My "I was escorted out of the Airport by Police" Experience

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by NotaCriminal, Oct 21, 2011.

  1. NotaCriminal

    NotaCriminal Original Member

    I apologize if this is the wrong place to post.

    A friend and I took a 18 day trip to Europe, using Delta's non-stop PIT-CDG-PIT flights. PIT is an airport that requires you to go through a TSA screening in order to leave the airport after clearing immigration and customs, regardless if you have a connecting flight or not. My friend and I agreed before we left the U.S. that we would not submit to a TSA search or any of the baggage stuff since we wanted to leave the airport. So, we landed back in PIT on October 6, we took a deep breath, and stuck to our guns.

    Once out of customs, I started the audio recording on my cell phone and we walked into the next area. We were immediately accosted by a rude Delta baggage person demanding our bags. We refused. He yelled at us. I told him to get TSA or his supervisor, but I wasn’t giving him my bag. He sent the TSA baggage screener over to us, he told us we had to do this because of the airport design. I said we wanted a police escort out. He said he’d call his supervisor. We were allowed to move more into the room, and that’s where we stayed until escorted out.

    A Delta rep tried to get us to give up our bags, but once we explained that we were requesting an escort out, he didn’t try to convince us to do anything else. The two-striper showed up, and explained the airport setup and why we had to go through security. I said I wanted an escort out, because I was leaving the airport and as such, there was no reason or authority to screen. He told us he’d call his manager and the police. We saw him on the phone over by the screening area, and then when the police arrived, he talked to him for a few minutes. The officer then got on the phone and the two-striper returned to us and asked why we were refusing screening, and asked if they found us a container for our duty-free liquids, would we go through screening? I told him that I was refusing because I wasn’t flying again, I wanted to go to the car, and there was no authority to screen someone who didn’t want into the sterile area and wasn’t flying again. I also said that I wasn’t handing my bag over to that Delta baggage jerk to break things or risk theft by anyone, nor risking a pat down. I also told him I specifically picked this flight to avoid the TSA. He just said okay. The two-striper did comment that we were only the second refusal ever and this was very odd. I replied that I found it more odd that I’ve seen nothing but upset, confused and angry passengers over this entire rescreening process since nearly everyone was leaving the airport, but none refused it. He had nothing to say to that, and eventually went back to his station when the police officer came over.

    The first police officer explained the issue with the airport set up. We agreed it was a bad arrangement, but unfortunately, the airport design problem and the creation of the TSA didn’t mean we had to undergo an unnecessary screening. He agreed, and said there were two officers on their way down to escort us out.

    At this point, a woman in civilian clothes came over and said “they” needed our boarding passes and ID. I asked why. No answer. I asked who she was, no answer. I asked who “they” were. She just waved at the screening area and I didn’t know who she was waving towards. At this point I said I wasn’t giving them my ID or my boarding pass since I just wanted to leave the airport and that I wasn’t going to be added to some list for simply declining an unnecessary screening . She just waved again over at the area with the phone and said “they” said “they” need your ID and boarding pass. I replied that she better get “they” over here, because “they” don’t need my ID. She left. “They” never materialized.

    The two other officers then arrived, and they asked why we were declining the screening. We explained again. They said okay. They wanted a DL. We gave them our passports. They were fine with that. They assured us they were not giving our info to the TSA/DHS, but they did have to write up their own internal report since they were called down there. He also said they hate dealing with the TSA, too, and they were not going to hand our information over to them. Told us a couple of stories of the TSA ridiculousness. In any case, all he wrote down was our names, ultimately. They didn’t insist on our DLs or boarding passes and they didn’t take our passports for photocopying.

    Once they were finished writing our names down, they were about to escort us out when a different woman in civilian clothing came over. She didn’t speak to us, but only to the officers, telling them we’d have to wait until the next flight landed and cleared security before we could leave. I heard that and started saying, “Are you detaining…” but the cop closest to me just kind of waved me off, gave a wink, and muttered, “don’t worry.” He went out to the Customs area, while the other officer listened to the TSA woman. I did hear the officer tell her that it would only take a minute to escort us out, and there was still the original officer we spoke to on duty so it really wasn’t hurting the TSA for them to take us out. She eventually walked away and just watched us from the screening area.

    The other officer returned and said to follow him, as Customs would let us leave through their door. The second TSA woman was left sputtering nonsensical noises behind us. We got a thumbs up from on CBP officer as we walked through. In under a minute, we were at the tram. We rode the tram, got off, walked the 20 feet, and we were on the non-sterile side. At this point, the police officer said, “Now that you are out of there, can I ask you how this all got started?” And we told him – we simply told TSA #1 that we wanted an escort, we were told to stand where you found us, repeated our request to a different employee, and eventually you guys showed up. He said that when the call came in, they were told we were causing a disturbance (we both were quite miffed at this characterization, to which the cop shut us down and told us he was on our side on this), so when he arrived, he was not prepared for a couple standing around looking at my e-mail on my Smartphone, and for us being quiet, calm and polite. We told him we’d never raised our voices, we were polite, we didn’t use foul language, we didn’t interfere with screening, we didn’t try to talk to our fellow passengers, and we never moved from our directed location, and the TSA for the most part were polite as well. The officer also said the TSA said I was video’ing them. I told them I was not taking video at all, which was true. Admittedly, I did not tell him I had recorded audio of the TSA interaction. He walked down to the car rental station with us, telling us he doesn’t fly any more – he drives the family to the coast and Disneyworld.

    Anyway, he bid us farewell. I got my rental car stuff, said goodbye to my friend who was picked up a local friend. And then I promptly had ran a toll booth because I didn’t have a cent on me, and I didn’t think I was going on a toll road. GPS… not my friend in this instance. I’m probably on a watch list for that!

    All in all, we were escorted out in about 35 minutes and on our way after about 40 minutes. The three TSA employees who spoke with us were polite. The three Allegheny County Police officers were polite and friendly. Not a lot of fuss . Perhaps RedSnapper’s experience (as posted at the other board) was fresh in their minds. And I’d do it again. That's one line I won't let the TSA force me to cross. Their searches are already over the line. Being search for absolutely no reason besides poor airport design and a airport manager that can't think of another way to get passengers out without having the TSA molest them is well over the line for me.

    ETF: A couple spelling errors.
  2. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    Congratulations on a job well done!!!!

    This is fairly good proof that the TSA is all about intimidation and lies.
  3. jtodd

    jtodd Original Member

    Big ^ from me.
  4. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    ^ Love it! More people should do this. :D

    However, as a confessed toll-booth runner, you can no longer claim to be "not a criminal". :D
  5. LeeAnne

    LeeAnne Original Member

    Awesome! If only more freedom-loving Americans would stand up for their Constitutional rights like this. I applaud you! ^^^
  6. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    What a great post! Thanks. Kudo's to you folks for sticking to your guns, being prepared, and also to the LEOs involved.
  7. Affection

    Affection Original Member

    Thanks for doing this! You may be the second at PIT, but hopefully not the last!

    One more thing: if you really want to stick it to the TSA, file a complaint against them for filing a false police report. If they claimed you were creating a disturbance and you clearly were not (and there may even be security cameras to prove it!), in most states, that's a crime.

  8. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member


    What I would do is find out about the wiretapping/recording laws in PA and, if you determine that you're in the clear, DO NOT keep the recording to yourself. Post it far and wide to damage TSA's public image even further, showing them for the liars and miscreants they (all 65000 without a single exception) are.
  9. TravelnMedic

    TravelnMedic Original Member

    PA is a two party state but there is a exception, in that if in a place (IE public) where there is no expectation of privacy such consent is not needed. So in this case TSA can blow all they want they dont have a leg to stand on. Personally i think the OP should file a complaint for TSA making a false police report as if TSA wants to play games they should be aware actions have consequences, some longer lasting and farther reaching then others. That and Karmas a bitch that pays in spades!

    I record (Audio & Video) conversations all the time. I live in a one party state where I don't have to tell anyone what I'm doing. I also record conversations in two party states as most have escape clauses, but i counter the whole issue by having a sticker or a shirt that warns audio visual surveillance is being conducted and by being in the area you consent to the surveillance, if you don't like it leave. Just as it comes to rules on photography and videography I have the same for audio, as chance favors the prepared mind.

    My favorite encounters (when I'm shooting stills, video, or audio) are when some blow hard says I cant do XYZ and cites the incorrect code or law. In public it goes one of two ways they either back down when they realize chance favors the prepared mind, or they end up with a laser dot between the eyes or center mass that is coming from my Kimber ultra crimson carry II. Now in the airport its a little different as i cant carry but you can guarantee I one wont back down, and two getting aggressive will end badly on so many levels as those recordings will end up on the evening news quicker then a fat kid going for the last ding dong.
    NotaCriminal likes this.
  10. NotaCriminal

    NotaCriminal Original Member

    Well, it should be plausible because it did happen. :) For once I didn't travel alone and have a witness and everything.

    My friend and I made that very suggestion(the plexiglass partition/wall leading to a specific tram car that isn't open to the other tram cars) via a fax and e-mail to the airport manager. Since it took just a short time to get to the tram, it shouldn't involve too much plexiglass to set this up. But alas, it will go unheeded as I think Delta will get rid of this flight as soon as the 5 million dollar city subsidy they received to operate this flight is gone, and they won't spend the money on the couple of international flights remaining via USA3000.

    My write-up was already a mile long, so I didn't add to it that: a) I am a paralegal, and all I do is research and write so checking such laws is second nature to me; b) I check on recording laws about once a year as our company records CSR interactions; c) I had checked PA law and annotations yet again before I left and knew it remained a two-party consent state, with the public area exception; and d) I didn't say anything to the police officer because I knew the definition of "public area" was the grey area in this instance.

    I have talked with the attorneys I support at work and we aren't convinced quite yet about the "public area" issue. For the most part, I am a cautious and rule-oriented individual (when the rule makes sense, that is), which is why it's not been uploaded. We are all comfortable that this grey area provided me a valid argument as to the original recording (which is why I recorded it), but until I have made myself a more compelling argument and have adequate authority to back me up and the two PA-licensed attorneys at work agree with my analysis, I will not upload it and that's why I didn't broadcast that I was recording.

    Perhaps there are things I could have or should have done. I'm good at coulda/woulda/shoulda. But you have to try something once to figure out what to do better the next time.
    LeeAnne likes this.
  11. NotaCriminal

    NotaCriminal Original Member

    I know, I know... I've contacted Budget three times to let them know what I'd done and to follow up on the fine, and they don't know what I'm talking about, so the fine must not be tied to the rental contract yet. This is driving me nuts, as I don't want to lose my appeal period from the PA Turnpike Authority. I am pretty mad at myself for not having one cent on me. I didn't even have any Euro coins left to try! I told myself that I had been proud to stand up for myself at the airport and it wasn't even terribly You Tube worthy, but I was going down for a stupid toll. Classic.
  12. NotaCriminal

    NotaCriminal Original Member

    Affection and TravelnMedic both mentioned that a complaint should be filed. We've debated this. We made it a big point to not give up our information/IDs to TSA and we now feel a bit odd (for lack of a better word) about disclosing our info to file a complaint after telling the police we didn't want to end up on some no-fly list or fusion center for a perfectly reasonable request.

    So, should the complaint be filed anyway? I admit I could be over-thinking this part far too much, so if there's no compelling reason to not file a complaint about the characterization of our request, I could do so. That was the part that was most irritating to us - we had been reasonable but we were characterized otherwise, if the police officer's comments are to be believed.
  13. Caradoc

    Caradoc Original Member

    Time to for every TSA employee involved in your "interaction" there to be charged with "filing a false report to law enforcement" or whatever the local ordinance is for lying to the cops.

    Hopefully, the police will soon stop responding to calls from the TSA everywhere because they're all lying shitbags.
  14. RB

    RB Founding Member

    Seems to me if the police stated that the TSA workers involved stated you were acting in a way not supported by the TSA report then TSA employees filed a false police report. If they get away with doing such things you can count on it happening again and perhaps to someone who is not prepared.

    I say do whatever it takes to hold TSA and its goons accountable for their acts.

    And yes there is always some personal risk when fighting corruption and TSA is certainly corrupt!
    LeeAnne likes this.
  15. DeafBlonde

    DeafBlonde Original Member

    IMHO, you did the right thing by not giving TSA your ID and BP. Here's my reasoning: If they had your ID and BP, they would have written up an "Incident Report" (or whatever the (expletive deleted) they call it). You can bet your sweet bippie they would have claimed in that report that you were disorderly when you "refused to be screened," so they did the "right thing" by calling police to kick you out of the airport. Thus, they would have gotten a little brownie point for denying you access to the sterile area blah, blah, blah.

    The thing that would have backfired is that the BP would have been for a flight that came into the airport, not for a departing flight, but who at TSA would pay attention to that since the purpose of "writing you up" was to put a feather in their collective caps.

    If you agree with my analysis, then you should also be worried about me, for I think too much like TSA management.
    NotaCriminal likes this.
  16. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    You need to get the license plate # before you turn in the rental car (depending on the rental company it might not be on the paperwork), then go to the toll system's web site where you should be able to pay.

    I went through this once in Chicago, never heard from them or the rental company so either the payment was properly credited or they didn't notice the violation.

    I blasted through one (a "private" toll road in the middle of nowhere northeast of Colorado Springs) last July but I was in my own vehicle & have no intention of paying anyway.

    I usually avoid toll roads like plague -- always check the "no tolls" box in mapquest.
  17. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    Great job! If only more people would do the same. ^
    It would be great to get this in story more widely disseminated.
    Maybe sending the story to Flyers Rights, Rutherford and/or EPIC?
    A YouTube audio might be another avenue as well.
  18. Affection

    Affection Original Member

    Well, it's understandable that you're hesitant to give the TSA your info. However, 1) I'm not on a list that gets me SSSS or no-fly yet, and of the two of us, I think I have priority for that honor ;) and 2) if they put you on a list for complaining, that's a separate 1st amendment violation. You could sue them for it.

    NotaCriminal likes this.
  19. FriendlySkies

    FriendlySkies Member


    Right, and the clerks screaming and yelling at the checkpoint doesn't make something more stressful...

    Good job, OP ^
    TravelnMedic likes this.
  20. LeeAnne

    LeeAnne Original Member

    The last time I flew (in July), at the TSA checkpoint at LAX there were THREE TSA clerks standing there shouting at the poor shuffling passengers in line. Apparently quite a few people were doing things "wrong" - somebody put their cellphone in their shoe, and got chewed out royally and loudly. Others loaded their bins wrong - maybe they weren't supposed to have anything else in the bin with their laptop or some such thing, but there was no signage explaining such, so all the yelling by the TSA clerks was completely unreasonable, and was stressing everyone out. Then, when I was getting my punitive pat-down (for having opted out of the scanner), every time the groper would ram her thumb up into my crotch I'd flinch...she would then jump back dramatically and SCREAM "This lady won't let me screen her! I can't screen this lady!"

    Yeah. Lots of "remaining calm at the checkpoints" goin' on. :rolleyes:

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