In a YouTube video (posted below), a flyer expresses shock that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was observed testing drinks purchased in a post-security area at Columbus Airport. Apparently, this video went viral (to use the cliche). The reaction caught the TSA by surprise. “We have been testing liquids for years as part of our random gate screening,” a TSA statement said, and a posting dated July 5 says drink testing started in summer 2007.
My take: If you want to unload on the TSA, unload about something that matters. The TSA occasionally does create real problems: I’ve been corresponding with a couple who missed their flight in part because of an excessive TSA personal search, and as a result, they also lost the total cost of a very expensive cruise. The TSA and the airline (which also contributed to the couple’s misery) both “apologized” to the couple, but that kind of apology—and $2—will get you a cup of coffee.
My experiences with the TSA have been pretty benign. The biggest problem is the occasional s-l-o-w processing one encounters. And in that context, I’m sorry to report that the TSA has discontinued its posting of estimated processing times at major airports.
I’ve encountered about the same situation overseas. The most vexatious instances are those during which you have to go through screening twice: As far as I know, all international travelers entering the U.S. have to exit security on arrival and reenter before catching a connection, even though they’ve already been screened initially. I’ve been double screened at two European airports, for reasons that totally escape me.
The TSA often goes to extremes in situations that are not at all out of the ordinary: when screening travelers with implanted or external medical devices, for example. And regardless of the length of the security lines, I’ve never seen a TSA agent hurry.
As we’ve noted in earlier reports, several outfits have reintroduced expedited security systems; these are for-pay programs that allow travelers to register (by providing detailed history and biometric data) and then bypass some screening steps. But the cost is probably more than occasional leisure travelers want to pay.
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