Neverest
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Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:38 pm

There have been numerous postings on this forum where we hear horror stories about the rudeness, stupidity and incompetence of TSA personnel. My experience had always been positive during my frequent travel in USA and I could not understand the complaints. Yesterday I returned from Houston and my encounter with TSA reconfirmed my opinion. My wife had foolishly packed liquid toiletries in the carryon bag and naturally after passing through the scanner I was stopped for a closer inspection. The TSA agent was extremely courteous, instead of scolding me or throwing away the prohibited articles he informed me that he hated depriving passengers of their possessions, took all the stuff inside for further verifications and brought them back to me to continue the journey.

I have also found the immigration people also to be more courteous in Houston. Is there something special about Houston?
 
baldwin471
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:44 pm

Maybe you got lucky. Every time i have entered or for that matter departed the US, i get treated like a criminal. It's just in comparison i think. People have been around the world and had encounters with many different security agents from different countries, and for me anyway, I've only ever encountered friendly courteous agents, apart from the US ones.

Don't get me wrong, i'm not American bashing, i love the place, but that's no reason for their security agents to treat people like utter scum.
 
mjoelnir
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:24 pm

I have travelled quite a few times to the US. I have been beating up about the treatment I faced from Border Patrol and TSA.

But I think there is a change, the last times both on the way into the US and out everybody was friendly and helpful.
There are still some long wait times, especially on the way in 2:17 minutes wait at immigration on the 28.03.2013 in JFK, but everybody was friendly.
 
AADC10
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:44 pm

The TSA has improved over its early days as they have improved their training and procedures while passengers are now conditioned to the security requirements. Like many things, your experience will differ depending upon whom at the TSA screen you encounter.

The real problem at TSA is that the security measures are mostly hindsight. There is limited testing of their effectiveness and the added things were just knee jerk reactions, the shoe removal and liquids. They are slowly pulling back on some pointless things, such as allowing small knives and they rarely enforce the toothpaste in the ziplock bag requirement anymore.

Having to enforce ridiculous and ineffective rules will always keep TSA in the realm of security theater. It is just that the ushers got a little more professional.
 
ghifty
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:49 pm

My experiences with the TSA have all been fine. They're not the nicest people, but I've noticed that if you act like you know what you're doing at the checkpoints and thank them.. they're usually receptive.

That being said, TSA lines are generally much slower than EASA and the system that Mexico has.. that may be the administration's fault or the people they deal with (never-travelled-before Americans, perhaps?).
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Comments made here reflect only my personal opinions.
 
Braniff747SP
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:14 pm

I've never had a particularly nasty TSA experience, but that doesn't change the fact that I find the system ridiculous. It's not the TSO's faul--they're doing their jobs--but the whole process is simply asinine.
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penguins
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:44 pm

I have found that at smaller airports such as KELP, the TSA agents seem much more friendly than in some of the major US airports. The TSA in Boston is always very nice to me but I have received a few "rough" pat downs in my sensitive areas. When traveling through Zurich two weeks ago, I found the people manning the international arrivals screening to be particularly unfriendly.
 
max999
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:49 pm

Because they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they come down too hard on passengers, the public hates them for being overly onerous. But if they are too lax and there's a terrorist attack where the TSA is at fault, they will get eviscerated for it. So it's nearly impossible to find the middle ground.

[Edited 2013-04-09 16:58:13]
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shufflemoomin
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:53 pm

Quoting baldwin471 (Reply 1):
Maybe you got lucky. Every time i have entered

I was under the impression that the people you meet upon entering the US are CBP and not TSA.
 
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kgaiflyer
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:03 am

Quoting Neverest (Thread starter):
I have also found the immigration people also to be more courteous in Houston. Is there something special about Houston?

Not really.

IAH is one of two airports (the other is DEN) where I am usually chosen for random pat downs and luggage rummaging.

And I'm TSA-Pre Check  
 
tonystan
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:06 am

My goodness.... I find IAH to be one of the worst offenders for rude and power tripped TSA and Immigration officers!!!!
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KaiGywer
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:09 am

Quoting shufflemoomin (Reply 8):
I was under the impression that the people you meet upon entering the US are CBP and not TSA.

They are.. It's just that a lot of people here seem to consider anyone in uniform at an airport as being TSA
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, an
 
UA787DEN
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:15 am

Quoting kgaiflyer (Reply 9):
IAH is one of two airports (the other is DEN) where I am usually chosen for random pat downs and luggage rummaging.

Interesting because I've never had problems in DEN, though it is my home airport. Also both are UA hubs. hmmm  
Quoting max999 (Reply 7):
So it's nearly impossible to find the middle ground.

True indeed.

Quoting tonystan (Reply 10):
My goodness.... I find IAH to be one of the worst offenders for rude and power tripped TSA and Immigration officers!!!!

I fully agree with immigration. I don't find them that bad for Security (compared to the US, of course.)

Quoting Braniff747SP (Reply 5):
I've never had a particularly nasty TSA experience, but that doesn't change the fact that I find the system ridiculous. It's not the TSO's faul--they're doing their jobs--but the whole process is simply asinine.

Exactly. They fail half the random checks, they don't have a great job anyways...Remember the open post-security walk to the Terminal A satellite? A whopping 2 feet from the road.
 
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kgaiflyer
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:18 am

Quoting penguins (Reply 6):
I have found that at smaller airports such as KELP, the TSA agents seem much more friendly than in some of the major US airports.

At ELP you're examined by CBP/DEA/FBI/CIA -- whatever -- through one-way glass while your ID is being checked.

If there's something wrong with you (trust me   ) you'll never make to the L-3 scanner.

[Edited 2013-04-09 17:19:32]
 
Bobloblaw
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:19 am

In big cities like ATL, TSA is nothing more than an affirmative action dumping ground
 
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kgaiflyer
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:30 am

Quoting bobloblaw (Reply 14):
In big cities like ATL, TSA is nothing more than an affirmative action dumping ground

I know in some cities managed by private contractors who pay lower salaries, it sure may seem that way. Another is DCA. But the folks at DCA are genuinely hired for having great personalities.

I expect DCA will soon be giving out fresh-baked cookies at their TSA checkpoints.
 
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b727fa
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:48 am

And coming out of CDG today I was amazed to see 2, yes, 2 people staffing each lane. Not *7* per lane like the TSA.
My comments/opinions are my own and are not to be construed as the opinion(s) of my employer.
 
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Aaron747
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 1:05 am

They're not all doing their jobs. Last time through HNL there were 3 huge officers at the security checkpoint standing to the side while the others worked. They just stood there thumbing through stuff on their iPhones. That's the last image foreigners have leaving the states - bored government workers surfing the net on the job. Ugh.
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Cubsrule
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 1:13 am

Quoting bobloblaw (Reply 14):
In big cities like ATL, TSA is nothing more than an affirmative action dumping ground

I have found things at ATL to be markedly better than they were a year or two ago. I had a thoroughly pleasant experience this afternoon, with about a 15 minute wait at the main checkpoint at 2:30 or so. That's acceptable for the world's busiest airport, I think.

TSA is really hit or miss, and what they do well and poorly can vary a lot between airports. At BNA, the screeners are quick and professional, but management can't get the staffing levels right when large conventions leave town. The airport sends emails that say that the airport will be congested and, sure enough, there are no more screeners than is typical at whatever time of day is at issue. If the airport can figure out the busy times, TSA ought to be able to do so.
I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
 
Passedv1
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 2:32 am

My beef has never been with the individual TSA officers, but with their management and the huge expenditure of resources on non-sense.
 
sccutler
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 3:09 am

TSA is security theatre, meaningless make-work, and it costs orders of magnitude more than it rationally should.

The TSA, like all bureaucracies, is engaged in expanding its size and influence, without regard to the need or benefit.
...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
 
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zckls04
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 3:51 am

I've never had a problem with the TSA in perhaps 250 trips in and out of SFO and OAK.

The border guards on the other hand can be the most awful experience, especially after a long flight. They're the people who make me feel like a criminal, not the TSA. They're the people I dread talking to. Some of them are just fantastic (I remember having a spirited argument with one about the world cup where I confidently, but ultimately wrongly, predicted England would beat the US in their first round match). But other times you get some embittered loser who compensates for his small package by making my life a misery just when I am at my lowest ebb after an 11 hour flight.

I frequently travel with camera film which I don't want to go through the X-Ray. I have always found the TSA to accede to my request courteously, which is much more than I get traveling in Europe, where they basically tell me to go screw myself.

I think the reason they are hated on this forum is that most people here realize that many of the measures they take are utterly pointless. However it should be remembered that the employees in question are paid to enact some of these ludicrous measures, and they don't have a say in exactly what they are.
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skywaymanaz
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 4:25 am

When they first started I had numerous rude experiences with TSA. It turns out the problem was really me in how I dressed. Unfortunately no one would admit that, they all lied to me and said it was a random pat down. Right because 10 in a row are random? These were very invasive ones in '02-'03 too. It turns out what was setting them off was I liked to wear sweaters or sweatshirts in the winter because well it is cold, go figure. They looked at that as baggy clothing I could hide something in. All it took was someone being honest with me and the way I dressed changed immediately. I believe there are now guidelines on their website on how to dress but at the time this seemed to be treated as confidential information no one wanted to share. There were more then a few nasty comments I got from screeners. One of them was extremely verbally abusive because he felt the button in my back pocket on a pat down and treated me like I was lying to him about emptying my pockets. He escalated it into shouting before he ever told me he was feeling something back there. Then when I told him what it was he was furious at me for not telling him men's slacks have a button in the back pockets. Unfortunately things with me have started to go downhill again lately with AIT. I object to being X-Rayed as the technology may not be safe. They won't even give their employees who work around the equipment dosimeter badges to wear. Even if you believe the technology is safe that is a huge safety concern and something every other industry must comply with. Exercising my right to opt out at times starts another shouting match. Funny TSA insists AIT is optional but the screeners definitely try to intimidate you into it. Btw I'd probably need a pat down any way since the millimeter wave are at least as safe as a cell phone and I alarm them. I try to explain this but at best get a cool response and more frequently attitude because they really don't want to do the pat down. I use TSA Pre check where I can and that really is a night and day difference. The screeners love working the Pre Check lines and are very nice to you too but not every airport has it. Btw in my Global Entry interview the TSA head at the airport came into the CBP office so I asked her what might get one excluded from Pre Check. She flat out told me I was asking her sensitive information affecting national security and left as quickly as possible. OK well maybe she had a point in a very marginal extreme way but why would it be improper to ask if being a convicted felon or having over size toothpaste would get you tossed? See those are little things that are only top secret if you want to be rude like 10 years ago when wearing a sweater was not kosher.
 
jethawk
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 4:44 am

$20 an hour to sit on their keesters
 
spartanmjf
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:30 pm

Quoting sccutler (Reply 20):

TSA is security theatre, meaningless make-work, and it costs orders of magnitude more than it rationally should.

The TSA, like all bureaucracies, is engaged in expanding its size and influence, without regard to the need or benefit.

Unfortunately, my experience over the past five years shows 10+ people working a single line at a pier on which two (yes two) 717/73G sized aircraft are departing, lots of blue shirts standing around chatting and complaining, etc. At larger airports/terminals, I find them notoriously understaffed and slow. Some airports want folks to SHOW ME YOUR BOARDING PASS at the scanner, others scream PUT THEM AWAY IN YOUR LUGGAGE.

The groping continues.

I still think this sums up my TSA experience:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=9a8jGVXOMsw


  
"Nuts to the man in 21D!"
 
sw733
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:49 pm

As an extremely frequent traveler both in the US and around the world, I have very few issues with the TSA from a friendliness point of view. Never had a problem with them. Even joked around and had some fun with them. I practically know the ones at MCI by name (granted, they're not technically TSA, but still).

Quoting baldwin471 (Reply 1):
Maybe you got lucky. Every time i have entered or for that matter departed the US, i get treated like a criminal. It's just in comparison i think. People have been around the world and had encounters with many different security agents from different countries, and for me anyway, I've only ever encountered friendly courteous agents, apart from the US ones.

I had just about the rudest security experience of my life a couple weeks ago...in England. The friendliest I ever met was in ATL. So, you never know what you'll get.

Quoting PassedV1 (Reply 19):
My beef has never been with the individual TSA officers, but with their management and the huge expenditure of resources on non-sense.

I think this is my stance as well.
 
brilondon
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 3:18 pm

Quoting baldwin471 (Reply 1):
Maybe you got lucky. Every time i have entered or for that matter departed the US, i get treated like a criminal. It's just in comparison i think. People have been around the world and had encounters with many different security agents from different countries, and for me anyway, I've only ever encountered friendly courteous agents, apart from the US ones.

Don't get me wrong, i'm not American bashing, i love the place, but that's no reason for their security agents to treat people like utter scum.
Quoting mjoelnir (Reply 2):
There are still some long wait times, especially on the way in 2:17 minutes wait at immigration on the 28.03.2013 in JFK, but everybody was friendly.

That is Immigration and not TSA.

Quoting tonystan (Reply 10):

There always people sharing horror stories about the TSA and yet the vast number of people that go through security have no incidents what so ever. I travel very often and find that I never have a problem with the TSA or CBP. I find then to very engaging and easy to get through. The worst experience I had is at BUF when I did not take off my belt and they did a fondling of my privates, but that was my fault and years ago. They are mostly nice people enforcing stupid and sometimes inexplicable rules and do it with a sense of humour.
Rush for ever; Yankees all the way!!
 
sw733
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 3:56 pm

Quoting brilondon (Reply 26):
There always people sharing horror stories about the TSA and yet the vast number of people that go through security have no incidents what so ever

My biggest gripe with TSA has been the Pre-Check system. I've been eligible to use it about 10 times, since it's not at my home airport. FOUR of those times, I have been denied use due to "random checks" and had to go through the regular line. Seriously, TSA...40% of the time you shove me in to the regular line? Last time was about 2.5 weeks ago, on a 7am ORD-MCI Sunday morning flight. I wasn't in the mood...
 
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kgaiflyer
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 4:16 pm

Quoting SW733 (Reply 27):
My biggest gripe with TSA has been the Pre-Check system. I've been eligible to use it about 10 times, since it's not at my home airport. FOUR of those times, I have been denied use due to "random checks" and had to go through the regular line. Seriously, TSA...40% of the time you shove me in to the regular line?

Welcome to the club  

I'm a United 1-K and seem to have trouble mainly in United hub cities.

A couple weeks ago at Dulles with (what was obviously) a new group of recruits, one ran my rollerbag through xray three times before finally deciding to look inside (I carry a fold-up cane for when my arthritis acts up).

He even asked me to open my pill case and explain to him what the individual pills were. Then he commented that I should move on because I'd "been in the checkpoint area too long." That made me mad.

This may have been that particular agent's first and last day on the job since I haven't seem him since.
 
rwy04lga
Posts: 1976
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 4:34 pm

Quoting penguins (Reply 6):
When traveling through Zurich two weeks ago, I found the people manning the international arrivals screening to be particularly unfriendly.

'through' Zurich meaning AT Zurich? TSA does not have jurisdiction outside the US. Nor are they at International arrivals in the US. That's CBP officers.
Just accept that some days, you're the pigeon, and other days the statue
 
max999
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 4:45 pm

Quoting Aaron747 (Reply 17):
They're not all doing their jobs. Last time through HNL there were 3 huge officers at the security checkpoint standing to the side while the others worked. They just stood there thumbing through stuff on their iPhones. That's the last image foreigners have leaving the states - bored government workers surfing the net on the job. Ugh.
Quoting sccutler (Reply 20):

TSA is security theatre, meaningless make-work, and it costs orders of magnitude more than it rationally should.

The TSA, like all bureaucracies, is engaged in expanding its size and influence, without regard to the need or benefit.

The issue is not about money, but it's about the TSA's mission. Their core function is to protect the country's transportation infrastructure from a terrorist attack. So if there was an attack where the TSA is found to be at fault, they will get eviscerated for failing at their job.

So to try to prevent failure or even the appearance of failure, the agency can roll out harsher security procedures, purchase expensive equipment, hire more staff, etc etc. But these things are not always well liked so the TSA gets push back from politicians, the media, and the public.

The TSA is just stuck trying to fulfill its mission while keeping its stakeholders happy...and it's nearly an impossible task. They just can't win.
All the things I really like to do are either immoral, illegal, or fattening.
 
brilondon
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 6:41 pm

Quoting rwy04lga (Reply 29):

Quoting penguins (Reply 6):
When traveling through Zurich two weeks ago, I found the people manning the international arrivals screening to be particularly unfriendly.

'through' Zurich meaning AT Zurich? TSA does not have jurisdiction outside the US. Nor are they at International arrivals in the US. That's CBP officers.

He did not mean that it was TSA officials. It would be quite apparent that they were immigration officials from Switzerland and not any US officials. That would never happen as the Swiss pride themselves about being a neutral country and their banking industry basis its existence on that fact.
Rush for ever; Yankees all the way!!
 
JHwk
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 6:51 pm

TSA's biggest problems are in their senior management. The complete waste of taxpayer money on the naked body scanners, the need to seem relevant, etc. They want to take over "safety" of subways and busses too...

Sure, there are individual agents that are on a power trip, but the entire apparatus is security theater, which is my biggest complaint.
 
Maverick623
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Thu Apr 11, 2013 7:03 am

Quoting sccutler (Reply 20):
TSA is security theatre, meaningless make-work, and it costs orders of magnitude more than it rationally should.

The TSA, like all bureaucracies, is engaged in expanding its size and influence, without regard to the need or benefit.

  

I've had some serious power trippers (BOS, ELP, PHX), and some genuinely nice people (DEN, PDX, SFO, PHX). You're going to find that anywhere, although in my experience the encounters have been unpleasant, although it has gotten better over the past year or two.

Also, I find that many of their procedures and policies flip the finger at our Constitution, especially when it comes to their VIPR teams. They got owned pretty hard in Houston pulling their little bus stunt last year, but still run highway checkpoints in TN and GA every so often.
"PHX is Phoenix, PDX is the other city" -777Way
 
Cubsrule
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:37 pm

Quoting Maverick623 (Reply 33):
They got owned pretty hard in Houston pulling their little bus stunt last year, but still run highway checkpoints in TN and GA every so often.

I think the Tennessee checkpoints--not to be confused with the heavy but locally-based drug interdiction presence on certain interstates--have stopped. At a minimum, there hasn't been much talk about them lately.
I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
 
MaverickM11
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:54 pm

Quoting Neverest (Thread starter):
Is there something special about Houston?

Sure is! 
Quoting Neverest (Thread starter):
Yesterday I returned from Houston and my encounter with TSA reconfirmed my opinion.

Honestly the frontline is the best part of the TSA, and it's a mixed bag. It is what it is for the wages they pay and the absolutely horrific talent running the show behind the scenese. If you think the front line is bad, the management higher up is a 100 times worse: totally incompetent, infighting, outright blackmail, fief-protecting, total misunderstanding of the industry, etc. I honestly have never worked with worse people.
E pur si muove -Galileo
 
rwy04lga
Posts: 1976
Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2005 7:21 am

RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:16 pm

Quoting brilondon (Reply 31):
He did not mean that it was TSA officials. It would be quite apparent that they were immigration officials from Switzerland and not any US officials. That would never happen as the Swiss pride themselves about being a neutral country and their banking industry basis its existence on that fact.

Calm down, fellow Canadian! You know that, I know that, but not everything on this forum is as apparent as it should be. He changed lanes without signalling. FYI...'bases'
Just accept that some days, you're the pigeon, and other days the statue
 
Jerseyguy
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RE: Why TSA Gets A Bum Rap?

Thu Apr 11, 2013 11:46 pm

I had a great experience with TSA at Trenton (TTN), I had accidentally the two-pack of brand new toothpaste in my carry-on. They did confiscate it after asking me if I wanted to put it in my car but after my flight was canceled (the only flight leaving from TTN), the officer found me in the waiting area and returned my toothpaste. Thinking back on it I should have gotten his name and written a letter to his supervisor. Even though it was easy to find me with the tiny waiting area, a lot of people wouldn't have even thought to do it and would have just thrown it away.
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