Okay, that was a blatant attempt to grab readers. The words love and TSA, I suspect have never seriously been used in the same sentence, at least not unless it was dripping with sarcasm and indignation. Who’s fault is that? More to the issue, while millions of Americans are suffering excruciating wait times in line at TSA checkpoints, who is to blame for that? This week the TSA blamed you.
You are not prepared. You forgot to check the national security threat of a jar of jam your Aunt gave you as you rushed out the door for your flight. You left your belt on. You forgot to install a nightlight in bodily orifices for the TSA. You are the problem. You. YOU!
This is not an argument for or against the TSA or privatization. I told a TSA supervisor, someone I knew from the airlines and later following the September 2001 attacks as a screener, that ultimately security at airports would be privatized once again. That seems to be the cycle we are in. In 5 years the TSA likely won’t exist, but as a weak governmental oversight body. Private security companies will nickel and dime for profits, and sometime in the future something will occur to cause everyone to scream for a federal screening force again. As regular as the changing seasons.
The headline read “TSA Says Passengers Only Have Themselves to Blame For Long Lines,” A press release from the TSA placed blame on the public “who come to the TSA checkpoint unprepared for a trip can have a negative impact on the time it takes to complete the screening process”. You can read the full press release here.
Oh how the TSA’s bad PR campaign continues. Like throwing oil on the fire. They are not doing themselves any favors and indeed just make matters worse every time they open their mouths. Really! If Banana Republic was having longer wait times at the counter, even if it was due to customers fumbling excessively in their purses and wallets, they would focus on “Customer service” fixes rather than taking shots at their customers.
But this illustrates a corporatized condescension of people they view as cattle or hostages rather than customers, guests or constituents. Like the corporations the federal government and TSA attempt to mimic, they view people as a liability rather than an asset. The flying public is an impediment, not a customer. That is fundamental. An inside joke in the airline biz is that airlines would be so much more efficient if it wasn’t for all those damned customers.
Part of the problem is that the TSA sorely desires to be a sort of police force like the DEA or ATF. They badly wish they had police powers, and real badges. Let’s face it, if you sew the badge on, its not a real badge. That, and sublime worker stress and dissatisfaction leaves a monumental chip on the TSA’s shoulders.
After nearly 20 years close to and inside the airline business, at all levels, and working closely with TSA for 8 months several years ago, I can tell you that passengers are a part of the problem. People do show up with guns and knives, volatile battery packs, gallon jugs of caustic chemicals from beauty supply stores(handled that personally on a Chicago to Seattle flight once), or show up with 6 large bags and expect to make their flight in 10 minutes. There is all sorts of stupidity I have witnessed in many years of air travel and being in the business.
While its a given that the public is part of the problem, saying that to the people who ultimately pay your salary is idiotic and counterproductive. Fixing the problem is elementary with a bit of imagination, something that the government often eschews and corporations attempt to systematize into bureaucratic banality. But maybe signs with travelling tips might help inform the travelling public of best practices. Maybe working with airlines on ways to communicate best practices for getting through lines via their websites and call centers would help, or maybe PSAs or some pop culture messaging to create a “culture” for making the lines more efficient for everyone would work better.
That all seems rather simple to me, rather than the PR immolation the TSA inflicts upon itself through ridiculous swipes at the public, whether they are guilty or not. Just saying.
(This guy protested in the nude,(though he likely was calling for the TSA in the hysteria after 9-11. He was arrested, went to trial and was found not guilty.)