of an honest person. Requiring people to identify themselves in order to be allowed to fly domestically would amount to a system by which Americans traveling in their own country would be required gain permission from their government to do so, and that's just un-American.

TSA should stick to its job of ensuring that dangerous materials are not smuggled onto airplanes. Deciding who may fly and who may not is well outside that duty.

Remember, over 900,000 names are now on the United States so-called terrorist watch list. Hundreds of thousands of people who have done nothing wrong are being hassled by our government every time they fly. (If people on the watch list had done something wrong, they would be arrested, tried, and punished -- not just stopped and hassled at the security checkpoint, then allowed to leave -- right?) There's no way to appeal this punishment, and no way to find out if you're on the list or why. It is a system ripe for abuse.

Paraphrasing The Identity Project: No matter how sophisticated the security embedded into an I.D., a well-funded criminal will be able to falsify it. Honest people, however, go to Pro-Life rallies. Honest people go to Pro-Choice rallies, too. Honest people attend gun shows. Honest people protest the actions of the President of the United States. Honest people fly to political conventions. What if those with the power to put people on a 'no fly' list decided that they didn't like the reason for which you wanted to travel? The honest people wouldn't be going anywhere.

Dave X the first said...

Hey TSA TSO NY,

Why do some TSOs, you for example, misintepret the 'simple' rules and take unlabled containers?

Anonymous said...

Dear TSA,

Did the wannabe terrorists in the London plot have a working binary liquid explosive?

Bob Baylor said...

I would like to see analysis of which procedures work and which don't. If certain procedures don't work (by either taking too much time or failing to detect banned items), these procedures should be removed. It seems that the only thing TSA does is add new procedures without ever eliminating ineffective ones.

Anonymous said...

TSA TSO NY also said the following.

"TSO NY said the following;

"that may be true, but without a prescription it doesn't go."

"It's all well to know the rules, but when you're on the checkpoint sometimes the rules get "changed" to suit the situation."

"TSA states that if those bottles are not labeled, they aren't allowed to go."



TSO NY, would you mind pointing to the links on the TSA website supporting your position?

winstonsmith said...

Pre 9/11, when checkpoint security was in the hands of private screeners, I don't remember wait times at security ever having been an issue.

The obvious answer to that is, "but it's a post 9/11 world, we have to be more careful." I do not disagree. We need to make sure that luggage and cargo going into the airplane holds gets screened for explosives -- got that covered -- sort of -- or at least we plan to have it covered by sometime in 2010. We need to make sure that no guns or big knives or actual explosives get on the plane. We had that covered before 9/11. We absolutely need to make sure that no one gets into the cockpit who does not belong there -- it is because the cockpit doors were not properly secured that the tragedy of 9/11 truly happened. We now have that covered.

By leveraging technologies we already had in place pre 9/11 (bomb sniffing dogs -- a lot less expensive and subject to fewer breakdowns than those InVision machines -- check out the GAO report on those and on the uncertain maintenance budgets surrounding them) with a few additional common sense solutions we would have been able to keep ourselves safe in the skies without creating a huge government bureaucracy that holds entirely too much power to be judge, jury, and executioner on the spot.

While security is definitely necessary, the TSA never needed to come into existence and has no reason to continue to exist. It has yet to show that it does anything better than what was in place before. The TSA cannot claim that it has foiled terrorist plots. It cannot claim to have caught terrorists red handed. It cannot claim to have "prevented the next 9/11" any more than I can say that my cat prevents elephants from sitting in my driveway. To suggest that it can, absent demonstrable proof, is simply specious reasoning.

Anonymous said...

TSA TSO NY said...

"So, While, yes, you can fly without an ID now, TSA can legally change it's mind and require you to present one. So, keep pushing people to fly without an ID and when the lines start backing up because of all the extra screening, TSA will make the requirement and everyone will have you to thank!"



will people who loose their wallets while traveling and therefore their IDs be prohibited from traveling in the future? I doubt it.


Since there are plenty of comments, when will the blog address the ID issue?

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I'm a little cynical about the whole black diamond line for a couple reasons, the most important of which, "the expert lane is moving too slow!" This puts TSA in a position of having to create and monitor "speed lanes" if you will. But the concept is amazing, and it looks like its working during pilot testing anyway. Now of course there will be those who say "if you stopped wasting time and money on id checks, shoes and liquids..." etc etc. But this is a good concept, and as a TSO I would welcome this pilot testing in my airport (PHL). Now if we had more full time TSO's versus the part time hiring process that has been adopted we'd be okay. The whole idea of hiring part time employees to help through the rush periods is okay on paper, but when the airlines change flight patterns as they have at PHL then we have different rush periods during the hours that the part time TSO's are going home. This leaves us short handed again. So, Black diamond lane is a good concept, but we NEED more full time employees too.

ibored said...

TSA NY:

to paraphrase, you just said:

"right now we don't require you to show your ID. But if you use that right we will require you to have one"

WHAT?

and just as a point, a senator had to investigate this for a rather amazing reason. Your rules are secret! Your rules on changing the rules are secret! Theres just no logic there...theres only insanity and unamerican conduct by the TSA

Christopher said...

I find it very interesting that on a post about increasing convenience to passengers via a self select program a blogger suggests that 2 million people travel every day without ID. Brilliant. For TSA to selectee screen 2 million people a day you can count on measuring wait times in hours, not minutes.

Also, we'll address the ID requirement in an upcoming blog post but one need look no farther than our web site to see the great work travel document checkers have done. As I've written on this blog before, implementing document checking does increase security by making it more difficult for people with harmful intentions to get on an airplane.

Christopher
EOS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

@Christopher "As I've written on this blog before, implementing document checking does increase security by making it more difficult for people with harmful intentions to get on an airplane."

How? Does anyone carry ID that states their intentions? Even if you magically knew everyones intentions, an ID check doesn't help. The IDs are not checked against the 'no-fly' harassment list only against the boarding passes which are trivial to forge. So... what is the point again? To ensure that any 'evil-doers' bother to get a photo-id?

Anonymous said...

Honestly, if you don't like the rules of showing your ID to board a plane...then you don't board a plane.


Same rules apply to people who want to buy alcohal, you need ID for that. Does that make purchasing alcohal un-american?

Quit crying IMO, TSA is doing a job that they're set out to do. And all their procedures with the screening of liquids/gels/shoes are for a reason. If you don't believe/trust what they're doing is right, please, find another means of transportation.

Btw, this is an awesome idea with the diamond lines!

Thanks

Anonymous said...

As I've written on this blog before, implementing document checking does increase security by making it more difficult for people with harmful intentions to get on an airplane.

Christopher
EOS Blog Team

...................................

Been drinking a bit to much TSA koolaide!

Anonymous said...

Also, we'll address the ID requirement in an upcoming blog post but one need look no farther than our web site to see the great work travel document checkers have done. As I've written on this blog before, implementing document checking does increase security by making it more difficult for people with harmful intentions to get on an airplane.

Christopher
EOS Blog Team

March 19, 2008 9:26 PM


Most, if not all of the 9/11 terrorists had valid identification. Please explain how having valid identification makes traveling safer.

Anonymous said...

phil wrote...

"TSA should stick to its job of ensuring that dangerous materials are not smuggled onto airplanes. Deciding who may fly and who may not is well outside that duty."

we do ensure dangerous materials are not on airplanes as well as dangerous people. the two go hand in hand.

winstonsmith said...

Christopher, in regards to your statement:

As I've written on this blog before, implementing document checking does increase security by making it more difficult for people with harmful intentions to get on an airplane.

Let me add my voice to those who suggest that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. You have not provided a single instance for us to show how your document checking has stopped anyone with an intention of any kind from boarding an aircraft. There have been many examples, however, of individuals who have found themselves both confused, inconvenienced, and even threatened by the ID checking policy and those implementing it.

"Trust me" is not good enough -- especially when it comes from this government.

Anonymous said...

I've traveled frequently between Denver and Salt Lake in the last year and agree the new lanes are working well in Salt Lake. But the screening process in Denver isn't getting any better. The TSA screeners in Denver have never (in my presence) pointed out the Expert and Family lanes or the benefits of using them. Travelers are simply directed to the shortest line. When I departed Denver yesterday all the x-ray lines were backed-up to the ID check stations, prompting the TSA supervisor to place those of us behind the ID check stations "on hold" while the x-ray lines cleared.

A couple of months ago I had conversation with a Denver TSA empoloyee who said TSA staffing levels in Denver were reduced last year, resulting in the longer lines travelers now experience at DIA.

I appreciate TSA efforts to improve efficiency of the screening process. However, I'm convinced the process in Denver is broken. It's too bad, because I really like DIA.

Phil said...

Someone anonymously wrote:

if you don't like the rules of showing your ID to board a plane... then you don't board a plane.

There is no such rule. You do not have to show I.D. in order to fly domestically -- all you are required to present is your boarding pass. We've already established that. If you missed that part of the discussion, please see the letter from the TSA to Senator John Warner that explains the situation, or go read about it on the TSA Web site, where they state, "We encourage each adult traveler to keep his/her airline boarding pass and government-issued photo ID available until exiting the security checkpoint." Note: that's "encourage" not "require".

This anonymous person continued:

Same rules apply to people who want to buy alcohal, you need ID for that. Does that make purchasing alcohal un-american?

Sir or Madam, you're missing the point. What's un-American is for some uniformed thug to stop me and say, "papers please!" then to bar me from traveling within my own country if I refuse to present my papers.

Furthermore, you are not required to identify yourself in order to purchase alcohol, only to convince the seller that you are of legal age to do so. This often but not always involves showing an I.D. card that has your age on it.

Phil said...

Christopher, of the EOS Blog Team, wrote:

Brilliant. For TSA to selectee screen 2 million people a day you can count on measuring wait times in hours, not minutes.

Christopher, please think about what you're saying.

I'll assume that in this context, "selectee screen" means to screen thoroughly -- to have the traveler walk through a magnetometer, then pat him down, x-ray his belongings, and hand-search his belongings, swabbing them and testing for explosive residue.

What you're saying is that since it is not feasible, at current staffing levels, to perform a thorough screening of each traveler, we'll instead allow those who are willing and able to present any one of over 50 different types of identification cards -- one that appears authentic to whichever TSA agent happens to be working the airport security line at the time when he or she glances at it -- to skip the pat-down and hand-searching & explosive swab-check of their belongings. All that stands between a criminal who would otherwise receive a thorough screening and a smooth sail through the regular line with all the honest people is flashing an I.D. card -- maybe even a fake one or one that belongs to someone else who looks similar.

Are you really complaining that my suggestion for Americans to flex their right to travel within their own country without getting permission from their government might result in the TSA having to thoroughly screen each passenger for weapons? You're threatening to hold us all up for hours if we refuse to take this "papers, please" treatment from government agents when we try to travel about the country?

Besides just using fake I.D.s or stolen identities to defeat a system of checking I.D., bad people can make such a system work in their favor. Criminals can probe the system by sending a group of people on innocent trips, observing which ones are subject to additional screening, then send the ones who weren't flagged for additional screening on a terrorist mission. This is described by MIT researchers as "The Carnival Booth Algorithm".

Forcing people to identify themselves before traveling, or leading them to believe that they must do so (which is what TSA seems to attempt now) doesn't make us any safer. All it does is make us less free.

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

Most, if not all of the 9/11 terrorists had valid identification. Please explain how having valid identification makes traveling safer.


I can see where it would make it safer because they can check your name against the no fly list. If you are a terrorist you may think your name is already on the list so you would need either a fake ID or risk extra security.

Assuming they get a fake ID and they are checked by a competent TSO you increase the chance of catching them because they may exhibit signs of being nervous, may screw up when asked a detail on the ID or they may just have a fake ID.

I have caught more fake IDs by watching a kid's eyes when they tried to pass it, saying "quick.. what is your birthday", or my favorite the girl wearing her class ring that showed she would graduate the next year, even though her very real looking ID said she was 28.

Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

Phil,

Here is a very simple solution. Don't show your ID, get selectee screened and go on about your business.

Or we can get rid of checkpoints and let anyone go the boarding gates, that way your opinions are put into practice and you're happy because you don't have to show ID.

Anonymous said...

I've seen a huge volume of suggestions offered on this blog for improving the security experience. Though the TSA has implemented some changes (the diamond lane system and zip lanes, plus not requiring all electronics to be screened separately), the response to the other suggestions has been minimal.

How about some feedback on the various suggestions being offered?

Sandra said...

Regarding ID, winstonsmith said:

"...or one that belongs to someone else who looks similar."

We all know people who look so similar that they could switch ID's and the TSA would be none-the-wiser.

A state-sponsored "super" terrorist is going to get on a plane with very real ID issued in a pseudonym. The TSA would be none-the-wiser.

ID checking is wasteful both of time and resources and, once again, is mission creep.

winstonsmith, your posts are very enlightening; please keep on commenting. The TSA has not been able to refute one of your arguments with any degree of credibility. BRAVO!

Anonymous said...

Actually what we are forgetting in this ID discussion is that the real reason it occurs at all is for the benefit of the airlines. It allows them to more or less fob off on TSA their decision to make tickets non-transferable. This keeps revenue high for them by reducing secondary markets.

Anonymous said...

I FOUND THE NAME "DIAMOND LANE" SCARY BECAUSE AFTER WATCHING A PBS PROGRAM ABOUT DIAMONDS SHOWING HOW POOR PEOPLE SUFFER AND EVEN DIE TO GET A HOLD OF ONE. THAT WORD ALONE ALWAYS BRINGS BACK THE PICTURE OF AFRICANS ON A HILL SO BIG THAT THE PEOPLE LOOKED LIKE ANTS. THEY WOULD STEP ON TOP OF EACH OTHER IF THEY GOT HURT NOBODY CARED,IT LOOKED LIKE HELL TO ME. EVER NEVER LOOK AT A DIAMOND AS ANYTHING BUT A BLOOD STAINED PAYOFF FOR WHATEVER ONE DOES TO GET THAT BLOODY THING.

SeeSaw said...

Anonymous (March 20, 2008 9:39 AM)
said:

"I FOUND THE NAME "DIAMOND LANE" SCARY BECAUSE AFTER WATCHING A PBS PROGRAM ABOUT DIAMONDS SHOWING HOW POOR PEOPLE SUFFER AND EVEN DIE TO GET A HOLD OF ONE. THAT WORD ALONE ALWAYS BRINGS BACK THE PICTURE OF AFRICANS ON A HILL SO BIG THAT THE PEOPLE LOOKED LIKE ANTS. THEY WOULD STEP ON TOP OF EACH OTHER IF THEY GOT HURT NOBODY CARED,IT LOOKED LIKE HELL TO ME. EVER NEVER LOOK AT A DIAMOND AS ANYTHING BUT A BLOOD STAINED PAYOFF FOR WHATEVER ONE DOES TO GET THAT BLOODY THING."

Wow...really off topic. I suppose if the TSA called the Black Diamond Lane the "Conflict Diamond Lane" that WOULD be something to be scared about.

Dave X the first said...

Christopher: "As I've written on this blog before, implementing document checking does increase security by making it more difficult for people with harmful intentions to get on an airplane."

It also increases inconvenience by making it more difficult for all people to get on an airplane, which has a significant cost measurable in lives.

Is ID checking truly any more effective at stopping terrorists than adding a 5 minute hokey-pokey dance to the screening process? Foreign terrorists, the kind that might not already have ID, might not know how to do the hokey pokey and might give themselves away to suspicious Behavior Detection Officers(tm).

You might think I'm being ridiculous, but seriously, a hokey pokey BDO dance would probably have had a better chance of stopping the 9/11 terrorists than an ID check--they had good IDs.

Anonymous said...

Phil said:"Forcing people to identify themselves before traveling, or leading them to believe that they must do so (which is what TSA seems to attempt now) doesn't make us any safer. All it does is make us less free."

I don't understand how showing an ID makes you feel less free. If the worst thing that happens to you while you are traveling is showing your ID to the TSA, you're having a pretty good day.

I really dont understand why everyone hates the TSA. Yeah there are some rude people and some thieves at the TSA. But there are also rude people that work at the DMV, Walmart, Ford Microsoft, ect....

I have also noticed that the TSO's usually are very polite untill the pax says the TSO is stupid and that they dont know what they are doing or the pax just ignores the TSO when they are politely ask to do things. And if someone ingores me and bad mouthes me I would get a little bit mad and defensive too.

Another thing i noticed the TSO's dont yell at people. There are about 500 people at any given check point at a time, the TSO's just speak load enough for everyone to hear. Because i dont know about you but I would rather say "all shoes must be removed and x-rayed" once than 500 times.

So, In closing if you want a pleasant and easy time going through security: be polite, read the signs, don't make any stupid comments and if the TSO's happens to requst you to volantarily abandon an item thats prohibited that you didnt know was prohibited because you are to important to read sign and obey the rules just say "I am sorry but I am ignorant of the rules can you please explain it to me" and the TSO would be more than happy to do that for you. And by the way they dont confiscate items (like every other gov agency- which is odd to me esspecially since the excuse i forgot i had the buck knife in my bag is acceptable excuse. try say that to a cop "Sorry officer I forgot that I couldn't drive and drive" lets see how that ones gonna work)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I FOUND THE NAME "DIAMOND LANE" SCARY BECAUSE AFTER WATCHING A PBS PROGRAM ABOUT DIAMONDS SHOWING HOW POOR PEOPLE SUFFER AND EVEN DIE TO GET A HOLD OF ONE. THAT WORD ALONE ALWAYS BRINGS BACK THE PICTURE OF AFRICANS ON A HILL SO BIG THAT THE PEOPLE LOOKED LIKE ANTS. THEY WOULD STEP ON TOP OF EACH OTHER IF THEY GOT HURT NOBODY CARED,IT LOOKED LIKE HELL TO ME. EVER NEVER LOOK AT A DIAMOND AS ANYTHING BUT A BLOOD STAINED PAYOFF FOR WHATEVER ONE DOES TO GET THAT BLOODY THING.


To me a Diamond is a beuatiful shiny rock that get attention from people. So' good job with the name Diamond Lanes TSA. I think you guys should name more thing with terms that sound shinny like instead of calling the signs:signs you should call the flashy word displayers then peoplay may actually read them because they are flashy

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
TSO NY,

I see that your still responding in the various blog threads, however you seemed to miss my remarks/question back to you.

I'll give you another opportunity to clarify your comments since they are in direct disagreement with what TSA has published on its website. Perhaps your just a bunch of hot air with poor training helping to maintain TSA's poor image.

-----------------------------------

TSO NY said the following;

"that may be true, but without a prescription it doesn't go."

"It's all well to know the rules, but when you're on the checkpoint sometimes the rules get "changed" to suit the situation."

"TSA states that if those bottles are not labeled, they aren't allowed to go."

TSO NY, I suspect your a good guy but I have major issues with your statements. For one, on the TSA.gov website in the information for travelers it just does not say what you posted.

Medical items, prescription and over the counter. Must be declared but no prescription is required. Why do you think they call it over-the-counter?

Two, your going to change the guidelines at the checkpoint? By what authority? Does your personal authority exceed that of your agency?

And finally, how about a reference that says a bottle has to be labled?

I think your making up rules as you go and that is one of the big issues the traveling public has with TSA in general and TSO's in particular. The standards are on the TSA website, why don't you take a minute to read them.

Anonymous said...

Stop complaining about having to show your id! Even when the contractors had it you had to show id, when you open a bank account you have to have id right? Stop bitching!

winstonsmith said...

To Sandra:

Thanks! I just wish that the quote you cited was my own. But I'll take a compliment where I can get a compliment :-)

To Anonymous who said: "I really dont understand why everyone hates the TSA. Yeah there are some rude people and some thieves at the TSA. But there are also rude people that work at the DMV, Walmart, Ford Microsoft, ect."

I for one don't hate the individual people who make up the TSA. I'm sure the people themselves are just like everyone else in the country. We work hard at our jobs and take them very seriously. What I "hate" is what the TSA represents. To me the TSA is a highly visible representation of an out of control government that in the name of providing ill-defined "security" from an equally ill-defined "enemy," has managed to abrogate the civil rights of every person who flies through the USA. The TSA uses police state tactics that our parents and grandparents fought against in decades past. Its rules are not particularly transparent. Travelers are subject to arbitrary and capricious and sometimes retaliatory actions at the hands of functionaries. Rules appear to be made up or interpreted on the spot depending on the location or any variety of factors, none of which the TSA will make public. On this blog, serious inquiries about TSA procedures, practices, potential conflicts, and other issues are met with a "just trust us" kind of attitude.

The TSA claims to have made us safer, but they have yet to show that they have done anything really that makes us safer than we were pre-9/11 to justify the enormous cost in terms of dollars and surrendered liberty and personal privacy and yes freedom itself (when the government limits your choices it limits your freedom). We are no better off now than we were then but we are certainly more "terrorized" at the hands of our own government.

Is the TSA the only agency guilty of this? Hardly -- this is not a new story, and this story is not limited to the current administration in power, even though it has become particularly bad in the past 7 years. But this is the TSA blog and when the other agencies open up their blogs, I'll be on them as well with the same passion with which I am here.

I hope this helps explain at least this individual's position.

Phil said...

Someone anonymously wrote:

"Actually what we are forgetting in this ID discussion is that the real reason it occurs at all is for the benefit of the airlines. It allows them to more or less fob off on TSA their decision to make tickets non-transferable"

I don't think we know the "real reason". In fact, I doubt there is any single reason. I do believe that the airlines like to be able to identify people at check-in because it allows them to prevent someone who purchased a flight but is unable to use it to give or sell his ticket to someone else. (And thus the airline can sell his seat a second time.) I also believe it helps accustom people to having their "papers checked" at arbitrary checkpoints. I don't think that's a part of any grand scheme, but I believe we are moving from an open society to a closed one, and this sort of thing is what many governments have historically done in that situation.


Someone else anonymously wrote:

"Even when the contractors had it you had to show id, when you open a bank account you have to have id right?"

Remember, we don't have to show any I.D. to fly domestically. The TSA would like to manipulate you into thinking that we do, but we don't.

I don't mind at all that a bank with whom I would like to do business wishes to identify me. 1) That is a private transaction between two private entities (so quite different than a government entity telling me I cannot travel within my own country without asking permission from them first -- which is what showing I.D. during airport screening amounts to). 2) Banks have good reason to do so -- if they're going to hold money for someone, they need to know who that someone is so they can be sure only go give it back to that person and not to the wrong person.


Someone else anonymously wrote:

"I don't understand how showing an ID makes you feel less free."

Others have written more eloquently on this topic than I can, so I'll quote The Identity Project (emphasis added):

"Much has been done to make travel by air safer. Cockpit doors have been secured, pilots are armed, and Air Marshals patrol airplane cabins. Increased physical security at airports has dramatically increased the safety of our nation's skies. Above all, the mindset of the flying public has also changed: no longer will passengers remain passive in the event of a skyjacking.

"The demand for ID does nothing for security while making honest Americans less free.

"Every government that has imposed totalitarian rules told its populace that it was doing so to "uphold freedom" or "improve the security of the homeland" or "root out terrorists and subversives." These ends do not justify unconstitutional means. We uphold freedom by exercising it – not by restricting it.

"Using this country's transportation system to conduct a dragnet, using government secret lists of wanted people, degrades our freedom and makes people less inclined to voice their opinion for fear of ending up on these secret lists. While the present administration may have benevolent intentions to justify their actions, our future is imperiled by this wholly un-American activity."

Neil said...

Dave X The First said...
It also increases inconvenience by making it more difficult for all people to get on an airplane, which has a significant cost measurable in lives.


Hey Dave, I've seen you post that link several times in our blog posts. By posting the link you imply that TSA is responsible for the death of a "significant" number of travelers.

1) I think you have cherry-picked a stat from this academic paper. The paper estimates that since 9/11 approximately 100 people have died in automobile accidents because they did not want to fly precisely because of increased "baggage security".

2) The paper says on pages 4 & 26, 'To quantify some of these implications, we have done “back of the envelope” calculations for the effect of baggage screening on airline industry revenues and highway fatalities.'

So, the authors of the study made an assumption of how many people would die from taking automobiles instead of flying. Hardly, a rigorous analysis (back of the envelope).

3) You fail to mention the benefits that TSA has brought to transportation security that is mentioned in this report:

Federalization of Passenger Screening Operations
First, prior to 9/11 there were about 16,200 private security screeners, nearly all of whom were screening passengers. By the end of 2002 TSA had hired 56,000 screeners for both passengers and baggage screening. [page 5]

Second, TSA increased the compensation of screeners, offering higher wages and better benefits. Perhaps as a result, turnover among security screeners plummeted. [page 5 & 6]

Third, TSA increased training for screeners. For example, prior to 9/11, x-ray machine operators at private security firms averaged about twelve hours of training, while TSA requires more than a hundred hours of training for all of its passenger and baggage screeners. [page 6]

Baggage Screening Procedures
Unlike passenger screening, no general system for screening checked baggage was in place prior to 9/11, and only five percent of checked bags were screened. by January 1, 2003, more than 90 percent of all checked bags were being screened electronically, using either ETD or EDS machines. The remaining checked bags were screened using either dogs or hand searches, or matched to passenger lists. As of January 2004, TSA had deployed more than 1,100 EDS machines and more than 7,200 ETD machines in airports around the country. [page 6]

Effects of Security Regulations
The effects of TSA airport security measures on the demand for air travel are ambiguous. On the one hand, tighter security measures make traveling less convenient. Since 9/11, the best example of increased inconvenience is the need for passengers on domestic flights to arrive at airports as much as two hours prior to scheduled departures. [page 8]

On the other hand, passengers likely value increased security. Several surveys conducted since 9/11 have found that passengers are willing to accept some additional inconvenience and/or higher prices in order to feel more secure (Travelocity 2002; University of Nebraska at Omaha 2003).

Moreover, these surveys support TSA claims that the security measures implemented since 9/11 increase passengers’ confidence in the safety of air travel (Compart 2004; University of Nebraska at Omaha 2003). Increased confidence in airline security may result in increased demand for air travel. [page 8]


Hopefully, my post presents a more balanced view of the report that Dave X The First keeps linking to.

Neil
TSA Blog Team

Marty said...

I've used the new lines in both Salt Lake and Boston, and I have to say, they made life easier on this "expert traveler"

http://martyfahncke.wordpress.com/2008/03/20/travel-facts-and-observations/

Anonymous said...

"Moreover, these surveys support TSA claims that the security measures implemented since 9/11 increase passengers’ confidence in the safety of air travel (Compart 2004; University of Nebraska at Omaha 2003). Increased confidence in airline security may result in increased demand for air travel.
Neil
TSA Blog Team"

Neil;
Can you address concerns that once checked baggage has been screened by the TSA it is often left in less secure areas? Areas where items can either removed from or introduced into the checked luggage? I believe that this is a major security breach and I for one, would be interested in your take on this issue.

TIA

winstonsmith said...

Neil, you can quote employment statistics and numbers of machines deployed, etc., until the end of time. None of that adds up to actual security from anything or anyone. When you can show that this effort has actually caught a terrorist or actually prevented a terrorist from pulling a repeat of 9/11 you will gain some credibility.

However, finally, you did try to cite some actual research from ostensibly quasi-independent sources to support its position and do just what I suggested above. Thank you for at least trying to go beyond saying just "trust me."

Could you please provide us the titles of these studies or, even better, links to them, that we might review them for ourselves.

I do not doubt that these individual studies say what you say they do, but I want to make sure I see everything they say, also who commissioned the studies, under what circumstances, and how they were conducted.

I would also point out that even the studies you cite do not, from your own post, appear to draw the conclusion that TSA has made us any safer than we were, only that some people "feel" safer.

Anonymous said...

Moreover, these surveys support TSA claims that the security measures implemented since 9/11 increase passengers’ confidence in the safety of air travel (Compart 2004; University of Nebraska at Omaha 2003). Increased confidence in airline security may result in increased demand for air travel. [page 8]


Hopefully, my post presents a more balanced view of the report that Dave X The First keeps linking to.

Neil
TSA Blog Team

...........................
Neil, any thoughts to what current survey data might present since the public seems less satisfied with the job TSA is doing now?

9/11 is well in the past, e TSA's methods are heavy-handed to say the least and the TSA face presented to the public is not favorable.

Why not have an unbiased group recommission simular studies and see what effect time has done to the publics confidence.

Anonymous said...

Assuming they get a fake ID and they are checked by a competent TSO you increase the chance of catching them because they may exhibit signs of being nervous, may screw up when asked a detail on the ID or they may just have a fake ID.

Nervous when I fly? Yep. I've got to be at a customer site on time and some of my flights are either before or after the travel agency hours. I also stutter and have had my fill of the "dummy can't talk" comments from people who should know better.

TSA can pull anyone out of the process and delay them for hours on a mere suspicion of improper behavior, so the person misses their flight while TSA gets absolved of any responisiblity for having kept a person from flying. Pretty easy to do when TSA answers to no one.

Michael said...

Well, I can honestly say I don't "hate" the TSA, and I'm not some anti-government person either.

However, I will say that I have some pretty major issues with the TSA as it currently operates. I also think anyone who has taken the time to read some of these blog posts should be equally concerned.

We seem to have rule after rule instituted by this government agency without any logical explanation for how any of these rules make traveling safer.

I just returned from a couple of weeks of flying around the Middle East. No one asked me to remove my shoes or wave little bottles of liquid in front of them in plastic baggies. Why not? Because that would be STUPID!

I did, however, get pulled over more than once to answer specific questions about who I am and why I was traveling. Every single time, the questioner was extremely polite, and made sure that I understood the security reasons behind the questions they were asking. And not once did anyone "yell" instructions at us.

I also was pulled over once for additional screening, which involved having my bags opened up and a "wand" moved around in it, which was then tested on a machine for explosives residue. As I was flying into Israel from an Arab country, I wasn't surprised by this.

So, I have some really simply questions for the TSA folks on here, that I would love to see honest answers to:

1) How does making everyone remove their shoes for x-ray improve safety -- particularly when children, disabled, and elderly must do this, without seats or benches provided afterwards in many airports to put them back on?

2) How does the bottles and baggies limitation make us safer? Shouldn't ALL liquids and gels, in any amount, be banned if there is a real explosives concern?

3) Since it is extremely easy to fake driver's licenses, what is the point of showing ID with a boarding pass?

4) Since I can now print out a boarding pass at home -- and they're extremely easy to fake -- what is the point of checking them?

5) And finally, and most important, why CAN'T we go the gates any more to welcome home soldiers, kiss loved ones goodbye, etc.?

Isn't the point to keep bad people off of the planes? Couldn't I just as easily blow myself up or take people hostage in the security lines or at the check-in desks, without ever having to go through your security?

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

I FOUND THE NAME "DIAMOND LANE" SCARY BECAUSE AFTER WATCHING A PBS PROGRAM ABOUT DIAMONDS SHOWING HOW POOR PEOPLE SUFFER AND EVEN DIE TO GET A HOLD OF ONE. ...


I suggest we put typing in ALL CAPS as one of the things that will get your post deleted. I would also make AnY pOSt TyPEd L1kE ThIs fodder for the deletometer.

Phil said...

Good questions, Michael.

I'd like to comment on a couple of them myself.

Michael wrote:

"3) Since it is extremely easy to fake driver's licenses, what is the point of showing ID with a boarding pass?"

Let's keep in mind that making driver licenses more difficult to counterfeit won't solve the problem. No matter how sophisticated the security embedded in an I.D. card is, a well-funded criminal is going to find a way around it.

Focusing on the ease with which one can currently counterfeit one of our nation's 50+ driver licenses only provides ammunition for national I.D. advocates, and that's not a road we want to go down.

"4) Since I can now print out a boarding pass at home -- and they're extremely easy to fake -- what is the point of checking them?"

In my opinion, that should be between you and your carrier. It's none of the federal government's business with whom an airline is doing business.

If the federal government suspects that someone is "bad enough" that we should prohibit him from moving around the country, then we need to get him in front of a judge or jury so we can determine whether he's really guilty of anything and if so, take appropriate action. Putting him on a secret blacklist is not an appropriate alternative, and is extremely un-American.

I do suppose that we all benefit from an effort to avoid screening non-passengers, as it keeps security lines moving faster.

Neil said...

winstonsmith said:
Could you please provide us the titles of these studies or, even better, links to them, that we might review them for ourselves.

I do not doubt that these individual studies say what you say they do, but I want to make sure I see everything they say, also who commissioned the studies, under what circumstances, and how they were conducted.


My pleasure. The document that I referenced is called, "The Impact of Post-9/11 Airport Security Measures on the Demand for Air Travel", June 1, 2006, by Garrick Blalock, Vrinda Kadiyali, and Daniel H. Simon. You can download it by clicking on the hyperlink.

On page 30 starts the References to the various sources so you can check them out for yourself. Not a bad study, IMO; I might quibble with the use of the "back-of-the-envelope" method in one particular area, but it seems to be a well produced study.

-Neil
TSA "Room 101" Blog Team

Neil said...

@anonymous said:
Neil;
Can you address concerns that once checked baggage has been screened by the TSA it is often left in less secure areas? Areas where items can either removed from or introduced into the checked luggage? I believe that this is a major security breach and I for one, would be interested in your take on this issue.


Rather than a lengthy reply (perhaps a good topic for a separate post) I'll reference my original post where I talk about the before-and-after of 9/11 airport security as they pertain to baggage.

Security can be viewed on a spectrum from "no security" to "complete security". I think the vast majority of people would agree that having no baggage security would be a bad thing. And I also think that having "complete security" where every bag is completely searched and scanned and there is a complete chain of custody as each and every bag moves through the process is unworkable.

It is unworkable because it would be too costly and it would add countless delays to your travel time.

Therefore, I think we have taken the reasonable approach of saying that the "right level" of security is somewhere in-between those two extremes. Reasonable people can disagree as to where on that security spectrum is the "right level". In fact that level could change either as the threat changes or as technology changes.

With respect to bags being unattended. Do you mean unattended in a "sterile area"? Those areas have already been "cleared" so there shouldn't be much of an issue in that case.

Hope this helps,
-Neil
TSA Blog Team

Dave X the first said...

Neil,

Those items are in the paper, but I'm not sure you can count them as benefits.

On the benefit side of TSA you list that there are 3+ times as many screeners, baggage gets X-rayed 90%+, and although it definitely makes people need arrive up to 2 hours early, there are some surveys that indicate people "feel more secure" and increased confidence in security may increase demand.

I put less trust in surveys about how people "feel" than I do mortality and passenger counts.

Looking at the traffic data, TSA hasn't restored enough trust in flying to catch back up to the long-term 4% growth that the industry experienced for decades before 9/11. It took 4 years to catch up to the pre-9/11 annual enplanments. Rather than guess what people feel, TSA could know that they've counteracted the 9/11 insecurity feeling when the airlines catch up with the longterm patterns. Per BTS we were 28 million scheduled passenger enplanements short of the 4.6% long term trend in 2006. Those 28 million people are people who expressed their lack of confidence in the airlines by staying off the planes. If you enplane 950M passengers in 2008, you'll have proven that you've restored pre-9/11 levels of confidence in the safety of the system. As for proof based on surveying passengers, the passengers have already made the choice to fly, and are not the ones that have listened to your TSOs say "If you don't like the rules, Drive.". I'm sure a survey of out of state-plated drivers along I-95 would show a marked lack of confidence in TSA's efficacy.

Although I can see that nationalizing the screening and adding 39800 employees, and raising their wages is seen as a benefit to the TSA employees and the bureaucrats, I'm not sure that counts as a benefit outside your organization.

As for more bags being screened, is it really a benefit? Are you catching more terrorists? Or are you widening your net so that you can show catches of drug-smugglers and warrant offenders.

I really do perceive much of TSA as security theatre, and we might do as least as good in actually improving transportation safety by having your 56,000 screeners out working on fixing bridges and roadways instead of taking people's tweezers and unlabled shampoo.

What I like about papers like this is that they actually try to measure benefits and costs of policy decisions like TSA. This paper separates the effect of TSA's screening on the travel industry from the effect of 9/11. The authors found there was a depression in air traffic due to that added to the added baggage screening on top of the pre-existing 9/11 depression in traffic.

My whole point in bringing it up this economist's papers is that TSA costs more than just the minor, insignificant inconvenience that TSA advertises. TSA really has a significant, measurable downside. On the other side of the analysis, I'm not at all confident that TSA can guarantee and much safety as it implies.

How much safer is TSA than the airlines were? Than the airline's screeners coupled with armored cockpit doors would be? How much is TSA worth?

Neil said...

@Dave X The First said:
Looking at the traffic data, TSA hasn't restored enough trust in flying to catch back up to the long-term 4% growth that the industry experienced for decades before 9/11.


Dave, first thanks for your thoughtful posts.

There are other reasonable explanations for the reduction in the growth rate of air travel. As broadband Internet connectivity has exploded, one could argue that there is much more online and video collaboration taking place today.

I think that high-speed networks and robust social networking software has had an impact on air travel. I know that I have avoided trips in recent years precisely because I can now do things with a computer and broadband networks that I could never do in the past.

So, my point is that there are other reasonable explanations for the lack of growth in air travel. Heck, some of us want to reduce our carbon footprint as well. If I can avoid flying for business then I am helping to conserve resources.

-Neil
TSA "green team" Blogger

Anonymous said...

With respect to bags being unattended. Do you mean unattended in a "sterile area"? Those areas have already been "cleared" so there shouldn't be much of an issue in that case.

Hope this helps,
-Neil
TSA Blog Team



Neil, a few weeks ago a TSO was congratulated for finding a firearm in a truck at an airport. From the report I believe the truck was in the operations area (buildings, ramps, taxiways, runways} of the airport.

Would this be a sterile area?

Would this be the same sterile area that baggage is kept until being loaded on and aircraft?

Does TSA examine all people, cargo, vehicles, and equipment that enters the ramp/flight areas (sterile area) of an airport? If you do how did the weapon make it past the security point?

So is the baggage really in a secure sterile area?

Anonymous said...

"With respect to bags being unattended. Do you mean unattended in a "sterile area"? Those areas have already been "cleared" so there shouldn't be much of an issue in that case.

Hope this helps,
-Neil
TSA Blog Team"

First of all I'd like to thank you and the rest of the blog team for your continued efforts in addressing our concerns as travelers. I for one see some positive results.

My question was to address the concerns that once the carry on luggage has been screened by TSA and is presumably in transit to the aircraft, that bags are vulnerable to tampering. Either the addition to the content of a bag, or loss of content by theft. From various prior posts, I gather that the luggage may not be secure, and I am curious to know if this is being examined, and an effort is being made to correct this problem in all of the airports that you serve.

TIA

Anonymous said...

"My question was to address the concerns that once the carry on luggage has been screened by TSA and is presumably in transit to the aircraft, that bags are vulnerable to tampering. Either the addition to the content of a bag, or loss of content by theft. From various prior posts, I gather that the luggage may not be secure, and I am curious to know if this is being examined, and an effort is being made to correct this problem in all of the airports that you serve.

TIA"

I am sorry but I meant of course check in luggage rather than carry-on luggage, and now see why you were asking me about the sterile area. I apologize for not reviewing my post more fully.

Neil said...

@anonymous:
My question was to address the concerns that once the carry on luggage has been screened by TSA and is presumably in transit to the aircraft, that bags are vulnerable to tampering. Either the addition to the content of a bag, or loss of content by theft. From various prior posts, I gather that the luggage may not be secure, and I am curious to know if this is being examined, and an effort is being made to correct this problem in all of the airports that you serve.


This is a good question, and frankly, it is out of my area of expertise.

@Chase / @Bob:
can we get someone from TSA Ops to answer this one?

Thx,
-Neil
TSA Blog Team

Dave X the first said...

Neil, From 2003 to the end of end of the data, the growth rate in passenger enplanements has been higher than the longer term average. Your pretty theory that broadband is a reasonable explanation for reduction in rate of growth doesn't have a reduction in rate of growth to explain.

The point of Blalock's paper was an examination of what changes in travel could be attributed to the TSA screening procedures specifically. They looked at transportation data before and after TSA screening went into effect at different airports and analyzed the differences that happened at that time. What they proved in the paper was that the implementation of TSA's screening had negative effects on air traffic volume. If you want to show that it was really sunspots or something else, go ahead.

You may think your explanation is reasonable, but the authors of the paper have the data to show that TSA is responsible for some level of reduction in air travel.

I do think air travel, even in this post-9/11 world, is safer than driving. I think your TSOs are very wrong to advise people to drive if they don't like either the TSA's rules or the TSO's implementation of them.

I don't think that TSA deserves all the credit it takes for the very real safety of air travel--that I think belongs to the pilots, the airlines, the armored cockpit doors, the situationally aware passengers, and the truly low rate of terrorism. TSA likes to justify itself in that it saves lives, and therefore any inconvenience is worth it. However, it is not really clear how many lives TSA actually can save, and also it is not clear that the inconvieniences TSA visits upon 2,000,000 fliers per day (or those that choose to drive instead) are insignificant.

What I don't see from TSA is that you folks are recognizing that inconveniencing 2,000,000 people per day has a real cost to society.

Anonymous said...

I went through Boston on Tuesday and i really liked the three different lines for different travelers.
Great idea.

Of course it still didn't help the lady in front of me, since she had no clue that laptops needed seperate screening.

Anonymous said...

dave x the first said: I don't think that TSA deserves all the credit it takes for the very real safety of air travel--that I think belongs to the pilots, the airlines, the armored cockpit doors, the situationally aware passengers, and the truly low rate of terrorism. TSA likes to justify itself in that it saves lives, and therefore any inconvenience is worth it. However, it is not really clear how many lives TSA actually can save, and also it is not clear that the inconvieniences TSA visits upon 2,000,000 fliers per day (or those that choose to drive instead) are insignificant.

To the TSA BLOG team,
Just so you guys know, no matter what TSA does they are alway going to be underminded and thought to be worthless.
Lets make up a situation: Say a TSO was hand wanding a pax and found an IED and stop a terrorist attack and no one was hurt and when the Aviation Security Inspectors question the terrorist he gives up the location of Osama then the military goes in and captures him.
What would the public say about TSA then... This is what they would say "well the TSA Ticket Checkers should of stop him before he made it to the screening area"

Okay now lets have the same situation but the Ticket Checker notices something funny with the terrorists ID and refers him for secondary screening TSA find the IED, the ASI"s find out where Osama is, the Military catches him.
Now What would the public say about TSA... This is what they would say "Well the BDO's should of stop him before he even made it to the ticket checkers."

OK one more time same situation. But this a BDO notice the Terrorist and questions him he find the IED, The ASI's find out where Osama is and the Military catches him.

What would the public say about now TSA... This is what they would say "The TSA should of used their telecenisis powers to know monthes in advance so the terrorist never made to the airport.

So you see TSA no matter what you do you will never get the credit you deserve and you will always be in the wrong. But from me Thank you and if it take 7 hours to get through security as long as I land where I'm suppose to land and I'm in one peice I'm gonna always say Thank You to each Screener I meet.

One suggestion though with your Diamond Lanes: Can you make an Express Lane where if a Pax has no bag they can use. Think shoes off, jacket off, keys and cell phone. you'll have 1000's of pax through security in a minute.
And I travel alot I know that my colleagues and I will start checking all our bags if there was an incentive to do so because right now there is no logical reason to check a bag when the airline do not enforce their 2 carry-on rule
Just my thoughts,
KBC

Anonymous said...

'Pax'?

Labelling a free citizen going about their lawful, private business as a'pax' not a passenger, an object to be handled rather than a person, comes over as a deliberate fostering of contempt for the public.

It makes it easier to treat people badly; if travellers are dehumanised and objectified one need feel no empathy or sympathy. They're just things.

We've seen police do it with criminals, jailers with prisoners and soldiers with their enemies. It's 'us' against 'them'.

The burgeoning use of 'pax' by TSA officials speaks more eloquently than anything can about the generalised contempt in which the public is increasingly treated by government.

Nate said...

KBC,

As a TSO, I greatly appreciate your comments.

If people are going to hate TSA they are going to hate it. People hate the IRS, but they still pay their taxes, people hate Congress, but they follow the laws they set.

One thing people seem to not care about or not realize is TSA is made up of people. The TSO a passenger yells shouts and screams at has had NOTHING to do with the rules that 'inconvenience' them.

I have met many passengers who have said if there was a lane for people with no bags that they, like you, would check their luggage. This would certainly speed up the process. Not working in an airport with the Diamond Select lanes, I have not experienced this new program, but I would like to see it come to my airport in the future.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the ID policy - I look quite young for my age, and always have. My ID reflects this in my picture (I was 21 in my picture, look about 16. I'm 23 now, look about 18). I routinely get harassed if I go to a bar, etc. that my ID has been faked because I look to young. Now, I can expect that at a bar. When I go out with my friends I have to carry a backup form of ID (which is really sad). Underage drinking is a criminal offense, though, so I'm alright with the extra nuisance.

However, I'm NOT alright with the TSA ID checkers quizzing me on my ID, saying that it's fake, etc etc. I'm a US citizen; I'm not a criminal, and I'm tired of being treated like one each time I go through security at an airport. Keep in mind I fly at least once a month - so I know the drill (the plastic baggie, laptop, blah blah blah). However, I find the ID portion to be the most annoying. I'm really tired of proving that I am the person in my ID. And no, I'm not going to go spend hours at the DMV and another $10 bucks on an updated license with a newer picture - why should I? The ID doesn't expire for another 5 years.

Anonymous said...

"Just so you guys know, no matter what TSA does they are alway going to be underminded and thought to be worthless."

Is underminded used in the same context as a one armed person could be described as underhanded?

Anonymous said...

"So you see TSA no matter what you do you will never get the credit you deserve and you will always be in the wrong. But from me Thank you and if it take 7 hours to get through security as long as I land where I'm suppose to land and I'm in one peice I'm gonna always say Thank You to each Screener I meet."

As a traveler, I simply react to the situation in progress. If a TSO acts professionally, I certainly let him/her do their job. I used to commute out of a small airport, and often was chosen for random secondary screening. No big deal.
Practice for them, they were polite, explained what they were doing, I went on my way.

I do object to a "them or us" mentality among TSO's, however.
Reserve the "them" for the terrorists, please....

Anonymous said...

The burgeoning use of 'pax' by TSA officials speaks more eloquently than anything can about the generalised contempt in which the public is increasingly treated by government.

I prefer either cattle or self loading freight.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said... "However, I'm NOT alright with the TSA ID checkers quizzing me on my ID, saying that it's fake, etc etc. I'm a US citizen; I'm not a criminal, and I'm tired of being treated like one each time I go through security at an airport."

Again I am going to state this:

IF showing your ID is the worst thing that happens to you while your traveling, You are having a pretty good day. Esspecially since you will get to your destination alive. The day you dont make it to your destination alive then come on this blog and complain about having your ID checked but until then please stop complaining about something so insignificant like showing an ID.

KBC

Anonymous said...

With regards to ID

When was presenting ID documents to government agents in the Soviet Union ever lauded by the American public?

Why is saying this is a bad thing considered whining, if the lack of an ID requirement to travel was considered a mark of a free society?

Why is it needed if the no fly list numbers in the 100,000's and no TSO can possibly remember that many names in order to check a name again it?

HSVTSO Dean said...

Some anonymous person wrote:

The burgeoning use of 'pax' by TSA officials speaks more eloquently than anything can about the generalised contempt in which the public is increasingly treated by government.

Thank your handy airline representatives for that one. Even after starting work with TSA in 2002, I had never heard of that phrase. Sometime toward the beginning of 2003 I learned of it from - I think, Delta Airlines, as the shorthand way of referring to
"passengers," and only then because I asked someone after glanced at it on a poster on the wall.

Convenient, easy, single-syllable. I like it.

As a whole, I've never seen the term "pax" on any official TSA memos or directives or instructional guides. I'd say it's kind of far-fetched to think it's some manner of government conspiracy to dehumanize its citizens.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous:

It's not the act of having to show the ID that's annoying- it's being treated like a second-class citizen because my ID picture isn't an exact match to the way I currently look.

Anonymous said...

"it's being treated like a second-class citizen because my ID picture isn't an exact match to the way I currently look."

How are you treated like a second class citizen? "This person's picture is old, send them down for secondary"

Please.

winstonsmith said...

I look at the following and I'm sad:

"it's being treated like a second-class citizen because my ID picture isn't an exact match to the way I currently look."

How are you treated like a second class citizen? "This person's picture is old, send them down for secondary"

Please.

March 22, 2008 4:51 AM


The point here is not whether you are being treated like a first or a second class citizen, but whether the government has any business knowing that you or anyone else in an ostensibly free country has or have decided to travel by air within the country at all.

So far no one -- least of all the TSA -- has been able to show that checking IDs has so much as slowed down a real or would be terrorist, let alone actually caught someone who was an actual threat to a flight.

If the government has a legitimate reason to suspect that an individual has done something that would warrant his or her detention or arrest then there are legitimate procedures in place that will allow the government to act to detain such an individual. But this is not something that gets done at the airport. This is something that gets done at police or FBI or CIA headquarters and through the courts. The TSA is not an investigatory agency and for the TSA to suggest otherwise is simply disingenuous.

It has been pointed out before that the 9/11 hijackers had valid ID on them. Checking IDs would not have stopped them. It is not difficult to get ID that will pass scrutiny.

People have suggested that since they have nothing to hide why not show their ID. It does not hurt them and it makes them safer. Fact is that it does hurt them. It gets them used to being asked for their papers, much in the way you might be asked randomly for your papers in a police state. It gets people used to watching their behavior and keeping their opinions to themselves lest someone from the government might harrass them. Effectively it quells freedom. You may be willing to make that tradeoff. I am not.

Anonymous said...

At Orlando? Where? I flew through it yesterday and was looking forward to seeing the new system... instead I got caught in a snarling, crowded mess that was one of the worst TSA lines I've seen.

Has it been canned already?

Anonymous said...

We need this to be rolled out at Midway Airport in Chicago! Great Idea.

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

At Orlando? Where? I flew through it yesterday and was looking forward to seeing the new system... instead I got caught in a snarling, crowded mess that was one of the worst TSA lines I've seen.

Has it been canned already?


According to the MCO website the diamond lanes are only at the screening station for gates 60-129 while the screening station for gates 1-59 is reconfigured.

Anonymous said...

Phil, you seriously misrepresented the content of the letter that you linked to below. The TSA may not force you to produce ID but the airport cop can and will and then will just hand your ID to the TSA kid that you were arguing with. They will also pat you down and find other things to do for the next several hours until you miss your flight and any other connections.

These people have been trained repeatedly in ways to legally quash your spirit and American will to exist. That's their job.

Phil said...

Someone anonymously wrote:

"Phil, you seriously misrepresented the content of the letter that you linked to below."

How so? I said that the letter confirms that passengers on domestic flights in the United States are not required to "show I.D." in order to pass the airport security checkpoint.

To avoid any confusion, following is the entire content of that August, 2007, letter from TSA to Senator John Warner (emphasis added):

"Dear Senator Warner:

"Thank you for your letter of July 2, 2007, written on behalf of your constituent Mr. Christopher Soghoian, regarding his questions about Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) security procedures at passenger screening checkpoints. These procedures are part of a multi-layered security system designed to detect and mitigate threats to aviation security.

"First, Mr. Soghoian asks whether TSA may require a passenger to produce a form of identification (ID), such as a Federal- or State-government-issued ID, in order to fly domestically. TSA has statutory authority to establish such a requirement. To date, TSA has not implemented this authority. Under current TSA regulations and procedures, ID is requested from passengers prior to entering a screening checkpoint, and passengers who do not represent a valid ID are subject to additional security screening.

"Second, Mr. Soghoian asks whether passengers can be stopped from flying domestically if they are unable or unwilling to produce an ID. As stated above, TSA has authority to establish such a prohibition, but has not done so to date.

"Third, Mr. Soghoian asks whether a passenger may fly domestically without showing an ID to TSA if the passenger elects to go through secondary screening. As stated above, passengers who do not show a valid ID prior to entering a screening checkpoint may pass through the screening checkpoint if they undergo additional, or secondary, screening procedures.

"Fourth, Mr. Soghoian asks whether TSA's receipt of his ID information from an airport law enforcement officer violates the Privacy Act if Mr. Soghoian objects to the law enforcement officer providing that information to TSA. TSA's receipt of this information is within its authority and does not violate the Privacy Act.

"Fifth, Mr. Soghoian asks whether a passenger has the right to refuse to submit to screening by an explosives trace portal (ETP), also called a "puffer machine," if the passenger agrees to submit to other types of screening, such as a patdown. A passenger does not have a right to choose the type of screening method that will be applied, absent special circumstances such as a medical need. A passenger who refuses to complete the screening process in accordance with the procedure being applied at a particular checkpoint, such as the use of an ETP, may be denied the ability to fly domestically.

"We appreciate that Mr. Soghoian took the time to share his concerns with you and thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. If we may be of further assistance, please call the Office of Legislative Affairs at (571) 227-2717.

"Sincerely yours,

"Jeffrey R. Sural

"Assistant Administrator for Legislative Affairs

Anonymous said...

At Denver International Airport this "Diamond" program is a wasted trial. Anyone that skis knows that warnings are put at the beginning of the run so a skier can see which slope they are about to travel down. Signs are NOT posted just prior to the end of a run when it's too late to change course.

In Denver the signs need to be posted at the beginning of various ques outside of the TDC checkers, so passengers can decide which lane to go into. The signs are only a few feet in front of the divesting area and are posted way to high therefore passengers don't even see the signs.

The only thing a passenger is concerned with is getting through quickly and do it in the shortest line available. If your going to have lanes designated for Families and persons that need Special Assistance the stantions that create lanes should be separated for the various diamonds. A serious reconfiguaration of que lanes needs to be formulated. One idea would be to have que lanes go up and down rather than side to side and then color coordinate the lanes to match the Diamond. By doing this prior to a passenger entering a lane they would have a better sense of which lane to enter. The lanes colored Green would match the sign of Families and Special Assistance. The lanes colored Black would match the sign for the Expert and the lanes colored Blue would match the Casual travelers. In this way the Expert travelers would not be subjected to the slowness of the many families and wheelchairs that are in line just prior to the divesting area. As it stands now all passengers are crammed in together and by the time they get to the divesting area it's too late to make a switch. Passengers are not making any choices of lanes they are entering, they are just coming up to which ever TDC checker podium that is available and going into any lane they want. This trial program is not working in Denver because it is not a fully thought out process.

Anonymous said...

Phil, you're being so selective with that letter its not even funny.

Check the date number one, TSA has since exercised its right to check ID. For your fun information here is a quote from the United States Code.

"Identification Standards


Pub. L. 108–458, title VII, § 7220, Dec. 17, 2004, 118 Stat. 3835, provided that:
“(a) Proposed Standards.—
“(1) In general.—The Secretary of Homeland Security—
“(A) shall propose minimum standards for identification documents required of domestic commercial airline passengers for boarding an aircraft; and
“(B) may, from time to time, propose minimum standards amending or replacing standards previously proposed and transmitted to Congress and approved under this section.

“(c) Default Standards.—
“(1) In general.—If the standards proposed under subsection (a)(1)(A) are not approved pursuant to the procedures described in subsection (b), then not later than 1 year after rejection by a vote of either House of Congress, domestic commercial airline passengers seeking to board an aircraft shall present, for identification purposes—
“(A) a valid, unexpired passport;
“(B) domestically issued documents that the Secretary of Homeland Security designates as reliable for identification purposes;
“(C) any document issued by the Attorney General or the Secretary of Homeland Security under the authority of 1 of the immigration laws (as defined under section 101(a)(17) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 (a)(17))[)]; or
“(D) a document issued by the country of nationality of any alien not required to possess a passport for admission to the United States that the Secretary designates as reliable for identifications purposes
“(2) Exception.—The documentary requirements described in paragraph (1)—
“(A) shall not apply to individuals below the age of 17, or such other age as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security;
“(B) may be waived by the Secretary of Homeland Security in the case of an unforeseen medical emergency"

So there you have it, TSA has the statutory authority and has decided to make use of it.

Have a super day!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know why first class passengers get their own lane for security? Does their ticket purchase have higher fees that are passed onto the TSA or are the airlines somehow subsidizing TSA so that first class passengers get preferential treatment. If they pay more, fine, I can deal with that, but if my tax dollars are paying for the rich to go through security faster, that is a different story.

Nate said...

Anonymous:

All I know, is at the airport I work at, the Airlines complained to the County Dept of Aviation, and the Dept of Aviation made us promise to keep the lane for First Class, Employees and Disabled, and that if we need to use it for others to keep the line as short as possible.

The airlines wanted a first class line basically and got the Airport administration to make us have it.

David in NC said...

I like the concept of the diamond lane. Unfortunately in the Orlando airport, the signs designating the lanes are placed too far inside security for the passengers to know which lane to get into. Also there was no TSA agent guiding or explaining to passengers what lane would suite them best. I fly on average once a week. I was in the Diamond lane along with babies in strollers and novice flyers. GREAT idea. Lets teach people how to use it and expand the program.

Anonymous said...

I was stunned to read here that presenting identification is NOT a requirement for going through security checkpoints.

Apparently not all TSA screeners are aware of this policy. I learned this the hard way once when I did not have my driver's license. The TSA screener said only the airline clerk could provide me with a pass, and the ticket agent said I needed some form of "government issued" identification (even mentioning a social security card as an acceptable alternative!).

Fortunately I was able to get hold of a family member who could bring my license to me in time to catch my flight.

I'm old enough to remember when we proudly compared our own freedom of travel to the USSR's requirement for 'internal passports.' I don't especially mind showing id. But I strenously object to being forced to in order to travel as I wish within my own country.

Trollkiller said...

Nate said...

Anonymous:

All I know, is at the airport I work at, the Airlines complained to the County Dept of Aviation, and the Dept of Aviation made us promise to keep the lane for First Class, Employees and Disabled, and that if we need to use it for others to keep the line as short as possible.

The airlines wanted a first class line basically and got the Airport administration to make us have it.


Not jumping you Nate, this is above your pay grade.

Who in the hell is running the show? What next, different lines at the DMV for those that drive luxury cars?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

"I'd like to know why first class passengers get their own lane for security? Does their ticket purchase have higher fees that are passed onto the TSA or are the airlines somehow subsidizing TSA so that first class passengers get preferential treatment. If they pay more, fine, I can deal with that, but if my tax dollars are paying for the rich to go through security faster, that is a different story."

Does the TSA pay rent to lease the screening area? No.

Do the airlines pay rent to the owner of the airport? Yes, and without them, there would be no airport.

The TSA space authorized to be used is the screening checkpoint itself, so it doesn't start until the conveyor belt. Now with the TSA doing ID checks, they are authorized to have a small area to perform that function.

But the lines leading up to the screening checkpoint (pre- and post-ID check)are not under the control of the TSA; that control belongs to the airport authority and/or the airlines. As such, the airlines have decided to provide their best customers with a separate line; after all they are either paying significantly more for their ticket or are a loyal customer. I think that it makes eminent sense and why the DMV analogy is flawed.

Why I am having to address this issue when there is a whole blog team to respond, but haven't, I am unsure.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but I find this new routing process ridiculous. As a frequent traveler I'm not going to go to a specific line designated by a sign, I'm going to go to the shortest and fastest line regardless if I'm traveling alone for business or with my family.

Why not designate lines for those with no carry on luggage or just a personal item like a briefcase? Other options would be to stop focusing on shoes and laptops. I traveled to London over Christmas and they don't require shoes to be taken off or laptops to be separated from bags. Is this because they have better screening equipment or because they just think it's silly to go through the hassle? I felt just as safe there as I do here.

Whatever the solution may be, this new directional signage is not the answer.

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

The TSA space authorized to be used is the screening checkpoint itself, so it doesn't start until the conveyor belt. Now with the TSA doing ID checks, they are authorized to have a small area to perform that function.

But the lines leading up to the screening checkpoint (pre- and post-ID check) are not under the control of the TSA; that control belongs to the airport authority and/or the airlines. As such, the airlines have decided to provide their best customers with a separate line; after all they are either paying significantly more for their ticket or are a loyal customer. I think that it makes eminent sense and why the DMV analogy is flawed.


Sorry I left you with a flawed analogy earlier; I had to leave for work. Now that I have time I will explain it to you so you can see the analogy is right on the money.

The airport I am most familiar with is MCO (Orlando). The set up there is one line to enter for gates 1-59 and on the other side of the airport is one line to enter for gates 60-129. They do have a small station set up on the side for airline and airport employees.

The single line enters a "large" room where there are 4 or 5 metal detectors and x-ray machines. Passengers are free to hit the line they choose.

Because you work for a Govt. agency anything that is or appears to show favoritism or unequal service is wrong.

If the DMV had a special line for rich folks it would make you mad when you went in to renew your license. If it appears that the TSA has a special line for rich folks, people have a right to be mad.

Please do me a favor and tell us what airport you work at, so we can look online at a map of the layout, and tell us how the screening area is laid out. Do you have more than one metal detector and one x-ray machine? (in other words how many screening lanes are open at one time?)

kristina said...

This is a fantastic idea. Wish i would have thought of it. Great to hear that improvements have been made already as a result.

Anonymous said...

If you ignored liquid and gels you could save a lot of time.

Why do policies take so much time to change after such threats have been throughly discredited?

Anonymous said...

I consider my family "experienced" travelers. My four year old son has traveled on enough flights each year equivalent to flying around the world every year. He knows how to take his shoes off, put them in a tray, and walk alone through the metal detector.

Will TSA personnel allow my family to go into a black diamond line? After all he has been on dozens of flights already. Or will we be hassled and banished to the family line? What recourse would we have if challenged by TSA on our level of experience? Can I get a letter from TSA authenticating our status as "black diamond" eligible?

Anonymous said...

trollkiller said:

"Sorry I left you with a flawed analogy earlier; I had to leave for work. Now that I have time I will explain it to you so you can see the analogy is right on the money.

The airport I am most familiar with is MCO (Orlando). The single line enters a "large" room where there are 4 or 5 metal detectors and x-ray machines. Passengers are free to hit the line they choose.

Because you work for a Govt. agency anything that is or appears to show favoritism or unequal service is wrong.

If the DMV had a special line for rich folks it would make you mad when you went in to renew your license. If it appears that the TSA has a special line for rich folks, people have a right to be mad.

Please do me a favor and tell us what airport you work at, so we can look online at a map of the layout, and tell us how the screening area is laid out. Do you have more than one metal detector and one x-ray machine? (in other words how many screening lanes are open at one time?)"

First, I don't know if I should be honored or insulted that you think that I work for the TSA. LOL I don't work for the TSA or any other government agency.

I will repeat what I said before -- the TSA does not control the lines until you reach the conveyor belt (there may be minor exceptions in certain airports). That is under the airport authority and/or airlines. So a government agency is not involved in setting up these lines, so no discrimination exists by the government and, as such, the DMV analogy is not appropriate.

As for MCO, no elite/first class lines exist (well, there may be a "hidden elite line" on the B side for Delta). Only a CLEAR line exists to get you front of the screening checkpoint. For that privilege you pay about $90 per year and give CLEAR and the TSA your biometrics and other personal info. At this point, the only thing that CLEAR gets you is to go to the front of the line (though CLEAR has been working to permit avoidance of other security procedures, but the TSA has been reluctant to permit anything additional).

Personally, I am not a fan of CLEAR since it requires giving up personal info and cash; it is just too intrusive and perhaps the tip of the iceberg of how security could evolve if CLEAR continues to expand.

SeeSaw said...

TROLLKILLER is right. The lines, the stanchions, are all set up to the wants of the airlines/airport authority. They basically control the line up to the ticket checker. If one checkpoint line is getting backed up, airline agents will come and direct passengers to other lines. I have seen an airline rep yell at a TSO for letting a passenger in to the front of the line. Ever notice if you ask a TSO to bump you up to the head of the line because you are late, they wont do it, but will tell you to find an airline rep to do it? The airlines are very particular to how they want their lines to run.

Anonymous said...

One concern I have with the screening for which lane a person can go in is that when I travel with my family, I will automatically be placed in the slow lane. As I travel with my family over 20 times a year, we have gotten the travel process down, and therefore will be one of the frustrated ones in the slow family line. What can be done to not stick my family in the slow line, as just because I am traveling with my family does not mean we are inexperienced.

Anonymous said...

I'm a female business traveler who is pushing 60. I applaud the division of types of travelers. It's an approach that benefits everyone. Now please look at the placement of bins and the inadequate length of table surface. Many travelers need more than 1 bin, esp. if they have a laptop. Some airports require shoes to be in a separate bin. We all need more space to spread out these bins while diversting ourselves of clothes and accessories.

Anonymous said...

I read an article in a Fl Newspaper headlined FOREIGN STUDENTS FILLING FLORIDA SKIES dtd 3/23/08, that I could not simply believe and was chilling to say the least.

There are growing numbers of student pilots from India, China and other foreign lands being trained at a Miami flight school, that bought an extra 32 training planes and hired 23 additional instructors!

Why is this allowed? How can anyone believe that another 911 will not occur perhaps even at the same place when the towers are completed or before.

Unless, the embassies or security personnel are personally checking every location of addresses and telephone numbers that are referenced in applications, on the other side of the world, how can we not be setting up ourselves again for another tragedy by the tens.

This must stop!period...........

Anonymous said...

The diamond lane sounds good, but so did the trusted traveller program that never got off the ground. As a frequent flier, I wonder if there is not a way for the diamond lanes to be tied to the same lines for frequent flyers.

Anonymous said...

The TSA is an expensive joke. They are spending a huge amount of taxpayer money inconviencing a lot of normal people. They wouldn't know real criminal activity if it bit them in the ass. It is time for us to get rid of this sham.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a good step in the right direction. I hope it can be implemented in all large airports, especially in Philly where some times the wait to get through security is over an hour long!

Anonymous said...

First, I want to say that the segregation of people to go through a TSA line is no better than the segregation of blacks and whites. We should not be judged based on how we appear (i.e. parents with children vs. business travelers). Just because I am a parent with a toddler does not mean that I am slower than a business traveler with their laptop. On numerous occasions I have been complemented by business travelers on how quickly I get through the line.

Second, it would be great if TSA could figure out what is required to be taken out of bags and what is not. It has been my experience that what is required to be removed is dependant upon the TSA personnel at that airport.

Third, I am sick and tired of TSA picking on parents with infants and toddlers. I travel often with my child. Your website specifically states: "When traveling with a child, in the absence of suspicious activity or items, greater than 3 ounces of baby formula, breast milk, or juice are permitted through the security checkpoint in reasonable quantities for the duration of your itinerary". The duration of my itinerary is round-trip length. In addition, no TSA agent is clairvoyant and therefore, cannot tell a parent how much formula or breastmilk they will need. As far as formula is concerned, a TSA agent cannot know whether your flight will encounter a mechanical problem that delays you at the airport. I always carry more formula than my child will need for the duration of the flight becase there have been too many times that my flight has been significantly delayed.

If TSA agents across the nation could get on the same page as to what TSA policies and procedures are, it would be greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I was recently at Logan airport in Boston. I had my laptop bag and wheeled carry-on bag, and I asked if I could go through the diamond lane. I travel once a month or so and am all set with my liquids, shoes, etc. One employee at the beginning of the checkpoint said I could use the diamond lane, so I got out of the long line and went to the diamond line, and was told by the diamond lane employee that I could not go through since I was not a first class passenger and I had too many bags.
I think the diamond lane is great, but please make sure the airport staff understand what it is for and allow passengers to make the decision for themselves. I have not seen any restrictions for the diamond lane except "limited carry-on luggage". I don't think a laptop bag and carry-on are excessive luggage. And if it is a diamond lane, then why can only first-class ticket holders use it?

Tim said...

TSA needs to ensure that there are additional resources available at the family/special needs lane. I went through Orlando green lane as I had a 2 year old with me and that lane was AWFUL, literally many times as slow as the other lanes. They kept inserting special needs (wheelchair, crutches, etc.) half-way up the lane and there was NO assistance to help people who voluntarily say they will take longer.

Next time I'm ignoring the designations - I can get through with kid in less time than the majority of kid-less people.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why a family is referred to as a "cart full of groceries". This is a distorted perception. Though traveling in a group, each member of that family is a paying customer and a separate and individual traveler (unless younger than 2yrs).
I've observed that the true delay in lines is often the scanner. People (expert travelers) are completely ready to go and end up waiting 1-3 minutes just to jump through the portal.

hbnguyen said...

this was a terrible policy. I traveled through Oakland Airport this past weekend and the TSA employee, instead of letting us self-pick, pointed passengers to the line that she thought we belonged to. So, what did we find? People in business suits in the "expert traveler" line and the rest of us in the regular line. In a diverse place like Oakland, this could mean white men in one line, and people of color and women in another. I would consider myself an expert traveler: knowing when to pull out my ID's, take off my shoes, pull out my laptop & my clear plastic bag, but she put me in the regular line. The person in front of me just had a purse compared to the "expert traveler" line who actually carried more stuff and would have taken longer to get through the line. I don't think this worked, at least not in the way that it was implemented at OAK.

Brian said...

After flying through Orlando this past week, I must say that this program is very, very poor. "Self-selection" apparently means "get in whichever line is shortest", as the lines were all exactly the same length. I travel many, many times per year and rightfully feel comfortable picking the "Expert" line. In front of me was a woman drinking a bottle of water, who threw it in her grey bin. The man behind me left his laptop in its case. Please go back to a system where real frequent flyers can get through in a reasonable period of time.

Major Lemon said...

Banned items still get on aircraft. One guy interviewed after a flight was found with a Swiss army knife. No malicious intent, he'd just forgot to hand it in. The point was however that security missed it.

Emma Warrium said...

I'm a little confused on where these programs went? I don't fly often and the last two times I flew the only program I saw was people getting seated on the plane before others. I know that there are some specials from Ford Spokane WA but that is on price, not on seating. Did these die off?

Jo Diamonds said...

Some folks who consider themselves to be experts most likely aren't. Kind of like the person who jumps into the express lane at the grocery store with 28 items instead of 12. How do you remedy that? T