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phaedryx's avatar

What would you change if you ran the TSA?

Asked by phaedryx (6099 points ) August 6th, 2012

I was just reading on wikipedia about some problems with the TSA.

Does anything need to change? Suppose you were given $8.1 billion/year, how would you do things differently?

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36 Answers

bolwerk's avatar

I’d abolish it. I don’t even fly anymore unless I have to go to Europe. I don’t need some stranger staring at my junk. Not without paying me anyway.

mrlaconic's avatar

I would fix the exit after you come out from being x-rayed or back scattered and patted down. The entire process is a cluster but the exit… train wreck. I would hire someone with engineering skills to create entrance and exit lanes or something.

I feel really pressured to hold my pants up and run barefoot to the seats 50 feet away while holding my carry-on and two bins (with all my carry-on contents) so I can get out of the way of everyone else behind me.

geeky_mama's avatar

Oh. You’ve hit a nerve. I fly nearly every week for work and I freakin’ HATE the TSA with a white-hot passion. I’m TSA-Pre – so it’s really relatively painless for me in those airports in the US (including my home airport) where TSA-Pre Check is already in use…but the waste of our tax-dollars and the idiotic rules that I feel certain are NOT making me any safer with each flight that I board sure do rankle. I’ve flown globally now for going on 30+ years and if we’re serious about preventing terrorists from hurting us we need to take a page out of El-Al’s play book. Anything short of that—well, I suspect we’re wasting our money and everyone’s time..AND hurting the airlines’ bottom lines.
Here’s how I’d overhaul it:

1. I would not be paying TSA employees the pittance of an hourly wage they currently earn. The position is far from prestigious or well-paying…which might be why they get so many “agents” who are unable to use common sense, who are dishonest or abusive or who absolutely belong working at a McDonalds drive-thru NOT in a setting where people’s safety depends on their actions and intelligence. You get what you pay for – and these people are being paid about the same wage they would if they were working at McDonalds.
Like Israel’s El-Al, I’d use soldiers to ensure the safety of passengers flying. The TSA should be a natural extension or logical next step for trained military soldiers who would like to “retire” or exit the service and be based in a city in the US instead of being shipped off to a war-zone.

2. There would be a vast increase in the number of undercover Federal Air Marshals.

3. I’d go back to the pre-9/11 way of flying. Sure, you could have metal detectors and x-ray bags still…but seriously, the terrorists will just figure another way (underwear or plastics bombs) out.. We’re much better off having a team of people who can WATCH, undercover, each and every person at the airport and then randomly screen anyone who (again, just like El-Al) fits a profile that might be worrisome. The rest of us need a return to sanity. We need to be able to meet our child at the gate of the flight, we shouldn’t be forced to meet only in baggage claim where there are no restaurants.

4. Profiling. When you buy a ticket the airlines capture your name, address and payment details. Known travelers (currently part of the TSA-Pre program, with special gov’t entry, airline employees with security clearance and active duty US soldiers for example) get less screening. Again, I refer to El Al:
Passengers are asked to report three hours before departure. All El Al terminals around the world are closely monitored for security. There are plain-clothes agents and fully armed police or military personnel patrolling the premises for explosives, suspicious behavior, and other threats. Inside the terminal, passengers and their baggage are checked by a trained team. El Al security procedures require that all passengers be interviewed individually prior to boarding, allowing El Al staff to identify possible security threats. Passengers will be asked questions about where they are coming from, the reason for their trip, their job or occupation, and whether they have packed their bags themselves. The likelihood of potential terrorists remaining calm under such questioning is believed to be low (it’s called “microexpression”).
At the check-in counter, passengers’ passports and tickets are closely examined. A ticket without a sticker from the security checkers will not be accepted. At passport control passengers’ names are checked against information from the FBI, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Scotland Yard, Shin Bet, and Interpol databases.
Luggage is screened and sometimes hand searched. In addition, bags are put through a decompression chamber simulating pressures during flight that could trigger explosives.
El Al is the only airline in the world that passes all luggage through such a chamber. Even at overseas airports, El Al security agents conduct all luggage searches personally, even if they are supervised by government or private security firms.

For $8.1 BILLION a year we could employ a lot of Iraq and Afghanistan war returning Veterans and vastly improve the flying experience (and safety) for all passengers.

JLeslie's avatar

I would check ID and the boarding pass A second time right before someone steps on the plane. I guess that would not be TSA, but the airline agent checking people in. When I flew out of Bogata years ago carry on bags and people were metal scanned again before boarding the plane.

I would make the pat down/frisk thing faster and easier if passengers wave the explanation. Which from what I understand the agents are still always supposed to give the spiel, which is ridiculous. My airport sucks that while they hold you for a pat down we cannot see our luggage. I have complained several times TSA requires a passenger always be able to have a sight line to their bags, and my airport doesn’t seem to care. I have talked to them and they say they take it seriously, but then I arrive again and nothing has changed. It really pisses me off. Forget that I always felt this way, several months ago a TSA agent stole someone laptop. I actually am less worried about TSA, and more worried about other passengers. I don’t understand how people in the business of safety and security have no understanding of why having a sightline is important. But then, I don’t understand why they did not evacuate the second world trade center building right away.

From what I understand a few airports will be installing security tunnels? You just walk through and they scan you so the lines just continually moves. I haven’t read up on it, someone told me about it.

CWOTUS's avatar

My employer.

El_Cadejo's avatar

FUCK THE TSA! I came back to the US today. The TSA opened my bag up searched it and then barely put the things back in and threw it on the bagage thing. When it came out clothes were everywhere a bottle of hot sauce was shattered so that was everywhere and a bottle of rum was smashed. My bags had already been checked three times (in the states) before the TSA decided they wanted a peak too. Good fuckin job TSA. Thanks for the wonderful welcome back to the states – _ – /rant

JLeslie's avatar

@uberbatman That’s awful! The no liquids rule sucks! If that had been in your carry-on everything would have arrived just fine. If a container is sealed with orginal packaging it should be able to carry on in my opinion. When I flew to Tokyo I flew JAL and they put out a box for people to put liquids in that they could not go through security with, and then at the other end they opened the box and everyone took their stuff. Done on the honor system, but at least no one had to throw out something because securty would not let it threw, and it wasn’t in their bag with all their clothes. I always put lotions and liquids in a plastic bag when I pack just in case, but even then it can get smashed and get all over everything.

picante's avatar

Preach it, Geeky Mama! I share your white-hot passionate hatred. We need more intelligence and less invasiveness. We need more common sense and less reactionism. I, too, travel fairly frequently, and I see the horrific waste of taxpayer money alongside the ineffective process, the delays, the misdeeds, etc.

Profile me, baby—and let me walk from the parking lot to the jetway—please! It would be far less invasive than having me strip, bare my toes, expose my lotions and gels and generally get the bum’s rush each time I fly.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Another vote here for better organization after putting your belongings through the scanner and retrieving.

Also, I’d like to see separate lines to go through security for people traveling with children; what a clusterf—k to watch people trying to show their kids what to do, keep track of carry-on’s and fold/unfold baby carrying contraptions.

Ron_C's avatar

I would allow the employees to form a union then help them find jobs with legitimate organizations. I would probably let them change shirts too. I am sue that many of them would be more comfortable in brown shirts instead of blue.

josie's avatar

More profiling, less x-rays.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Turns out I’m also missing my bag that had all my foriegn money I collected totaling up to around 75$ US. Wonder where that got off to….

JLeslie's avatar

@uberbatman You checked a bag with money in it?

El_Cadejo's avatar

Not me, my fiance accidently left it in there. Point is, in houston it was still in there but after the TSA in Philly, it was gone.

JLeslie's avatar

@uberbatman I once did that accidentally too. How do you know it was in their in Houston? Was that your first entry into the US? She picked up her bags, knew she had left money in checked bags, was lucky enough it was still there, and then checked her bags again with the money it?

I’m not trying to give you a hard time, but I do think you both need to realize checked baggage sucks. They throw your bags, crush your bags, and sometimes steal from your bags. I luckily have never had something stolen. My husband once had a bag get completely busted apart. Came onto the belt at baggage with clothes hanging out. They gave him a replacement piece of luggage, I think it was used, they let him pick from several. I never used to check, but now with the new liquids rules I do. My luggage that I had for over ten years, within a few check ins had a pocket torn and a stain.

El_Cadejo's avatar

In Houston we had our first stop in the country so had to go through customs and everything there. If there were any problems it should have been addressed there. TSA in Houston saw my bags as ok so why did Philly have some problem? I dont know for sure it was still in there in houston but considering everythin was still sealed then and ok and then threw everywhere in Philly it doesnt seem a stretch to assume that the TSA officers in Philly took it.

JLeslie's avatar

@uberbatman You connected in Philly? Or, that was your final stop?

AngryWhiteMale's avatar

Another vote for abolishing it. Not sure how I’d rebuild it, if at all, but that’s where some of the funding will go. It’s useless as it is, a joke that everyone is aware of, but no one really wants to do anything about changing it.

JLeslie's avatar

@uberbatman Sorry for two posts. I don’t think TSA would have handled your luggage in Philly. It would be TSA in Houston, or baggage in Houston or Philly.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Final in Philly. And it was TSA in Philly. I had a slip in my bag from the Philly TSA sayin they had searched my bag.

JLeslie's avatar

@uberbatman Interesting. Why the hell would Philly need to search your bag when they were unloading it from the plane and putting it on the baggage belt? Did you complain to your airline that the bag was all messed up. I’d be pretty pissed also.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I complained to the airline and they were filing a report and all for me and then I told them about thenote from TSA and they just dropped everything said oh well sorry there is nothing we can do about that you’ll have to contact TSA because its a gov thing.

JLeslie's avatar

F!!kheads. No satisfaction.

I did once contact TSA through their website and they did email me back.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Yea, I’ll have to do that tomorrow. I’ll let ya know how it goes. What was your outcome?

JLeslie's avatar

@uberbatman My complaint was about not being able to see my luggage while waiting for a pat down at Memphis airport. I first had tried to complain at the airport, and they told me TSA was federal, and to go to their website. Then I emailed through the website, and they emailed me back with a link or quote, can’t remember which, of their rules about such things, which agreed with what I said. I printed it off, and brought it to the administration offices in my airport. Next time I went to the airport—still not corrected. I mentioned it to the person who pat me down because she had some sort of manager designation. She seemed to understand and agree. She said they were renovating the security area and hopefully that was already being considered, and that she would mention it at a meeting. Here’s what gets me, why isn’t that obvious to someone at a managerial level? Hell, it should be obvious to anyone. When I returned home that trip, the next day I called my airport and complained, and said I had turned in the documents showing they are out of compliance, and yet still it is still not corrected. The person on the phone seemed to understand and take it seriously. Well, it still is not fixed, been well over a year since I did the first complaint. I have not pursued it more, but it really pisses me off. They are renovating, that is true, and if they actually renovate and don’t build the new security with that in mind I might go insane. Literally, I am going to have a nervous breakdown with all the incompetence and ignorance around me lately. I am not talking about the airport only, I am talking about the perfect storm of crap happening to me the last three months. But, I digress.

Mr_Paradox's avatar

The security screening is a waste of both time and money for now. you know the people who put your bags on the plane? They aren’t checked before they head out to load the bags. For all we know they could plant a bomb in one of the bags. When it blows up in mid flight you get a hole in the bottom of the plane. That means explosive decomp and loss of control. Then CRASH!!

JLeslie's avatar

@Mr_Paradox They aren’t checked? At all? They don’t have bags checked when they come into work?

Mr_Paradox's avatar

Nope. Scary right?

JLeslie's avatar

@Mr_Paradox They can bring a backpack into work? That sounds crazy to me. But, I am not calling you a liar. Scary yes. I would think they can only bring in clear bags, or they have to have their bags searched. I am stunned. It can’t be?

Mr_Paradox's avatar

Last I checked everything you said is true, and I checked last month.

JLeslie's avatar

Yeah, that would be a holy sh!!! How did you check it?

Mr_Paradox's avatar

I have a friend of a friend who works as one of the bag people at an airport.

JLeslie's avatar

@Mr_Paradox I assume it must vary by airport.

Mr_Paradox's avatar

The airport has to handle that security so it’s not very tight. You could make a bomb in 20 mins out of stuff you find in the janitors closet.

JLeslie's avatar

@Mr_Paradox It still sounds crazy to me. Working in Macy’s you can’t walk out with a big bag as an employee without having it checked. I would guess the employees are finger printed and criminal background checks are done. But, that wouldn’t be enough anyway.

Mr_Paradox's avatar

Tell me about it. If I realy wanted to though I could get my hands on a MPAD (Man Portable Air Defence) rocket launcher. Little something called an arms dealer.

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