As I passed through security today at the Portland airport, a security screener saw my Flyertalk bag tag and we struck up a conversation. He used to post on the Travel and Safety Forum of Flyertalk from the TSA perspective but has since quit. He indicated most travelers are not happy with the TSA. I’m here to defend the TSA and take their side.
The next time you are standing in one of the massive lines at a major US airport imagine if you can, the immense task of searching every person you see for something the size of a toothpaste tube. The people the TSA is looking for are not fooling around smuggling salsa from Costa Rica (yes, I am guilty) but trying to harm thousands of Americans. The task is enormous. And quite frankly, the working conditions leave a lot to be desired. How would you like to deal with all of us?
And compounding the task, many people are infrequent flyers that don’t know the procedure and everybody is in a hurry to catch a flight. We are an impatient lot. Top that off with privacy issues, respect for ones physical body and fragile emotions and it becomes evident to me, the charge we have placed of the TSA, by law is daunting.
This issue is not going away. We need to just accept it. You won’t miss a flight due to the TSA. You may miss your flight because you don’t plan properly to arrive at the airport early enough to accommodate what the TSA has been charged with doing. Protecting us, each and everyone of us standing in those huge, long and tiresome lines.
My suggestions are simple.
1. Get to the airport well in advance of your flight. I’m usually there at least 90 minutes before flight time and I don’t check luggage and have my boarding passes already printed before I go to the airport. After you are at the gate, get breakfast, catch up on your email or read the paper. People watching is also a fantastic hobby. We are an amazing species.
2. Learn the procedure at the airport you are dealing with.
3. Follow the procedure in place at the airport you are dealing with.
4. If you are a frequent flyer, obtain elite status with an airline and use the preferred security lanes.
Period, end of suggestions.
If we all cooperate, and try to assist in the huge task at hand, the attitude regarding the TSA may change. I accept the fact that the system is not perfect, but if you have noticed over the years, the TSA does change procedures to try and make the process easier, while still not making it to predictable for those out to harm us. One over zealous agent insisted I give him my 3 inch L-shaped allen wrench that was a special size for my Segway personal transporter. I must admit, I added to the problem that day.
Try to remember the TSA is not our enemy, but our guardian. Try to be ready, pleasant and maybe even give them a smile. It is a tough job. Why not help them out.
Climbing off soapbox now.