Thanking The TSA

Discussion in 'Travel Security' started by mickc, Feb 9, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. mickc
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    mickc Active Member

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    It is easy to complain about security but given the choice, would you get on a plane full of unscreened passengers & bags, or the plane full of people who have had to suffer through the security lines?

    I'm not saying I enjoy the process, but occasionally I will stop to thank the TSA. They do a tough job and on the (odd) occasion when everything is running smoothly, and the staff have been pleasant, I'll take the trouble to try and spot the supervisor and thank them.

    Am I alone in this?
     
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  2. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    I do not blame front line screeners for the policies of the TSA, the Department of Homeland Security, Congress, etc.

    I don't think very many serious commentators would argue that the bulk of TSA procedures do very much to enhance security. And I don't think the real choice is between "a plane full of unscreened passengers & bags, or the plane full of people who have had to suffer through the security lines?"

    But the point certainly is well taken that we are all in the airport for a reason, we can certainly be polite to each other and the whole unpleasant process goes a lot more smoothly.

    There are very few folks who are more vociferous in opposition to current screening procedures:
    * Focusing on last threats rather than future ones
    * Focusing on screening for things rather than people
    * Diverting focus from real threats by taking away water bottles, etc.
    * Expensive machinery lobbied for by politically connected companies which costs us a great deal but does little to enhance safety, and at the same time becomes ever more intrusive of privacy. (So not a security/liberty tradeoff but rather reduction in liberty without appreciable increase in security.)

    All of that said, when I go through a checkpoint I try to do so in good humor. When I opt out of the nude-o-scope, I do it in a friendly way. I joke with the screeners. Usually I make them laugh, we laugh together, and more often than not they think the duties they're being asked to perform are rather silly. To them, it's a job. Me, I have a meaningful choice to do the kinds of jobs that are personally satisfying. So I wouldn't take the job they have.

    But none of that whatsoever is cause to initiate unpleasantness! On both sides of the screening, we're all people and we'll all be a lot happier being treated with a bit of kindness.

    Are there bad apples, on both sides, who need to be dealt with? Are there inequities of power at the security checkpoint? Absolutely. Are the bad apples at TSA dealt with appropriately by their superiors and federal personnel management systems? Yeah, right.

    But no reason to be rude to folks who haven't themselves been rude to you. A laugh and a smile.
     
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  3. MilePointInformed
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    MilePointInformed Silver Member

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    Very kind thoughts
    I am sure you are not alone and that there is without a doubt some passenger gratitude
    I think I speak for many that for frequent travelers they find the consistency is all over the map with great security and some rude individuals that seem clueless how to execute security procedures
    Added to that rookies trying to make something out of nothing on a slow day just to justify there precence
    No one says its an easy job .And yes security has improved over the years but at what cost?
    Radiation exposure and naked photos to get onto the plane for many passengers?
    Where is our privacy and health/sanitary procedure protection
    However IMO we focus more on bottled water than evil individuals.Are priorities are distracted
    One man with shoes required the next 100 million folks to walk barefoot through security.......where does it end?
    We have a long way to go and I wouldn't want the job.Thanks to those that do!
     
  4. shane
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    shane Silver Member

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    First of all, let me preface this response by saying I mean absolutely no disrespect, I simply have a different point of view.

    The TSA does have a very difficult job, but they are also tasked with menial busywork that I find at best inconvenient, and at worst a violation of my privacy and civil liberties. Every day I am surrounded by "unscreened" individuals on trains, and in public spaces, and I feel no less safe.

    There is no denying that they have a difficult job, but I also don't get a warm fuzzy feeling that they are on the side of the traveler. I have seen almost zero evidence of the TSA trying to reduce the invasiveness of their techniques as a compromise with personal privacy.

    Furthermore, the TSA (and department of homeland security) has consumed unfathomable amounts of capital without once detecting a genuine threat against a passenger airplane. (That's not to say they haven't confiscated millions of prohibited items like 4 ounce toothpaste containers)

    It is important to treat TSA agents, like all other humans with utmost respect, I just don't think they deserve any additional praise.
     
  5. Fredd
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    Fredd Gold Member

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    I agree with the entirety of your post but will focus on the above.

    I started taking the same tack on my second groping of 2011. I doubt overt hostility to the screeners is going to drive them out of the job. If you don't like the song, you complain to the organ-grinder, not the monkey. Besides, if the job became sufficiently unattractive due to continual verbal abuse, the caliber of applicants might scrape bottom (scrape bottom - how Freudian of me!). I'd rather tell jokes and laugh, perhaps a somewhat passive-aggressive stance, to maintain some sense of control over the situation, rather than let myself slip into undignified gibbering rage.

    I'm going to keep working on my routine, and perhaps there should be a best-wisecracks-to-use-on-screeners thread for those of us so inclined. [​IMG]
     
  6. Deacon Flyer
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    Deacon Flyer Silver Member

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    None of the TSO's I've ever seen have what I consider a hard job. A boring, repetitive job maybe, but there's certainly nothing hard about checking ID's or frisking passengers.

    I will use common courtesy with them, but I certainly won't go out of the way to be overly friendly.
     
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  7. wanderlust
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    wanderlust Silver Member

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    Agreed. A few times in the past I've tried to be more friendly, and I was usually met with a glare of annoyance or apathy. I don't like the TSA's policies or "security theater," but there is no reason to take it out on the TSA employees.
     
  8. mickc
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    mickc Active Member

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    No disrespect taken at all and I value other opinions that help me to refine or change my thoughts. It would be a boring world if we all agreed!

    Reading your comment I realize that my sense of privacy and civil liberties was stunted growing up in the UK with the threat & reality of terrorist attacks throughout my formative years. The last 12 years living in the US has provided me with a very different perspective.
     
  9. FlyAU98
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    FlyAU98 Silver Member

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    The TSA employees are the ones rudely screening me, rummaging through my belongings, applying the TSA policy subject to their whims (do I have to take off my belt or not?!) and punishing passengers for standing up for their rights....

    They are all part of the problem, the screeners, the management, the leadership, our elected leadership....
     
  10. IMGone
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    IMGone Silver Member

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    TSOs are being paid a ridiculously nice salary (with bonus) - their job is repetitive and meaningless. They are little toy soldiers and are played with by their management - for that, I'll feel bad for them but sorry absolutely no gratitude coming from this quarter. They in no way help me so in no way deserve a 'thanks' and if you really believe they have anything to do with your "safety" and "security", sorry but think again. At this time, you and your belongings are actually more at risk than ever before (unlocked bags, tso's in the bag behind the xrays machine, being detained and unable to gather your belongings, with them being out of sight or having other passengers impede your view, etc, etc, etc)

    At best - I'd say they get common courtesy (from Deacon Flyer), even their big plastic shields won't earn them my "utmost respect" (from Shane)
     
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  11. GUWonder
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    GUWonder Silver Member

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    I'll have to thank the TSA for asking people how old they are when presenting photo ID and boarding card and then doing stupid ID-boarding pass cross checks at the gate as well. When asked about my age, I purposefully decided to give the "wrong age" so as to get proof that the TSA screeners couldn't do math properly.
     
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  12. carsonheim
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    carsonheim Gold Member

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    I detest them. Sorry, but I do
     
  13. IMGone
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    IMGone Silver Member

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    thanks for the chuckle! I don't engage in conversation, and have never been asked this but will keep it in mind.
     
  14. Captain Oveur
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    Captain Oveur Gold Member

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    Think about your first paragraph for a moment, specifically the comment about unscreened passengers and bags. Do you know there are certain gauges of wires that the TSA's x-ray machines cannot see, and it's written in their SOP? Do you know that a few years ago, TSA screeners were missing bombs and bomb components at a rate of up to 90%? They haven't changed those x-ray machines since, either.

    I am not blind enough in my disdain for the TSA to realize the individuals are human beings as well. Thus, I will treat them with respect just as I would any other human being. But I'm not going to thank them for the thoroughly flawed SOP they execute.
     
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  15. Cholula
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    Cholula Milepoint Guide

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    My beef has never been with the frontline screeners.

    It's instead with the bloated, ineffective and intrusive bureaucracy that the TSA has become.
     
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  16. ande777emt
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    ande777emt Gold Member

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    Agree. Rep. John Mica, who pretty much created the idea of the TSA said it's grown into a bloated waste of taxpayers dollars, not to mention they've been proven to be largely ineffective. The most effective airport security workers seem to be private contractors such as those at SFO and MCI.
     
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  17. Cholula
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    Cholula Milepoint Guide

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    Hasn't the TSA taken over those previously privatized airport screening areas?
     
  18. ande777emt
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    ande777emt Gold Member

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    SFO still uses a division of Lockheed Martin (IIRC Covenant Aviation Security) to provide security screening services. There's been some issues approving more airports for private contractors. I think that will change once congress prohibits TSO's from collective bargaining and this congress says enough of the idiots at the top.

    An msnbc article even had a consultant and the IATA say the same thing.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40888102/ns/travel-news/
     
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  19. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    At certain airports they do their jobs well, even if we hate what those jobs are. I personally find the TSA at SEA very polite and friendly. I had my first pat down experience recently, and the only annoying thing was that the guy (Scottish, perhaps? ...some kind of accent) kept calling me "lad." Otherwise he was very professional and somewhat apologetic. This was also a trip on which I was carded twice on separate flights in F before I got my drink. I don't know what was going on that day; I only ever got carded once before on an airplane.

    SJC, however, takes the cake. I refuse to fly in/out of SJC, and it's a major reason I switched to UA several years ago even though my dad still grumbles about driving further to pick me up at SFO. The TSA are rude, yell at pax, make up their own rules, and flat-out hate it when you point out that you know what's what. Back when the shoe scare first started, for example, the rule was that if your shoe soles were too thick, you either had to take them off or risk a secondary screen. I wore slim Converse sneakers on purpose and calmly explained the rule, but several times a TSA walked up to me, stared me down, and yelled/threatened to yank me out of line for a secondary screen. Thanks a lot Norman Y. Mineta San Jose "Capital of Silicon Valley" International (one flight to MEX per week) Airport. Biggest sell-out I've ever seen, that it has to flirt with a transportation secretary and ignore that all the real inventions happened in neighboring cities.
     
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  20. inukshuk
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    inukshuk Gold Member

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    My best TSA experience was in Phoenix. I flew there for a meeting and the TSA people manning the checkpoint were professional and friendly with a great positive attitude. They still followed all the rules, but a little courtesy made it go down a lot easier.
     
  21. Billiken
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    Billiken Silver Member

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    I'm always cordial/polite to the TDCs.

    Less so with someone groping me. [​IMG]
     
  22. Jeffie
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    Jeffie Silver Member

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    I had a surprisingly pleasant interaction with a TDC at DFW. My driver license had expired while on the trip. I had the receipt/temporary license with me from my on-line renewal. When I gave my license to the TDC, I said 'I know it's just expired and I have a temporary if you need it...', He just looked at the expired DL and told me '...happens all the time, don't worry about it, have a good flight home'. Of course I still had to de-shoe and go through the WTMD (no radiators or gropers) but there was none of the usual barking and power-tripping we've grown to love and expect.

    It reminded me of the good ol' days. Sadly, that hasn't been the case on subsequent trips.

    (btw, my new license was waiting for me when I got home)
     
  23. cparekh

    cparekh New Member

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    I usually find the interactions with TSA to be polite on both ends, but I expect that of all interactions. I don't go out of my way to thank them or praise them, much like I don't go out of the way to thank or praise the person who gets my coffee when I pay them to do it. On the other hand, when someone provides me a service for free, I do thank them.

    Short answer: Polite, of course, but they are being compensated for doing a job. They don't need overt thanks for doing what they are supposed to do. If they volunteered their time, I would go out of my way to thank them.
     
  24. cparekh

    cparekh New Member

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    As far as I understand it, an expired ID is perfectly fine. They just need something to verify your identity, and they can do this with an expired ID or no ID at all. I am glad you had a pleasant experience, and I wish this were always the case for people with expired IDs.
     
  25. PTravel
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    PTravel Silver Member

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    I have little complaint with courteous screeners, but will give no quarter to officious, rude, disrespectful screeners. To answer the OP's question, I do not have any faith in TSA's ability to prevent terrorist attacks on commercial aircraft and think there is little difference between flying on a plane on which the passengers were completely unscreened and flying on one on which the passengers were subject to the most thorough TSA scan-and-grope.

    I am also extremely concerned about the increasing trespasses on constitutional rights by this agency. At the risk of invoking Godwin's law, the Nuremberg defense was rejected with good reason.
     
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