Monday, March 17, 2008

How We Do What We Do: Baggage Screening

Click here to view the How we do what we do: Baggage Screening video
Click Here to watch how TSA does baggage screening (wmv, streaming).
The Aviation and Transportation Security Act, which created TSA, mandated 100 percent electronic screening of checked baggage. To meet this mandate, TSA installed minivan-sized explosive detection machines in airports across the country, typically in already crowded lobby areas.

Today, TSA is increasingly relying on advanced baggage screening technology. More than half of the 2 million people that fly each day use airports with automated, in-line baggage screening systems. The systems allow passengers to “drop-and-go” curbside or at the ticket counter instead of having to take bags to TSA after checking in with their airline.

This means pre-9/11 convenience for passengers and post-9/11 security for TSA, airports and airlines. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International is one of many airports where an in-line system is used. Click here to view a short video of the in-line system in use.

Jon

118 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear TSA,

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

Anonymous said...

I guess this begs the question, has this been in place long enough to provide any data on theft levels? Is this system making the traveler's checked luggage safer from loss of possessions?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but an x-ray machine can't detect explosives. All it will do is to show you the varying densities of the contents. The image must be "read." To detect explosives you've got to go with something like the neutron backscatter system which, unlike x-rays tell you what is inside of the container. The problem is that the neutron backscatter is very expensive and difficult to use. A jar of peanut butter looks like plastic explosives under x-rays (remember density) which is probably why they insist on confiscating peanut butter from carry on luggage.

Bob said...

March 17, 2008 5:33 PM
anonymous said... Sorry, but an x-ray machine can't detect explosives. All it will do is to show you the varying densities of the contents. The image must be "read." To detect explosives you've got to go with something like the neutron backscatter system which, unlike x-rays tell you what is inside of the container. The problem is that the neutron backscatter is very expensive and difficult to use. A jar of peanut butter looks like plastic explosives under x-rays (remember density) which is probably why they insist on confiscating peanut butter from carry on luggage.


I’m sure you’ve heard of cat scans? Computed Tomography? (CT) That’s the technology we use to detect explosives in checked baggage.

However you are correct that we use X-ray technology at the checkpoints for carry-on luggage.

Bob

TSA EoS Blog Team

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

Dear TSA,

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


You know I keep hearing self called experts claiming a binary liquid explosive would be almost impossible to create in a plane lavatory.

It got me to thinking, how many times a year do you see a story concerning some fool that mixed a couple of common cleaning products and blew their commode across the room.

If someone can create a binary liquid explosive by accident, I would imagine someone with a chemistry background could create one on purpose.

Anonymous said...

OK, now, a goodly percentage of the traveling public thinks that you guys are all theives.

Not saying you are, mind you, but with a "no locking except with our approved crappy" locks" policy, and the number of TSA locks that mysteriously get broken off by the handing equipment -- there is a big perception problem right there in River city.

So what can you do?

Well, you can post a bunch of fairly self-serving blogs, which are probably the source of great hilarity among true frequent fliers, or you can offer an alternative.

Last time I flew out of Hong Kong, they strapped my bags with nylon straps. I marked the straps with my handy Sharpie, and was convinced the odds of my baggage being rummage through by security, a baggage handler or stowaway. (Don't laugh, they recntly busted a baggage theft ring in Austrailia where on long haul busses, one of the bags contained a midget, who while the bus was rolling along, slipped out his his bag and rummaged through all the others, stealing all the good stuff.)

Low tech, inexpensive, and something positive so that a traveller has some confidence that even if the TSA locks bust, the suitcase doesn't get rummaged through. It is also immediately obvious when the straps suddenly go missing.

That might quiet the rumbling here in River City. Heck, I'd pay $2.00 a bag to have it done.

Anonymous said...

I’m sure you’ve heard of cat scans? Computed Tomography? (CT) That’s the technology we use to detect explosives in checked baggage.

CT shows you the outline and relative density for items. It does not tell you what those items are made of. Sorry, nice try. X-rays do not detect explosives.

Anonymous said...

Well if the goal is to destroy the plumbing, you don't even need a binary or liquid explosive. There is one pure metallic element that could make short work of the toilet. Might not bring down the plane, however.

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

Well if the goal is to destroy the plumbing, you don't even need a binary or liquid explosive. There is one pure metallic element that could make short work of the toilet. Might not bring down the plane, however.


I had a high school science teacher demonstrate that pure metallic element. She was pretty cool, but she did not appreciate it when I yelled "boom" as she was adding it to the flask of water.

I don't know how much destructive power the cleaning products have, but I imagine any explosion on a plane could cause a few problems.

Anonymous said...

Who owns th surveillance video of the TSOs? Are they TSA cameras or airport cameras? If TSA, how long are the videos maintained?

H

Dave X the first said...

"This means pre-9/11 convenience for passengers and post-9/11 security..."

Pre-9/11 convenience is getting to the airport with less than an hour and still making your flight.

Is the post-9/11 security truly better than pre-9/11 security? Sure, it's more expensive and fancier looking, but is it really protecting against threats with a real probability of occurrence?

How does one use a bomb in checked baggage to hijack a plane?

hawthorn said...

"I guess this begs the question, has this been in place long enough to provide any data on theft levels? Is this system making the traveler's checked luggage safer from loss of possessions?"

I keep reading these references to theft (a real problem - I have lost a couple of things in recent years) and I wonder, do people understand that baggage screening and baggage handling are two different jobs? TSA screens bags to try and keep bad stuff out. The airlines handle baggage. Handlers have the best opportunity to steal. TSA can't look over every handler's shoulder.

Anonymous said...

Ok Everyone always complains about TSA stealing. I was wondering if this blog team can get the percentages of check luggage thefts before 911 and compare them to after the TSA took over. My guess is that they are pretty much the same if not less.

Anonymous said...

I fly alot and everytime i fly I'm always behind the guy that doesnt realize his keys, coins, gold watch, cell phone, the giant belt buckle are all metal. So, my suggestion is the TSA posts a Periodic Table at every X-ray machine so people while know whats a metal and whats not.
and FYI
metals set of metal detectors!

Anonymous said...

The problem with theft isn't necessarily that the TSA is lifting things from our bas but their rules restricting the use of locks does allow baggage handlers free reign to lift anything from a bag since they can no longer be effectively secured.

Anonymous said...

Geez, when I have had CTs done it took a long time for just one organ. You guys must take shortcuts in order to keep the planes flying.

Do you CT everything that goes into the belly (like mail and packages) or just pax luggage?

Anonymous said...

My wife had jewelry stolen from a small pocket deep within her toiletries kit in her bag at LaGuardia in February. This is only possible if the TSA x-ray team were complicit. It turns out this had been a LaGuadia problem since at least 2004 (see http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C06EEDA163FF931A2575BC0A9629C8B63). I have never felt that TSA improves my safety, but up to this point I thought of them just as a nuisance. No longer.

Anonymous said...

Yeah i am personally getting tired of the accusations of theft.

Im not saying that all TSO's are angels and it never happens, but I can say that the majority of thefts occur from the baggage handlers.

Like the video says, you give the bag to the airline, it goes through our maze of belts, we screen them, some of which we never actually touch depending on the airport.

Then you you know what happens, airline baggage handlers load them onto carts to haul over to the plane, they then load them onto the plane, when you arrive at your destination TSA never even sees the bags, however baggage handlers unload them on to carts, and then puts them on conveyors to get to those nifty little carousels where you pick them up.

Some of you just want to blame TSA for everything, but I think the airline employees handling your bags outside the view of cameras are stealing items from your checked baggage more often the TSA employees.

Nick Catalano said...

remember: not every airport has atlanta-level security features... a lot of places still have TSA agents loading manually...

As for detecting explosives via these scans as mentioned above... I'm sure the TSA has put enough test explosives through these things to make sure it works...

now lets just get more money in the system to pay for more-automated systems at more airports.

Anonymous said...

Could something non-windows media please be used for future video content.

My machine has real issues with Windows Media for some reason. (and I guess everyone who runs Linux will not be able to view the video?)

Something like Flash player (similar to YouTube) would be brilliant ;)

John Walker said...

"Ok Everyone always complains about TSA stealing. I was wondering if this blog team can get the percentages of check luggage thefts before 911 and compare them to after the TSA took over. My guess is that they are pretty much the same if not less."

Wouldn't you think that if the number of thefts was less that the TSA would have this fact plastered all over their web site and this blog?

Someone posted on the blog a while back that the number of screeners arrested for theft from passengers was up near 400 as of last summer. As I recall, this was a quote from the TSA itself. Of course, this doesn't count the thiefs who haven't been caught and those incidents of theft that have gone unreported.

If the TSA was interested in dong this study right (and, of course, they aren't interested because they are afraid of the answer), you would have to compare apples to apples, such as the number of reported thefts per hundred bags or per "something". You would have to take into account that there is a higher percentage of passengers checking bags because of airline restrictions on the number of carryons. Also, more people are checking luggage in order to safely transport those large containers of thermonuclear toothpaste and shampoo. You would also somehow have to factor in the much higher percentage of bags that go through unlocked because of the fear of cutting locks that the TSA has instilled in the flying public.

It would be rigorous, but not impossible, to conduct a defendable study. But, the TSA has no interest in conducting this study for fear of the results.

TSO PHX said...

Dear Dave X,

It's possible to have parts of an explosive device in the belly of a plane and a remote detonator in the cabin of the plane. Computer technology has taken bomb making to a new level. The components have gotten smaller and more sophisticated. Detectable wires and batteries are no longer necessary. Although, still used.

Anonymous said...

A big problem with TSA and baggage screening is their detailed screening process for hiring new employees. I have heard of good people applying for TSA jobs and, after months of tests and screenings, deciding it just wasn't worth it for such a low paying job with few benefits. The word is out and it will become more and more difficult for TSA to hire quality people who will choose higher paying jobs with benefits and more opportunity. I wonder about the quality of people they are actually able to hire and how many of them will remain with the organization very long. Of course, I don't know. This is just rumor. Nonetheless, take a look at the people who screen you next time you go through a line at the airport and decide what you think.

shari said...

am i the only one who thinks that the checked bags should be screened while the passenger is standing there? that way they can open the bag if they need to and if there's a problem with the bag or even the person whose bag it is they can be prevented from getting on the plane?? think El Al pre-flight security...

Anonymous said...

"Some of you just want to blame TSA for everything, but I think the airline employees handling your bags outside the view of cameras are stealing items from your checked baggage more often the TSA employees."

TSA cuts off the the "TSA approved" locks and in many cases does not close the baggage properly. Then the finger pointing begins. Oh, it's really the baggage handlers.

Use some kind of seal to replace the locks- tamper proof, and maybe the theft and complaints will lessen. Put your name, date and time on the search card. Otherwise, you put the system in place, so if it doesn't work, fix it. We would like to see our check in luggage more SECURE.

Dave X the first said...

TSO PHX: I understand that one could possibly remotely detonate a bomb in checked baggage using RC radios, bluetooth or wireless internet. My question was about how credible it was to use this to hijack an an airplane.

Jon invoked 9/11 for convenience and security, but the threat that this system is aimed at does not seem 9/11-like. In addition to locking the barn doors after the horses got out, it seems like you are locking the windows as well.

It is an excellent business plan for the X-ray detection companies, however.

Jim Huggins said...

See, the problem with the "it's not TSA's fault that baggage hanlders are stealing stuff from your luggage" argument is that TSA's policies help make theft easier.

By requiring that all (ok, most) baggage be unlocked, TSA creates the opportunity for unscrupulous folks to commit theft.

Yes, there are TSA-approved locks now available. But that doesn't do me any good on my trusty hard-sided Samsonite case with the built-in dial lock, that can't be locked any other way. I suppose I could go and buy a new suitcase with a built-in TSA lock ... but that's a cost to me for a suitcase that I don't need.

I don't know that there's an easy answer for this ... perhaps in-person baggage checking might help, at the cost of slowing the system down.

But I think that TSA could at least acknowledge that their policies are making theft more common. And then we could have an honest, rational discussion as to how the cost of such thefts to the traveler balances against the incremental increase in security from being able to inspect checked baggage.

Anonymous said...

Hi
I fly 4 times a week and each time I notice people alarming the metal detectors and then they are sent for secondary screening and they get mad at the TSO's. Then it turns out that they had a cell phone, keys, coin, or gum with an aluminum wrapper etc.. in their pockets.

So my suggestion is to post a sign with a picture of the Periodic Table on it so that before you walk through the metal detector you can look and the picture and find out that aluminum is in fact a metal.

This I'm sure will speed up lines.

and FYI:
METAL ALARMS METAL DETECTORS

txrus said...

Shari said...
am i the only one who thinks that the checked bags should be screened while the passenger is standing there? that way they can open the bag if they need to and if there's a problem with the bag or even the person whose bag it is they can be prevented from getting on the plane??
********************************

No, Shari, you aren't the only one who thinks that, not but a long shot. Given how many screeners have been caught stealing from checked baggage, any reasonable person would think the powers that be @ the TSA would be eager to implement such a system, but alas, we are not dealing w/reasonable people in the upper echelons of TSA. Granted, there are issues w/physical structure layout in some airports, but even in those where the screening of checked baggage is done in the passenger check-in area (such as PHX & LAX, for example) the screeners manning those areas are often hostile to passengers who do want to wait for the bags to be cleared & the TSA itself has set up those areas in such a way as to make it as difficult as possible for the passenger to actually see what is going on w/their own property. That is completely unacceptable & will only encourage inappropriate behavior of the screeners (while waiting for my bag @ LAX once I watched while 3 screeners rifled different bags & one of the screeners took great glee in taking different items out of the suitcase & holding those items up for all to see; bet she'd have a different attitude if it were her belongings being rifled!)

Leaving aside the question of sticky-fingered screeners, there is also the pesky little problem of a unlocked bag being ripe for the insertion of all sorts of bad things, which somehow, many people seem to forget.

For the record, I have never checked an unlocked bag nor will I. If it is locked when it leaves my hands, I will have done my part to ensure that nothing goes missing & nothing gets put in that shouldn't be there during the time it is out of my control. Since this whole 'leave the checked bags unlocked' foolishness started, I have had 1 lock I strongly suspect was intentionally cut off by the TSA & 1 I'm pretty sure got caught in the conveyor belt & pulled off (pull tabs on the zippers were missing, too). I can live w/that.

Anonymous said...

2 comments which may not follow directly on anything preceeding, but based on my experience:

1.) when screening luggage and the screener does not recognize an item, I have seen them run the
luggage back and forth and consult with others...taking valuable time, while the bag sits within 2-3 feet inside the machine.
Why not open the bag and find out what it is you are looking at in the machine--and don't recognize.
Then you would know.
It would take a shorter time,
with immediate validation and learning.

2.) At your Fargo, ND airport operation, several flights leave at 7:30am, notably Frontier. It's early and some people arrive late to go through a line that also has people sauntering through for a 9 am flight. The screeners do not ask who is in a hurry, had a 7:30am flight, and get real authoritarian with anyone who expresses displeasure about having to be on that plane in 5 minutes. How about sorting out those who have to be on the 7:30 am flight? The others can wait.

If the Frontier flight waits, it
puts them behind for the rest of the day...or they have to burn more fuel to catch up.

shari said...

"We would like to see our check in luggage more SECURE."

especially since we now have the pleasure of paying EXTRA to check these bags! (not TSA's fault i know...)

Anonymous said...

trollkiller:

how many times a year do you see a story concerning some fool that mixed a couple of common cleaning products and blew their commode across the room.

Uh...zero? Yeah, that's it zero. Because it doesn't happen. Bad things happen when bleach-based and ammonia-based cleaners are mixed. And by "bad things" I mean, "chlorine gas." Chlorine gas will do a rather efficient job of poisoning you, but it won't explode. Small amounts of NCl3 and N2H4 might be created, both of which have more explosive potential. However, if you're cleaning your potty with bleach and ammonia that are strong enough to produce large quantities of those gases, you've got waaaaay bigger problems on your hands than the potential for a little boom-boom.

But go right ahead, and show me one of the phantom articles about an exploding crapper.

TSA TSO NY said...

"2.) At your Fargo, ND airport operation, several flights leave at 7:30am, notably Frontier. It's early and some people arrive late to go through a line that also has people sauntering through for a 9 am flight. The screeners do not ask who is in a hurry, had a 7:30am flight, and get real authoritarian with anyone who expresses displeasure about having to be on that plane in 5 minutes. How about sorting out those who have to be on the 7:30 am flight? The others can wait."

So, you are saying that the people who arrived early for thier flight should wait for those that arrived late AND the TSA should be the referee of this? get real!! Arrive early! You arrive late, you should have to get in line behind those who were actually prepared!
The TSA has more to be concerned with then whose flight leaves when and when you arrived. As the bags come in, they are screened. If the airline wants someone expedited, let them pull the luggage and bring it to the front of the screening line. They do it here.

Anonymous said...

dave x:

Better yet, consider the following scenario. In the middle of the flight some guy stands up and starts waving around a Bluetooth headset or a RC car remote and says, "There's a bomb in the hold! By the beard of Allah, I shall detonate it if you infidels do not do as I say!"*

Regardless of the amount of screening that goes on, one would have to regard that as a potential threat. I think even TSA would agree.

Of course, the solution to that dilemma is always clear: The passengers rise up and beat the crap out of him. If he's lying, they get to blow off some steam. If he's not...well, you've just prevented him from leveraging that hijacking event into another 9/11.

*This should in no way be interpreted to imply that Muslims are more likely than any other religious group to commit terrorist acts. If it helps, just replace the dialog above with, "By my shiny red hat and silly car," and imagine it's a Shriner hijacking the plane.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
Who owns th surveillance video of the TSOs? Are they TSA cameras or airport cameras? If TSA, how long are the videos maintained?

You're kidding, right? Of all the things to pester TSA about, you're concerned about how long it keeps videos!?!

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

Yeah i am personally getting tired of the accusations of theft.

Im not saying that all TSO's are angels and it never happens, but I can say that the majority of thefts occur from the baggage handlers.

Like the video says, you give the bag to the airline, it goes through our maze of belts, we screen them, some of which we never actually touch depending on the airport.

Then you you know what happens, airline baggage handlers load them onto carts to haul over to the plane, they then load them onto the plane, when you arrive at your destination TSA never even sees the bags, however baggage handlers unload them on to carts, and then puts them on conveyors to get to those nifty little carousels where you pick them up.

Some of you just want to blame TSA for everything, but I think the airline employees handling your bags outside the view of cameras are stealing items from your checked baggage more often the TSA employees.

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

I'm sorry Anonymous, the TSA took responsibility for the bag. Anything that happens to that bag in transit is the TSA's responsibility.

If the TSA & TSOs are getting tired of the accusation of theft, they need to fix the problem.

Problem:
Any place that the luggage can be hidden from view is a security risk. If you can remove items from a bag without detection, you can place items without detection.

It seems like the TSA has no clue about chain of custody. Luggage should never be out of site and out of the control of the TSA.

Solution:
Do a critical survey of all airports. Identify all areas that are unsupervised by camera or TSA personnel.

Place working cameras in the areas where that is practical, in areas that a camera would not be practical place a two person team to guard the luggage.

Marshall said...

Anonymous said

"You're kidding, right? Of all the things to pester TSA about, you're concerned about how long it keeps videos!?!"

It's rather interesting how the information on tapes can manage to disappear if there is an issue. Are you too young to remember the Watergate tapes and the missing 18 1/2 minutes?

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said:

You're kidding, right? Of all the things to pester TSA about, you're concerned about how long it keeps videos!?!


You're kidding right? You really can't see the legitimacy of that question? Let me help you out.

Assuming the video is stored on tape or hard drive, at some point you will need to reuse the media the video is stored on.

Say someone reports an abusive TSO. It takes three or four days for the complaint to wind its way through the proper channels.

If the TSA only stores the video for 24 or 48 hours, someone will have a problem proving an allegation that happened last week.

In the future before you try to scold someone for a silly question, think the question through.

Trollkiller said...

Marshall said...

It's rather interesting how the information on tapes can manage to disappear if there is an issue. Are you too young to remember the Watergate tapes and the missing 18 1/2 minutes?


You do know that "Alice's Restaurant" was 18 1/2 minutes long don't you?

Just saying. And sorry in advance for the ear worm.

Anonymous said...

anonymous @ March 18, 2008 10:05 AM, said:

"Use some kind of seal to replace the locks- tamper proof, and maybe the theft and complaints will lessen. Put your name, date and time on the search card. "

I've seen several times on this blog where the TSA blog team members say that they are looking and hoping for an open discussion of ways TSA can improve its practices. The post I've quoted is a good example of what has been asked for.

1. TSA bag inspectors should reseal any bag they open with a tamper-proof seal. These can be obtained cheaply on the open market. The presence of a seal does two things: First, it identifies to any other TSA employee that this bag has been examined and no further examination is necessary, potentially saving some time and effort. Second, if a passenger has an item missing from a bag with the seal intact, there is no doubt about where it went missing. The video would show whether it was the result of theft or carelessness (inspector just forgot to replace the item or placed it in the wrong bag).

2. The inspection notice should be marked with the time and the employee number conducting the search. Thus if items are repacked improperly, causing damage or if items are missing, TSA management is able to determine who was responsible.

Both of those excellent suggestions are easy and cheap to implement and would add to passenger confidence by providing greater accountability for TSA inspectors.

If TSA truly wants to improve its performance and image both suggestions will be implemented quickly or a plausible statement will be given explaining why not. Were TSA to simply ignore both suggestions it will confirm that the call for constructive suggestions is a sham just like the current security theater. I'll admit I'm pretty cynical so my bet is that both suggestions will be ignored.

T-the-B on flyertalk

Anonymous said...

For trollkiller:

"...And I walked over to the bench, and there is Group W's where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly
looking people on the bench there. Mother rapers. Father stabbers. Father rapers! And they was mean and nasty and ugly and horrible crime-type guys sitting on the bench next to me. And the meanest, ugliest, nastiest one, the meanest father raper of them all, was coming over to me and he was mean 'n' ugly 'n' nasty 'n' horrible and all kind of things and he sat down next to me and said, "What were you arrested for, kid?" And I said, "Trying to sneak 12 oz of water past TSA." And they all moved away from me on the bench there, and the hairy eyeball and all kinds of mean nasty things..."

Marshall said...

To trollkiller

Actually, I thought it was about 20 or 25 minutes.

:-)

Anonymous said...

I was just talking to a friend who goes on scuba diving trips. There have been complaints that camera gear is being damaged by TSO's that improperly repack the equipment.

Anonymous said...

Would anyone from TSA respond to these remarks by TSO NY please?

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."

This employee of yours seems to be using a different set of guidelines than what is published on the TSA webpage.

Are your rules so flexible that a TSO can on their on rewrite the guidlines thereby keeping the public in a very confused and untrusting state?

Surely someone within TSA has something to say about this!

SeeSaw said...

" So my suggestion is to post a sign with a picture of the Periodic Table on it so that before you walk through the metal detector you can look and the picture and find out that aluminum is in fact a metal."

Yeah, in theory this could work. But, the same people who don't know that their cell phones contain metal DON'T read signs, and probably couldn't figure out the periodic table.

SeeSaw said...

"2.) At your Fargo, ND airport operation, several flights leave at 7:30am, notably Frontier. It's early and some people arrive late to go through a line that also has people sauntering through for a 9 am flight. The screeners do not ask who is in a hurry, had a 7:30am flight, and get real authoritarian with anyone who expresses displeasure about having to be on that plane in 5 minutes. How about sorting out those who have to be on the 7:30 am flight? The others can wait."

Totally unsympathetic to you...why don't YOU get there early, to avoid the rush of the early 9 am people? Not the job of the TSA or the airline to get you thru the line if you can't plan properly.

Trollkiller said...

For anonymous:

till I said, "And creating a nuisance." And they all came back, shook my hand, and we had a great time on the bench, talkin about crime, mother stabbing,
father raping, all kinds of groovy things that we was talking about on the bench.

For Marshall:

I stole that joke from Arlo Guthrie.

For everybody:

This is why this generation can't get anything done. No good protest songs. Maybe one of you talented people can write one up about the TSA. TSOs feel free to join in with your effort.

trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

Uh...zero? Yeah, that's it zero. Because it doesn't happen. Bad things happen when bleach-based and ammonia-based cleaners are mixed. And by "bad things" I mean, "chlorine gas." Chlorine gas will do a rather efficient job of poisoning you, but it won't explode. Small amounts of NCl3 and N2H4 might be created, both of which have more explosive potential. However, if you're cleaning your potty with bleach and ammonia that are strong enough to produce large quantities of those gases, you've got waaaaay bigger problems on your hands than the potential for a little boom-boom.

But go right ahead, and show me one of the phantom articles about an exploding crapper.


Sorry I did not see your post before I left for work. I have a feeling it was being held and discussed because you included the chemical names.

In any case, I distinctly remember news stories from legitimate outlets showing "survivors" of cleaning explosions. I have a good memory when it comes to things I have seen. (I am also pretty good at picking out the hoax stories)

I also remember the warning my science teacher gave about mixing the two.

Before I posted about seeing the news stories I double checked to make sure the two would be capable of creating an explosion. I found plenty of websites to confirm that.

So finding a dozen stories should be easy. Yeah right.

The fact that the only place I can find any stories on exploding toilets is a pay news site. (http://www.highbeam.com use the search "exploding toilet" )

Unfortunately the story teasers I found on this site did not include exactly what blew the toilets up and I am much too cheap to pay to find out.

So being without a smoking gun to point you to, I will withdraw the statement about the news stories. I retain full right to bring the news stories up again if I stumble across one.

BTW just so everybody knows this is the proper way to debate. I made a claim and was unable to back it.

A lot of time on blogs, newsgroups, forums or whatnot the person that can’t back their claim either hides until they think the stink has blown over, tells you they don’t have time to do your homework for you, or just ignores the detracting post.

So far I have seen a TSO hide when questioned on their “if it doesn’t have a prescription it doesn’t fly” rule and I have seen several of the blog team hide out from questions that have been asked. Such as “Who was the UK TSA person before Mike?” or “What avenues do the TSOs have to turn in abusive or corrupt coworkers”.

If I can be honest and say I can’t find any articles that support me, the blog team can at least answer the questions posed to them.

Anonymous said...

hey trollkiller heres the thing, you don't release the bags to TSA you give them to the airline we then screen them and the airline takes them to where they need to go.

Why is it TSA's responsibility and not the airlines. TSA's job is to ensure your bag is free of prohibited items not babysit them until they get into the cargo hold.

Its a ridiculous notion that TSA should be responsible for your checked luggage merely because we screen them. How about the responsibility stays where it belongs after TSA has done their part. Why is it that airlines aren't held accountable? why isn't it the airline the ones to install cameras on the tarmac? Why should the airline be released from any and all responsibility? Should we install cameras in the cargo hold as well, I would think thats where the majority of theft occurs.


The way I see it we are only responsible for your bags during the screening process both before and after its the airlines responsibility to ensure your bags remain safe from theft.

Have you ever really thought how many different places an airline keeps your bags. where they are stored until they even get to the plane. just because you checked your bag 2 hours before your flight doesn't mean it actually gets onto the plane immediately, they sit in carts until about 30 minutes before the flight is scheduled to leave to ensure all bags get to the plane. The man power requirements for that alone is just ridiculous.

THEN, you want TSA to be there when they are unloaded and brought to the terminal? Should we be in all the unclaimed baggage offices as well to ensure that airline employees don't steal from them and wait for you to claim them or for them to find you? Should we sit at the baggage claim to ensure other passengers don't steal your bag? Should we stand on the sidewalks where the airline will pile unclaimed bags? Exactly where does the line end when TSA shouldn't be responsible for your bag?

Hey if you want to pay me to stand around and watch your bags thats fine I could use a break from the checkpoint. However if TSA employees are supposedly responsible for alot of thefts why should you trust TSA officers to ensure items aren't be stolen. Fox in the hen house kind of comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

"Its a ridiculous notion that TSA should be responsible for your checked luggage merely because we screen them. How about the responsibility stays where it belongs after TSA has done their part. Why is it that airlines aren't held accountable?"

TSA sets the policy for checked luggage, and screens it. Cuts off lock, and is supposed to repack it neatly, and leave a card inside that it was searched. You set the standard for the security of the luggage, not the airline.

Add a tamper proof seal to the luggage afterward. Put your agent number, date and time on the card.
Those two things would at least make travelers feel that you were taking some pride in the security job that you are supposed to be doing, and if that seal is tampered with, at least give a starting point for an investigation.

Anonymous said...

re: "Anonymous said...
hey trollkiller heres the thing, you don't release the bags to TSA you give them to the airline we then screen them and the airline takes them to where they need to go.

Why is it TSA's responsibility and not the airlines. TSA's job is to ensure your bag is free of prohibited items not babysit them until they get into the cargo hold."


How can TSA ensure that the bags remain free of prohibited items if they do not maintain positive control over the bags?

Anonymous said...

"This is why this generation can't get anything done. No good protest songs. Maybe one of you talented people can write one up about the TSA. TSOs feel free to join in with your effort.

March 19, 2008 2:34 AM"

Now it is protest video on U Tube.
Google TSA Gangstaz to see what I mean. Irreverent, well produced, funny, and definitely not PC. Like a SNL skit. And it has had a quarter million views, to get an idea of how visible these things can be. There is a follow up video by the producer, plus a couple of imitators, a stewardess, a former TSO, and a current TSO.
It probably took Arlo a while to sell 250,000 copies of Alice's Restaurant, though it has now been heard by millions of people.

Anonymous said...

seesaw @ 3/19 1:02 AM


Totally unsympathetic to you...why don't YOU get there early, to avoid the rush of the early 9 am people? Not the job of the TSA or the airline to get you thru the line if you can't plan properly.

----

Prior to the TSA taking over security, the airline security would regularly ask if anybody had a flight leaving in the next 20 minutes or so and move them to the front of the security line. I've also seen it happen at some airports (PHL in particular) since the TSA took over security.

Anonymous said...

anonymous @ March 19, 2008 4:53 AM said:

"hey trollkiller heres the thing, you don't release the bags to TSA you give them to the airline we then screen them and the airline takes them to where they need to go.

Why is it TSA's responsibility and not the airlines. TSA's job is to ensure your bag is free of prohibited items not babysit them until they get into the cargo hold.

. . ."


I've got two comments:

1. My home airport is BNA and I can assure you that if you fly Southwest the procedure is as follows: a) go to kiosk, b) check in, c) show ID, d) get bag tagged, e) passenger carries bag to TSA checking station. Maybe I'm missing something but that seems to me that I've just "release(ed) the bags to TSA."

2. TSA has responsibility for theft for two main reasons: a) TSA employees are often the ones doing the theft (not all, but some), b) TSA policies and practices (e.g. prohibiting worthwhile locks, cutting off locks, failing to relock, failing to use tamper-proof seals) enable theft by others.

If the police required you to leave the door to your house open while you were away, publicly proclaimed that your house was unlocked and then failed to watch your house, all the while occasionally helping themselves to your belongings you would rightly think they had some responsibility for the loss of your possessions. It is no stretch at all to consider TSA as having some responsibility for theft. Granted, the airlines share responsibility but that in no way absolves TSA.

I'll readily admit that my view is colored by my personal experience.

I've been traveling on business since 1975 and I never had any problem with theft until the advent of TSA. Since then I've had an item taken from a checked bag, an item taken from carry-ons and have thwarted an attempted theft by a TSA employee. I've also had another incident that may have been an attempted theft but I protested soon enough that I can't say for sure; it may have just been carelessness on the part of the TSA person.

Given my experience would you think TSA was responsible for theft?

T-the-B at flyertalk

Anonymous said...

How much training is given to the people who scab these bags? How long is the initial program and how frequently are the TSA luggage screeners given additional training for new policies or to reemphacize old ones.

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

Now it is protest video on U Tube.
Google TSA Gangstaz to see what I mean. Irreverent, well produced, funny, and definitely not PC.


I see why you did not post a link. It is very, very, not safe for work.

TSOs should watch the video and understand this is how they are perceived by the public. (clear the room of kids, strong language and sexual content)

I will admit I laughed pretty good at a couple of lines. The water joke and the perfume joke cracked me up the most.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
How much training is given to the people who scab these bags...............

According to a post by TSA new hires get an extensive 120 hour training program.

Anonymous said...

"Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

Now it is protest video on U Tube.
Google TSA Gangstaz to see what I mean. Irreverent, well produced, funny, and definitely not PC.

I see why you did not post a link. It is very, very, not safe for work.

TSOs should watch the video and understand this is how they are perceived by the public."

I did post a link, and it was sent to Group W bench, otherwise known as Moral Waivers, actually the Delete-O-Meter...

If you go back and read the comments or watch the follow up video replies, you will find that at least a few TSO's responded. No one will take this seriously, it is satire, well done.

I remember seeing the dancing police officer directing traffic in Provincetown, MA. several decades ago. He drew crowds. A TSO juggling the 3 oz. bottles might garner the same positive attention.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: most TSA Officers not only train DAILY, we truly are the most tested Federal Agency. We train to keep up our X-ray proficiency, review all "recurrent" training on an annual or bi-annual basis (as applicable), train on policy changes, etc. If "rusty" on something, we or our Supervisors can assign ourselves courses on the subject matter. This is further compounded if one is a DUAL FUNCTION Officer (Baggage AND Checkpoint) as everyone at my airport is. We are re-certified annually via testing and observation for the areas we work in. So, despite the common misconception, we are not given our initial training and rest on our laurels, we are CONSTANTLY TRAINED.

Random STSO

Anonymous said...

re: So, despite the common misconception, we are not given our initial training and rest on our laurels, we are CONSTANTLY TRAINED.

Random STSO


Question for you Random STSO, is the info posted below a product of all that extensive training?



"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."

Anonymous said...

So, despite the common misconception, we are not given our initial training and rest on our laurels, we are CONSTANTLY TRAINED.

Please explain the inconsistencies from airport to airport regarding 3-1-1. Please explain inconsistencies from airport to airport on OTC medication. Please explain the inconsistencies from airport to airport on unmarked containers (3oz, 100mL, 3.4oz).

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

hey trollkiller ...

... Its a ridiculous notion that TSA should be responsible for your checked luggage merely because we screen them. How about the responsibility stays where it belongs after TSA has done their part. Why is it that airlines aren't held accountable? why isn't it the airline the ones to install cameras on the tarmac? Why should the airline be released from any and all responsibility? Should we install cameras in the cargo hold as well, I would think thats where the majority of theft occurs. ...

...Exactly where does the line end when TSA shouldn't be responsible for your bag?

Hey if you want to pay me to stand around and watch your bags thats fine I could use a break from the checkpoint. However if TSA employees are supposedly responsible for alot of thefts why should you trust TSA officers to ensure items aren't be stolen. Fox in the hen house kind of comes to mind.


I clipped some of this because it has been answered by others.

The TSOs stated mission is to keep dangerous things off of airplanes. If you do not maintain control of the cargo from the time you screen it until it is locked in the belly of a plane, you have FAILED the stated mission. If you can remove something from the luggage, you can just as easily put something in the luggage.

You have admit the logic of that statement.

If you noticed I said place cameras where it is practical and place TWO TSOs where cameras are not practical.

Placing two TSOs would help to insure that things are on the up and up. Hopefully removing the fox and the hen house thing.

Most of the thefts would not happen in the cargo hold, simply because luggage is going in too fast to search bags to find the good stuff.

Most thefts would happen when the luggage is sitting waiting for other luggage to stream in for that flight. The suggested two hours prior to departure time creates a large window of opportunity to go hunting.

Where should the TSA responsibility end? When the luggage is taken off the plane to be sent to baggage claim. Like the cargo hold the time frame to go hunting is very curtailed.

Why shouldn't the airlines be accountable? Because the TSA has taken ALL the responsibility from the airlines for security.

And yes I would pay you to stand around and watch the bags because it would insure a terrorist did not sneak a bomb onto my plane.

Because of gapping holes like this is why the public feels the security is just theater.

yangj08 said...

One comment in relation to the guy with the 7:30 flight- this is a sign of inefficiency in the TSA screening process. When I've been through Japan for domestic flights I can get to the airport 15min before departure and at the gate in 10 minutes; the "arrive at least an hour early" for TSA screening seems positively absurd in comparison. Yes, they have to deal with the same liquids restriction so that's no excuse.

Also they've been nothing short of polite; can't say the same of the TSA. I shouldn't ever get into a situation where I have to report the TSO- isn't that what training is for?

HSVTSO Dean said...

I think Trollkiller wrote this but I might be wrong because I'm too lazy just at this exact moment to go back and check:

So far I have seen a TSO hide when questioned on their “if it doesn’t have a prescription it doesn’t fly” rule

Can't say that I've heard anything like that. We at Huntsville are usually pretty adept at deciding if something is for medical purposes, prescription-presented or not. If we can't just instantly tell, the passenger normally tells us and then all is well in the world, complete with fluffy bunnies. They might even be pink.

While it may not be a TSA-required thing, that particular rule might have come out of that particular airport. Since I don't work there though, I can't really speculate about that.

and I have seen several of the blog team hide out from questions that have been asked. Such as “Who was the UK TSA person before Mike?”

Above my pay-grade. Sorry!

or “What avenues do the TSOs have to turn in abusive or corrupt coworkers”.

Normally, such a thing would require simply informing one of our supervisors and then they'd take care of business. We have a pretty good bunch here at HSV though, the so-called 'bad apples' having been winnowed out some years back. I can only think of one instance of even theft, and that was dealt with quickly and efficiently by the screening management, and that particular TSO is a TSO no longer.

And, in other news:

An Anonymous person, on March 17 at 6:08 PM, said something to the nature of...

Sorry, nice try. X-rays do not detect explosives.

Conventional x-ray machines do not, that is true. The ones used in baggage screening are not conventional x-ray machines, however!

...Sorry, that seemed more dramatic than I thought it would. I imagined it even having a little musical crescendo. I'll move along.

The specific types of machines used in baggage screening locations have, built inside of the computer programming that powers the whole shebang, a seperate program that, as the bag is scanned, picks out what it thinks are explosive devices. Most commonly, this could be a family bible or a big deli-style cut of cheese, but those x-ray machines (actually "CTX Machines") can, I assure you... uh... "assist" ...TSOs as they watch the bags go through.

We don't have them at our particular airport, though.

Anonymous said...

re:Why is it TSA's responsibility and not the airlines. TSA's job is to ensure your bag is free of prohibited items not babysit them until they get into the cargo hold.


Why inspect baggage at all? A few weeks ago TSA was giving kudos to an agent that found a firearm in a vehicle on the ramp and runway areas of an airport. It turns out that TSA does not clear vehicles that enters that airports ramp areas. So in all reality the airside of this and likely most other airports is not secure.

Baggage is not maintained in a secure manner after screening so the injection of prohibited materials is very possible.

The current screening procedures might catch something at the time of screening but why bother with contraband when the baggage is not maintained in a secure manner and can be tampered with after screening? It's not rocket science to figure this one out! Guess it's more important to relieve everyone of their bottle of water than to keep the public safe.

Ben Arnold said...

" HSVTSO Dean said...
So far I have seen a TSO hide when questioned on their “if it doesn’t have a prescription it doesn’t fly” rule

Can't say that I've heard anything like that. We at Huntsville are usually pretty adept at deciding if something is for medical purposes, prescription-presented or not. If we can't just instantly tell, the passenger normally tells us and then all is well in the world, complete with fluffy bunnies. They might even be pink."

Dean -- Just out of curiosity, where did you study medicine? I ask because only someone who is licensed to practice medicine is legally authorized to make these kinds of decisions.

...Just a friendly reminder: Practicing medicine without a license is a felony.

Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

Yes there is a disparity in the "311" information, the maximum allowable size definitely IS 3.4 ounces. I would imagine us calling the program "3.411" would have less panache, so the myth of the 3 ounces persists.

Prescriptions: Generally on the checkpoint pills or vitamins (even in the weekly pill boxes) are not a concern, however a gallon bag filled with pills(ecstacy?)might raise an eyebrow. Prescription liquids; I have never seen any presented that did not have either the Rx label or the original label attached, simply declare these items as you present them and there should be no issue.

Sizes MUST be marked on container, otherwise one would have to rely on the opinion of everyone who will inspect the container, and we all know the "opinions" would vary, so having the size declared on the bottle takes this variable out of the equation.

Do some of the "rules" change on some occasions? Besides the hard and fast ones listed above, yes. This is by design. To use a sports analogy, it would be like a football team only using one play game after game. Kind of easy for the opposition to figure your next move that way.

Regarding inconsistencies from one airport to another regarding 311, simply pull all applicable liquids AND any Rx or OTC medicines that might be in your bag and declare them up front. A great majority of bag searches which slow the line are either from liquids not pulled out of the bag or for Meds still in the bag which need to be visually checked. Hope this helps.

Random STSO
(Whose Google account fails to recognize him so he must keep blogging anonymously)

Anonymous said...

Sizes MUST be marked on container, otherwise one would have to rely on the opinion of everyone who will inspect the container, and we all know the "opinions" would vary, so having the size declared on the bottle takes this variable out of the equation.

I'm going to put this to the test next time I fly just to see if they take unmarked (as far as the contents) containers. This should prove to be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Random STSO said the following plus more;


"Prescription liquids; I have never seen any presented that did not have either the Rx label or the original label attached, simply declare these items as you present them and there should be no issue.

Sizes MUST be marked on container, otherwise one would have to rely on the opinion of everyone who will inspect the container, and we all know the "opinions" would vary, so having the size declared on the bottle takes this variable out of the equation."


At least you tried and for that I thank you. I still have concerns.

Medical items that are in excess of the 311 standards are permitted. They can be Over-the counter or Prescribed. The size can exceed 100ml. The traveler must comletely seperate the medical items from all other liquids, gels and such and declare them at the inspection point.

Please refer to http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm for the exact wording.

TSA must train its people to know these standards or risk injuring or possibly killing someone who has had their medicines confiscated. It is very apparent that TSO's do not have enough training in this area.

If you want to practice medicine then go to med school.

Anonymous said...

"There are exceptions for baby formula, breast milk, and other essential liquids, gels, and aerosols, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

Please keep in mind that these rules were developed after extensive research and understanding of current threats. They are intended to help air travelers bring essential toiletries and other liquids, gels and aerosols for short trips. If you need larger amounts of liquids, gels and aerosols such as toothpaste or shampoo, please place them in your luggage and check them with your airline.

To ensure the health and welfare of certain air travelers, in the absence of suspicious activity or items, greater than 3 ounces of the following liquids, gels and aerosols are permitted through the security checkpoint in reasonable quantities for the duration of your itinerary (all exceptions must be presented to the security officer in front of the checkpoint):"

The information above is exactly part of what is posted on the TSA.GOV page.

Based on post from TSTO's and others at TSA this informaton is wrong.

It is very sad what your people are saying (doing at check points) and proves without doubt that TSO's are not well trained!

Concerned Traveler

Anonymous said...

Concerned Traveler: Please do not be confused by my earlier post, if I may further elaborate. The size on the container issue was applicable only to your everyday (non-Rx OTC meds)liquid items. Your meds do not fall under this grouping (and as such are medically exempt). This is why, for example, your contact solution does not have to be in the same baggie as your lotion. This is why, at the end of the post, I encouraged folks to take your 311 items AND meds out to speed things up by preventing unneccessary searches BEFORE they start. I thought that by placing the 2 issues in different paragraphs they would be seen as the seperate issues they are, my apologies if they appeared to overlap.

Random STSO

Jim Huggins said...

Random STSO writes:

Do some of the "rules" change on some occasions? Besides the hard and fast ones listed above, yes. This is by design. To use a sports analogy, it would be like a football team only using one play game after game. Kind of easy for the opposition to figure your next move that way.

If you (or TSA) is really going to argue this, though, then TSA has to quit criticizing travelers who don't follow the rules. If you're going to change the rules all the time in order to "foil the bad guys", how in the world should a "good" traveler be expected to know how to pack their bags properly?

And your distinction between the "hard and fast rules" and the "other rules" actually makes things worse, not better. Having "unwritten rules" or "changeable rules" leads to the possibility (or suspicion) of "arbitrary rules" imposed by a particular TSO, even if those rules are in contradiction with the "hard and fast rules".

It seems fairly clear that TSA wants travelers to help them ... see the recent "please pack your bags neatly" poster series, for example. But if TSA wants travelers to help make screening more efficient and effective, TSA has to put out a consistent message. No regional or unannounced variations on rules. Not everyone spends their life reading this blog, after all. :)

Dave X the first said...

CTX Machines with 30% false alarm rate.

They are still just density-scanning devices, and it looks like that is the reason snowglobes are prohibited from carryons -- the machines they can't tell a snowglobe from a grenade.


Static X-rays get you mass, CT gets you density since they can compute the volume the mass is distributed over. Unless you use something fancy and expensive, you aren't detecting explosives, you are just detecting density, as anonymous wrote way up at post #2.


And Anonyous @March 18, 2008 1:31 PM: Yep. If hijacking based on remote controlled bombs in checked baggage is a credible threat, then the real weapon is the remote control rather than the bomb. Any bluetooth, cell phone, wireless laptop, or something that looked like it had a button would be weapon enough for the same hijacking scenario.

HSVTSO Dean said...

Ben Arnold wrote:

Dean -- Just out of curiosity, where did you study medicine? I ask because only someone who is licensed to practice medicine is legally authorized to make these kinds of decisions.

Which is why, as I stated in my previous post, if we can't just tell at a glance that an item is for medical purposes or not, the passenger-in-question is right there before our very eyes to inform us that it is.

And then, at that point, we would typically say, "Thank you very much, have a safe flight!" and send them on their way with a big smile and a dose of southern hospitality that only seems to exist at Huntsville International.

Normal examples of the 'at a glance' standard would be any kind of clearly marked... say... perscription bottle, over-the-counter medication typically has clear markings as well. Some of the more esoteric ones might include a bottle of orange juice or plain yogurt (even though such things would normally be considered prohibited, there are specific exemptions for medical needs - not everything is clearly marked, for example, and there are some things that, say, diabetics need that, while normally allowed, must be admitted for their medicinal uses).

...Just a friendly reminder: Practicing medicine without a license is a felony.

Okay. I started writing on here because I saw that there was a great deal of questions not being answered by the TSA, some of which were very simple, and didn't even violate SSI regulations (even I won't go there; go on about transparency in government and civil liberties all you like, I got a mortgage to pay) that should be answered and were not. I don't know why they weren't, I just knew that they weren't.

So, your snide little snipe aside, I'm not practicing medicine. I'm screening out possible threats at the checkpoint, I come to work to do my very best to keep the citizens of America safe from another 9/11-style attack, and, here, doing what I can to attempt to help answer questions that said-citizens might have regarding things we do at the TSA, and all without violating rules and regulations and having my hat handed to me as I'm put out of the building.

Is there a rule against being smarmy? Not at all. Yay for the First Amendment. But I'm burned in effigy every day for the organization that I work for, and while some people think that you get desensitized to it after awhile, you don't. Not unless you just write off the people doing the burning as idiots, and I refuse to think of my fellow citizens that way. I'd just assume not have to deal with it here, too, when I made the decision to try and help.

Have a nice day.

And yourself as well. :)

Dave the X wrote,

CTX Machines with 30% false alarm rate.

Which is why I hope I never have to operate one. From everything I've heard, they create more work for the screeners than not.

I personally prefer more physically demanding screening methods over more inefficient ones. Granted, I won't know for sure until I sit down on the box and use it, but still...

Anonymous wrote, in regard to something Random STSO wrote:

I'm going to put this to the test next time I fly just to see if they take unmarked (as far as the contents) containers. This should prove to be interesting.

I imagine that standard varies airport-by-airport. At my own, we go by the "use your judgement" method, which likely means we wouldn't take it unless it was clearly oversized.

And I do mean plainly, clearly, and obviously oversized.

I had some more things I wanted to try to take a stab at helping to clear up, but the time has come for me to head off to work.

Until next time. :D

Anonymous said...

I thought that by placing the 2 issues in different paragraphs they would be seen as the seperate issues they are, my apologies if they appeared to overlap.

Random STSO

Perhaps ypu could explain these standards to TSO NY and other TSO's who seem to think different.

Just reading comments on this Blog by people who state they work for TSA makes very clear why the public has little trust of TSA and TSO's in particular.

Anonymous said...

Having an intimate knowledge now of the addage "The road to hell is paved with good intentions", I shall refrain from further comments on the blog for the time being. I assure you my posts were purely in the vein of increasing understanding, but I fear they are proving counter productive at this juncture. I wish you all pleasant travels.

Humbly yours,
Random STSO

HSVTSO Dean said...

Jim Huggins, wise man that he is, wrote:

TSA has to put out a consistent message. No regional or unannounced variations on rules.

God, don't I wish that could happen.

(enter the long, drawn-out, wistful sigh of things long-desired)

No, seriously. Simpler for you, simpler for us.

Anonymous said...

Random STSO said:

"Sizes MUST be marked on container, otherwise one would have to rely on the opinion of everyone who will inspect the container, and we all know the "opinions" would vary, so having the size declared on the bottle takes this variable out of the equation."

This is wrong, wrong, wrong. There is no requirement for the bottles in the 3-1-1 bag to be marked.

"TSA spokeswomen Ann Davis says that plain plastic toiletry bottles aren't required to be marked with their size or volume." Wall Street Journal October 12, 2006.

Why is inconsistent information being disseminated to the field?

Anonymous said...

"Make Your Trip Better Using 3-1-1
3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3 ounce bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3 oz. container size is a security measure.

Consolidate bottles into one bag and X-ray separately to speed screening.

Be prepared. Each time TSA searches a carry-on it slows down the line. Practicing 3-1-1 will ensure a faster and easier checkpoint experience.

3-1-1 is for short trips. If in doubt, put your liquids in checked luggage.

Declare larger liquids. Medications, baby formula and food, breast milk, and juice are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint.

Come early and be patient. Heavy travel volumes and the enhanced security process may mean longer lines at security checkpoints."

From the 311 section on the tsa.gov site. Graphic plainly shows MARKED bottle.
No, the tiny clear bottles marketed do not HAVE to be marked (most are 2 to 3 fl. oz.), but look on the bottom, MANY are. Just because your 1/2 empty full size 8 oz. tube of Crest might fit in the bag does not absolve it from the size regulations. Sure, it may have "made it through LAX with no problem", but don't complain if it is discovered on your return trip. The rules are clear. To use an analogy, do you get a ticket every time you speed? No, but the rules are always there nonetheless.

Jim Huggins said...

To use an analogy, do you get a ticket every time you speed? No, but the rules are always there nonetheless.

Ahh ... but the analogy fails quickly. The reason that I don't get a ticket every time I speed is that no one is observing me every time I speed. On the other hand, TSOs are supposed to be observing me (and my luggage) every time I enter the screening area.

If TSA observes passengers violating its regulations, but then selectively chooses when to enforce the regulations, it leaves itself open to questions as to how it decided when to enforce the rules. This could lead to charges of bias at best ... and charges of prejudice or discrimination at worst.

The rules are clear.

I'm sorry ... but with all respect, one thing this blog seems to have proven is that the rules aren't universally clear ... either to the public or to TSOs.

Is the limit on fluids 3.0 or 3.4 ounces? Must fluid containers be marked with their size? Must prescriptions be marked with their original label? What constitutes a valid ID ... or is it even necessary? Can violating materials be reclaimed by the passenger or must they be forfeited? Do passengers have to produce a valid ID to obtain a complaint form?

All of these questions have been answered in contradictory ways in the last 60 days on this blog, by various TSOs in various places. If the rules were really that clear, then this blog would be a lot quieter.

Anonymous said...

Declare larger liquids. Medications, baby formula and food, breast milk, and juice are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag.

Please define the term 'reasonable quantities.' That is far too vague as what is reasonable for me may be either too much or too little for you. Does 'reasonable quantities' apply to medications?

HSVTSO Dean said...

Jim Huggins wrote:

I'm sorry ... but with all respect, one thing this blog seems to have proven is that the rules aren't universally clear ... either to the public or to TSOs.

The rules themselves are clear. Sadly, the execution of said rules are not. As I spilled out on another thread, there are the minimum baseline rules, and FSDs or STSOs or whatnot are allowed to go beyond that. I used the example of requiring laptops to be removed from bags, contrasted with all electronic items removed from bags. Both of them are, technically, okay and correct, since one was the minimum-required, and the other was allowable since it didn't go beneath the minimum.

TSOs at an airport where they have airport-specific 'local policy' that goes above and beyond what is required by the SOP might not even know that they're going above and beyond if nobody's ever told them, and that's just what they've always done.

It causes countless amounts of head-scratching, both on the parts of passengers who roll through the various airports, as well as the TSOs at other airports that said passengers mention them to.

And, as for the rest of the post, I can only tell you what we do at our airport, and can tell you that we go by what is required by the TSA as a whole, and no more. We don't really have local policies:

Is the limit on fluids 3.0 or 3.4 ounces?

3.4 - the signs are all old.

Must fluid containers be marked with their size?

No.

Must prescriptions be marked with their original label?

No.

What constitutes a valid ID ... or is it even necessary?

A valid ID is any ID that (a) contains a photograph of the bearer, and (b) is issued by any government agency on a National, State, or Local level.

And no, technically, it isn't necessary. Not having an ID just means you get screened as a selectee, which isn't fun for anybody. Contrary to popular belief, we don't just love handwanding people.

Can violating materials be reclaimed by the passenger or must they be forfeited?

No. Anything surrendered to the TSA at the checkpoint becomes the property of the federal government.

Do passengers have to produce a valid ID to obtain a complaint form?

No.

Anonymous said...

No. Anything surrendered to the TSA at the checkpoint becomes the property of the federal government.

Shouldn't that read confiscated instead of surrendered?

winstonsmith said...

Mr. Anonymous:

You raise a brilliant question:

No. Anything surrendered to the TSA at the checkpoint becomes the property of the federal government.

Shouldn't that read confiscated instead of surrendered?

March 23, 2008 10:50 PM


The 5th Amendment to the Constitution says that no citizen shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. If you surrender something voluntarily, then you have made a choice simply to give something up. If TSA says confiscate, take away / deprive a person of, then regardless of the item confiscated or the value of same, the government is walking on pretty thin ice because it has taken something without authorization to do so by the court. An attorney may correct me on this, but my reading of the administrative search rule does not give the searching authority to confiscate prohibited items from a location (i.e. can't take a weapon into a courthouse) but simply to tell the individual carrying the item that (s)he may not enter the facility with that item. If the item is known to be illegal, the searchers may notify the appropriate authorities as a result of the search.

Unfortunately at this late hour on a Sunday evening I do not have the exact Federal court rulings in front of me, but there is a case that has come up on other parts of this blog in which it has been ruled that a person simply cannot opt not to be searched and say (s)he chooses not to fly once the TSA has begun to search. This does raise an interesting question of whether there is any free will involved in this process at all. I would love to see some enterprising civil rights attorneys take this case up through the courts.

The TSA might cover itself though by putting big clear signs at the very front of the screening lines that say in all languages that are frequently spoken in the region (i.e. English, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Mandarin, and Japanese for San Francisco and New York; English and Spanish for Denver and Miami; English and French for Bangor, ME; etc.) stating that items that are prohibited at the checkpoints will be confiscated and will not be returned and giving the individual an opportunity to deal with those items before entering the checkpoint screening line. Perhaps even have someone there to help answer questions as to what is and is not permitted.

HSVTSO Dean said...

I wrote:

No. Anything surrendered to the TSA at the checkpoint becomes the property of the federal government.

And then in response, an Anonymous person wrote:

Shouldn't that read confiscated instead of surrendered?

Followed by WinstonSmith, of sound mind, writing:

If you surrender something voluntarily ... to do so by the court.

Correct. TSA doesn't confiscate anything, or they're not supposed to by everything I've ever read. Anything we take, from knives to liquids to a bottle of ammonia, everything is surrendered to us and willingly left by the passenger. If a passenger does not wish to surrender the item, he or she may return to the public area and do with it what they wish, be it put into a checked bag or take it back out to their car or give it to a loved one who is seeing them off.

Guns are something of a different matter, since we automatically call for law enforcement officers when we find one. Once the cops take the bag, TSA is mostly out of the picture except for taking some photographs and filing some paperwork. I understand that the police themselves confiscate firearms, but that's not the TSA.

If the item is known to be illegal, the searchers may notify the appropriate authorities as a result of the search.

Such as illegal narcotics or illegal pornography or illegal sums of American cash (in the case of an international flight), yeah, that's correct.

stating that items that are prohibited at the checkpoints will be confiscated and will not be returned and giving the individual an opportunity to deal with those items before entering the checkpoint screening line.

Except that, at the checkpoint, TSA doesn't confiscate anything. We have such signage (I think everyone's supposed to, but I know for a fact that we do), though the sign does say something to the nature of "the following items are prohibited, blahblahblah, will not be permitted past the security checkpoint, blahblahblah."

But the signs are there as kind of a pleading last resort for people to check their stuff, make sure they took that knife off their keychain, and take the appropriate measures to not have it. Strictly speaking, everything right up until you walk through the metal detector or your first carry-on is x-rayed, you can still get away scot-free with anything.

Had one guy walk up to the screening checkpoint, place his bag on the table, and announce that he was declaring that he had inert hand grenades in his bag. We politely informed him that he should turn around and go put them back in his vehicle (they wouldn't be allowed in checked baggage, either).

If he had walked through the metal detector, or if we discovered them when x-raying his bag, or if he waited until the bag was inside being x-rayed before declaring them, we'd have had to fill out all kinds of paperwork and call the police and all sorts of nastiness. As it is, I'm glad it went down the way it did: Paperwork isn't fun, and I'm sure he's glad he didn't get slapped with the fine for having them.

...I've come far afield of what I wanted to say when I started writing. Apologies. Yeah, no, I meant exactly what I wrote: surrendered, as opposed to confiscate. We don't - or, at least, we aren't supposed to - confiscate anything at the security checkpoint. The interchange might be so brief that it hardly warrants a second glance (TSO pulls a bottle of water out of the passenger's bag, passenger waves it off dismissively - that could only be interpreted as the passenger surrendering it, though the only exchange only takes three seconds, if that; there's not some formal ceremony that goes with it.) if anyone saw it, but it's still there.

Off the top of my head, the only thing the TSA actually confiscates at all is in checked baggage, and it's saftey matches. Anything else - from certain types of lighters to ginormous aerosol cans to bottles of butane refill to jugs of bleach - the airlines themselves are notified of the presence of the HazMat, and it's the responsibility of the airline to remove them from the passenger's checked bag, usually also paging for the passenger to return to the check-in counter to pick it up and do with it what they will.

Hope this helps. :)

Anonymous said...

I understand the requirement for the TSA to manually search luggage when some 'strange' shows up on scans. I have to carry a lot of tools and electronics for my job, so my bags are ALWAYs hand searched.
So, knowing the TSA requirment, I fit the TSA locks to the bags so that the TSA can gain access when needed.
Is it really beyond the comtenance of the TSA operative to replace the lock after the hand search? If I'm lucky, the lock is just thrown inside the bag along with the TSA Notice of Search. More often than not, the lock is thrown aside by the TSA. In either situation, the bag is now open to opportunist pilfering by anyone in baggage handling.
Sad to say, but I worry more about the security of my possessions here in the US than I do in Europe, Africa or Asia.

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

No. Anything surrendered to the TSA at the checkpoint becomes the property of the federal government.

Shouldn't that read confiscated instead of surrendered?


No, it should read seized.

Are there signs up saying that anything "surrendered" becomes the property of the federal government?

If I throw something away I expect it to end up in the dump, not some retail store somewhere. If I wanted it to end up in a retail store I would donate it to Goodwill.

Anonymous said...

"Jim Huggins wrote:

The rules themselves are clear. Sadly, the execution of said rules are not. As I spilled out on another thread, there are the minimum baseline rules, and FSDs or STSOs or whatnot are allowed to go beyond that. I used the example of requiring laptops to be removed from bags, contrasted with all electronic items removed from bags. Both of them are, technically, okay and correct, since one was the minimum-required, and the other was allowable since it didn't go beneath the minimum.

TSOs at an airport where they have airport-specific 'local policy' that goes above and beyond what is required by the SOP might not even know that they're going above and beyond if nobody's ever told them, and that's just what they've always done."

Jim,

I appreciate the other parts of your post where you correctly articulate the requirements, but I will have to disagree with what is quoted above.

The SOP sets the standard for inspections; it does not set the minimum. The FSD is not authorized to change it without approval from DC. The "all electronics out" local policy rule that you cite was an example of a rogue station. When DC found out about it, that policy was quashed.

Local stations are not permitted to increase levels of intrusion. The policies are set based on DC weighing all competing interests. If otherwise, then (taking it to the absurd) an FSD might implement a local policy that requires full body cavity searches since that would promote a higher level of security.

Trollkiller said...

The very wise for a liberal ;-) , Winstonsmith said:

Unfortunately at this late hour on a Sunday evening I do not have the exact Federal court rulings in front of me, but there is a case that has come up on other parts of this blog in which it has been ruled that a person simply cannot opt not to be searched and say (s)he chooses not to fly once the TSA has begun to search.

This does raise an interesting question of whether there is any free will involved in this process at all. I would love to see some enterprising civil rights attorneys take this case up through the courts.


If I recall the case right, the person involved was dirty (drugs I think) and he wanted to revoke the consent to search when the TSO selected him for secondary screening.

The court decided you can't revoke consent after the screening began because a terrorist or criminal could just leave if the search were about to uncover the contraband. They could keep doing this until they successfully pass security with the contraband.

I have to agree with the courts on this one. Unlike a traffic stop where you give consent to search the vehicle and then remember the 40lbs of smack you have in the trunk, once you enter the cattle chute you are locked into your decision.

You have plenty of time before entering the cattle chute to decide if the risk of search is worth it.

Nicole said...

So question for a TSO - can I take contact lens solution through a checkpoint? The only "travel sized" bottle I've been able to find is 4oz. Does it qualify as exempt because it's used for medical reasons?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Trollkiller said...

Winstonsmith said:

Perhaps even have someone there to help answer questions as to what is and is not permitted.


Now that is a great suggestion! Place someone outside the screening area in a kiosk with plenty of signs, and a trash can. A TSO information booth if you will.

Allow people to bring any questionable item to them for a ruling BEFORE they are locked in line. It would allow the traveling public a chance to place something into their checked baggage, mail/ship it home without having to swim upstream.

Seems this would save the screeners time and the traveling public aggravation. Win Win.

Anonymous said...

Correct. TSA doesn't confiscate anything, or they're not supposed to by everything I've ever read. Anything we take, from knives to liquids to a bottle of ammonia, everything is surrendered to us and willingly left by the passenger. If a passenger does not wish to surrender the item, he or she may return to the public area and do with it what they wish, be it put into a checked bag or take it back out to their car or give it to a loved one who is seeing them off.

Please read what some of your coworkers at other airports do. They take the offending item (confiscation) and tell the individual that they can't leave the screening process with that item. Consistancy thy name isn't TSA.

Anonymous said...

"Trollkiller said:

If I recall the case right, the person involved was dirty (drugs I think) and he wanted to revoke the consent to search when the TSO selected him for secondary screening.

The court decided you can't revoke consent after the screening began because a terrorist or criminal could just leave if the search were about to uncover the contraband. They could keep doing this until they successfully pass security with the contraband.

I have to agree with the courts on this one. Unlike a traffic stop where you give consent to search the vehicle and then remember the 40lbs of smack you have in the trunk, once you enter the cattle chute you are locked into your decision.

You have plenty of time before entering the cattle chute to decide if the risk of search is worth it."

The reason given is that the TSA search is an administrative one as opposed to a consent one. As such, there is no consent to be revoked. In an implied consent, you should be able to revoke and leave the area, but that is not at issue here.

To take the car analogy further, say the driver of the vehicle is arrested for, as an example, an outstanding warrant, and his car is required to be impounded. The LEO is permitted to do an administrative search to inventory the vehicle's contents and the driver may not object. If drugs are found during the inventory, then the driver can be charged for that offense as well.

Another issue is at what point can you decide to leave. The court said you have to let the search be completed once you place your belongings on the belt. Now with the TSA checking ID's, will you be able to freely leave during the ID check?

Anonymous said...

"Nicole said:

So question for a TSO - can I take contact lens solution through a checkpoint? The only "travel sized" bottle I've been able to find is 4oz. Does it qualify as exempt because it's used for medical reasons?"

I am not a TSO, but contact lens solution is permitted under the SOP as it is necessary for a medical condition - to help correct bad eyesight. Keep it out of your 3-1-1 bag and make sure you orally or in writing declare it to the first TSO you encounter (I usually don't do it with the ID checker as I am trying to juggle too many items at that point).

If anyone questions the amount or the product, just reply it is necessary for your medical condition. Any further questions concerning it are not required to be answered. TSO are not medical doctors and should not be assessing the amounts that you require for your travels.

At worst, the TSO should swab the outside of the container for an ETD test.

winstonsmith said...

The astonishingly well read and articulate for a conservative Trollkiller said:

The very wise for a liberal ;-) , Winstonsmith said:

...there is a case that has come up on other parts of this blog in which it has been ruled that a person simply cannot opt not to be searched and say (s)he chooses not to fly once the TSA has begun to search.

This does raise an interesting question of whether there is any free will involved in this process at all. I would love to see some enterprising civil rights attorneys take this case up through the courts.

If I recall the case right, the person involved was dirty (drugs I think) and he wanted to revoke the consent to search when the TSO selected him for secondary screening.

The court decided you can't revoke consent after the screening began because a terrorist or criminal could just leave if the search were about to uncover the contraband. They could keep doing this until they successfully pass security with the contraband.


Right with you Trollkiller -- mostly. The problem I have is not so much with if there is actual contraband (i.e. illegal drugs, kiddie porn, etc.) but if someone has say a 6 oz bottle of very expensive cologne that simply won't make it through security and that they dare not risk putting into checked baggage for the very real and very founded fear that it would be stolen either by the TSA itself or by someone further down the baggage handling line. That person just as the person who is carrying actual contraband does not have a choice to turn around and say, "no, I'm not going to toss my $700 bottle of cologne in the trash so I can fly today" and walk away. The TSA could stop that person and force that person to discard the item, effectively confiscating it.

So while I get your point about actual contraband items, I still have a problem with this. It's a gray area that needs to be sorted through properly. I did offer (and you acknowledged -- thank you!) a couple of suggestions that I thought could be helpful -- of course they won't be implemented -- but still, we can try to live in the solution sometimes.

And FYI, just to clear things up, I'm neither liberal nor conservative. I'm a civil libertarian (Trollkiller, I know you know what that is... Screener Joe can look it up). If I were liberal, however, I'd own the label proudly. It's not a dirty word, no matter how much people try to villify it. But that's a debate for another time.

Trollkiller said...

HSVTSO Dean said...

Correct. TSA doesn't confiscate anything, or they're not supposed to by everything I've ever read. Anything we take, from knives to liquids to a bottle of ammonia, everything .is surrendered to us and willingly left by the passenger. If a passenger does not wish to surrender the item, he or she may return to the public area and do with it what they wish, be it put into a checked bag or take it back out to their car or give it to a loved one who is seeing them off.


Understand I am not mugging you Dean, this goes above your pay grade.

If you do not seize an item, the ownership of said item remains with the person that "surrendered" the item. Because the ownership remains with the person that surrenders the item, the TSA nor any Govt. or private agency has the right to give away or sell that item.

When a traveler hands you an item that you have decided is prohibited, they are not giving it to you so you can give it away or sell it. The traveler expects that the item will be thrown away, they do not expect someone else to make an improper profit from it.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. Does TSA always include a note that a bag has been opened for inspection (as the video implies)? I have had my bag opened on four different occasions (I know because the inside was extremely disheveled/poorly repacked, and I have also used the 'Searchalert' TSA approved locks - which have an indicator to display when the TSA key has been used to open the lock.)

Nothing has gone missing from my checked bags - there hasn't been much of value in the first place - but I am disturbed there has never been a slip of paper indicating an inspection took place, if that is SOP. Is someone else opening my bag?

Jim Huggins said...

See, y'all have made my point for me more effectively than I could.

HSVTSO DEAN says the limit on liquids is 3.4oz, and that the 3oz. signs are wrong. So, who am I supposed to believe, him or the signs? Especially when TSA's own website says that the limit is 3.0oz? You could make an argument that it takes too long to update all the paper signs, but it wouldn't take any time at all to update the website ...

And when other TSOs tell me to "follow the rules; they're posted clearly on the signs", what am I supposed to do, if I "know" that the signs are wrong?

HSVTSO DEAN says that TSOs are permitted to implement procedures above and beyond the SOP; an anonymous responder later says that TSOs are not permitted to go beyond the SOP. So, which is right?

In summary: HSVTSO DEAN says that the rules are clear, but the enforcement is uneven. To the average traveler, who doesn't spend hours pouring over TSA documents and blogs, there's no way to distinguish between the "rules" and the "enforcement of the rules": they're one and the same. An inconsistently-enforced rule is no rule at all.

Tyler Menezes said...

Wow, I'm really surprised this wasn't classified for some reason. It's kind of cool to see what happens after our bags go through that mysterious door.

HSVTSO Dean said...

I think it was Trollkiller that wrote:

Understand I am not mugging you Dean, this goes above your pay grade.

*salute*

If you do not seize an item, the ownership of said item remains with the person that "surrendered" the item. Because the ownership remains with the person that surrenders the item, the TSA nor any Govt. or private agency has the right to give away or sell that item.

When a traveler hands you an item that you have decided is prohibited, they are not giving it to you so you can give it away or sell it. The traveler expects that the item will be thrown away, they do not expect someone else to make an improper profit from it.


I have heard stories from other airports, but since that's not how things are done at Huntsville I can neither confirm nor deny (except for one particular anecdotal story that stuck with me from a few years ago about an airport out west selling surrendered knives on E-Bay) it.

And here's the However!

Anything - and, for added amphasis, I'll bold it - anything surrendered at Huntsville is disposed of. Clear hazardous materials such as ammonia and bleach and lighter fluid (and, once, a can of gasoline inside an eyewash-solution bottle for whatever reason) are stored in a supposedly-explosion-proof shed well away from the flying public and are carried away in a big truck (via contract stuff that I don't understand) on a regular basis.

Knives and tools and most of the other kinds of prohibited items are stored in a big metal drop-box that is emptied out every week or so, and, as I understand, are carried away (also via contract stuff that goes above and beyond my pay grade) to be melted down. What happens to them after that, I'm not terribly sure.

Liquids and gels and such are stored in plastic containers until the end of shift, whereupon they are given a search to pick out what TSA considers to be HazMat among them (such things like cans of aerosol and alcohol-based colognes and stuff). The things determined to be hazardous are then taken out to the shed, and the rest are disposed of.

Someone once had the bright idea of trying to pick some stuff out for personal use, and they were given a very sound warning against theft of government property.

Nicole said:

So question for a TSO - can I take contact lens solution through a checkpoint?

Yes. Theoretically, of any size, it's permissable.

And then, for Anonymous:

Jim,

It was me! It was me!

But it was written in regard to something that was later used by Jim, stating:

HSVTSO DEAN says that TSOs are permitted to implement procedures above and beyond the SOP; an anonymous responder later says that TSOs are not permitted to go beyond the SOP. So, which is right?

Technically, maybe both. TSOs are not authorized to go above and beyond, and while the Anonymous person was speaking from a technical standpoint, I was giving it more of a realistic one. Rogue stations not withstanding, it still happens. You know it, I know it, the Anonymous person knows it, and I have to hear about it every day on the checkpoint.

But, from a vernacular standpoint, yeah - it's more along the lines of a 'standard' for screening as opposed to a minimum, but the fact still remains. There's a difference between what should be done, and what is being done. I'm just trying to acknowledge the fact that it is happening.

An inconsistently-enforced rule is no rule at all.

Though it is a major headache.

Ahem.

On a different note, I've been asked to stop commenting on the Evolution Blog, so this will be my last entry into it. Have fun everybody, and hopefully we'll bridge the gap eventually.

Try flying through Huntsville International Airport sometime. Love to meet ya'. :)

Anonymous said...

@HSVTSO Dean: Why have you been asked to stop posting? I thought this blog was supposed "to facilitate an ongoing dialogue on innovations in security, technology and the checkpoint screening process." From this it sounds like some PR flaks like Christopher don't like your comments. Rather diminishes the point of the blog. Maybe it should be retitled "Direct Contact with TSA PR reps who are not allowed to actually say anything"

Bob said...

No one from the Blog team has ever asked a TSO – or anyone else -to stop posting.

We especially value the input of our TSOs as they’re on the front lines and can offer a unique perspective. We’re looking into this now.

Thanks,

Bob

TSA EoS Blog Team

HSVTSO Dean said...

Bob wrote:

We especially value the input of our TSOs as they’re on the front lines and can offer a unique perspective. We’re looking into this now.

And they have. Sorry about that, Bob.

So, no crap, there I was sitting down on my lunch break reading a fantasy novel when alla' sudden a supervisor walks up to me, hands me a phone and a piece of paper with a telephone number on it and asked if I had been posting something on the blog.

My first reaction? "Oh, crap, what'd I do?"

So, after a friendly conversation with my Federal Security Director who, in turn, had apparently just come from a friendly conversation with TSA's Office of Public Relations, allow me to clarify something:

I, in a hurry, wrote:

On a different note, I've been asked to stop commenting on the Evolution Blog, so this will be my last entry into it. Have fun everybody, and hopefully we'll bridge the gap eventually.

I'd just like to point out the fact that if someone from TSA had told me to cease and desist, I very likely wouldn't have written the rest of the post that went along with it. I had to bring it to a close in a rush because I was due to be out on the screening floor about 45 seconds from the time that post was finished.

Firstly: No one from TSA, from supervisors to security managers all the way up to the top of the food chain has ever told or asked or requested me not to post to the blog. In fact, you could say we've been nothing but encouraged to particpate, so long as we don't violate SSI regulations (and, as you can probably guess why, it was also recommended we have a thick skin :D). Again, and most importantly, nobody from TSA has asked me to stop commenting.

Secondly: The request for me to stop came from my wife. It was for the same reason that some people on here post anonymously out of some unfounded fear that we have a magical hit list that we stick people's names on that don't like us, thereby ensuring that they're always pulled over for additional screening.

(Just as an aside - There is no such list to my knowledge, and I stand at the walk-through metal detector daily.)

She had raised a concern after I had finished talking to her about a comment I had left that, maybe, one day I might say the wrong thing. Breach SSI regulations by accident or what-not.

To use a Robert Jordan line: in her mind, the path was paved with daggers. One misstep would've been really, really bad, and I do have a mortgage to pay.

So, again, it wasn't TSA that asked me to stop writing to the blog.

Sorry for the confusion! There has been no censorship here.

The rest of the post does stand, though, especially about the part if any of yinz ever fly through Huntsville airport in the afternoon hours. Would still love to meet ya'. :)

...

And, while I'm here, I can't resist:

Anonymously, someone wrote:

The "all electronics out" local policy rule that you cite was an example of a rogue station.

True.

However, that was just one example. Here's another one:

By TSA regulations, shoes have to be removed and x-rayed, and nothing can be on top of, beneath, or inside of, the shoes. But what about the shoes that a person carries in their bag?

Execution varies. I've heard of some airports that require all shoes to be removed from a traveler's carry-on, citing that regulation.

So you have some airports that don't require all shoes to be removed from the bags, and some that do.

Which one is correct?

...Both are. It's all in how the individual regulations and such are interpreted and executed.

Anonymous said...

So you have some airports that don't require all shoes to be removed from the bags, and some that do.

Which one is correct?

...Both are. It's all in how the individual regulations and such are interpreted and executed.


I'm glad to see a TSO admitting to a major reason why passengers despise and distrust the TSA. When you have arbitrary regulations (for which there is no apparent rationale other than "trust us") capriciously "interpreted and executed" at the whim of individual screeners, you are guaranteed to get angry passengers at checkpoints who come away from the frustrating experience hating everything about the TSA. As long as this situation continues, no amount of PR spin on this blog or elsewhere will change public opinion. It will only get worse with each passenger who experiences "airport security."

The only thing we can conclude is that the TSA's rules about shoes and liquids are stupid, and that TSOs are incapable of implementing them in any consistent, rational, or efficacious fashion. TSA managers may insist that what looks like very visible chaos is actually a "security strategy based on unpredictability that defeats terrorists." I don't think that will ever convince anyone.

Anonymous said...

Overall impressed with what I saw in the video (glad to see it posted, BTW). However, I question the manual/hand-screening procedures. How come the staff wear traditional clothing with pockets & such? Money rooms in banks' central processing offices and in casinos and other areas often require workers to wear hospital scrubs or similar clothing which does not allow for items to be easily concealed. I'm surprised the workers haven't pushed for something like this to protect their own hides.

That said, I think we all know it's the ramp rats that do most of the pilfering. Plenty of time in hidden areas to rummage through bags as a ramp rat.

Anonymous said...

That said, I think we all know it's the ramp rats that do most of the pilfering. Plenty of time in hidden areas to rummage through bags as a ramp rat.

If ramp rats, as you call them, can take something out of your baggage what is stopping them from putting something in your baggage?

This hole in security is so large you could fly a 747 through it!

Yet TSA seems to have those dangerous nipple rings under control!

Confidence builder?

Patrick said...

With regards to TSA manually searching our check baggage, I find it unacceptable that there searches are conducted without the option for the passenger to be physically present to: 1) tell screeners how to unlock the baggage, 2) supervise the search, and 3) tell screeners how to relock the baggage.

The USA is the ONLY country in the world where checked baggage can be physically searched without the passenger being present. Why isn't a passenger paging policy or option being implemented? In Israel, passengers are present during search. In the UK, passengers are paged. There are many airports around the world that use the same technology as we do: in-line baggage screening systems. They all page passengers first if a manual inspection is required. If the passenger fails to show up, the baggage is withheld or detonated.

I'm upset whenever the TSA tells the media that for every 1 TSA baggage screener handling a bag, 7 baggage handlers also touch the bag. However, what they fail to mention that unlike baggage handlers, the TSA can cut locks and physically search bags without its owner present! In its website, it fails to mention why owners can't be present during physical searches.

TSA-"approved" locks are only a half-hearted solution, as TSA employees are still searching bags without its owners present!

I personally fear of items being either stolen or implanted into my baggage, especially when I'm traveling overseas!

This policy is also hostile to foreigners who are unaware of this policy and end up reluctantly leaving their bags unlocked on their return trip.

Nicolas said...

When a checked in luggage needs to be screened manually,(when is this required really and why?) all the contents end up so mixed up that the careful packing that was done to prevent possible damage to the more fragile content (especially with non-hard shell bags) is just not worth taking the time doing. I appreciate the TSA slip that says "your luggage has been screened" but it is kind of obvious from the big mix-up and the risk of all fragile toiletries or other electric/electronic items to be damaged. Just a concern of mine; is this a concern of TSA and if yes, how do you deal with this?

El Curandero said...

Two years ago after returning from Baltimore, I found all the gifts I had purchased for my family had disappeared, and a TSA WE SEARCHED YOUR LUGGAGE card in my suit cases. Missing was a bottle of wine, several bars of boutique soap, and a silver necklace for my daughter. While I can see them taking the wine and the soaps as possibley explosives...why my kid's necklace.
A year later, also returning from Baltimore, my binoculars disappeared and the note was left behind.
I'm wondering if I should fly into a different airport and drive into Baltimore to visit my daughter?
And yes, I lodged a complaint and filled out the forms.
I'm going send all gifts and things of value home by UPS.

Anonymous said...

We purchased a bicycle from Bike Friday, which is designed for travel by air; i.e., it comes apart and fits into two, rigid Samsonite suitcases (it is a tandem bike). Our concern is that there is a specific method for the bike to be fitted into the suitcases. We have photographed the interior of each suitcase for our own use in packing the bike parts. These 8x10 photos are taped to the inside of the cases. However, even with this visual aide, it is a complicated task to get the bike parts packed up.
We have a nightmare scenario of TWA security officers taking apart these carefully packed suitcases and being unable (due to time constraints and lack of familiarity with the mechanics of bikes) to fit the bike parts back into the suitcases during an inspection. It is reasonable to expect that a suitcase filled with metal components will be opened up.
Is there anything we can do to make this less potentially damaging to our $3000 investment and to insure that our vacation plans are not sabotaged by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001?

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I came back to the US since 2003 and was subject to what I feel is a humiliating and discriminatory search in Orlando. Why was I profiled for a search ? The rules of engagement are not clear. I personally feel that this was largely discriminatory from a D___ airlines agent A.S. Apart from a physical search, I found out that my checked in luggae was searched too ! This leaves a bad taste in the mouth for me.

Mike Plumbing said...

is it true that they can detect large ammounts of money in your items? and do airports check 'checked' luggage for guns, bombs, fireworks, etc?

dafa said...

Well, you can post a bunch of fairly self-serving blogs, which are probably the source of great hilarity among true frequent fliers, or you can offer an alternative.

Last time I flew out of Hong Kong, they strapped my bags with nylon straps. I marked the straps with my handy Sharpie, and was convinced the odds of my baggage being rummage through by security, a baggage handler or stowaway. (Don't laugh, they recntly busted a baggage theft ring in Austrailia where on long haul busses, one of the bags contained a midget, who while the bus was rolling along, slipped out his his bag and rummaged through all the others, stealing all the good stuff.)

Anonymous said...

today I arrived home with my tsa screened luggage and inside there was a TSA Notice of Baggage inspection. However several expensive homeopathic medicines (my homeopathic first aid kit and a tube of arnica gel - a first aid cream) was missing. There was no notice that my stuff had been taken or any explaination.

Most of the products were professionally packaged from the homeopathic pharmacy with potencies and contents. I did have two single remedies. They were in one ounce tubes and NONE were liquid.

Loss is in excess of $100 - how do I get the remedies back or how do I get the money to replace them?

Who do I contact?

I also had two bottles of wine, a bottle of river water and a coffee pot that was unmolested.

I cannot see how these medicines were a threat to anyone - I realize my luggage is different than most and they are free to inspect things - but to keep things without permission or discussion on how they affect a domestic flight - this does not get a pass. None of this was in my carry on luggage.

How to proceed other than contacting my congressman?

Bob said...

Anonymous said...
today I arrived home with my tsa screened luggage and inside there was a TSA Notice of Baggage inspection...

October 10, 2009 8:37 PM

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

Good morning. Sorry to hear about this. I strongly suggest you use our Got Feedback program. It will allow you to contact a TSA Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveleed through. Go here: --> CLICK

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

ZipBox Media said...

While curbside check in is a wonderful convenience, I agree that luggage should be checked with the carrier present. Thus, if something "odd" is found, officials can seek permission to open it and/or question can be asked without having to track down the owner.

Jacob said...

Whatever the current luggage regulations may be, I will always prefer to use carry on luggage rather than checked baggage. I just prefer to not have to wait at the baggage claim.

ROCKSTARCRANE said...

I am a traveling musician. Part of my equipment gets packed in my suitcase that I check at the counter. This piece of equipment contains electronic equipment and a concealed non-standard wireless receiver circuit board. Will this trigger an inspection, and should I enclose a written explanation of the device for TSA officers to see if they do open my bag?