a view from the inside

Old Jan 13, 12, 6:03 pm
  #61  
 
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Originally Posted by Wally Bird View Post
Quit widening the discussion.

The premise that a commercial pilot in uniform and on duty could be bribed to carry something dangerous through a TSA checkpoint is beyond silly; it boggles the imagination. Where have you been the past 10 years ?
That's the whole point -- it may not be presented as a dangerous substance to them. Do you ride in the regional jets a lot? Most of these guys are 25 years old or so, earning a pittance, and when I look down the aisle from my favorite seat in a E145 I see Marvin and Rebecca up there with Facebook open on his or her smartphone. These are not ex-mil 747 captains.

So, if one of their friends asks them to take some mary jane inside "because they don't want it caught / confiscated by TSA", it is entirely plausible that they would comply. PETN can look a lot like cocaine, or flour, or whatever.

Secondly, the current validation of pilots is done without biometric authentication. Do you think that they look to see that the Asian guy is the same as the ID? At my home airport they flash the badge, sign a paper, and walk "wrong way" into the secure area zone. I've seen it a lot. All you need is stolen credentials and a vague look-alike imposter, and anything you want is into the secure area.

I'm not arguing that this is a HIGH probability, but to say it is not remotely realistic is untrue. I would argue it is more realistic now that they have a "free pass" than the garden variety terrorist trying to make it through the checkpoint the standard way.
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Old Jan 13, 12, 6:14 pm
  #62  
 
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Originally Posted by Mientree View Post
What makes a uniformed on-duty commercial pilot so special that they are not susceptible to bribery? (Or even through coercion of threat to family?)

While it may be silly and boggle the imagination, the reality is that it can happen (and likely has). If you want to discuss from the standpoint that the odds of it happening are small or it's only happened for innocuous banned items like a cupcake in a jar, then I can agree with that assertion.

However, with TSA's "every passenger is a terrorist until proven not" attitude and the small chance of a pilot being bribed not being at all different than the potential of the average passenger being a terrorist, why should the screening be any different?
Exactly right, Mein. I hope we are not proven right, ever.

I find it fascinating that some do not immediately see scenarios such as this, and this is why silly policies get enacted when congress is convinced.

Some feel that since the pilot "could crash the plane" he should not be screened. The pilot would likely not crash their own plane! There also may be a lot of sympathizers with semi-legitimate terrorist causes (not defending terrorism at all, but in the past hijackings were used as a desperate negotiating tactic more than outright disruption.)

To get privileges at a VA government hospital, I had to go through extensive background checks (believe it or not, it is extremely thorough), but I would never want, say, VA physicians to not be screened at all. I'd just want sensible security checks for all standard low-risk passengers. Pilots, military, <insert any large group here> included. X-ray of large items and WTMD. That's it.
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Old Jan 13, 12, 7:33 pm
  #63  
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If DHS/TSA is so afraid that even something as common as a cupcake in a jar is a potential weapon then how can DHS/TSA justify not screening those people who work in and around airplanes every bit as thoroughly as passengers?
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Old Jan 13, 12, 7:52 pm
  #64  
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Originally Posted by Boggie Dog View Post
If DHS/TSA is so afraid that even something as common as a cupcake in a jar is a potential weapon then how can DHS/TSA justify not screening those people who work in and around airplanes every bit as thoroughly as passengers?
According to this thread, "US doesn’t follow international obligations to screen all airport passholders before they enter retricted areas."

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/check...tion-body.html

Instead the US focuses on the pax and relies on honor systems and one-time, often-sketchy background checks to secure the sterile areas from inside threats.
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Old Jan 13, 12, 11:07 pm
  #65  
 
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spacev1986, thank you for the insight. This one single thread has been more straight-forward and honest than anything Pistole uttered to the public, or anything else sent out to the public by TSA media relations type. You should have Blogger Bob's job.....but then I guess you'd have to submit to being a "yes man" in order to qualify for it---something you don't sound to be like. The TSA could really use you in a higher position where you can make decisions like this. I wonder why you're still hanging around? Other agencies, federal or otherwise, are probably looking for thinkers like you.
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Old Jan 14, 12, 10:26 am
  #66  
 
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Originally Posted by cardiomd View Post
I'm not arguing that this is a HIGH probability, but to say it is not remotely realistic is untrue. I would argue it is more realistic now that they have a "free pass" than the garden variety terrorist trying to make it through the checkpoint the standard way.
Then we'll agree to differ on the degree of likelihood.

It may have been inferred that I approve of the pilots' free pass, but that's not the case. Screen everybody or screen nobody; and before anyone misconstrues, I am not advocating the second option.

Now if we want to discuss the possibilities involving ground crew, baggage handlers and TSA emplyees themselves, all of whom receive just a token search or none at all, then we're likely to find some common ground.
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Old Jan 14, 12, 11:28 am
  #67  
 
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Originally Posted by Wally Bird View Post
Then we'll agree to differ on the degree of likelihood.

It may have been inferred that I approve of the pilots' free pass, but that's not the case. Screen everybody or screen nobody; and before anyone misconstrues, I am not advocating the second option.

Now if we want to discuss the possibilities involving ground crew, baggage handlers and TSA emplyees themselves, all of whom receive just a token search or none at all, then we're likely to find some common ground.
Meh, don't really care to debate word meanings, and fine, perhaps it was just some line noise and imprecise or misleading statements put forth. The 9/11 hijackers enrolled in commercial flight school, and were well on their way to becoming pilots. It is very, very possible that there are "sleepers" that are enrolled in flight school presently, clean background and possibly US citizens, and it is simply too difficult / not possible to prevent all possible sympathizers or people with friends that may be affiliated with terrorism.

To say that pilots simply can't or won't be bribed is simply false. To say it is a low probability of happening is true. To say it is a *relatively high threat* compared to GRANDMA with US passport being fondled is also true. Way higher a threat. But yes, it is still a low probability. These aren't conflicting statements. But when dealing with this stuff we must use precise statements and sound logic, otherwise we will become like the TSA. That's why I took such issue with your "declarations."

Agreed, giving pilots NO security is a very bad idea IMO, as they may then introduce huge amounts of contraband into sterile area with NO resultant ability to track it (can't review Xray, zero possibility of detection, and never know what was in the innumerable black bags taken every day into the secure area.)

I would say the next weakest link is ground crew or pilots waltzing into the secure area. A trained or terrorist-affiliated pilot would be quite invaluable to mounting an attack. Bribing a pilot remains a possibility, and these guys are human, and to say it is not possible to bribe a US commercial pilot is again simply false.

Are any of you guys old enough to remember FedEx flight 705?
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Old Jan 14, 12, 1:52 pm
  #68  
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Originally Posted by cardiomd View Post
I recently got my 100th patdown, and have not enjoyed a single one. For us extreme frequent flyers this gets ridiculous, and every day I become more and more annoyed at this whole charade.
It's probably been good for both the TSA and me that I've had a 6-week hiatus in flying...my annoyance was steadily increasing to where every pass through security was becoming more and more stressful...for the TSOs and me.

But I soon will rejoin the "game"...so we'll see if the TSA has gained any common sense while I've been away from them. I'm hopeful -- in a "childlike innocence" kind of way; but I fear realism will dash such hopes on my first trip through the charade.
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Old Jan 14, 12, 2:08 pm
  #69  
 
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Originally Posted by chollie View Post
...[snipped for brevity] To pass a 16-week semester of English 100 (nickname 'Bonehead English' - and remember, we're talking a university course), the student had to be able to write (final exam) one coherent three-to-five sentence paragraph with no more than one spelling error....[snipped for brevity]
Whoa. I could NEVER pass that one. I like to flatter myself that my grammar is above average, but my spelling is attrosh... atroc... my spelling is horrible.

Originally Posted by spacev1986 View Post
they ask pretty much anything...from mundane things like where your headed to something silly like what your favorite sport is or what color you like. The point isnt the answers you give to the questions, its the behavior you present while answering the questions.
The point that many of us have tried to make, which many others either refuse to believe or don't care about, is that "where are you going?" is NOT a mundane or innocuous question. It's one which invades my privacy. As such, my being allowed through the checkpoint with normal, non-elevated, non-punitive screening should NEVER be contingent upon my answering such a privacy-invading question.

And if the behavior is really the important thing, and not the answers to the questions, why not ask random questions instead? "How many days in a week? How many fingers do you see? Who was the first president of the United States? Who was vice president under John Quincy Adams?"

Originally Posted by spacev1986 View Post
good points. Anyways, ive said pretty much all ive had to say here... just be patient, remember alot of us are just as frustrated as the pax are. Changes are coming, its just taking time.
The system went to crap pretty fast. Why is it that change for the worse happens overnight, but de-crapifying things always seems to take time and require patience? How difficult would it be to simply STOP stinkin' up the place with BDO, STOP using AIT scanners without warrant, probable cause, or articulable suspicion, bring back the HHMTs that were used for decades before AIT was foisted upon us, STOP interrogating travelers, and POST the rules at each checkpoint, and TELL the TSA employees to follow them?

It could be done in a week. All it takes is someone at the top with some guts - and some respect for both the Constitution and the dignity and civil rights of the traveling public.

Shya, right! And monkeys might fly outta my butt!

Originally Posted by spacev1986 View Post
personally, im hoping to get into the agriculture business soon and leave behind the hussle and bussle of the airport.

safe flying guys. ^
Well, should you choose to walk away from 4 years experience as a TSO, not to mention abandoning your degree in Security Studies (was that two years of your life or four?), and go to work on a farm, I wish you luck.

There's nothing like a farm. Nothing like being around animals. Fixing things. There's nothing like being in the fields with the corn and the winter wheat. Greenest stuff you ever saw.

Last edited by WillCAD; Jan 14, 12 at 2:20 pm Reason: I mis-spelled "crap"
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Old Jan 14, 12, 5:19 pm
  #70  
 
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Coming into this forum looking for straightforward advice in a non-confrontational atmosphere is like going to Al Sharpton for tips on racial harmony.

Kudos, and thanks, to the OP for having the guts to post in this forum. Your post was very refreshing and confirmed some of what I already thought was the norm in the minds of most of the people at the checkpoint.
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Old Jan 14, 12, 5:27 pm
  #71  
 
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Sadly, OP just confirmed that the people at checkpoints (btw, the word itself is really hideous) take what happens there as a norm. The norm now is that each and everyone air passenger has to be considered a criminal and treated as such. I do not see anything refreshing in that view. All the OP has expressed is just his view on how to make this norm to look a bit nicer. Smoke in mirrors.
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Old Jan 14, 12, 5:34 pm
  #72  
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Well, the OP finally explained the 'baggie size doesn't matter except when it doesn't' business.

The TSO who originally made the fly-by post never responded when it was pointed out that the website, signs and actual checkpoint practices were never updated to reflect this change and that, in fact, some checkpoints still confiscated otherwise permissible LGAs because they weren't appropriately packaged in the regulation size and style of baggie.
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Old Jan 14, 12, 8:38 pm
  #73  
 
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Welcome. I missed your post the last few days so am a little late here.
Originally Posted by spacev1986 View Post
as for grammer, i dont care. its the internet, im half asleep and meh.
To be frank, there are many readers here who are ESL, or ETL, etc. FT is an international community. While you may have a lot of value to bring, reading posts which contain poor grammar/punctuation/spelling can make it a challenge for us to understand the meaning of those posts. I personally appreciate it when people make an effort so that we can all better communicate. It's just a suggestion, and you certainly don't need to take it. I'm just apologising in advance if we have a failure to communicate.

Back to your original post. I am concerned about your recommendations regarding ID. Many of us here travel with ID which is approved and 'on the list', yet encounter resistance on a regular basis. As a non-US traveller, it can be extremely frustrating to be told that my passport is not recognised and that I should present a US-issued driver's license. It is even more frustrating I am sure for the non-driving US citizens to be told this (and there are a few here who have had that experience).

What it comes down to for me is the fact that your employer consistently demonstrates a lack of professionalism. Information continues to be posted incorrectly in airports and on the website. Supervisors do not know the rules about what is and what is not accepted. Behaviour is lax, inappropriate, rude, bullying, or worse, and your agency doesn't seem to find that an issue.

While there are a few good apples (at least one LTSO posts here who tends to fall into that category), overall the image which your employer presents to the world is one of complete unprofessionalism.

In order to change that, I suspect that it would require dismantling the entire operation and starting afresh with a new cast of characters.
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Old Jan 14, 12, 8:44 pm
  #74  
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Originally Posted by exbayern View Post
While there are a few good apples (at least one LTSO posts here who tends to fall into that category), overall the image which your employer presents to the world is one of complete unprofessionalism.

In order to change that, I suspect that it would require dismantling the entire operation and starting afresh with a new cast of characters.
I travel widely outside the United States. Sadly, our TSA is the least professional airport security apparatus I have encountered in my travels.

You are correct - we need to completely dismantle TSA and start over.
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Old Jan 14, 12, 9:08 pm
  #75  
 
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OP, you did take the time to write a very long first post, and again, I appreciate that. It would be a shame however if I did gloss over what you write in future, as we have so few posters from your agency who are willing to engage in dialogue here.

You actually brought up concerns about your agency's hiring practices in your first post, and I agree. I have stated many times that airport security is not viewed as an entry level job for those lacking education in other places around the world.

OP, how do you propose that TSA deal with non-English speakers, or ESL speakers, at the BDO/TDC/checkpoint? You spoke about targetting energy towards certain individuals, but how does one communicate effectively with ESL travellers (or non-English speakers?) I'm genuinely curious how you propose to handle those types of interactions, especially at smaller airports with few language resources.

And again, I do welcome dialogue as I believe that we need the insight of the TSOs, just as they need the insight of the travellers.

Last edited by essxjay; Jan 17, 12 at 7:22 pm Reason: response to deleted remarks
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