Ridiculous Security Theater Courtesy of the TSA

In my Hawai’i trip report earlier this week, I mentioned a terrible experience with the TSA on our return from Maui, and I said I’d write it up later. Here’s what happened.

First I should say that this isn’t me complaining about being felt up or going through body scanners. The real problem here is that the TSA decided to do something just for the sake of pretending it was providing a secure travel environment. It was “security theater” at its worst, because it didn’t even provide a sense of security. It was a ridiculous waste.

My dad dropped us all off at the curb so we could check in and then he would return the rental car. We checked in quickly and went over to security. At the main security Enfamil - TSA Threatcheckpoint at Kahului, the lines weren’t long, but a line-minder saw our stroller and said we had to go into the security line further down. This line was for all of the people who were going to take awhile to get through – strollers, wheelchairs, etc. With only one line open in this area, it moved like molasses even though there were so few people in the line.

We had a bottle of factory-sealed formula (at right) for the flight so we could feed our son on the way home. As on the way out, we had to give them the formula and they put it in some magic box to test it. I’m not quite sure what the black box does, but there’s some kind of sensor or something that they put on the bottom of the bottle. This wasn’t an issue on the way out, but coming back in Kahului, they were clearly having problems.

My wife took our son through the metal detector and I got all of our belongings through the x-ray machine. Once on the other side, my wife had put him back in his stroller and we started gathering our stuff. Soon enough, we were completely put back together but we had to wait because they still hadn’t given us the formula back.

The TSA agent who was operating the black box came over to talk to whom I assume was his supervisor about something, and she went over to the box. For whatever reason, they couldn’t get this thing to work. She came over to me since I was the one still waiting for the bottle while my wife stood a bit further down with the baby and the bags, and she told me they couldn’t test the formula this way. Thinking they were going to tell me we couldn’t take it with us, I was about ready to explode. We had to feed our child.

Instead, however, I was told we had two options. The first was to open the bottle so they could test it. I wouldn’t even let her finish her statement because that’s a non-starter. You can’t open a bottle of formula and then close it back up. In general, it has to be consumed within an hour after opening, especially since we couldn’t refrigerate it.

That brought us to option two: a full body and bag search. This made very little sense to me since this was a factory-sealed bottle of formula, and I couldn’t quite figure out what a full body and bag search would turn up. But maybe they figured if I was going to use a bottle of formula to blow up an airplane, I would have other bits and pieces hidden on me. Right.

So they looked at me and my wife and asked whose formula it was. Um, it’s the baby’s. But that wasn’t the answer they wanted, so I just said it was mine. They told me to grab my bags and come with them to the side. Wait, I had to grab all our bags? “No, just the ones that are yours.”

Was this a stupid joke? I could have picked any bag out of our carry-ons and said it was mine and they wouldn’t have had a clue. If I had a bunch of bomb-making material, I could have just left it in one bag and picked up the diaper bag, or my wife’s bag. And let’s not forget that they’re letting my wife just walk away without being checked herself. If I were trying to smuggle something on my body, we could have just said it was her formula and then I would have walked straight through while she got frisked.

I thought about raising hell, mostly because I figured I could then have a couple extra days on Maui… but I didn’t think jail was a good way to spend time in the islands. They groped me and swabbed everything looking for clues of my assumed terrorist plot. Then they roughly emptied my entire bag, searched everything, and shoved it all back in without regard to how it was originally packed. Of course, nothing was found.

As we wrapped up, I received a call from my parents. Where were we? My dad had already been back from the rental car place (you need to take a shuttle back to the airport), they had gone through security, and they were sitting at the gate. Nice.

Again, it’s not the searching and groping that bugged (though of course, it is annoying). It’s the fact that this was in no way keeping anyone safe. If I were trying to blow something up, it would be so absurdly easy to just get around their little song and dance. It seemed like they felt like they had to just do something… anything. Too bad it was completely worthless.

What a giant waste of time, money, and effort.

85 Responses to Ridiculous Security Theater Courtesy of the TSA

  1. XlF42 says:

    You’d better compare airport security in Tel Aviv to any Airport in the U.S. (and Schengen airports can queue up in that line as well).
    I am much more convinced of the procedures over there, they’re by far more efficient.
    Yes, the initial queue before the checkin counters are a nightmare (if you need to queue up in the normal line), but
    - they explicitly fast track families, elderly and other relevant groups (so you have to wait longer if you’re a caucasian, male, non-frequent flyer tourist)
    - once you’re throught, there is almost no waiting time at the checkin, hand luggage check or others
    - in case of a special questioning, they help you speeding up by explicitly feeding you in front of the next queue, so you easily make up the time afterwards

    And yes, your data (very likely) ends up in almost any secret service database of the country, but I doubt this is different in any other industrial country of the world as soon as are flying.

    • MeanMeosh says:

      That is a valid point, but the problem is, Israeli security is essentially based on extensively profiling passengers. While it may be more effective than what we have, it will never fly, no pun intended, in this country due to our stringent demands for political correctness in just about anything. Plus, I have doubts as to the TSA’s ability to effectively profile due to the general incompetence of the agency and the often poor caliber of employees recruited to the organization.

      • Sean S. says:

        It is also by comparison a tiny country with significantly less air traffic. It also helps that a bevy of countries that don’t get along with Israel have no cross border contact, or flights going to and fro directly.

        But the bigger point is that profiling doesn’t work. Consistent research shows that profiling and other so-called “behavioral” detection methods have a bevy of problems, are difficult to scale up, and create a lot of false positives. It also assumes a fair amount of stupidity on the part of any terrorist. It’s not politically correct to point out when stuff hasn’t been shown to work.

    • Jeremy says:

      But in Tel Aviv they dot group you right?

    • Ron says:

      “they help you speeding up by explicitly feeding you in front of the next queue” — Ahem ahem. What’s really going on is that they escort you in order to make sure you don’t talk to or take packages from anyone (in some cases the escort follows you until you’re on the plane). Though the net effect is that it does save you time.

      Also, I’m not so sure about the fast-tracking of families and the elderly at Tel-Aviv, last time I waited quite a while with 3 children (ages 8, 6, and <2). I've also had the honor of waiting close to 30 minutes at check-in, and on a separate occasion waiting about the same amount of time for hand-luggage check — the lines were so long and the room so crowded that the air conditioning wasn't able to overcome the human-generated heat.

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  3. XJT DX says:

    While I enjoy everything and anything aviation-related and champion the industry any chance I get, there is not a single good thing that can be said about TSA. They are so incompetent and useless yet authoritarian it makes my head hurt to even think about them.

    Until congress decides to abolish them (wishful thinking I know), just remember: it’s not a grope, it’s a Freedom Pat :-P

  4. Mike says:

    Thousands Standing Arouns

  5. As a county with a relatlively low security risk and ample gov’t resources to police aviation security, we have the luxury of engaging in security theater. The only real risk to the status quo is if a group of powerful elites (frequent flyers) demanded reform. But they seem to be “buying us off” with precheck now, leaving the schlumps to receive the “full treatment.” I’m sorry, but I just don’t see these conditions as being ripe for reform. That reform has to start with profiling, but I can’t imagine that will happen anytime soon.

  6. Andrew says:

    This is what happens when you put the dregs of humanity in charge of keeping us “safe.” Perhaps if the TSA could hire intelligent human beings with the capability to think on their feet, this would all be seen for the incredible farce that it is.

  7. Tom says:

    I would’ve just put it in your carry-on bag. I fly twice a week and sometimes I bring (1) 8 oz. Ensure drink and put it in my carry-on bag just to see if the TSA notices. They have only noticed it 2 times out of 25 so far…

    • Chase says:

      Ha, this is a favorite game of mine as well. I either deliberately leave something out of my quart-sized TSA-approved-and-allegedly-inspected bag that I could toss in the bag if they notice or I’ve got a larger item (generally on return flights where the only other option would be to throw something away anyway) I’ll just keep it in the bag, making sure it’s standing upright in my bag as I’m under some impression (delusion?) that this will help ensure my success. Never have I been stopped. They’re either apathetic or they really don’t notice; I’m not sure which is worse. In fact, I myself brought home a full bottle of sunscreen from Maui a few months ago. ;)

      • CrizzleC says:

        Funny story. Kind of. I had a pocket knife that I had forgotten about in my carry on bag a couple years ago. I made 4 round trip visits to MSP from IND until they found it upon going through security the 5th trip on the way back home. Yes, they missed it 9 times in a row, and I didn’t even know it was in there. Had to run back down and have it added to my checked bag. Not impressed.

  8. Steve says:

    My best TSA theater was when I showed up at MSY without any sort of picture ID. I checked my bag to try to prevent confusions as much as possible.

    My buddy kept me company while TSA asked me questions to try to confirm my identity – I think they finally believed I was me when I showed them my dad’s gas credit card…..
    After I got a body scan, they wouldn’t let me through until they also gave my buddy a body and bag scan (even though he had his ID).

    It made me laugh. Got on the plane just fine.

  9. Tom says:

    The Enfamil baby formula is “sealed.” Hardly an explosive liquid.
    Flying 6 hrs without any formula for your baby would’ve been dangerous.

  10. Michael says:

    Crazy! We flew 2 weeks ago with our 10 month old son. We bought formula in a tube, like the flavoring they have for bottle water and we had no issues. On the way home we had some jars of baby food extra they just swabbed and put in explosive tester. Yes the system is flawed!!

  11. Jeremy says:

    My old drivers license gave me issues when I would buzz cut my hair as in the photo my hair was well very long and curly drove me nuts when they looked at it looked back at me looked at it back it me. Granted the photo did look like a mug shot, but still other wise it looks like me. At the time I was using this ID I was 16 so perhaps that did not help the fact it did not look like me, but I was flying alone anytime I showed it so I figured be smart show it in case they ask were are your parents.

  12. I hope this article can get to Ray LaHood or Janet Napolitano (head of the Dept. of Homeland Security and former AZ governor).

  13. Jason D says:

    I’ve really found it’s hit or miss with any security checkpoint. Most of my experiences have been positive (as far as individual agents are concerned – they don’t make the rules) but there are a few nutjobs that you run into occasionally. That being said, traveling from places when business travelers are traveling (so probably never from Hawaii) I find to be easier, possibly because agents really have to get everyone through security quickly, and business travelers are familiar with security and won’t put up with being stopped for no reason.

  14. An Brett now that it’s after the fact, what did you do? Did you write a letter to the head of TSa with copies to the Head of Homeland Security, your Senators, Congressperson, the Speaker of the House, and office of the President?

    If people don’t like what is happening at the airport with TSA they need to bring it to the attention of people who can do something about it. If enough people/voters complain, someone in Washington wanting time on CNN will start to make waves to get things fixed. In a country where items about children and the elderly get large media attention, you have a chance to make a difference.

    If their magic box wasn’t working, you mean it was the only magic box at the airport? With a separate area you had to use, logic says there should have been one at the other check point also.

    Good point about not being able to open the bottle since it must be used within an hour. You would think TSA would train workers on that fact so they know ahead of time opening the bottle is not an option.

    If they would have asked all the other passengers on your flight if they wanted to risk an untested formula bottle on board or have a hungry screaming baby on board, they would all vote for the unopen bottle risk I bet….lol

    Maybe TSA front line workers should be trained military personal and not people who couldn’t get a job at McDonald’s. I’ve nevered felt ‘safe’ by the TSA agents I’ve seen or the job they do. To think if 9/11 never happen, we would still be doing things the old way I bet.

    • I should add I know you can’t judge the work each individual TSA agent does, but overall I still don’t feel safer by having them as a whole.

    • Jeremy says:

      I agree with the Military training idea!

    • CF says:

      David – I didn’t do anything except write it up here. I can send a complaint, but I have zero faith that anyone will care. I do know that this has been sent on by contacts to TSA officials. So maybe someone will pay attention.

      As for the magic box, I have no clue if they had more elsewhere. Remember, we were in the isolated checkpoint away from the rest. Could they have sent me over to the other screening area? I don’t know.

  15. Kevin says:

    I experienced a very similar ‘event’ when traveling with my family through Newark.
    I got the ‘extra’ mile treatment and my wife and kids sailed through with nothing.
    The bags that I took credit for happened to be 1 bag that was for me and not my kids.
    I just kindda laughed and agreed to the extra security. We had plenty of time and so it was no big deal to me.
    I am used to it because I opt-out of the new screeners anyway, so I am used to getting the patdowns.

    TSA Pre-check (through Global Entry) is AWESOME at solving some of this. My wife and I are signed up and it is AMAZING…

  16. Jim says:

    The TSA is becoming more and more of a joke every day. I personally refuse to go through the scanners for health reasons, so I am used to the grope, which varies in intensity from cursory to thorough. I have never had a detailed bag search. I would encourage everyone to exercise your right to opt out of the x-ray machines until the TSA allows independent testing.

  17. Dov Isaacs says:

    I also had a very nasty experience with the local TSA gestapo in Maui at the end of what was otherwise a very wonderful, relaxing vacation early last December. In my case, the issue had nothing to do with liquids, weapons, anything in my pockets, or any prohibited materials. They thought that my computer case was “suspicious.”

    I’ll note that I travel well over 100,000 miles a year, mostly on business, to locations all over the world including airports with exceptionally strict (and professional) security carrying the same computer bag (and contents) and I’ve never had this type of issue before. I do take security seriously, don’t joke about it, and am very cooperative with every agent I meet.

    There was nothing unusual about my computer bag. One 17″ notebook computer (properly taken out of the bag for separate inspection), the usual assortment of cables (power, USB, etc.), one iPad (also taken out of the bag for separate inspection), one small flashlight, some batteries, some USB memory sticks, and two pads of paper. They tore the thing apart not leaving anything in the bag at all. They wouldn’t tell me what they were looking for. When they were done, they just left everything on a table and literally laughed about it. Ha, ha! And then they got mad and started screaming because I wasn’t reloading my bag quickly enough for them. I asked for a supervisor and got the same reaction plus was told “that’s how TSA works in Maui.” I did file an official complaint with TSA, but never received any response at all.

    The whole thing has become a self-perpetuating make-work bureaucracy that certainly does nothing to increase security. The only folks who benefit from this whole sham are the vested interests of those hired by and who run TSA (including subcontractors in places like SFO) and the equipment manufacturers who continue to falsely convince the TSA bureacracy that all they need is yet another round of many billions of dollars of intrusive security screening hardware to solve the security problem (of course next year, there will be another new round of such gear requiring replacement of all this year’s billions of equipment).

  18. LT_DT says:

    On one of the first flights we took with our oldest daughter, about 6 years ago, the TSA took out one of the ice packs we were using to keep the baby milk cold. It was frozen “solid,” but they gave us a 10 minute lecture about how it was a liquid and therefore was not allowed and confiscated it. Too bad they didn’t find the other two ice packs located on the other side of the bottles from where they obtained the first one.

  19. Kerry says:

    I had to undergo the exact same ridiculous procedure as Cranky at CVG back in April, even though the flight was just a short trip back to BOS with my wife and then 7 month old. I decided the best course of action was just to roll my eyes then risk getting stuck in Cincinatti with that awful “chili” for another day.

    • Kilroy says:

      CVG’s security theater is pretty bad, and the airport is a bit of a chore getting from car to gate (what’s with having 2 concourses, and the only 1 of them that is open is the one FARTHEST FROM SECURITY?). CVG will flag you for things that other airports don’t catch at all.

      I used to travel every week, and my coworkers and I would purposely never take out our “liquids, gels, and aerosols”, because there were almost NEVER caught in our carry-on bags (maybe <5% of the time). CVG caught them, and made a whole big stink about it. I suppose you could think of that as a good thing, but really, it just shows how anal they are…

      I try to use DAY when I can instead of CVG. Much better TSA people, much easier to get in/out of, and still pretty convenient if you are heading to the north side of Cinci.

      Also, agree on the chili… Might make good prison food, given how bland it is (and over noodles, really?), but it's not fit to eat for those who have a choice.

  20. Crazy, you would think after all this time they would have sorted issues like this out for families by now. I know I would be cranky if I were in your shoes!

  21. Gina Helart says:

    Cranky – loved your post today. I witnessed something almost, not quite, as ridiculous in SLC last week. Where the 90′ish aged TSA agent was testing the water bottle that the 80′ish aged passenger clearly just purchased from the store by the gate! At the GATE!! Within the TSA Security Checkpoint! I had heard this was going to happen, but was appalled to actually see it. This was clearly just a show of absurdity for the enjoyment of those of us waiting for our flight. If that wasn’t TSA Security Theater, I don’t know what is!! Thanks for your posts! Love em

    • A says:

      I saw the “testing water bought behind security” at Toronto in the US pre-clearance area. First thought it was a Canadian thing until someone said that’s happening all over the US too.

  22. RICH says:

    Yep that is what you get from 8.50 an hour people…

  23. When I travel, I have a carry on full of chargers for all of my “stuff’ and TSA has a field day with me; swabbing everything. Everything now goes in ziploc bags and there are no questions. HAS ANYONE IN NEWARK NOTICED (TSA AGENT) DOCTOR ZORBA AND HIS BIRDS NEST HAIRDO?!?!?

  24. Welcome to flying with infants and kids! You will be seeing all sorts of (new) TSA ridiculousness of varying types from here on out. Glad you have you on our side fighting the good fight… it has been 3+ years of stupidity (theirs, not mine) for me. Please do follow up with a complaint because mine have gone unanswered and I’m guessing you have a little more traction than most of us. As an aside, I’ve heard anecdotally from friends and have seen for myself that Hawaiian airports are especially bad.

    Most of my snafus have been in situations where TSOs will want to open my sealed juice boxes and ultra-pasteurized milk (I didn’t travel with liquid formula when my daughter was an infant). This will, of course, render them useless just like your formula. When I?ve refused, they?ve resorted to requiring me to undergo the dreaded full body patdown instead. As you mention, they’ve let my husband take whatever bags he wanted and I just needed to be pat down. Same security theater – my “contraband” could have been in the other bags!

    Also, now that you have a kid, be prepared for some TSOs to now make up special nonsensical rules of their own in your presence. In KOA this summer , I had one TSO tell me that the milk and juice exemptions applied only to infants and that infants meant two years and under (my daughter was three months past her third birthday). She even told me to go to tsa.gov so I?d ?know the rules next time.? Of course, I knew the rules cold. I knew that they referred to ?small children? and ?toddlers? and had no mention of a two year cutoff. Next time, I plan to bring a printout to deflect the stupidity.

  25. AA-Platinum says:

    Piece of advise for the future: When we travel we always bring powder that I have already measured out in the needed amounts (cheaper and far less of a security issue). We also bring plenty of water to mix it with. That way we can make up the bottle at our seats right when it is needed….and its fresh. TSA will ask you to drink a bit of water (to prove that its water, but otherwise you will have no problems).

    • CF says:

      AA-Platinum – We almost always use powder and water except when we fly. We figure a factory-sealed bottle will be a lot easier to deal with than a bottle of water, but apparently not. Still, I didn’t want to take a chance that we wouldn’t be able to get fresh, clean water. This still seems like the easier plan if the TSA can get its act together.

  26. Bert says:

    TSA have ruined flying. Flying itself has gotten worse over the last few years but going through TSA prior to dealing with flight issues always causes a bad day. I flew from San Juan on Sunday and they were the nicest TSA I have ever dealt with. They were actually WORKING and moving lines as necessary (instead of standing around and watching the line grow). The worst thing about TSA is their lack of consistency. I have to take my shoes off, but the person behind me doesn’t and they get the same treatment as me? Or, in one airport I have to put my shoes right on the belt while another airport I have to put them in a bin…consistency would be nice.
    ** I always enjoy your posts **

  27. Stephen says:

    The highly capricious and subjective behavior of the TSA is one reason I have for preferring connection times of at least 2 hours when arriving in the US on an international flight. It is just good practice to allow time for delayed flights, but it is sad to have to allow time for ineffective and illogical security theater. Compared to the TSA, ICE is a pleasure to deal with – professional and consistent.

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  29. gary says:

    Used my global entry card as an ID in Appleton, WI. TSA did not believe it was a government issued ID and asked for drivers license. Finally another Keystone Kop told the first guy it’s a real federal ID.

  30. Shane says:

    TSA is not the issue, its the regulations that follow contemporary corporate logic of turning skilled jobs into commodity work by taking all decision making, incentives, self initiative and logic out of the equation. It’s the same as when you go to a grocery store and buy 10 identical yogurts. If you notice, cashiers almost never punch in qty 10, but scan each individual item. Especially in national chains, they do not give the kind of autonomy or authority to local employees to do the logical thing.

    Same with TSA, there is a set script and set of procedures that must be followed no matter how dumb the result. So it doesn’t matter if you have the TSA or a contractor, the rules are the same and the result will be the same. Plus, do you really think a contractor will do better with employees that are paid less and have fewer benefits than TSA employees? I think not.

    Case in point, a number of years ago I was flying from Kansas City, a contractor pilot city and asked if I needed to remove my shoes (this was back when it was ambiguous whether you HAD to remove your shoes or not).
    Me: “Do I have to remove my shoes.”
    Contractor security dude: “I would recommend you remove your shoes.”
    Me: “Does that mean I have to take them off, they won’t set off the metal detector.”
    Contractor security dude: “Sir, I cannot tell you that you have to take off your shoes, but I would highly recommend it.”
    Me: “OK, I know these won’t set of the metal detector so I’ll keep them on.”
    Walk through metal detector
    Contractor security dude: “Sir, please step aside for additional screening for not taking off your shoes.”
    Me: “I thought you said I did not have to take them off.”
    Security dude: “You don’t, but then I have to pull you aside” (and make me take off my shoes anyway).

    Point being, the dude had a script he had to follow and he followed it to the letter. If he was able to use common sense, he would have said, “Sir, I cannot tell you that you have to remove your shoes, but if you do not, then I will have to perform additional screening where I will tell you to take off your shoes.”

    (end long story, thanks for your patience)

  31. james says:

    The biggest asset you can bring to TSA conflict is time. The TSA counts on you to acquiesce and be subservient in order to make your flight. Challenging them results in retaliatory delays causing missed flights, lost vacation days, missed appointments, and a cost to you. It?s hard to stand up for your rights in this situation.

    I?ve been told flat out when politely escalating a question or waiting for a pat down ?it will take a while? as a threat to making my flight.

    While not practical for every trip I try to make the airport as early as possible. I don?t mind catching up on reading, coffee, and plane watching. Once the TSA sees you relaxed, patient, and calm ? as if you have ?all the time in the world? (even if it?s a bluff) their bully power is lost.

    • steve says:

      AMEN! Me too!! I get there at least 2 hours early. Then they can body cavity search me if they want. It just diverts attention from the real threats.

  32. Bill says:

    We can complain all we want and I have written my senators and congressman many times about this albatross. While I get responses (some personal) it’s always the same thing, have to be safe, careful, …. So last month I wrote each of them again and said that if I don’t see any progress with restoring my rights and dignity when traveling I will vote for the other candidate. I’ve had enough of career politicians who don’t represent me.

  33. Mike says:

    Soon after 9/11 I was going from san/bkk, got a little slip handed to me by the ticket agent saying I was “randomly” selected to have my checked bagged inspected.

    the ticket agent went with me to the tsa area ( xray belt) I was using fastpack clamshell boxes for my items, aside from the usual stuff I had a small convection oven in one box, and a satellite phone in another.

    The boxes were sealed with fiber tape, and they asked me to open them.

    Of course, I had no knife or cutter to open them, so I told them it was ok for them to cut the tape to open them ( I had spare tape in my carry on bag, ((( from past experience))) )

    seems the agents were not allowed to have a cutter or knife on hand either.

    after some discussion ( and looking at the xray images) they sent me on my way.

  34. SteveZ says:

    As a sort of aside… I was in Maui in February and decided to visit the little puddle jumper airport in West Maui (Kaanapali). The airport gets five or six flights a day, mainly from HNL. They had a full TSA site there, staffed by four agents. During the hour that I was there, I watched these agents spend about 95% of their time just standing around and chatting. And that was during the time a flight was on its way in and the dozen or so outbound passengers were going through the TSA checkpoint.

    It irritates me to see our tax dollars so brazenly wasted on what is clearly overstaffing.

  35. Ron Kline says:

    At the Kahului Airport, my wife started to take a picture of the outdoor section of the airport. Two TSA agents and a local police officer decended on her and informed her that she was breaking the law and demanded that she delete all pictures on her camera. When I asked why it was against the law, they answered “Because we say so. Move on or we will arrest you”. Maui was great but our Stormtroopers need a little taming. When I contacted TSA upon returning home, they replied that the agents were mistaken, but it is always wise to do as they say.

    • james says:

      Did you delete them?

        • james says:

          I would have told them to pound salt. You have every right to photograph bridges, architecture, airports and things you find interesting in a public place. Sadly even real police are unaware and backup the made up “laws” of the TSA.

          Of course it’s easy to write here, but when you have places to be and things to do sometimes it’s easier to follow the choice of least resistance.

        • Mike says:

          they would have been sol. ( you too maybe) if it was a phone that sent directly to face book or the like.

  36. Mke says:

    Cranky,

    simple mistake,
    you are applying logic.

    That works if the counter-party has discretion.

    They play by the book. No logic. No discretion.

  37. Mel says:

    I know this is lame compared to some of your crazy stories, but my 3 and 6 yr old daughters and I were yelled at because we were standing outside the “secure” area in IND, as the girls waved tearfully to daddy when he went on his first business trip. We were watching him do the shoe thing and repack his laptop, waiting for him to look up for that final wave, but they yelled at us because we weren’t past the sign, which was like 20 feet down the big bare hallway. Really? We couldn’t just be 20 feet closer, but still on the outside of the security wall, completely out of the way of the very few other passengers? I guess we just looked dangerous and suspicious, standing there teary-eyed and calling, “Love you Daddy! See you soon! We’ll miss you!”

    Did you all see the video of the woman kept in a glass cage because she was traveling with breast milk? Absolutely insane.

  38. cahdot says:

    stupid stupid stupid..system . it is the government what do u expect? it will get worse i’m sure

  39. john says:

    I brought back 10 bottles of Grappa and 2 cuban cigars and made it through 3 rounds of security as well as secondary groping in London boarding a US bound flight. Is the cranky flier finally noticing that the TSA is a blue shirt intimidation goon squad? Their only intent is to harass law abiding citizens. Get on the bus Cranky and start writing your congressmen and senators. SHUT DOWN THE TSA!

  40. Felix says:

    As a parent with a toddler and a baby on the way, the minute I saw premixed large formula bottles, I knew to steer clear.

    Its far easier to carry the powder and mix with bottle water from on board the aircraft.

    In theory it sounds great but you still need to warm it and TSA is liquid phobic. Still TSA as usual is schizo, Baby food never was an issue, but take bottled formula and they act like you are carrying nitro.

    Take it from an airline vet,
    formula/juice powder=suspicious but testable
    sealed liquids=get a lawyer

  41. Bill says:

    Do we have a politician in this country who has the guts to take action? I haven’t seen one.

    • Mike says:

      The politicians are afraid of the union, and that does not take into account the ones that own stock in the tsa scanner companies.

    • CF says:

      Bill – Sure we do. They just don’t get elected. Take a stand and do something about it and you’ll never survive politics.

  42. Sean S. says:

    We complain but the thing is that the majority of the public doesn’t agree with us, mostly because they either don’t fly or fly so rarely that they never experience the inconveniences those of us who fly on a regular basis encounter day in, day out.

  43. Bobber says:

    I don’t have an issue with what the TSA do. Their representatives are frequently far more amiable than their British counterparts. However, military training is a good point; in the pre-Olympics security debacle (where G4S accidentally failed to recruit another 15,000 security staff), the UK military were called up. They ran airport-style security checks at multiple sites around London, normally for crowds of up to 300,000 at the Olympic village, and I think we were through the line in less than 5 minutes – efficient, courteous, knowledgeable and professional. It can be done that way.

  44. All I can say is that I was an airline manager in the days of private security. Yes, there were far fewer rules about what you could/could not bring through screening, but the quality of the personnel was shockingly bad. They were all ill-trained minimum wage no-benefit workers who cared not one whit about airline security at all. Part of my job involved auditing the ability of screeners to find weapons in checked luggage. All we were allowed to do was put a weapon in an otherwise empty bag, and security had to catch it two out of three tries. And since the private companies were contractors our only recourse for poor security was for the airport authority to re-open the bid when the contract expired.

  45. steve says:

    Now you see what everyone has been saying. Its ALL a charade. One flight attendant called it “window dressing.” The ACT creates a sense of security. How pitifully easy it would be to not obey the rules. However, we must all take off our shoes and now with our HIGHER tech devices, remove our BELTS and everything from our pockets. In the mean time, TSA chats amongst themselves while bags go pouring through the Xray. What the heck are they chatting about. Why don’t they actually PAY ATTENTION. I saw one idiot on his cell phone while he was looking at the xray monitors. Oh well.. It isn’t going to stop.

  46. LIH Prem says:

    I live on Maui. I used to use the 2nd entrance all the time, and I sometimes still use it, bypassing the main line when I walk in from the parking lot.

    They only have 6 belts total at OGG, and they keep trying different things. The family and staff only line at the 2nd entrance is their latest attempt at solving a problem they can’t solve there without more belts.

    I’m always curious to see how long the current attempts are going to last there.

    -David

  47. CF says:

    All the comments pushed me forward to filing an actual complaint with the TSA. I doubt it will have any impact, but you’re right, we shouldn’t just become complacent about it.

  48. jeremy says:

    Here is the deal, and it is oft repeated in the 63 comments above me. “I shrugged and just dealt with it”. Even Cranky said that he would rather put up with it, than to find out what a Hawaii Jail look like. While that is an extreme example, not being allowed to fly is the true issue that he faced. We put up with it, so that we can fly. We sacrifice our right to privacy, so that we can go home on time, or not lose our non-refundable fares, or make the business meeting on time. Until EVERYONE starts saying NO, nothing will change. Because we all just put up with it, its not going to change. If you really want the TSA to go away, or just change? Get 25% of people who fly every day to NOT FLY one day. Just don’t show up. Get more than 25% to NOT SHOW. Can you imagine the airlines reaction? This is the only type of action that will result in change. Get a large percentage of people at all airports to refuse the body scanners on the same day. The airports will be in chaos, flights delayed and cancelled, lines backed up for hours. That will bring true change.

    But, for most of us, myself included, the inconvenience of being groped, scanned, and generally treated like I have no rights, is less than my want to fly to Vegas for dinner, or in Crankys case, his want to fly home with his family and to be able to feed his kid on the flight. We put up with it, and they know we will.

    • james says:

      Well said.

      Add to that many times we’re traveling with family and friends who don’t share the same gusto for not being bullied around, and are even embarrassed when we ask a question, or clarify something with a TSO before compliance. How do you handle turning into “Johnny don’t step on my rights” when your coworker or spouse just wants to get to the gate?

      Unlike a protest in city hall, or any situation where we actively demonstrate, in this case the greater good is always personal and we make the sacrifices you mention.

  49. David SF eastbay says:

    After reading all the comments about how TSA can be different from one airport and other (I’ve seen that), or had TSA say something, I was wondering since so many people carry smartphones, has anyone ever pulled out their phone and gone to the TSA website and told the agent to show them where it says what ever they said or whatever might apply?

  50. George says:

    Cranky, take a deep breath, think of that DoubleDouble and the plane spotting and remember all those signs at Security saying “we are TSA and we should be showed repect” Our Federal Government at it’s Best-NOT!

  51. lennie falcon says:

    You have two choices: 1. Get over it, they’re just trying to do their jobs as mandated by their arcane and nonsensical rule books. 2. Don’t fly with infants.

    • Jon says:

      lennie falcon,

      1. The brown shirts in Germany were just doing their jobs too.

      2. The TSA is already trying to extend its tentacles into other forms of transportation (train, bus, automobile, and even funiculars) and non-transportation (sporting events, conventions). Your choice #2 quickly becomes “Don’t take infants to any public place”. Not sure how we get them home from the hospital…

  52. brian says:

    Cranky — As someone who flies almost exclusively internationally (and works on counter-terrorism policy), I find your argument and those of the commenters all the more persuasive because of the lack of invasive screening on flights _to_ the United States, which is where the real threat lies. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it’s much easier for a would-be terrorist to target a flight going to the U.S. from abroad than to enter the U.S. from abroad and then commit the act. (And the case studies bear this out, from Richard Reid, CDG-MIA, to Omar Mutallab, AMS-DTW). Yet very few foreign airports have U.S. immigration facilities (the only place I’ve experienced this is Shannon), which would significantly improve screening of potential bad actors, nor do most foreign airports with U.S.-bound flights have the burdensome security procedures that everyone on this thread finds so burdensome at a domestic airport (where the chances of a terrorist targeting a flight are vanishingly small). Moreover, the planes departing foreign airports for the United States generally carry far more people than the average domestic flight. It all adds up to an incredible waste of money, time, and hassle which does the precise opposite of addressing the real threat (flights from abroad to the United States).

  53. alex says:

    It sounds like the machine they were using to test the formula was either not working or they needed to remove the label from the bottle for it to work. That kind of machine can only run its test on bottles that are transparent. Otherwise, they have to open the bottle and do the other test they do. I had a similar experience when traveling with a few of those fruit pouches. Thankfully, when I asked to speak to a supervisor, the supervisor sided with me.

    I imagine, there is a procedure TSA is required to follow for when a bottle cannot be opened. It makes no sense, but they have to have some sort of “additional screening” in place to cover their asses.

    When I go through security with my baby in his baby carrier, I either have to take him out of the carrier or undergo an “additional screening” that involves swabbing my hands of explosive material. Obviously if I’m wearing my baby, I must have recently handled explosives. Makes no sense, if I but it’s the extra cushion of security that the bureaucrats put in place that is supposed to help us sleep better at night.

    TSA totally could have handled it better and it sucks that you had to go through it to get your baby’s food through security.

  54. Kaszeta says:

    This particular aroach security reminds of me the fairly unique shoe circus that I’ve only seen at Dublin, although other immigration preclearance airports may be similar:

    1. Normal “old school” x-ray and WMTD to get to the departures area.
    2. US flights then have to get precleared with passport and customs.
    3. After that, there’s another x-ray stop for checking your shoes.

    The stupid thing here is that step 3 is *only* your shoes, they actually make it a point to make you take your non-shoe items off the belt.

    Mind you, if you actually had something in your shoes and got it by the WTMD in step 1, before you hit the preclearance line you had plenty of opportunity in the departure lounge to do whatever you wanted with your shoes… Or even buy new shoes at one of the vendors.

    It serves as a purely pointless extra step. Since we can’t be having un-xrayed shoes roaming about, can we?

    • CF says:

      Kaszeta – They used to do this at Heathrow as well! I remember flying out of Terminal 3 maybe around 2006 (fuzzy on the date) when they had the ridiculous shoe scanner. So easy to get around.

  55. Ed Kelty says:

    Don’t you believe in full-employment? The pathetic thing is that we have to pay for this stupid stuff.

  56. TSA, Thousands Standing Around, I know it all too well. The bad guys must still be laughing while we continue to waste billions on this Federal jobs program that serves no useful purpose.

  57. I think it is sad that what started out as good intentions from the government has gone so bad. TSA needs to revamp their screening ?plan B? for out of the box situations. These procedures are meant to keep us safe not irritate people.

  58. Britt says:

    On Friday I flew SFO to IAH on UA. The TSA was at the gate checking boarding passes and ID as we boarded. Not sure what purpose is serves since their co workers just checked everyone’s IDs and we all went through security. All the theatre is getting quite exhausting.

  59. DAVID says:

    EWR Aug 13th , one once of water left in a bottle , no place to dump it as required , good lord could not drink it , had to then either throw it away, was not going to do that for it was a $20 water bottle , or dump it outside of the TSA area and then go thru security again…. the stupid thing is they never caught the bottle initially only I told them I had a water bottle that might have a bit of water in it. There was so little water in the bottle I could have dumped it on my head and it would have evaporated by the time I got my shoes on….. Since when at EWR drinking the water in the bottle is against the rules. Wrote TSA for clarification 2 50 days ago , as suspected no answer……

  60. Retiring Flyer says:

    I’m at an airport now, just paid the latest airport/tsa/faa tax: bought water worth its weight in silver inside of security. Worst part is its not enough water to last until boarding. As someone who drinks 200 or so ounces a day and is rarely quenched, the 1.5oz they bring me every time I hit the call light isn’t going to be much of a consolation. Fortunately, my flights this time only total 24 hours…when bringing your own water into any largely publicly funded facility is illegal, you’re not in a free country. What’s next? Taking away air?

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