Wall Street Journal: The Airport-Security Guessing Game

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by Mike, Nov 1, 2012.

  1. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Really good "Middle Seat" column by asdf @ WSJ ...

    It's worth reading the whole thing. I've just hit the highlights here.

    Wall Street Journal: The Airport-Security Guessing Game

    Sometimes you can carry your wallet through the airport X-ray machine, sometimes you can't. Sometimes that trusted-traveler membership speeds you though security, other times, well, sorry. And you might get a surprise check of your driver's license at the boarding gate.


    For the past decade, travelers have learned to adapt to a changing array of security requirements—shoes off, liquids restricted, bodies scanned and patted down. Frequent fliers try to adjust, knowing that following a routine makes navigating airports quicker and less stressful.

    And yet the Transportation Security Administration has consistently been inconsistent.


    Six times this year, Laura Aguiar, a frequent traveler and health-care consultant from Albuquerque, N.M., has run into unexpected TSA checks of her driver's license at boarding gates. The identification sometimes isn't even matched to her boarding pass. The screener just wants to see if she has an I.D. "It's crazy. It's completely unnecessary. How is this keeping me safe?" asks Ms. Aguiar.

    ...

    Consider a situation I witnessed last month in Santiago, Chile. Passengers were facing a 10-hour flight in coach and so, worried about dehydration, taking medication and the potential for blood clots, some passengers bought bottled water after passing through security screening. When it was time to board, security agents lined the jet-bridge and confiscated the unopened water bottles. There were no warning signs in the terminal or gift shops. An agent declared, contrary to rules in the U.S., that "Liquids aren't allowed in the cabin."


    Yet clerks then handed passengers their wine bottles purchased in the duty free store.

    ...​

    When you prepare to go through a full-body scanner, for example, you have to empty your pockets and remove watches and jewelry. Many people want to carry their wallet in hand to guard against theft, rather than put it in an X-ray bin and lose sight of it. That is allowed, TSA says.


    Except when it isn't. Some TSA screeners order passengers to put a wallet through the X-ray machine. TSA says screeners are allowed some discretion on wallets. One reason: larger wallets that could hide a weapon.

    [Another reason: The screeners needs your money.]

    ...

    Arun Baheti of Los Angeles, a top-level frequent flier with United Airlines and a PreCheck member, says the problem with PreCheck is its frustrating unreliability.

    ...​

    Eric Levin of Woodside, N.Y., was flying from Newark Liberty International Airport on the Fourth of July. After his boarding group was called and he handed his numbered boarding pass to Southwest's gate agent, two TSA screeners asked to see his I.D., along with all other passengers.


    "Since there was nothing to check the ID against, they were just looking for the presence of an ID," he said. "This is, of course, even more absurd than TSA's typical behavior. Don't they have anything better to do?"

    [Short answer: No.]


     
  2. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

  3. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    It seems that after two years enough people are beginning to get a taste of TSA's security theater to finally realize what is going on. We all predicted that this would happen back in early 2010 but the number of people harassed may be finally catching up to them.
     
  4. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    "One grope at a time", supplemented by random acts of stupidity.
     
    DeafBlonde likes this.
  5. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    The arrogance isn't helping them either. "One grope at a time" is accelerated by the fact that TSA is so in love with passive voice and stonewalling using passive voice. "Proper procedures were followed." In other words, "frell you, we do no wrong, how dare you think anything other than that we're the gods of security and that you owe us your very lives."

    That said, I think they (unfortunately) still have time to salvage the agency from a critical mass of public anger. There are enough AFS-tards out there who believe that terrorists really are lurking around every corner that public opinion is at the "They're necessary, but these particular procedures aren't" stage. If they were to do away with scope-n-grope tomorrow and go back to WTMD/HHMD/puffers with localized, light-touch, back-of-hand patdowns, people would probably give them a pass.

    The part of me that feels personal pressure to fly hopes that happens because I can finally stop having nightmares about airports.

    The part of me that's a stickler for principle and absolute victories of the people hopes it doesn't so that a sufficient number of people will be sufficiently pissed off that the only remaining move for Congress is to abolish the agency entirely.
     
    Elizabeth Conley likes this.
  6. That story about confiscating bottled water at the gate is really shocking to me. People could have had medical emergencies and died on that plane. In my experience, you sometimes can't get as much water as you need from the flight crew, especially on a flight that long. At that point the flight crew should have intervened, IMO. Better to delay a flight than have to land in Brazil because somebody's about to die from dehydration.
     
  7. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Response to this column by Amy Alkon @ Mens News Daily -- interesting suggestion from a WSJ reader about halfway down ...

    TSA: The Only Consistent Thing Is The Idiocy
    Scott McCartney writes in the WSJ about the security stupidity that is the TSA:
    Sometimes you can carry your wallet through the airport X-ray machine, sometimes you can't. Sometimes that trusted-traveler membership speeds you though security, other times, well, sorry. And you might get a surprise check of your driver's license at the boarding gate.
    For the past decade, travelers have learned to adapt to a changing array of security requirements--shoes off, liquids restricted, bodies scanned and patted down. Frequent fliers try to adjust, knowing that following a routine makes navigating airports quicker and less stressful.
    ...Six times this year, Laura Aguiar, a frequent traveler and health-care consultant from Albuquerque, N.M., has run into unexpected TSA checks of her driver's license at boarding gates. The identification sometimes isn't even matched to her boarding pass. The screener just wants to see if she has an I.D.
    "It's crazy. It's completely unnecessary. How is this keeping me safe?" asks Ms. Aguiar.
    ...Consider a situation I witnessed last month in Santiago, Chile. Passengers were facing a 10-hour flight in coach and so, worried about dehydration, taking medication and the potential for blood clots, some passengers bought bottled water after passing through security screening. When it was time to board, security agents lined the jet-bridge and confiscated the unopened water bottles.
    There were no warning signs in the terminal or gift shops. An agent declared, contrary to rules in the U.S., that "Liquids aren't allowed in the cabin."
    Yet clerks then handed passengers their wine bottles purchased in the duty free store.
    TSA says security plans for U.S.-bound flights must meet TSA policies. A spokeswoman for American Airlines, the largest U.S. carrier to South America, said some countries don't search for liquids and gels to U.S. standards, and so a special check has to be made at boarding of U.S.-bound flights.
    Duty-free liquids are permitted if handed to travelers at the gate because they have been under airport control. Countries with that procedure include Chile and Argentina, American said.​
    Commenter Mike Sullivan on the WSJ's site:​
    Oh, yeah -- here's how to get a full pint of any liquid you like onboard an airplane:
    Go to the drugstore and buy any brand of saline solution for contact lens wearers in the big 16-oz. bottle.
    Take it home and empty out the saline solution.
    Fill it with whatever you want, leaving the saline solution label on it.
    On your next flight, proudly waltz through the security check, keeping the bottle outside and separate from your other 2.7-oz mini-bottles of dangerous shampoos, deodorants, conditioner, etc.
    If questioned about the big bottle of liquid, remind the TSA of their official policy (bring a printed copy with you since most agents are ignorant of it), here: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/medically-necessary-liquids -- note that TSA "will not touch the liquid or gel" during inspection.
    Let's hope the bad guys don't figure this out by, say, reading the TSA Web site.​
     

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