Are TSA searches more rigorous at small airports?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by cvsara, Mar 29, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. cvsara
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    cvsara Gold Member

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    An article in today's USA today.

    http://travel.usatoday.com/destinat...ches-more-rigorous-at-small-airports/657778/1

    Since the question was asked in a national newspaper, I thought I might provide a observation, or two from a small, downstate Illinois airport - PIA

    I know a couple of the TSA agents personally, one whom I worked with when she was employed by a PSAP I do business with. We greet each other by first name when she is the preliminary agent looking at IDs and boarding passes. She'll look through me, as I'm sure most TSA agents in that position do, but when she sees my mug and name on the Illinois Drivers license, she'll look up and say hi, calling me by my first name, and I reply with hers. All well so far. But the free ride through PIA usually ends there for me. Four full tubs of computers, jacket, cap, shoes, and everything metal, including my metal frame glasses, hoping I don't forget something and through the magnetometer I go. From there I rarely get to reclaim my stuff, put it away, it just sits there on the scanned side of the Xray machine. My carry on is always opened and I have to re-pack it. Thats ok, lots of chargers, wires, camera, that sort of stuff that anyone of us just love to have sitting open. I'm a rather ofter flier thru PIA, but that doesn't matter. It's that machine that supposedly looks at/through you, then over to where the pat down begins. "Arms out, palm up, "where ya going today" . Then either because they don't like my looks, or I didn't speak properly, or I walk funny, (Not the first time I've ever heard that) the back of the hands search starts. Whether I did something wrong, or was, 'randomly' selected, or 'we're training a new guy today' the groping goes on. I just love it that they ask if I would please lift my pants leg, as if the mattered one little bit if I were to say no. All the while trying to keep an eye on your stuff.
    So yeah, it ain't easy going through small airports like this one. I can't remember the last time I haven't received a back hand massage for all to watch. And always ending with "Have a nice trip."
    Good thing I learned long long ago, and instilled it in my kids, "You can think it, but you better not say it." That adage works well with TSA.
    Just my 2¢ worth.
     
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  2. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    Thanks for sharing your very interesting insights today on MP with us! Makes for some thought provoking reading!
     
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  3. cvsara
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    cvsara Gold Member

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    I had more but, the 'rant' went on long enough, But hope it helps with understanding us 'little' airport guys.
     
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  4. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    Indeed it does, it was more insight than " rant " for me! Thanks for sharing!
     
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  5. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    As far as I can tell, the amount of inconvenience is about the
    same everywhere, just different. The smaller stations don't
    have the rapescans but occasionally make up by extra patdowns
    by agents perhaps trying to stave off boredom or to justify
    their jobs. My meanest and most troublesome TSA guy was
    at GEG who actually seemed to think I was a terrorist.
     
  6. Blue Skye
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    Blue Skye Silver Member

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    my small airport MGW is actually quite nice to fly out of. albeit the planes in/out of here are smaller than barbie size or so it seems. LOL! they open even checked bags to do the explosives screening thing (swab various areas, put in special machine). since i was given a heads up on that opening of checked bags, i now pack using the compression bags, so they can put everything back where it belongs, so it fits. ;) makes their job easier and they seem to appreciate that. they use the usual xray your carryons and then a metal detector walk through. the staff are very pleasant and polite. it is a quick process, too. if i could, i would fly out of here more often as it is the closest airport to me.

    my next "smaller" airport, which i know isn't really small, is PIT. i like flying out of there too, even when it is busy. i have rarely had an issue with the staff. you can see your belongings easily while you await your pat down. (i opt out of the xray machines). depending on the time of day, it is a quick process as well. YMMV
     
  7. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Well at the risk of giving anybody any ideas, I've flown out of ISP numerous times and noticed that things are nowhere near as strict as they are at the "major" airports in the NY area.

    Yes security is present but IMO it's nowhere near as stringent as on the bigger airports.
     
  8. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    When I flew out of CYS I experienced my heaviest security scrutiny to date within the US. Not only were the bags of my coworker and I selected to be searched when we checked in, but TSA took us through some gymnastics with regards to patting us down when we went to go to the gate.

    I suspect there were other facts at play for why we were under such scrutiny, but it is probably the smallest airport I've flown out of in the US.
     
  9. kansaskeith

    kansaskeith Gold Member

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    Many Wichitans would answer the question in the title of this thread with, "at ICT, yes!" I was really never too sure of that allegation, which people have been making for years. But I thought if not more tight, it at the very least was as tight, and certainly no looser. Then earlier this month I watched in close to amazement at the immense scrutiny given to the medicine and pill bottles of an older woman in a wheelchair. A T.S.A. agent who I actually know from a previous job (but not well enough to ask nosey questions of her) went through the Rx bottles one by one and took them back to the belt to be re x-rayed at least once and maybe twice. I'm aware that there sometimes is a second side of a story, but from my vantage point this was pretty amazing and possible overkill. The agent was unfailingly polite about it, but still. . . .
     
  10. cwpfly

    cwpfly Silver Member

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    In my experience, TSA agents at smaller airports tend to be nicer AND more thorough. They are often so doggone pleasant about it, that I don't mind the process nearly as much. To me, it is the same phenomenon as with small town post offices. Yes, the folks behind the counter are wearing the same postal employee uniforms, but that is where the similarities end when comparing them to many of the staff behind the post office counters downtown - ugh!
     
  11. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    Double K. Some prescription meds are wrapped in foil which can be suspicious. (I.e. Certain Suppositories are foil wrapped and can look like bullets!) So additional x-ray would probably be appropriate.
     
  12. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    I get more thorough searches when I fly out of Amarillo. But they have a fancy new terminal and nothing else to do there. I wouldn't call them rude, just thorough. And they do stick to the rules, unlike some places that seem to make them up.
     
  13. kansaskeith

    kansaskeith Gold Member

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    Look, Mapsmith, I don't presume to say that I can do T.S.A.'s job better than it can, but this woman was wheel-chair bound, and her companion also so old she couldn't make the wheelchair work right --While I am aware of all the arguments that the next round of terrorism could use folks who don't look like terrorists, I'm sorry, this woman was not a terrorist. As for your more specific point about bullet-appearing suppositories, am I too naive to think that maybe the agent could look at them, see what they were, and pass her through? By that point she was deep into the woman's luggage anyway. To hold her up more by taking things back to the X-ray (I think at least twice more), well, it just caught my attention.
     
  14. ducster
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    ducster Gold Member

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    Very limited experience here, but Santa Barbara was a breeze the time I flew through there. Two friends of mine fly there regularly and corroborate that it's a nice airport to fly from.
     
  15. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    Well, I think all of us can probably do the TSA job better than most of the ones there. I was just pointing out that the TSA Agent was probably following written procedures and may not have known exactly what the prescriptions were. The TSA has specific guidelines for wheelchair passengers and while I disagree with the fact that they seem to be more detailed than necessary, they are the established procedures and the Agent could lose her job if they are not followed to the letter.


    I think we all can find major faults with TSA Procedures. And I think following specific procedures is what the Agent was doing.
     
  16. kansaskeith

    kansaskeith Gold Member

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    Yes, and it was kind of funny. This morning when I got up I saw on 'Facebook' that the particular agent -- the one I said I knew from a previous job -- had posted to me on Facebook! 'Oh no,' I thought, 'she saw my milepoint post!' Turns out it was totally unrelated, she was just remarking on my FB post last night about a hellacious storm had rolled through northern Wichita last night. But I did find it interesting, since she doesn't send me that many FB posts, that I got one from her this morning. And I agree with you -- especially knowing her -- that she was following her training, the rules, and what she was told to do when she hired on. And, as I said, she was unfailingly polite about all the steps, also consistent with the lady I have known for a quarter century.
     
  17. kansaskeith

    kansaskeith Gold Member

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