We have been seeing a lot of articles in the last few days, like this one: TSA Lines – be patient. Basically, airport screening has become a nightmare of lines that stretch into the 90 minute zone, and instead of acting this very minute to address the problem, the TSA is promising future hiring and using blame to explain its inefficiencies. The head of the agency made a statement blaming: (1) Congress, for budget cuts causing a 10% decreased workforce; (2) airports, for failing to fill the gap in workforce with private employees; (3) airlines, for charging baggage fees; and (4) the traveling public, for not enrolling in the bullshit Precheck program! You, their customer. You get assigned blame for creating the problem, and then you are admonished to HAVE PATIENCE AND PROPER EXPECTATIONS! The TSA is even suggesting that arrival at the airport three hours before your scheduled flight may be the proper expectation.
That’s right, part of the blame for TSA inefficiency falls directly on us, the people the behemoth agency is supposed to serve. If only we had paid our dollars, and made an appointment for a background pre-check, everyone could go through security, even at the biggest airports, quickly and efficiently. Blaming your customer, TSA, does not create efficiency. Proper management, staffing, training, equipment, motivation and goal setting, will improve efficiency, but blame will not.
But, I digress. This story is about my personal TSA-Pre experience and why I call it a scam. I’d like to give you a flavor of my issues, and just in case you haven’t yet enrolled,walk you through a TSA-Pre screening. I have been enrolled in TSA-Pre long enough to describe what it should be doing and what it actually is doing. I enrolled because of the carrot the United States of America dangled in front of my face: if I would just jump through the hoops, provide my private personal information, and pay my dollars for the privilege, I could use the super short lane at the airport, while not undressing and not taking my laptop or liquids out of my bag! I had already been a lucky random TSA-Pre selectee a couple of times and I totally bought their scam because it worked just like that! Once enrolled, all my boarding passes would have the magic Pre-Check icon that would let me breeze through security.
When the program was first rolled out, it delivered on its promises and was fast and efficient. I didn’t have to undress or unpack. I had use of dedicated security lines and scanners and it was a pleasant process. But things are slipping away from us. With many airports and airlines decreasing the use of Pre-lanes and scanners dedicated to the Pre-passenger, and the TSA doing nothing to protect the goals of its lauded program, most of my TSA-Pre experience lately has been:
No separate short line for TSA-Pre with no separate scanners
TSA clerk who looks at my ID and boarding pass and hands me a yellow card
I go through the same”security” checks as all the people not holding a yellow card, except:
I am told that I can wear my shoes though the scanner
I take off my jacket, hat and scarf and stuff them in the bin
I take my laptop out of its bag and place it in a bin by itself
I take my liquids out of the bag and place the little baggie in a visible location in a bin because having my shampoo on top saves lives
I empty my pockets and remove my big accessories because that bracelet has been identified as dangerous once too often for even me to trust it
I remove my belt and place it in a bin because everyone knows belts harbor bombs and weapons
I remember to hold onto my yellow card so I can be scanned with my shoes on instead of off (shout out here to the Pre-Check program)
After I wait my turn and shove my stuff into the machine, I walk into the scanner, which beeps
I go back, take off my shoes, grab a bin and put them in it
I wait my turn again to be scanned, holding my valuable yellow card
The scanner does not beep, so I am free to give the yellow card back to the friendly TSA clerk to be used by some other Pre-passenger
I collect my belongings, dress myself in the shared dressing space, repack my luggage, and continue with my travel plans.
The TSA has increased screening measures and decreased its staff, while airports and airlines have reduced the availability of dedicated TSA-Pre lanes, thus turning TSA-Pre screening into a scam. They take your dollars and your personal information and fail to deliver on their promises. Now, TSA is holding press conferences blaming the huge wait times people are experiencing on the flying public, its customer, the only player in this game who is powerless to change the rules.
Check out the complete rant here:
Suck the tsa, with the letters ‘PH” instead of an “S”