Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Frequent Traveler's Experience on the Other Side of the Line

My name is Christine, and I've worked for TSA for about 3 years now working on the Web team at Headquarters. I spend most of my time doing technical stuff, but I also dabble in some writing. I'm an avid traveler (it's a passion of mine) and I've had the pleasure of going through airport security in 22 countries across 6 continents. More on those experiences in later blog posts 'cause today's is about being on the other side of the security line....

I spent 4 hours volunteering at DCA's Terminal 'A' checkpoint on Monday. It was pretty busy and after a quick briefing with the Supervisory Transportation Security Officer, I was given the title of "bag loader"and jumped right in there to assist passengers with placing their carry-ons through the X-ray, and answer questions like, "Can I bring this through?" or "Do I have to take this off?"

I encountered many friendly passengers during the first half of my shift, and I have to hand it to the elderly, they were just so laid back and had a pretty good sense of humor about the whole thing. One elderly gentleman, sitting in a wheelchair no less, joked to his wife about having to get down to his "skivvies." After that, came the extra friendly passenger who winked at me...twice. Okay, maybe that will work in the grocery store checkout line but it's not going to get you too far in this scenario, buddy. Another female passenger asked whether or not she had to remove her "bling." I told her it would probably be a good idea.

Speaking of the metal detector - it's called that for a reason. Much to my surprise, many of the passengers did not check their pockets before going through it and guess what? They beeped. Repeatedly, I watched passengers get back in line for another bin and go through the metal detector again. In my opinion, this is the easiest part of security (metal=beep) yet it continued to be a sticky point for passengers throughout the day and probably cost them the most time.

Now for the second part of my shift. First up was a passenger who presented an expired airport ID to the travel document checker. A few minutes were added to his security experience to verify his identity and then he was cleared to go. Next up I encountered the stereotypical late, rushed passenger stressed out about having to make his flight (he was sweating and saying things under his breath). He got to the metal detector and X-ray with his with jacket, shoes, and tons of stuff in his pockets. I watched as he made not one, not two, but three trips to the metal detector to get it right. His last trip through was the kicker, though: he took his belt off it and swung it down on the conveyer belt so hard that it bounced up and almost hit me in the face.

By the end of the day I needed a break (I'm used to sitting at a desk all day, after all) so I took 15 minutes. On my way back to my post, I got in line to go through the metal detector in front of a woman holding her dog. I stepped through and the metal detector alarmed. Not sure why, but I might have brushed the side of the detector by accident. The woman with the dog rolled her eyes and sarcastically asked me if I spoke English. Clearly she wasn't in the holiday spirit with fellow passengers (she thought I was one). I wanted to say that I spoke English and Spanish but I smiled politely instead and went back to my post.

My experience on Monday made me acutely aware of just how fast everything happens at the checkpoint, even though, as a passenger, I feel that I go through at a normal pace. It was difficult for me to focus sometimes because of the chaos in the background. The most challenging part was placing the seemingly never-ending load of bags through the X-ray and watching passengers walk through the metal detector and back, over and over again. It's monotonous but also must be mentally challenging to officers who have to do their jobs while also looking for threats. Kudos to all the TSOs out there who do this every day.

Christine
EoS Guest Blogger

94 comments:

RB said...

So your point is..........?

Anonymous said...

One thing on metal. I know that the belt I usually wear has about a 30% chance of tripping the detectors (empirically). It's a PITA to take it off, so I usually just wear it through. 2/3 of the time it's fine, but 1/3 of the time I have to go back and take it off. Works for me.

I mean, of course it would be better if you had detectors that could tell the roughly 1 oz of oblong shaped perfectly rounded non-sharp steel wasn't a weapon, but whatever.

Anyway, did you find any tactics worked better at calming annoyed people than others? Was humor better? Or a strict voice? etc.

Anonymous said...

Nice post TSA. Great to see some of the non-officers actually taking some time to see what your screeners see. Christine, come write to us anytime ... ;) ;)

Stephen said...

"It's monotonous but also must be mentally challenging to officers who have to do their jobs while also looking for threats."

Yah it must be quite tiring watching for nonexistant things. Those Boogeymen are really cunning like that. Look at this recent spate of constantly not attacking anything or anyone.

Yes, look out for all those threats. All those threats that made air travel so much more dangerous than driving a car for all these years.

Oh wait.... air travel has been perfectly safe for many years now, and hasn't gotten any more dangerous or really any safer either since the 80s.

Sorry, back to your regularly scheduled "security" love in.

-Steve, a taxpayer

tso rachel said...

I am a TSO, and I have to say... they way you wrote some of this feels very condescending towards the passengers. Phrases such as "Speaking of the metal detector - it's called that for a reason."...really? Traveling can be stressful. I know as a TSO, I have even forgotten that I had a metal hair clip in, or my cell phone was still in my pocket. It happens.

Anonymous said...

The CBS story that Bruce Schneier pointed to shows a TSA video where some woman's "bling" was stolen at the chekcpoint by another woman after she had to take it off.

It is not "a good idea" to let your valuables out of your sight. But I guess it makes it easier on the screeners.

Anonymous said...

Steve, Simple question... Would you prefer there was no security at all?

Anonymous said...

Christine, since your part of the TSA web team could you tell us why the TSA web pages still state 3oz liquid containers or less instead of the correct 3.4oz or 100ml amounts?

Don't you think it reflects poorly on your agency when information that is presented to the public is wrong?

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

wow - you spent 4 WHOLE hours at the security post - why am I not impressed? Were you there at the busiest times of the day? I'm tired of having to deal with the rude TSA employees at my home airport where it can take up to an hour to get through that line.

It is mentally challenging for the screeners because any psychology study can show you that you look at the same screen long enough your mind automatically blocks images out. It is mentally challenging to be obnoxious to people all day long. I have zero sympathy for any TSA employee. You sap the taxpayers of tax dollars with very little return.

And where is the blog post on the rash of thefts at LAX thanks to TSA employees?

Anonymous said...

So you think that the safety of air travel just happens? If so, then you my friend are very unaware. Take it from someone in the industry, but outside of TSA, thanks to them many issues are diffused well before it can create an issue in the air.

-Trent, a taxpayer, Airline employee, Frequent traveler.

Omar said...

Good writing. Guys, there's plenty to yell at TSA about, so no point in being snide to somebody who's not our usual target, isn't espousing something specific you're pissed about, AND has an interesting experience to share.

Christine, thanks for sharing, please do contribute anytime you like.

Gunner said...

And the point of your post was?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Said --- "And where is the blog post on the rash of thefts at LAX thanks to TSA employees?"

Well ding dong, if you actually watched the story carefully, you would see that the story targeted airline contractors, because that is where the big problem is and has been. Now if you'll go back to the March timeframe, TSA already had a posting about theft. Follow along, please.

Anonymous said...

"Would you prefer there was no security at all?"

I would prefer that the TSA apologists would stop trotting out this tired straw man. No one, absolutely no one, is calling for "no security at all." What citizens critical of TSA want is sensible security, proportionate to the actual likelihood of genuine threats. Water is not a threat. Shoes are not a threat. Earrings and snowglobes and pie are not a threat. Just roll things back to about where they were prior to 9/11: X-ray carry-ons, walk through a metal detector, bar guns and large knives, and be done with it. We would be precisely as safe as we are today and flying would be considerably less unpleasant than TSA has made it.

Anonymous said...

Trent said: Take it from someone in the industry, but outside of TSA, thanks to them many issues are diffused well before it can create an issue in the air.

Can you cite some major "issue" that directly affects security of the flight? We all know that TSA has apprehended many with false ID's, and we can't let them fly, as it is obvious that a person with a false ID can bring down an aircraft. Also those carrying too much cash on their person, those are really bad guys. And how about the guy that tries to bring in a cup of coffee. I guess if its hot enough, it could be a weapon if he threw it in the pilot's face.

I just want to say, with the recent happenings in India, the airport is the last place a terrorist would try to pull something. They are not that stupid, knowing that in all probability they will be caught. It's now fully understood that terrorists will exploit the weakest target.

So, with the TSA, reacting to the one unsuccessful attempt at liquid explosives, should we now be reacting a VERY real threat of attacks on hotels. I think you have your priorities backwards.

I fully agree with Stephen. The terrorist threat at the airport is non-existence. Terrorists have moved on to more vulnerable targets. Of course the TSA will never admit it, but not ONE person has been caught, tried, and convicted of terrorism at an airport.

Anonymous said...

Omar,

If the blogging strategy of this PR wing of TSA is to march a cute puppy out onto the stage instead of being responsive to the attacks, the puppy is going to have to bear the brunt of the attacks.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Steve should be called an idiot for his views and opinions on TSA.

Anonymous said...

Steve is it not possible that TSA has impacted the saftey of air travel merely because there is a risk of getting caught. Sure the catch rate is not 100% but there is a catch rate and most bad people do not want to take that chance. So that means the security works indirectly. The small amount of bad people are dumb and get caught. Some may go without getting caught but will get caught at some point. It is like you do not always get caught when you speed but eventually do.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of metal detectors... Is it possible to get the blog to give us a reason or post about why some metal detectors at airports are more sensitive than others. I don't want no "unpredictable" nonsense. I want to know why all the machines are not calibrated to the same standard. Maybe passengers could take off the metal they know will alarm if it alarmed every where in the nation. The belt buckle guy sparked me to ask this. It is kinda like the airports where you can wear your belt that alarms all other airports is less safe. Where is the reasoning behind this?

RB said...

Many people remark about their experiences when meeting up with TSA. Horror stories continue, people complain and TSA keeps saying they have a handle on the problems.

Here are a few of links, some a bit old, yet then and now the same complaints and problems still exist.

Why is it that TSA and its leadership cannot turn this agency around?

Just what must happen to get TSA serving travelers instead of itself?

How much longer can the excuse that TSA is a young agency continue?

Here are the links, please add on if you know of others;

http://www.fcw.com/blogs/editor/wsjcom_readers_1071-1.html

http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=40330&ref=rellink

http://www.portfolio.com/business-travel/seat-2B/2007/09/11/TSA-Security-Problems

http://boards.independenttraveler.com/showthread.php?t=5835

RB said...

I note that the post calling Steve an idiot has been removed but there is no indication of the post ever being on the blog. Wasn't the plan to just delete the text and make a note that the post had been deleted for not conforming to blog standards so all would know what happened?

Phil said...

At 2008-12-03 21:45 -0800, someone anonymously wrote:

"I enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing it.

"BTW Steve, you are an idiot."


That comment has since been removed.

RB asked:

"Wasn't the plan to just delete the text and make a note that the post had been deleted for not conforming to blog standards so all would know what happened?"

Yes.

On June 17, 2008, in a comment for the The Evolution Continues post, Bob at TSA wrote:

"It’s not our policy to delete post once they are approved. However, there have been a few times that I’m aware of when a comment was approved that should not have been. (Did not follow comment policy) We rarely have to do this and hate it when we do.

"From this point forward, if we have to delete a comment, we’ll leave a note stating what type of post we deleted and why. I have sent a note to the blog team communicating this."


Blog team, didn't you get the memo?

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Anonymous said...

These TSA comments get crazy real fast. I think I'm just going to read the blog without the commments. Doesn't TSA have comment cards or a customer service number? Some of you people should really look into that.

Also, some of you need to remember we are all americans(most of us at least). Its great to be patriotic but I can't imagine patriotism leading you to this web blog. Could the TSA employee's really say they would be on this blog if they didn't work for TSA? or a passenger who had a good or bad experience?

I mostly see the panssenger side as just being here because you had a bad experience.

I ,on the other hand, am here because I had such a good holiday experience. I just had to drop a compliment. I thought for sure TSA wasn't doing much since 2006 but instead I found a wealth of knowledge here. I'm happy with the direction you guys are going.

Happy holidays all

-Sam

Anonymous said...

Anon Said: "Can you cite some major "issue" that directly affects security of the flight?"

I can't really speak to the specific nature of every threat, and I doubt the moderators would allow that anyways; However, TSA is charged with the security of all flights. Their only goal is not to diffuse terrorist plots, they are also there to screen for items that can harm the safety of a flight, knowingly or otherwise. there are lots of items that are confiscated from passengers and their bags you would not want on a plane with you at 35000 ft.

But there are FAA regulations regarding what can be brought on a plane. And its not unheard of for a hazmat item to be packed in a passengers bag.

-Trent

Anonymous said...

[quote]Anon said: rude TSA employees at my home airport [/quote]

As much as you want to believe it, we are not all the same. Maybe when you go through the airport your mind set is "Oh I know I'm going to have a bad time here at TSA Security", but your so tangled up in how bad everything is, you can't chillax & just let it go & stroll on through.

Also, does everyone think that TSA people don't actually fly through? Because we do, and some of us so often you wouldn't realise it.

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Anonymous: "Steve, Simple question... Would you prefer there was no security at all?"

I hate this false choice agrument. The choice isn't just between TSA or no security at all. There are other options. Like pre 9/11 security. TSA scaling back on the more unrealistic things. Going back to the pre-water carnival era. Those are just a few options.

Just because we bag on TSA doesn't mean we don't want security. It means we want real security without the harassment and theater.

Robert

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from yet another Anonymous: "Speaking of metal detectors... Is it possible to get the blog to give us a reason or post about why some metal detectors at airports are more sensitive than others. I don't want no "unpredictable" nonsense. I want to know why all the machines are not calibrated to the same standard. Maybe passengers could take off the metal they know will alarm if it alarmed every where in the nation. The belt buckle guy sparked me to ask this. It is kinda like the airports where you can wear your belt that alarms all other airports is less safe. Where is the reasoning behind this?"

I'm with you there. I can wear my belt thru BWI with no problems. SLC trips me up depending on the WTMD. AGS tripped me up both times. Then of course, they look at me like I'm stupid for not taking it off.

Well, I'm not taking it off if I don't have to. And considering it's difficult or impossible to know if it's going to trip the mag most of the time, I'm going to default to the least hassle for me.

It's annoying to say the least. It seems like I'm having to disrobe a bit more each year I travel.

Robert

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Sam: "These TSA comments get crazy real fast. I think I'm just going to read the blog without the commments. Doesn't TSA have comment cards or a customer service number? Some of you people should really look into that."

I can't speak to how the new online complaint form is working. However, based on my experiences and those of my associates, TSA has largely shown that it doesn't take complaints seriously. If your complaint is even acknowledged (I've had valid ones ... not whines) never receive a response. If you write in, often times you'll get a response that shows that the person didn't even read it or the response is automated. If a person calls and they're promised a callback, they won't get one the vast majority of the time. I know people who were promised a call back in 2004 and still haven't gotten it.

"Also, some of you need to remember we are all americans(most of us at least). Its great to be patriotic but I can't imagine patriotism leading you to this web blog. Could the TSA employee's really say they would be on this blog if they didn't work for TSA? or a passenger who had a good or bad experience?"

I'm not sure what you're getting at here. Many of us express our patriotism by challenging TSA because we don't like what they're doing to freedom and that some of their practices are illegal.

"I mostly see the panssenger side as just being here because you had a bad experience.

I ,on the other hand, am here because I had such a good holiday experience. I just had to drop a compliment. I thought for sure TSA wasn't doing much since 2006 but instead I found a wealth of knowledge here. I'm happy with the direction you guys are going."


I'm glad you had a good experience. Seriously, I am. I wish more of us did. While some aspects have gotten better (namely, the barkers shutting up), there has been sliding in other ways with TSA getting more invasive in its searches.

I've seen some nice screeners (one even remembered me at AGS a month later, but it was honestly hard to forget the shirt I was wearing and it's a small airport) and they moved a long line fairly quickly at BWI earlier this week. That doesn't mean I appreciate being patted down, seeing children on the no fly list, giving up my liquids, and so forth, even if it's done with smiles and laughs.

"Happy holidays all"

Likewise. :)

Robert

Anonymous said...

I fully agree with Stephen. The terrorist threat at the airport is non-existence. Terrorists have moved on to more vulnerable targets. Of course the TSA will never admit it, but not ONE person has been caught, tried, and convicted of terrorism at an airport.

So what you are saying is if TSA stopped security at airports then airports would not become vulnerable again. Keep in mind that it is not just the people TSA is keeping safe but also in a way they are protecting the economy. Air travel is big bucks. I don't think the government wants a disaster to effect the economy as much as air travel can. Remember if one thing happens to a major airliner then it is kind of a domino effect all of the nation.

Anonymous said...

"Would you prefer there was no security at all?"

I would prefer that the TSA apologists would stop trotting out this tired straw man. No one, absolutely no one, is calling for "no security at all." What citizens critical of TSA want is sensible security, proportionate to the actual likelihood of genuine threats. Water is not a threat. Shoes are not a threat. Earrings and snowglobes and pie are not a threat. Just roll things back to about where they were prior to 9/11: X-ray carry-ons, walk through a metal detector, bar guns and large knives, and be done with it. We would be precisely as safe as we are today and flying would be considerably less unpleasant than TSA has made it.


Your opinion sir is not sensible good security. I don't think that people honestly think a shoe is a threat. It is what can be hid in a shoe that is a threat. You can't see that if shoes do not go through x-ray. Water is not a threat. We all know that. No duh. It is what else could be in the water bottle that could be bad. Pretty much the security measures are in place because any item can be tampered with and there are items that are tampered with. Good security to me is the more you have to go through the harder it is to circumvent. Well that is TSA. You do go through a big long hassle.

Dave said...

Christine,

Since you have been fortunate enough to travel abroad and experience security in other airports, I'm sure you have enjoyed the fact that you don't have to take off your shoes in foreign countries. I wish the TSA would wake up and stop this stupid and nonsensical fetish. Hopefully you were able to go to Australia and travel domestically where none of the stupid ID checks, liquid or shoe fetishes apply. And yet it's still very safe to fly there.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Anon Said: "Can you cite some major "issue" that directly affects security of the flight?"

I can't really speak to the specific nature of every threat, and I doubt the moderators would allow that anyways; However, TSA is charged with the security of all flights
........................................
If TSA was interested in the security of any flight then all cargo would be inspected, All checked baggage would be secure, all TSA and Airport employees would be screened each and every time they entered a secure area.

TSA is only interested in a Show of Security.
Check baggage has been and continues to be tampered with. TSA and Airport employees are able to introduce any kind of contraband to the airport. TSA employees have gone so far as to bring weapons to the checkpoint and yet they still work for TSA.

TSA does not bring any security to the table. Just an extremly long play!

Ayn R. Key said...

Anonymous TSO wrote:
I don't think that people honestly think a shoe is a threat. It is what can be hid in a shoe that is a threat. You can't see that if shoes do not go through x-ray. Water is not a threat. We all know that. No duh. It is what else could be in the water bottle that could be bad.

Actually, anonymous TSO, we know that what can be put into the water bottle is NOT a threat. At least according to every chemist that has looked at the issue. I suppose something could theoretically be sneaked in the shoes, but that's nothing a chemical sniffer can't handle. There is no reason for the TSA to require us to remove shoes, other then them having spent money on MMW machines instead of chemical sniffers.

Good security to me is the more you have to go through the harder it is to circumvent. Well that is TSA. You do go through a big long hassle.

Just because it's a big hassle doesn't mean it's an effective hassle. Good security is effective security, not hassle security. Is your policy of "the more the hassle, the more the security" the policy you use at the terminals when screening pasengers?

Anonymous said...

It would be totally refreshing if TSA would answer questions instead of the ongoing bitch session. I would also like to see the Blog Team honor the posting rules and stop the censoring of post that comply with stated standards.

I know wishful thinking. No one expects anything straight forward from the likes of TSA.

TSO Tom (PHL) said...

Christine;
thank you for sharing your experience on a TSA checkpoint. This gives an insider view of what happens daily and tells the story of the typical TSO just trying to get through his/her shift without incident. Yes indeed the metal detector is the most challening part of a shift on any given day, BUT...if the TSO at the Walk Through is giving proper advisements, few if any alarms will be encountered in a 30 minute rotation. The toughest part is working in harmony with the x-ray operator as the metal detector officer is the one who determines how many bag checks will be encountered by the x-ray operator (again, proper advisements), divest, divest, divest some more. LOL But thank you again for sharing your experience on the checkpoint, now if only we can get some HQ people down to PHL for a visit at our buisiest checkpoints. (hint hint)

TOM

Robert Johnson said...

Quote from Anonymous: "Your opinion sir is not sensible good security. I don't think that people honestly think a shoe is a threat. It is what can be hid in a shoe that is a threat. You can't see that if shoes do not go through x-ray. Water is not a threat. We all know that. No duh. It is what else could be in the water bottle that could be bad. Pretty much the security measures are in place because any item can be tampered with and there are items that are tampered with. Good security to me is the more you have to go through the harder it is to circumvent. Well that is TSA. You do go through a big long hassle."

What, and TSA's security is good, sensible security? You've got to be kidding.

TSA has shown no evidence that anyone has tried to sneak anything in shoes. It and the FBI publicly admitted this to the LA Times in 2006. They have produced no evidence that shoes "are the number 1 threat" to aviation as claimed in their "Why" videos.

What I have seen is an increasing shoe fetish. Ironically, the mandatory shoe carnival was instituted as part of the liquid lunacy and had nothing to do with it.

We see a few nutjobs talking big about liquid explosives when it turns out the plot wasn't even viable. Now we have restrictions on shampoos, pies (despite what Bob's said), drinks, and so forth. Technology has existed for years in Japan as others have said. Some on here have said that if it worked in Japan, TSA would use it but it must not work as well. I think of it being a "not invented here" mentality and "development" throws more pork to DHS contractors.

What I see isn't good, sensible security. I see CYA security. Terrorists say boo, TSA goes into a tizzy fit and the terrorists win. They don't actually have to do anything ... just say something and they accomplish their goals.

Airport security wasn't what caused 9/11. I wish TSA would get that.

Robert

Anonymous said...

Is taking off your shoes really that big of a deal?

Anonymous said...

"I don't think that people honestly think a shoe is a threat. It is what can be hid in a shoe that is a threat."

No one is hiding anything dangerous in their shoes. No other country in the world engages in such nonsense. TSA must end this foolish charade if it wants to be taken seriously.

"You can't see that if shoes do not go through x-ray."

You can't see what isn't there, and there is no threat in anyone's shoes.

"Water is not a threat. We all know that. No duh. It is what else could be in the water bottle that could be bad."

Nothing bad is in anyone's water bottle, or shampoo bottle, or gel pack, or breast milk. The liquid policies are utterly indefensible on scientific grounds: TSA is unable to point to a single independent piece of peer-reviewed research that supports its current policies. It is a pointless waste of time that makes citizens' lives more difficult with no benefit, and should be ended immediately. TO do so would do absolutely nothing to endanger anyone's safety.

"Pretty much the security measures are in place because any item can be tampered with and there are items that are tampered with. Good security to me is the more you have to go through the harder it is to circumvent. Well that is TSA."

TSA is not good security. Its procedures are needlessly intrusive and do nothing to enhance safety, and do much to harm citizens and make air travel less secure. Rolling back security to pre-9/11 levels would make everyone's travel easier and do nothing to make citizens traveling by air less safe.

"You do go through a big long hassle."

A hassle which provides absolutely no benefit to travelers.

Anonymous said...

as far as shoes go, im glad to take mine off, there are sooo many things that can be hidden in shoes that aren't going to set off a metal detector. Putting shoes through the Xray results in the Officers being able to see what is in a shoe. There is enough space in many shoes to hide no metal knives, drugs, explosives, and more. Even a foam flip flop can have a blade slid into it and reglued shut.

Wear some socks when you travel, its so funny watching people complain about cold feet on the checkpoint floor. Especially when they are wearing flip flops in winter!

TSO Tom (PHL) said...

Anonymous said...
I fully agree with Stephen. The terrorist threat at the airport is non-existence. Terrorists have moved on to more vulnerable targets. Of course the TSA will never admit it, but not ONE person has been caught, tried, and convicted of terrorism at an airport.
************************************************
So we should now make it easier for terrorists to attack airports because they have "moved on to more vulnerable targets"? Is that what you're saying anon?

Anonymous said...

Only in America can we read criticism about taking off a belt between airports...

or better still,

Only in America can we have the freedom to voice opinion and this freedom reminds me why I served our great country in the military and am proud to work for the Department of Homeland Security..

How many blog complainers served?

-- TSA Officer and Air Force veteran
(oh yeah, taxpayer too)

Anonymous said...

I want to know about walk-through metal detector calibrations too. I think that we should alarm the same everywhere. If we don't alarm at some airport and we did at another does that mean that the airport we did not alarm at is less secure?

kellymae81 said...

Anon said: I just want to say, with the recent happenings in India, the airport is the last place a terrorist would try to pull something. They are not that stupid, knowing that in all probability they will be caught. It's now fully understood that terrorists will exploit the weakest target. The terrorist threat at the airport is non-existence. Terrorists have moved on to more vulnerable targets. Of course the TSA will never admit it, but not ONE person has been caught, tried, and convicted of terrorism at an airport.

You are right that the probability of terrorists getting caught in the airport is higher, thus the main reason for TSA's existence. We cant help the attacks elsewhere. Just b/c they target elsewhere doesnt mean we (TSA) dont belong at the airport to continue protecting aviation. If we say "Okay, they are not hitting the airports now, so we can cut back on security"...I dont think so, sorry. That's what they want. If we do that, then who becomes weak again? Aviation.

If there has not been news about major issues happening within our airports, then that is GOOD news!! That means we are keeping them away, which is the whole point.

kellymae81 said...

Anon said: I just want to say, with the recent happenings in India, the airport is the last place a terrorist would try to pull something. They are not that stupid, knowing that in all probability they will be caught. It's now fully understood that terrorists will exploit the weakest target. The terrorist threat at the airport is non-existence. Terrorists have moved on to more vulnerable targets. Of course the TSA will never admit it, but not ONE person has been caught, tried, and convicted of terrorism at an airport.

You are right that the probability of terrorists getting caught in the airport is higher, thus the main reason for TSA's existence. We cant help the attacks elsewhere. Just b/c they target elsewhere doesnt mean we (TSA) dont belong at the airport to continue protecting aviation. If we say "Okay, they are not hitting the airports now, so we can cut back on security"...I dont think so, sorry. That's what they want. If we do that, then who becomes weak again? Aviation.

If there has not been news about major issues happening within our airports, then that is GOOD news!! That means we are keeping them away, which is the whole point.

Anonymous said...

First of all. You guys are not very fast or good at posting peoples comments. I post all the time and my posts never get through. I am a TSO and there is nothing wrong with what I post. I could see maybe 1 or 2 of my comments not coming through, but there has been quite a bit. I don't want to be one of the complainers on here, but it is really irritating that my posts never show up.

Another thing. We shouldn't even have this blog. It is the same babbling over and over. And it always will be until we get rid of this site. It does not matter what the blog is positive or negative. The people who comment on here are so negative and repetative, its pointless. Everything about this blog is pointless!

kellymae81 said...

I want to know why all the machines are not calibrated to the same standard.

I am a TSO at SDF(louisville) and we calibrate all 5 of our metal detectors the same way, but for some reason, we have 1 that is just a little more sensitive that the other 4. It must just be the manufacturing. Also, you may have a belt that normally doesn't alarm, but you may not have had the same other metal on you as last time. That other metal combined with the belt can push you just past the alarm level and to eliminate you alarming, the belt is usually the biggest and easiest to take off. That is why we ask for belts. Does that help?

Anonymous said...

Credit to Cracked.com for putting into a short article exactly how the public sees the TSA.

http://www.cracked.com/article_16849_7-dumbest-things-ever-done-by-airport-security.html
.............................................
Probably will never see the light of day here due to the TSA Censors who are afraid of the truth.

Anonymous said...

Bloggers take a day off!

PHILantroPISSED said...

Question: What would Phil do if TSA were disbanded? no more blog would make Phil a sad panda :-(

NoClu said...

You folks closed for the holidays?

Anonymous said...

Hello??? Is this blog dead???

Anonymous said...

Are you TSA PR bloggers on break until January 20 or something?

NoClu said...

How many blog complainers served?
-- TSA Officer and Air Force veteran
(oh yeah, taxpayer too)

HHC 1/5 Infantry...and a lot of us "complainers" are vet's and, I'll bet taxpayers as well. Thanks for your service.

TSA actions are largely a dog and pony show. I want real security for the next 6 Billion dollars you spend.

Anonymous said...

Why is pie exempt from liquid and gel restrictions?

Is this a holiday-specific exemption, or an ongoing change in policy?

Is it because pies pose no danger? Neither do any other liquids TSA has barred citizens from traveling with.

Is it because pies are a food item? Then will TSA stop barring bottled beverages, peanut butter, and other foodstuffs that pose no danger to anyone from planes?

Is it because barring pies from flights would be pointless, stupid, and do nothing to make anyone safer? Neither do TSA's other liquid policies.

What recourse does a citizen have if a TSO and that TSO's supervisor decide not to let a pie through screening?

Earl Pitts said...

"Only in America can we have the freedom to voice opinion and this freedom reminds me why I served our great country in the military and am proud to work for the Department of Homeland Security..

How many blog complainers served?

-- TSA Officer and Air Force veteran"

So are you proud to be working for a department that's actively destroying the freedoms you fought and possibly spilled your own blood for?

Must be some powerful koolaid.

Earl

George said...

Anonymous TSO: We shouldn't even have this blog. It is the same babbling over and over. And it always will be until we get rid of this site. It does not matter what the blog is positive or negative. The people who comment on here are so negative and repetative, its pointless. Everything about this blog is pointless!

How interesting that this comment should come from a TSO. Does his or her dismissal of the comments as "babbling" reflect an institutional attitude or simply a personal opinion? Either way, if that's the way TSOs actually regard the public it certainly gives extra credence to all the negative comments.

As for "repetative" [sic], I have observed that many (but certainly not all) of the comments that get repeated over and over in response to post after post are valid and cogent questions, observations, and criticisms. And the people who post them over and over apparently do so because nobody from the TSA has ever provided satisfactory, comprehensible, or consistent answers, or offered any responses that indicate they care at all about the public. Could that be because everyone in the TSA is like this TSO, who regards it as nothing more than "babbling" that perhaps would go away if they merely ignored it? Given the secrecy surrounding the workings of the TSA, we can only speculate on this based on what little information leaks out from behind the curtains.

As for why we have this blog, my understanding was that Kip is enlightened enough to realize that the TSA has a serious public relations problem. In a rather bold move for a loyal appointee of an administration that considers itself infallible and has no tolerance for any kind of criticism or dissent, he set up this blog to help in correcting the public relations problems by encouraging dialogue between the TSA and the public. But it doesn't seem to have worked out that way in practice. So the TSA uses it to disseminate the official party line, and the six or seven people who post here respond with questions and criticism that are consistently ignored or dismissed (presumably because the TSA considers it "babbling"). So the blog seems to have failed in its original purpose. If it serves any purpose now, I'm sure it's SSI.

Anonymous said...

kellymae81 said...
I want to know why all the machines are not calibrated to the same standard.

I am a TSO at SDF(louisville) and we calibrate all 5 of our metal detectors the same way, but for some reason, we have 1 that is just a little more sensitive that the other 4.
...............................................

Is the calibration process done by using a calibration test set or by introducing a know sample set that will & will not trigger the unit?

Are any calbration standards/test sets checked for calibration themselves?

Or is it just simply setting a dial on the WTMD?

TSO Tom (PHL) said...

Anonymous said...
I want to know about walk-through metal detector calibrations too. I think that we should alarm the same everywhere. If we don't alarm at some airport and we did at another does that mean that the airport we did not alarm at is less secure?
************************************************
Metal detectors are made to detect certain amounts of metal objects. The more metal you have when you walk through it, the greater the chance it will alarm. For example: You go to airport A with a belt and remove all other metal accept the belt, the belt does not alarm, but if you went through with the belt, some coins and other metal objects you would alarm. Foil wrapped items, chewing gum, cigarettes, etc will alarm the metal detector, most people forget their cell phones too so the less metal you have when you walk through the less likely you are to have to repeat the process over and over again. Calibration is supposed to be done the same at every airport, I can't say if it is or isn't only what is supposed to be. So when you go to the airport, take out the following items and you SHOULD be okay:
Keys, coins, cell phone, beeper if you have one, money clip, lighters, chewing gum, cigarettes, your blue tooth ear piece, etc. If you are unsure about your belt, ask the metal detector operator for advice on whether or not to take it off.
Hope this helps.

Tom

Anonymous said...

I don't know why the "do you want no security at airports?" chestnut/red-herring argument keeps popping up. It might actually be an ad hominem attack by those who realize that their positions/theories cannot be defended rationally. Reasonable levels of security have to exist everywhere they are needed. Unreasonable levels of security have no right to exist anywhere. The best level of security to counter any vulnerability for any situation is what is appropriate to the realistic threat, not that threat that has a 1:10^9 chance of occurring.

To exercise a little r.absurdum:

Is it reasonable, "for security purposes", to require photo identification for admittance every little league game in the nation, just because someone at a little league game in Kentucky got drunk and beat up the umpire?

Would it be reasonable to require photo identification verification, a pass through a metal detector, and inbound/outbound carried baggage inventories on all baggage handlers/screeners to prevent baggage pilfering?

Is it reasonable to require photo ID of the correct type, in depth background checks, access control lists, procedural check-lists, and "both hands visible" protocols for all persons handling nuclear weapons?

Is it reasonable to require removal of permanently attached body jewelry with pliers before allowing someone to travel via commercial aircraft?

Is it reasonable to have 'secret laws' in a open society?

Is it reasonable to assume a member of the flying public is potentially a terrorist because they have facial hair? Or because they speak Hebrew?

Is it reasonable to have TSO's who can not tell the difference between a forged passport and a US Government Official Passport (brown cover)?

Is it reasonable to have locked/armored doors and policies preventing access to cockpits on commercial aircraft?

Is it reasonable to assume that someone flying domestically is a criminal because they are carrying more than $10,000 in negotiable items?

Solutions to security issues must be related to the realistic chances of the threat they are designed to prevent.

Randy said...

TSO Tom (PHL) said...
Christine;
thank you for sharing your experience on a TSA checkpoint. This gives an insider view of what happens daily and tells the story of the typical TSO just trying to get through his/her shift without incident. Yes indeed the metal detector is the most challening part of a shift on any given day, BUT...if the TSO at the Walk Through is giving proper advisements, few if any alarms will be encountered in a 30 minute rotation. The toughest part is working in harmony with the x-ray operator as the metal detector officer is the one who determines how many bag checks will be encountered by the x-ray operator (again, proper advisements), divest, divest, divest some more. LOL But thank you again for sharing your experience on the checkpoint, now if only we can get some HQ people down to PHL for a visit at our buisiest checkpoints. (hint hint)

TOM


I wouldn't be so quick to ask for a visit from HQ. Well then again maybe they can straighten the procedures out.

It's almost impossible to get a comment card . . . what's the deal with need ing ID to get a card? I regularly get hassled about keeping my shoes on - orthopedic issues and shold not get hassled. Then the WTMD staffer seldom communicates with the secondary screener about why the secondary. All too often this means a full secondary rather than just a shoe swab when the WTMD has not alarmed.

PHL has a long way to go in terms of professionalism and respect for pax.

TSO Tom (PHL) said...

Randy said...
TSO Tom (PHL) said...
Christine;
thank you for sharing your experience on a TSA checkpoint. This gives an insider view of what happens daily and tells the story of the typical TSO just trying to get through his/her shift without incident. Yes indeed the metal detector is the most challening part of a shift on any given day, BUT...if the TSO at the Walk Through is giving proper advisements, few if any alarms will be encountered in a 30 minute rotation. The toughest part is working in harmony with the x-ray operator as the metal detector officer is the one who determines how many bag checks will be encountered by the x-ray operator (again, proper advisements), divest, divest, divest some more. LOL But thank you again for sharing your experience on the checkpoint, now if only we can get some HQ people down to PHL for a visit at our buisiest checkpoints. (hint hint)

TOM
************************************************
On the contrary Randy, I would welcome Headquarters to visit PHL, simply to prove you wrong. You see Randy, while you're passing through, and thinking that a TSO was rude, or unprofessional, you're not seeing the whole picture. HQ needs to see the whole picture to see what is dealt with daily, and the true profesionalism that my fellow TSO's and myself show daily, based on the positive comments we get, and the personal comments I get almost daily, I'd say we're doing a bang up job at PHL, Randy. But, that's not to say that some TSO's aren't rude, and sometimes unprofessional, I've seen it personally, and I myself have had questionable days, I'll admit that. But the group of TSO's I'm working with right now are nothing if they're not professional, and that is evident in the work we do and the compliments we get.

Have a nice day, Randy.

Tom (PHL)

Anonymous said...

On the contrary Randy, I would welcome Headquarters to visit PHL, simply to prove you wrong. You see Randy, while you're passing through, and thinking that a TSO was rude, or unprofessional, you're not seeing the whole picture. HQ needs to see the whole picture to see what is dealt with daily, and the true profesionalism that my fellow TSO's and myself show daily, based on the positive comments we get, and the personal comments I get almost daily, I'd say we're doing a bang up job at PHL, Randy. But, that's not to say that some TSO's aren't rude, and sometimes unprofessional, I've seen it personally, and I myself have had questionable days, I'll admit that. But the group of TSO's I'm working with right now are nothing if they're not professional, and that is evident in the work we do and the compliments we get.

Have a nice day, Randy.

Tom (PHL)

December 11, 2008 2:00 PM

You would call this response professional?

I think we all can clearly see the problem at TSA now!

Anonymous said...

"Is it reasonable to have 'secret laws' in a open society?"

No!

It is totally against the American way I was taught to believe in.

I offered my life to help bring the American dream to asians. I didn't realize at the time that I was supporting a US sponsored murderer, terrorist and thug. I didn't realize that I was being lied to while 60,000 Americans died and we killed countless thousand of civilians while we violated US and international law.

I am disgusted to see this country return to that. To see what this country has willingly become in the last 7 years.

"Is it reasonable to have locked/armored doors and policies preventing access to cockpits on commercial aircraft?"

???

Are you for real?

Hell, YES!

Those simple steps have done more to prevent terrorism than the war on water, untold "puffer machines" lying idle and in the way of passengers and all the tin badges so that TSA can "feel good about themselves".

Anonymous said...

As an LTSO, I would like to see more substantive responses to the several legitimate and recurring questions (and acknowledgement of suggestions) posed by several of the more persistent bloggers. When I initially visited this site, I was pretty horrified by what I viewed as unreasonable hate and contempt from members of the public. But I've come to better understanding of their frustrations. I don't always agree with the critics, but I think they're performing a valuable service. To other officers, I'd ask you to hang out awhile before counterattacking. When you realize that there are legitimate questions not being answered (some of which my coworkers and I have asked in our break rooms), you'll better understand these folks' frustration. I think that even if they got an answer they didn't like, but that was forthcoming and seemingly honest, there'd be a lot less anger.

For my part, I'd like to know why TSA's enabling legislation apparently hasn't caught up to our taking over the TDC functions. I'd like to know why we aren't doing more to weed out our bad apples. And TODAY ... I'd really like to know why, per Kip and Gale, we're going to have another year of destroying the careers of hundreds of TSOs by testing them on a training system whose images are much poorer than most real X-rays and AT X-rays, and which doesn't give officers all of the detection tools they have on the real machines. I'd like to know why whatever contractor provides the TRX training system continues to get a free pass, paid by TSA to provide a "training" tool that is unrealistic, which hurts officers by testing and failing them under unrealistic conditions, and which does nothing to improve security.

However, I know I won't get an answer.

Anonymous said...

The TSA officers that replied to my metal detector concern did not help. I want to give an example now of what happens. I have no other metal on except my belt. I am wearing the same clothing. In all honesty there is nothing else in my pockets. Just the belt. I go through one airport and make it through but at another airport I alarm. That does not make sense. All aiports are not calibrated the same. Some airports are a great deal different. FIX THIS!. It is not fair to the public you are serving. If the standard is the same and TSA calibrates the machines then they should be very similar in calibration.

Anonymous said...

Christine, I didn't see your answer to these simple questions, so am asking once again;

"Anonymous said...
Christine, since your part of the TSA web team could you tell us why the TSA web pages still state 3oz liquid containers or less instead of the correct 3.4oz or 100ml amounts?

Don't you think it reflects poorly on your agency when information that is presented to the public is wrong?

Thanks!

December 3, 2008 5:57 PM"

Anonymous said...

Some people's questions are being answered but not in a formal way by a blog administrator. You have these TSO's anonymous write answers that could be the right answer but who is to know. I proposed an idea a while back about some kind of "stamp of approval" from an administrator so we would know if that answer is good enough and sufficient. Is that being reviewed at all or you are unable to implement something like that?

MarkVII said...

TSO Tom (PHL) said -- "You see Randy, while you're passing through, and thinking that a TSO was rude, or unprofessional, you're not seeing the whole picture."

Hi Tom -- speaking of seeing the whole picture, did you note Randy's comment "It's almost impossible to get a comment card . . . what's the deal with needing ID to get a card?" Based on comments from the blog moderators, I thought that there is no requirement to present ID to receive a comment card? What's the deal here?

Similarly, consider Randy's comment about ortho shoes, the WTMD not alarming, but getting a full secondary instead of a shoe swab because of lack of communication between TSA personnel at the checkpoint.

I'd call that inept at best, and likely unprofessional. Smells like not following SOPs to me. Similarly, what's "seeing the whole picture" got to do with ordinary civility and common courtesy (not being rude)?

I've posted here about my experiences with rude TSA personnel before, and I can't imagine how seeing "the whole picture" would change my mind about the yellers, the order barkers, and the baggage screeners that don't close a bag after searching it.

Anonymous said...

Part of the problems with the metal detectors is the proximity to rebar in the floor. This causes a bias in the detector and while it is within tolerances it is a bit more sensitive due to the metal in the floor.

Randy said...

TSO Tom,

Your response did not address any issue that I raised about PHL not following processes as stated on the TSA web site and also confirmed by TSA officials in response to complaints filed on line (as forms are not readily available at PHL).

I never asserted that any of the TSA staff were rude or unprofessional, only that they did not follow procedures or communicate effectively with each other. It was you who raised those issues after my description of what transpired. I will agree with you that their actions and failure to follow procedures IS unprofessional.

Anonymous said...

If the standard is the same and TSA calibrates the machines then they should be very similar in calibration.

--

It's not so much how they're calibrated as it is environmental effects after and outside the calibration process. For example, a WTMD that processes 8,000 people per day in a busy airport is probably going to develop certain "attitudes" that are different from one that processes 500 people. Then there's siting of the machines. At my airport, one particular WTMD was installed on a flex joint in the floor, wedged between an X-ray and a wobbly barrier, both of which vibrate, and sees heavy traffic. Needless to say, it's a pretty neurotic piece of equipment. (It doesn't underthreat, but it can seem possessed by demons.) Environmental effects have a lot more to do with how a WTMD "behaves" over the long term than routine maintenance. If that's disturbing to some of you ... well, you want to remember that TSA is only one of hundreds of Federal agencies whose equipment is supplied by the lowest bidder.

Ronnie said...

To the Anon who has problems making it thru the metal detector...I do believe all metal detectors are calibrated exactly the same way. (I have done the calibrations myself at my checkpoint) One factor that has not been mentioned is the frequency of use. Some security lines get used much more than others. I suspect that would affect the sensitivity of the machine. Think of it as an insturment that needs tuning from time to time. Perhaps you alarm occasionally depending on when the walk-thru was tuned last or how much use it has gotten since its last 'tuning'. Does that help?

TSO Tom (PHL) said...

Anonymous said...
On the contrary Randy, I would welcome Headquarters to visit PHL, simply to prove you wrong. You see Randy, while you're passing through, and thinking that a TSO was rude, or unprofessional, you're not seeing the whole picture. HQ needs to see the whole picture to see what is dealt with daily, and the true profesionalism that my fellow TSO's and myself show daily, based on the positive comments we get, and the personal comments I get almost daily, I'd say we're doing a bang up job at PHL, Randy. But, that's not to say that some TSO's aren't rude, and sometimes unprofessional, I've seen it personally, and I myself have had questionable days, I'll admit that. But the group of TSO's I'm working with right now are nothing if they're not professional, and that is evident in the work we do and the compliments we get.

Have a nice day, Randy.

Tom (PHL)

December 11, 2008 2:00 PM

You would call this response professional?

I think we all can clearly see the problem at TSA now!
************************************************
Perhaps I was a little brash with my response, but not unprofessional.

Anonymous said...

With the walk through metal detector, I have heard that the humidty can change the sensitivity of the WTMD. I have walked through one WTMD and made it through and go to another checkpoint and it alarms. I know the settings are not adjusted, because there is no way of adjusting the senstivity of the WTMD, without having the manual and the password that nobody seems to have at the airport. I hope this answers your question, Anonymous..

kellymae81 said...

Anon said:
The TSA officers that replied to my metal detector concern did not help. I want to give an example now of what happens. I have no other metal on except my belt. I am wearing the same clothing. In all honesty there is nothing else in my pockets. Just the belt. I go through one airport and make it through but at another airport I alarm. That does not make sense. All aiports are not calibrated the same. Some airports are a great deal different. FIX THIS!. It is not fair to the public you are serving. If the standard is the same and TSA calibrates the machines then they should be very similar in calibration.

You know, I gave a completely NICE and suitable answer for that, and it still is not good enough. You must live with rose colored glasses on my friend if you think that everything in this world should be perfect. I told you that we DO calibrate them all the same, but you can't expect 1000's of metal detectors to all alarm the EXACT same way. We have 5 at SDF and we calibrate them all the exact same way, but 1 is a little more sensitive than the others. Why? You know, I just don't know. If this is really such a major concern for you, contact whoever MAKES them, and complain to them.

Sorry for the slight negativity but I dont know what else to do to help you people. I try to answer your questions and by this example alone, you can see it wasn't good enough and it never will be. But I'll keep answering them.

Anonymous said...

To the person asking about the Metal Detectors. You are absolutely correct the machine are not the same from one airport to another. I don't know if you are aware of this or not, or if I can even disclose this (if not it wont be posted)but a cave was searched by our military expecting to find high ranking terrorist, instead they found the same type of equipment TSA uses at some airports. Knowing this you need to understand that if all metal detectors were the same, the terrorist would only need to practice walking in and out until the could find the right combination of metal that would make it through everytime. Having machines alarming at different rates throws the terrorist off by not knowing exactly what they can get away with. Terrorist are unpredictable, so TSA needs to be unpredictable. I understand that it makes it difficult for you as a passenger and a law abiding citizen to really know how to plan, but it's that same difficulty that you experience that the terrorist experience.
A lot of you continually say that there is no need for the circus to continue on the shoes and liquids, because it wont work or no-one will ever try it again. If the circus continues they won't try it because they know we are still looking. The minute you stop you opened that hole back up again.
Others suggest that TSA is ineffective. They cite that there is no way to prove that TSA's presence has made a difference because no terrorist has been stopped attempting to do harm to aviation. Well I can say the opposite, because TSA is effective no terrorist has tried. Neither side can prove or disprove their claim, and if you're on the side that says that TSA is not effective and say you can prove they are not then you're fooling yourself.
I honestly hope that TSA doesn't change it's policies just to please the traveling public and then have to say I told you so if and when something happens.
As a proud member of TSA I want to appologize to all who have had a bad experience and hope that as we evolve those bad experiences will go away, but I also want to say that I make no appologies for doing what I feel is the right thing to do to protect your life and the lives of all who fly.

Anonymous said...

[i]Anonymous Anonymous said...

The TSA officers that replied to my metal detector concern did not help. I want to give an example now of what happens. I have no other metal on except my belt. I am wearing the same clothing. In all honesty there is nothing else in my pockets. Just the belt. I go through one airport and make it through but at another airport I alarm. That does not make sense. All aiports are not calibrated the same. Some airports are a great deal different. FIX THIS!. It is not fair to the public you are serving. If the standard is the same and TSA calibrates the machines then they should be very similar in calibration.[/i]

The answer is that the technology isn't perfect. When we had to clear through the metal detector daily some TSO's would alarm some days and not other days with no changes in their uniform or metal on their persons. Weather can change the results. The goal of the metal detector is not to get you to take off your belt,but to prevent someone from sneaking in a gun or knife or other prohibited metal item.

Anonymous said...

The TSA officers that replied to my metal detector concern did not help. I want to give an example now of what happens. I have no other metal on except my belt. I am wearing the same clothing. In all honesty there is nothing else in my pockets. Just the belt. I go through one airport and make it through but at another airport I alarm. That does not make sense. All aiports are not calibrated the same. Some airports are a great deal different. FIX THIS!. It is not fair to the public you are serving. If the standard is the same and TSA calibrates the machines then they should be very similar in calibration.
________________________________________________

They are very similar in calibration. Like the other person stated they are all calibrated the exact same, some are just a bit more sensitive than others. Its a machine, its going to happen. You don't know, when you walk through with that belt on, you might just be making it through. It could be a real fine point between ringing and not ringing. Just because you don't ring at one machine and you do another does not mean that there is some big huge difference in those machines.
"Fix this. It is not fair to the public you are serving." Give me a break. I hope that you and others have more important things to worry about rather than having to take your belt off 1 out of 4 times that you fly.

Anonymous said...

@"Anonymous said...

Some people's questions are being answered but not in a formal way by a blog administrator. You have these TSO's anonymous write answers that could be the right answer but who is to know. I proposed an idea a while back about some kind of "stamp of approval" from an administrator so we would know if that answer is good enough and sufficient. Is that being reviewed at all or you are unable to implement something like that?"

They are unable to implement something that that. Heck they can't even enable posting comments on older threads.

And anyway, would a screener accept as TSA gospel an anonymous comment on this blog if it had a Blogger-Approved Seal-of-Approval? If the "answers" aren't authoritative enough that a passenger can use them to argue to keep a pie from being confiscated by a hungry TSO, they aren't worth reading.

HappyToHelp said...

Anonymous said...
Christine, since your part of the TSA web team could you tell us why the TSA web pages still state 3oz liquid containers or less instead of the correct 3.4oz or 100ml amounts?

3 oz or 3.4 oz? What gives???

OK, here’s the scoop. If the U.S. would have switched to the metrics system in the 70s, this wouldn’t be an issue.

When the TSA lifted the total liquid ban and implemented the 3-1-1 program, the permissible amount of liquids, aerosols and gels was 3oz. Press releases went out, WebPages were updated, and signs were printed and shipped out nationwide to 457 airports. A lot of work went into the 3-1-1 campaign.

When the TSA rolled this out, the European Union was not on board yet. When the EU decided to allow liquids to travel, the amount permitted was 100ml. Well, as we all know, 100ml = 3.4oz. not 3 oz.

In order to align with the EU, we decided to allow liquids in containers up to 3.4oz, but we decided to keep our signage the same. The 3-1-1 program was so successful, that it would have been a shame to change it to 3.4-1-1. J

TSOs nationwide should be allowing liquids up to 3.4oz. If they are not, you can ask for a supervisor or you can use our Got Feedback program.

Bob
EoS Blog Team


source: The Path Forward on Liquids

Hope this helps.

Jim Huggins said...

HappytoHelp writes:

Hope this helps.

Thanks ... but you've missed the point. (Mounting my soapbox ...)

Most of us regular blog readers know that the limit on undeclared, non-prohibited liquids is 100ml (3.4oz). But the only reason we know this is because we read this blog. And frankly, the only reason we know that the limit is 3.4oz is because Blogger Bob (and a few other anonymous TSA employees) say so. I suppose I can take them at their word.

But if you read TSA's main website, every reference to the liquids ban lists the limit as 3oz, not 3.4oz. And this continues even to this day; the recently filmed videos (co-sponsored with the AdCouncil) still state that the limit is 3 ounces.

Now, suppose I approach a checkpoint with a bottle of liquid that's 3.2oz in size. The TSO inspecting my carry-on finds the bottle and tells me I can't carry it on-board, because it's too big. What evidence can I provide to the TSO that the limit is really 3.4oz? I have absolutely nothing that I can produce. (Saying "Blogger Bob said so" isn't gonna carry much weight.)

The question we're asking at this point is not "what is the real limit"? We've beaten that question to death.

The real question is "why is TSA's published information inaccurate?" It would take someone all of about twenty minutes to changes TSA's website to reflect the correct and accurate limit. But TSA seems unwilling to make this change to its documents or website.

Does 0.4 ounces make a difference? In the grand scheme of things, probably not. But TSA insists that passengers know the rules about airline travel, even as it publishes information about its own rules which is, by TSA's own admission, inaccurate. How am I supposed to know what the rules are, if TSA doesn't publish correct information on its own website?

Anonymous said...

In order to align with the EU, we decided to allow liquids in containers up to 3.4oz, but we decided to keep our signage the same. The 3-1-1 program was so successful, that it would have been a shame to change it to 3.4-1-1. J

TSOs nationwide should be allowing liquids up to 3.4oz. If they are not, you can ask for a supervisor or you can use our Got Feedback program.

Bob
EoS Blog Team

source: The Path Forward on Liquids

Hope this helps.

December 16, 2008 8:21 PM
.............................................
Bob, thanks for the answer. However it does not resolve why TSA is putting out incorrect information. The standards changed. Correct the signage and web pages with correct information. Keeping your little slogan is not enough reason to provide false information.

Anonymous said...

Have a nice day, Randy.

Tom (PHL)

December 11, 2008 2:00 PM

You would call this response professional?

I think we all can clearly see the problem at TSA now!
************************************************
Perhaps I was a little brash with my response, but not unprofessional.

December 13, 2008 1:33 PM
.......................
The problem continues!!

Phil said...

Why does TSA continue to publish inaccurate information about which items may be carried through its airport checkpoints? We want to follow your rules, but you refuse to show us most of your rules, and you intentionally (for the purpose of public relations and marketing slogans) misinform us about your rules.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Anonymous said...

What does it say about an agency that is willing to lie to the public about rules that must be followed by travelers?

Is the misstatement an indication that TSA and it's employees are honest?

Does it indicate an agency and in turn it's employees who are more concerned with misdirection and obscuring information in order to make transiting a TSA checkpoint more difficult?

On the point of TSA and it's employees honesty I think the answer is clear that being honest is not high on the list.

It is clear that TSA states one standard on its Web Site and other signage/documents and for no apparent reason except to confuse travelers about an already difficult and unpopular rule state a different standard here.

It would be refreshing if Honesty won out but with TSA we all know that will not happen!

HappyToHelp said...

Jim Huggins said...
Thanks ... but you've missed the point. (Mounting my soapbox ...)

No I havn't... I know the HappyToHelp is a new handle for me ,it use to be just anoymous, but I'm right there with you(have posted here since day one). Based on the question of the anoymous poster(who I responed to) I just brought him up to speed using information that was already posted by Bob.

You guys have very good arguements and points. Just a reminder though. 311 will be gone in fall 2009. So I don't see the worth of changing the signs now. From 2006 to early 2008 I agree it should have been updated.

This is just my 2 cents though. So take it for what its worth.

Keap up the good question guys :) I would love to see some full blog post about some of them.

Jim Huggins said...

HappyToHelp writes:

Just a reminder though. 311 will be gone in fall 2009. So I don't see the worth of changing the signs now. From 2006 to early 2008 I agree it should have been updated.

A few responses:

1) It's not definite that 3-1-1 is going away in Fall 2009. Chertoff says that they hope to be able to do away with it by then ... but that doesn't mean it's going to happen. In the meantime, TSA is still deliberately publishing inaccurate information.

2) Not only that, but TSA continues to publish this information, even in new media. The liquids video still refers to the limit as 3 ounces, even though the video was only produced a month ago.

3) I'm certainly not suggesting reprinting existing signs and literature. But the cost of updating the TSA website is trivial. And there's no reason not to update the literature for new print runs of signs and brochures.

HappyToHelp said...

Jim Huggins said...
1) It's not definite that 3-1-1 is going away in Fall 2009.

True. With the government its always a "see it to believe it" but I have seen the ball start rolling on this project. I think you will be impressed.

2) Not only that, but TSA continues to publish this information, even in new media. The liquids video still refers to the limit as 3 ounces, even though the video was only produced a month ago.

3) I'm certainly not suggesting reprinting existing signs and literature. But the cost of updating the TSA website is trivial. And there's no reason not to update the literature for new print runs of signs and brochures.


Asked the same question about a year ago and the response was because they wanted to maintain consistency.

Personally I wouldn't have any issue with the website not be consistent with the signage.

Anonymous said...

TSOs nationwide should be allowing liquids up to 3.4oz. If they are not, you can ask for a supervisor or you can use our Got Feedback program.

Bob
EoS Blog Team

source: The Path Forward on Liquids

Hope this helps.

December 16, 2008 8:21 PM
,...............................
Bob are you stating that all statements made by you, other Blog Ops or guest bloggers are in fact TSA policy?

Like the post where Kippy says's that ID is absolutely required to move through the checkpoint?

Or the Checkpoint Evolution post where the atmosphere will be calmer and quieter, and yet today we have multiple reports from around the country of TSO Barkers who apparently received different information?

If this Blog is the Official source of TSA information then what part does the TSA web page play with its incorrect information.

Sorry, but TSA cannot take multiple positions on the same issue and maintain any level of credibility.

My conclusion is that your agency has no idea of who is doing what, where or even when.

TSA fails again!

Anonymous said...

While I know the job of a TSO entails dealing with some jerks, I think that it isn't too much to ask to have employees who don't sit and bark orders/yell at the 99.9% of cooperative passengers who pass through.

This isn't boot camp and I don't appreciate getting hollered at because someone feels like taking a power trip.

Anonymous said...

"it isn't too much to ask to have employees who don't sit and bark orders/yell"

Do you fly often?

Give the devil his due.

That nonsense has markedly declined of late. At least in the many airports I traveled last year.

Where are you encountering this?

In what context?

Thomas Farrell said...

One of the problems that TSA has created at the checkpoints is that because there is no space with tables etc for passengers to prepare for the checkpoint before going into it, we are forced to frantically rush through taking off our shoes and jacket, emptying our pockets, putting everything into bins (and with the proper things on top thank you or some jerk in a TSA uniform will yell at us like we're school children!), getting our laptops out (without dropping and breaking them because we're juggling too many things and trying to make sure the passengers around us don't knock our stuff over), etc... ultimately, the small amount of time and space we're given forces us to rush, which strongly increases the chances we'll get it wrong.

I am a highly seasoned business traveler, and I still mess up sometimes because I'm forced to rush so badly.

If you want to improve the percentage of passengers getting it right, put some tables before the checkpoint line where we can take our time to get everything out and put it into bins, with signs to help remind us of everything, and some small carts to help us carry our bins to the screening point so we can quickly and efficiently place our bins and bags on the conveyor to keep the line moving smoothly.

Anonymous said...

"Christine,

Since you have been fortunate enough to travel abroad and experience security in other airports, I'm sure you have enjoyed the fact that you don't have to take off your shoes in foreign countries. I wish the TSA would wake up and stop this stupid and nonsensical fetish. Hopefully you were able to go to Australia and travel domestically where none of the stupid ID checks, liquid or shoe fetishes apply. And yet it's still very safe to fly there."

When people say that other countries outside the U.S. do not have all of the upsetting security that we do, and yet they are still safe you have to keep in mind that other places like Australia, who do not have the same security, aren't the ones who the terrorists are after right now.

Boomer said...

It's fascinating to see the support, hate, and general discontentment with many of these posts. I realize that agencies can get things wrong, but it's interesting when we start to nitpick other humans, who are simply a cog in the wheel. It's interesting to me that so many of these comments have chosen to target the author specifically. Huh, I don't get it.