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Pleasant TSA agents

Pleasant TSA agents

Old Sep 23rd 2012, 1:22 am
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Default Pleasant TSA agents

After all the bashing that TSA agents get on here, I thought I would post that I had a good experience with them this week.

Flying out of LA last night, both my tray with my shoes and handbag... in and my carry-on suitcase got flagged with suspicious items. I had two different agents dealing with each one, apparantly my case got flagged because I hadn't pulled my toothpaste out (I didn't think that was classed as a liquid.) The agent was really nice, he didn't search my case, just lifted the things off the top and searched my toiletry bag, and then offered to repack my case for me. The woman who inspected my bag, finally found the offending item, which was my posh metal make-up brush tube from Harrods. She told me she hadn't seen one like that before and it was very "cute", before repacking all my stuff.

They both chatted to me while looking in my bags and then at the end said thanks for your patience, have a good flight...

It was nothing major, but it was nice to be treated like a human and not like scum like some people report. It seems petty to stop me for toothpaste, but they are only following the rules and doing their jobs. I often wonder if the people who have a hard time with the agents is due to the attitude they give off as soon as they are stopped.
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Old Sep 23rd 2012, 1:42 am
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Default Re: Pleasant TSA agents

I think it's the agency, not necessarily the agents, that's often the target of the grief. The label Team Sexual Assault is a dig at the process, not the people I think.

That said, it's a very low-qualified job that tends to attract some dickheads on a power trip, but the same can be said of many a job and I've come across some nice pleasant ones too.

Last edited by tonrob; Sep 23rd 2012 at 1:44 am.
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Old Sep 23rd 2012, 3:24 am
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Default Re: Pleasant TSA agents

Originally Posted by tonrob View Post
I think it's the agency, not necessarily the agents, that's often the target of the grief. The label Team Sexual Assault is a dig at the process, not the people I think.

That said, it's a very low-qualified job that tends to attract some dickheads on a power trip, but the same can be said of many a job and I've come across some nice pleasant ones too.
... such as the odd police officer...
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Old Sep 23rd 2012, 12:47 pm
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Default Re: Pleasant TSA agents

Just did q quick flit over the pond and back and the TSA at JFK were fast, efficient and friendly - a totally painless experience. Security at LHR T5 was miserable and took ages just to scan stuff through the x-ray.
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Old Sep 23rd 2012, 12:54 pm
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Default Re: Pleasant TSA agents

I absolutely agree, I've always been treated professionally and courteously by TSA agents. And sometimes, when time permits, had a pleasant, human chat with them. They are low paid, hardworking public servants and definitely deserve our cooperation and respect.

However, the whole process of minimizing terrorist risk etc. needs rethinking from first principles, but within the current context, I think the TSA agents are doing their best..
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Old Sep 24th 2012, 3:19 pm
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Default Re: Pleasant TSA agents

Didn't they go through a big customer relations exercise a few years ago? Some factor being that a passenger treated nicely is better than one treated with disrespect in an already volatile environment?
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Old Sep 24th 2012, 3:42 pm
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Default Re: Pleasant TSA agents

I'll be honest, I've never really had a bad experience with the TSA. I think as long as you're friendly and don't get all uppity that they've flagged your bag they're generally pretty friendly. They're just doing their job and we all want to be safe on our flights so a few minutes to ensure that everything is ok is fine by me. I've forgotten that I've shoved a soda in my bag occassionally and they've let me drink it before going through so I didn't waste my money.

The only bad experience I had was before I moved here and I had a suitcase with one of the built in combination locks that the zippers lock into. I'd locked it just to stop the zippers sliding around really and when I got back to Heathrow they had cut the zippers off with bolt cutters and left a little note inside saying they weren't liable for damage to the bag. I didn't know there was such a thing as a TSA approved lock at the time...
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Old Sep 24th 2012, 4:08 pm
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Default Re: Pleasant TSA agents

Originally Posted by Bink View Post
we all want to be safe on our flights so a few minutes to ensure that everything is ok is fine by me.
Yes, don't we all. But what has TSA got to do with that?

They've not actually stopped anything and when there has been an incident (actually several incidents) the guy has been through security already and they have had to change their procedures after the fact. Not to mention the number of headlines of agents taking bribes to let drugs through, stealing things from bags etc etc.

Problem is that now it is all in place no politician will take the risk to remove them.

I'm not even going to go into how certain people have probably made bags full of money selling scanners to the government.
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Old Sep 24th 2012, 4:23 pm
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Default Re: Pleasant TSA agents

What I found irritating was that flying out of Boston to Heathrow I got the whole treatment... bags open, laptop out (and powered up please), kindle out, cables out, shoes... all the rest of it...

Then on the way back they checked nothing (beyond shoving the unopened bags thru the xray machine).

So I guess it's ok to bring stuff TO Boston, but not out of it. At least be consistant.

(The people were polite.. the system seems stupid).
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Old Sep 24th 2012, 5:34 pm
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Default Re: Pleasant TSA agents

I agree that the vast majority of TSA agents I've come across have been, at a minimum, courteous and professional. However, at a busy airport the lines waiting for the security screening can be a bit loud and stressful with people shouting all the time about laptops, shoes, bags, coats etc. I feel sorry for the infrequent travelers and/or the elderly who are easy to spot getting flustered by the whole thing. I'm now confident enough to not let anyone rush me (whether it's a security agent or the pushy executive tutting behind me) and I will not allow myself to get in a tizz if the zip gets stuck on my laptop bag or something.

What does get me with the whole flying and security thing though is the inconsistency between airports - in some you take off your shoes, in some you don't. Same with belts. Some like your bags to go down flat through the scanner, some want them in the plastic trays. I have a hair clip that I must remember not to wear through Philly airport as I always set off the alarms when I wear it, same with some underwired lingerie I have.... (hello intimate pat-down).

I also found that hummus doesn't come under the "liquids and pastes" rule after forgetting some snacks were in my bag until way after security at Heathrow T4....
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Old Sep 24th 2012, 5:41 pm
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Default Re: Pleasant TSA agents

Originally Posted by sir_eccles View Post
Yes, don't we all. But what has TSA got to do with that?

They've not actually stopped anything and when there has been an incident (actually several incidents) the guy has been through security already and they have had to change their procedures after the fact. Not to mention the number of headlines of agents taking bribes to let drugs through, stealing things from bags etc etc.

Problem is that now it is all in place no politician will take the risk to remove them.

I'm not even going to go into how certain people have probably made bags full of money selling scanners to the government.
My perception is also that the whole palaver is a 'nice little earner', and I'm not keen on going through the scanners due to radiation.
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Old Sep 24th 2012, 5:48 pm
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Default Re: Pleasant TSA agents

Originally Posted by yellowroom View Post
What does get me with the whole flying and security thing though is the inconsistency between airports.
If you ask the TSA about this, their stock answer is not that this is a failure of their training but that the inconsistency is intentional because it keeps terrorists on their toes.

No seriously.
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Old Sep 24th 2012, 6:10 pm
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Default Re: Pleasant TSA agents

Originally Posted by sir_eccles View Post
If you ask the TSA about this, their stock answer is not that this is a failure of their training but that the inconsistency is intentional because it keeps terrorists on their toes.

No seriously.
Yup, we need to keep the bad guys at the top of their game.. I certainly don't want to be killed by a rank amateur like Underpants Guy.
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Old Sep 24th 2012, 7:14 pm
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Default Re: Pleasant TSA agents

Originally Posted by Sally Redux View Post
My perception is also that the whole palaver is a 'nice little earner', and I'm not keen on going through the scanners due to radiation.


I've yet to meet a friendly/civil TSA agent. Security theater of the worst kind.
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Old Sep 24th 2012, 7:39 pm
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Default Re: Pleasant TSA agents

Prior to 9/11, airport security was handled by private companies who hired just about anyone as long as they would work for minimum wage. The private companies also created their own regulations (usually very lax regulations to get as many passengers screened to maximize profits). As we can see, that didn't work out very well.

Currently airport security is usually handled by TSA but airports are again allowed to use private companies for security but with over site and regulation by the TSA. SFO is one airport that uses a private company and is considered very good. However, I suspect that conservatives will again push for a complete takeover by private companies with self regulation and security will again be back to pre 9/11 days as they maximize profits.
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