You Can’t Spell Tsar without TSA!

31 Jul

Yes, it’s a stretch.  But it could very well mean that the TSA, like the Russian tsars, rule while their people quietly grumble.  Except a number of Russians were executed for quietly protesting, not frisked.  And I’m pretty sure that there were no 3-1-1 baggies, no matter how annoying they are, behind the Russian Revolution.  Anyway…

Whether we like it or not, the TSA is still in power and we have to play their reindeer games in order to fly.  That means taking off your shoes, your coat and any metallic business that will set off the metal detector before you walk through.  It also means making sure your laptop computer is in a bin or in a bag that the scanner can easily see through.  Then there is the whole list of things that you can’t bring on board.

That list is fairly long and boring.  This may be why the TSA has created a smart phone app that takes the guess work out of packing your carry on.  Well, kinda.  If you download the My TSA app you can type in the name of the airport in question and then the item you want to bring on board.  And it will tell you if you should check it, carry it on or leave it at home.  Sorta.  It will give you a suggestion as to the item’s fly-worthiness but then there is some fine print at the bottom that reads:

“Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns.  The final decision rests with the TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane.”

So basically a disclaimer that means you might be able to take it but then again… you might not.  Which is not great.  It’s somewhat understandable but it’s not great.  Assuming you’ve done your research on what you can tote along with you, your expectation should be that you’re hunky dory.  Some inconsistencies among TSA staffers and airports makes it hard to know what will, ahem, fly.

We are told to pack our 3oz or smaller liquids in a 1 quart clear plastic bag.  But what if the liquids aren’t factory labeled?  Some airports may snatch them and some might not.  The TSA is working on getting everyone on the same page for situations like this.  While the scenario I listed is a minor inconvenience, when these issues are multiplied it results in a lot of disenchanted fliers.  TSA has also been credited with a reduction in the number of fliers as some feel the hassle outweighs the convenience of flying.  Increased communication between airports is happening and the appearance of this app and improvements to their website have made it easier to get information on requirements.  The TSA is a newer agency, started after the tragedies of 9/11, so maybe we are witnessing the growing pains.

I’m not sure what I think of the TSA naming puppies after 9/11 victims though.  It’s not just any puppies, I know,  but explosives detection canines.  And there’s no arguing that having a cute puppy associated with your group is much better than a body cavity search.

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