TSA criticism reaching critical mass

I think we’re close to getting a firm agreement on what reasonable search might mean. Stories like this one are helping:

No, I am not jumping on a bandwagon. You can see from this December 2008 post that I’ve had an issue with the practices of the TSA for a while.

Here are a few realities that security needs to figure out:

1) People who fly are unique. They may have prosthetics or hip replacements or even underwire bras on. This does not make them criminals. The people who are different should not have to pull off their leg or remove their breast or pull down their pants or have someone bend the wire on the bra on their body to prove they are not explosive. Since this seems to happen all the time and has been happening for over two years, it’s time to get serious about standardized guidelines that work for both the passenger and the security team.

People who give a flippant “I feel safer if they do it to others” must not have had an aggressive TSA experience. It’s awful.

2) Profile. And if you as security folks can’t muster the cleverness to profile, at least stop reverse profiling. Put up a randomizer at the first of the line to determine if I’m pegged for extra screening. Those screeners don’t want to admit it, but what they do is actually reverse profile. They pick those least likely to fuss. (Ask them, and if they are honest, they will confess.)

3) Get it right all the time, and make it consistent throughout the system. I once stood in a line in Denver where I had to remove my shoes, but all those in the line next to me did not. That kind of inconsistency drives me bonkers. I’d bet I’m not alone.

4) Show me respect. That’s really what this whole argument boils down to anyway. I don’t mind security screening in principle, but when you stick your hand down my pants and then threaten to yank me from the plane because I grimace, you need the reality check, not me.

I’m sure I’ll think of a few more. In the meantime, keep the pressure on. Like I said, I think it’s possible the time for change has finally come.


  1. i think this whole thing is out of control and exaggerated to be very honest … my wife just flew and returned … reported no issues….

    but i do like your bullet point number 4 the best

    a couple of alternatives – duck tape everyone to their seat… sorta eliminates the need for security….

    and my favorite … someone causes problems at 30K feet? open the door .. toss them out … (don’t make sense of what i just said … simply enjoy the clint eastwood thinking of it)

  2. If you aren’t picked it’s not a big deal. If you are, it can be miserable.

  3. Randy in Richmond says:

    I don’t fly much but I do have a trip coming up shortly. I think I could get paranoid about this issue but I figure a brief search to be safer should be worth it. I definitely believe the emphasis should be more so on the person flying rather than what they might be carrying, so I guess I support some sort of profiling. Maybe I would feel differently if I flew on a regular basis as apparently many of you do. And I’m not sure how to say this in a PC world but men do not like being touched by other men, as a rule. Shaking hands, sure. A pat on the back or a quick hug in a sporting event, okay. High fives, great. Another man running his hand up one’s thigh–icky feelings enter the picture.

    My strong desire to go from point A to point B is enough, at this point, to endure the icky feelings if required.

  4. I travel all the time, and frankly don’t feel any safer. Bingo on your #4. I had a TSA agent on Concourse D the other day cop an attitude with me when I entered the full body scanner. She kept telling me to empty my pockets completely. I told her repeatedly, they were. She kept instructing me getting louder and more frustrated with each repeated command. It wasn’t until about the 5th time that she asked ‘what’s that then’. I looked, it was the inside of my jeans pocket hanging a bit out of the top of the pocket. She thought it was something I hadn’t removed. I’m sure she loved being dominant, all it did was hack me off.

    On one of the morning shows the other day, the former head of El Al security in the US was interviewed. Short synopsis of his take on all this was:
    1. Makes us no safer, it’s still easy to hide something the machines won’t pick up on.
    2. True security/safety begins the moment the ticket is purchased (electronic review of flyer backgrounds), not when the flyer has arrived at the concourse.
    3. TSA is going about it all the wrong way.

    All that being said, security procedures are a pittance compared to the other problems/concerns I have with flying/the airlines.

  5. Len Green says:

    TSA is out of control. Ran into 2 TSA supervisors who were rude and dismissive. The second supervisor was outright verbally and emotionally abusive with a hair trigger temper. Fine to think “it’s not me so it must be them” BUT when everyone who has a negative experience stops flying, you just might get it. By the way. 2 weeks ago Congress began taking a look at the out of control TSA. Time to privatize.