TSA experiences and impressions

I've seen a lot of ranting and negative reporting on the difficulties and indignities of TSA screening in the United States. I'm sure some of that negative reporting is on target. Something so new and (because it's so new, mostly) ad-hoc is going to cause problems for a bit. It may improve. In fact, I think it certainly will improve, although, like the US war in Iraq, it will always generate negative publicity because it is (although less so) still inherently weak.

That said though, I also have to say that, during my most recent trip to the U.S. (2002), I didn't really have anything to complain about. Things may be different now. Certainly I'd be severely bent out of joint if my name (or something similar to my name) were on a watchlist and I couldn't find a way to explain to the TSA that that was just someone else with my name. On the other hand, I doubt if there *is* anyone else out there with my name, so, unlike Senator Kennedy, I'm probably not going to have to ring up my (non-existent) high level friends to get my name off the list.

In any case, I didn't have any TSA problems at all when I was travelling. To be sure, I was flagged for the extra search just before boarding the plane at every single flight I was on. But I figured that was because of my age, gender, and country of origin. I thought it was kind of a stupidity to choose me, but they also choose little old ladies and 3 year old children, and I didn't mind much since I never missed any flights.

There's a lot of online and news ranting about rude TSA personnel, but I never encountered any of that. If anything, I was extremely impressed with the politeness of one older gentleman at Dulles airport. And everywhere else I found service pretty good. Of course, I don't feel the need to talk about bombs and chemicals and security stupidities in TSA lines. No doubt that helps. I'm sure that there are TSA stupidities that are due to rule inflexibility. But that's a general failing in the US, and it's not necessarily the TSA personnel's fault. Personal rudeness by TSA personnel is their own personal fault, but as I say, I've just never seen any of that.

Of course, the situation has changed a bit since I was last there. If (or when) I go to the US in a year or two, I won't be surprised to notice a few occasions of TSA rudeness, but I don't really expect to. I figure they're pretty rare. They just get blown up in the press (as they should be, so that individual abusive TSA personnel can get the sack, or at least reprimands).

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