What exactly *is* a "Gate Search" and how common are they?

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by RosemaryT, Nov 22, 2011.

  1. RosemaryT

    RosemaryT Original Member

    Are they, as I suspect, a secondary search at the airplane's GATE?

    And if so, how in the world is *THIS* legal?

    Do I have a legal right to refuse this secondary search?
  2. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    We've discussed this a lot at TUG. I'm sorry I can't quickly find the threads; I'm betting Mike or another coach can. Supposedly any search by the TSA anywhere at or past the security checkpoint is "legal." Smurfs have followed people into bathrooms, assaulted them on the way to the gate, at the gate, you name it. Several of these accounts are in my Master List.
  3. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    These gate rapes (term was coined by UA pilots almost 10 years ago) are becoming increasingly intrusive and ridiculous.
  4. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    The impression I get is yes, that's exactly what these are. There was discussion elsewhere online about ways to antagonize the smurf-clerks performing them. "So what'd you miss at the checkpoint?" "Asleep at the checkpoint again? How do you know this gate is where the terrorists you missed actually went?" Etc.

    The million-dollar question. The answer? Probably. Legal in that you probably won't be arrested for refusing it if the airport cops get involved. However...

    -Airport cops have been notoriously unpredictable in their allegiances. Some side with TSA against pax. Others resent TSA for their "me too" attitude about "enforcement." Others' actions probably depend on their moods that day.
    -TSA will hassle the everloving crap out of you for it. They'll demand your ID so they can photocopy it for Cthulhu-knows-what purposes. Maybe to put on a watchlist, maybe to round-file as soon as they get into the back room and are done harassing you with it.
    -You're almost guaranteed to miss your flight if they do this at boarding time (which, according to reports I've read, they do). They know they have pax at a disadvantage in that pax are on a schedule whereas smurf-clerks aren't. Pressure only increases if you're a business traveler or traveling with your family on a sunk-cost non-refundable ticket (atop all the social pressure of "the kids want to go see Mickey").

    Honestly, it's going to take a Phil Mocek or one of his kind to go and test this purely for the sake of testing it before we know. There'll likely be a confrontation, video evidence (which may be cut off midway through if the smurf-clerks get surly about it), and a protracted court case (thanks to DHS/TSA's love for stonewalling information-gathering efforts) before a final decision is reached.
  5. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Short answer: Can you refuse it? Yes. Will fly if you refuse it? No.

    This is just one more "level" of TSA stupidity.
  6. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

  7. RadioGirl

    RadioGirl Original Member

    The CFR that governs airport operations says (paraphrasing from memory 'cause I can't be bothered to go find it right now after researching EU legislation) that passengers have to pass security screening to "enter the secure area" or to "board an aircraft". TSA has interpreted this to mean that they can do both - search you at the checkpoint to get into the secure area AND search you again before you board the aircraft. I believe that's a misinterpretation, that the intent was a search either to get into a secure area or - if there is no "secure area" between the public area and the aircraft stairs - as the passengers board. But I am not a lawyer, I'm an engineer and I've learned that what makes sense to engineers is often not what makes sense to lawyers. Or the TSA. Or the "lawyers" that work for the TSA.

    None of this explains the third kind of search, after the checkpoint in the sterile area but not directly at the gate as the flight is boarding. I don't believe any interpretation of the CFR (except, obviously, the TSA's) allows for that. Apparently they wander around and test people's drinks and do the random grope down or dig through people's bags. Because, you know, they CAN. :mad:

    Their half-witted excuse for the sterile area and gate searches is that they don't search the airport/airline employees through the checkpoint, so one of them could have brought in something Dangerous and handed it off to a passenger. So instead of searching the employees ONCE, they search (a small percentage) of passengers TWICE. (No, don't go back and read that again, it won't make sense the second time either.) :confused:
    Caradoc, jtodd and phoebepontiac like this.
  8. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Exactly. Power and control. Power and control.
    jtodd likes this.
  9. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    They are sexually molesting passengers AGAIN, even after the checkpoint gropes. The names and faces of these people who do these things should be published, just like that UC Davis cop who maced those kids.
    KrazyKat and Lisa Simeone like this.
  10. I wonder what they do in a gate grope for somebody who has, say, an ostomy bag? From what I've heard, some gate gropes are set up with a privacy screen, some are not. If one is faced with a gate grope and there's no privacy screen, it would be an interesting exercise to insist on a private screening for medical reasons, and then make up a reason why.
  11. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Given that they busted Thomas Sawyer's urostomy bag twice, who knows what they'll do.

    If I were still flying, I'd insist on a public grope. You want these things to be public. You want them to be seen. First to metaphorically scream their idiocy and violation to the whole world, second to make the naysayers uncomfortable, third to have witnesses. They can abuse you worse if it's done in private.
    KrazyKat and Elizabeth Conley like this.
  12. I'm all about the public grope as well, but I'm just wondering what they'd do if they didn't have a private area set up. Would they deny you the private screening you are entitled to?
  13. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    Ask for a private screening, see what happens, i.e., do they offer it at the gate?, and then change your mind.
  14. DeafBlonde

    DeafBlonde Original Member

    You may want to check your source on this. In all fairness, I don't think they did it twice, but they did come close the 2nd time. IIRC :confused:
    Fisher1949 likes this.
  15. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Thomas Sawyer, Cancer Survivor, Gets Soaked By His Own Urine Again By TSA
    Posted July 25, 2011
  16. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    They really did do it to him twice. TSA's apologies and pretense at good intentions are completely meaningless.
  17. DeafBlonde

    DeafBlonde Original Member

    it is not clear whether they are talking about the original incident, or not. I reserve judgement. I think the second account that I read about stated that they came close, but Tom was able to stop them in time to prevent a recurrence. I don't have time to look now, am in the middle of a statistics test, but will research later.
  18. RadioGirl

    RadioGirl Original Member

    This is the TSA you're talking about. "Inconsistency" is their stock in trade.

    Some of them would say you have to go back to the checkpoint area if you wanted privacy. Some of them would leave you alone and find another victim. Some would insist on doing the patdown in public. All of them would insist that what they were doing is the SOP.
  19. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    In any other context, TSA's "inconsistency" is called ineptitude.
  20. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    According to his own statements in the article link I posted, they did it to him twice.

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