Massive BDO-fest at JFK T4 today

Old Feb 15, 11, 5:22 pm
  #1  
Suspended
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: USA
Programs: UA/CO(1K-PLT), AA(PLT), QR, EK, Marriott(PLT), Hilton(DMND)
Posts: 9,539
Massive BDO-fest at JFK T4 today

[skip the first paragraph if you can do without the scene setting]

I was booked on EK204 JFK-DXB this morning. As I reluctantly began to stir from my short slumber and began turning off one alarm after another in my carefully choreographed wake-up tango, I happened to get a call from an acquaintance who was working at JFK at the time, and who I had arranged to meet before my flight today. She called to inform me that my flight would be delayed an hour. After a couple more delays and much back and forth with my friend over the pros and cons of calling in a TIV (Trip-in-vain) or to switch to the night time A380 and cause massive inconvenience to everyone (myself, my client, and apparently, my airline), I decided to take the delayed flight, as I could still arrive early enough for a meeting I needed to facilitate on Thursday morning. So, after a little exercise, a shower and what can only be described as a un-slap up breakfast, I headed out to JFK, dropped off my rental car and made haste for the terminal.

Unfortunately, due to a communication error, I arrived at the EK check-in desk at T4 just as the EK aircraft was pulling away from the gate , so while I waited for my friend to come out from the secure zone, I took the opportunity to pop into the prayer room for a quickie, went downstairs to purchase a cup of coffee and an almond croissant, then began walking around the checkpoints and check-in hall to quietly observe things. As I walked up the aisle with the DL/AF/KL check-in desks, I was struck by what was nothing short of the most orgiastic display of wanton, naked, full-on whiptastic, BDOism I have ever encountered.

Picture if you will ~100 TSO's milling around with one another - a sea of dark blue, like a herd of emperor penguins, just observing passengers. Mind you, the total number of passengers in the check-in hall could not have been more than ~70, so I don't think we could have taken the TSA even if we had all brought our pitchforks. Anyway, I observed the herd for a bit, and it emerged that they were in the midst of some sort of exercise. As passengers walked toward them, some TSO's would look directly at them, terrifying some, while others would engage, or attempt to engage them. Bear in mind, this location is far from the checkpoint(s) and is behind the area where TSO's work a checked baggage inspection station. Some TSO's appeared to be holding walkie-talkies and would occasionally speak discretely into them as they watched passengers walk toward the checkpoints at the rear of the check-in hall.

I whipped out my camera, and since they were observing me observing them, it didn't take long for a TSO to approach me (less than 20 seconds, actually) and ask how I was doing. We exchanged pleasantries, then I asked him to "move back a bit, so that I can take your picture". He informed me that I could not take his picture, so I walked around him and aimed my camera at the blue herd, which by the way was what I would have captioned the picture after posting it to TOPFlyer. As I was framing the picture, he told me I could not take any pictures in the area at all, as photography was not allowed in the terminals. I told him that I was in a public space and as something of interest to a very large community of frequent travelers was taking place, it was in the public interest for me to take a picture. I also asked him what all these TSO's were doing there, but he ignored my question and changed his story to "this is a checkpoint and photography is not allowed at checkpoints". I wanted to argue with him, but saw my friend walking back from the rear of the terminal, so I disengaged from the TSO (merely a temporary strategic reallocation of focus).

Has anyone else seen this type of mass TSO presence and public intimidation in areas far from checkpoints?

Edited to add: and how on earth can one justify having even half that number standing around BDOing passengers???

Last edited by PhlyingRPh; Feb 15, 11 at 5:35 pm
PhlyingRPh is offline  
Old Feb 15, 11, 5:38 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 843
BDO training class? Where they actually talking to passengers or maybe role players?
Good Guy is offline  
Old Feb 15, 11, 5:50 pm
  #3  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,441
Originally Posted by Good Guy View Post
BDO training class? Where they actually talking to passengers or maybe role players?
Perhaps my memory is fading, but were we not told within the last ten days that TSA does NOT train on passengers? Or was that just WBI?
red456 is offline  
Old Feb 15, 11, 6:35 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Louisville, KY, US
Programs: QF Plat - OW EMD | DL Gold / Starwood Gold
Posts: 6,106
I'm extremely familiar with JFK T4 and seeing "herds" of TSO's as you explain is unusual activity. T4 normally isn't all that busy in the morning hours compared to the evening TATL push or the late night Central America bank.

I looked at TopFlyer, did you actually post the picture?

At any rate, when it comes to taking pictures, I've had more problems at JFK along with the JFK AirTrain system than any other airport; as such, it doesn't surprise me.

Ultimately I've been able to get my pictures taken, but only after speaking with the appropriate public affairs department.

You should have dropped into one of the merchants downstairs, like Express Spa and asked them if they knew what was up.

Anyways - if you didn't call it a TIV, I hope you enjoy the evening A388 service to Dubai.
SDF_Traveler is offline  
Old Feb 15, 11, 6:53 pm
  #5  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Lawrence, KS | MCI
Programs: UA*G, Hyatt Globalist, Marriott Plat., NEXUS, Amex, TSA Disparager Unobtanium
Posts: 20,211
Moooooo!

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trave...o-we-need.html

FriendlySkies is offline  
Old Feb 15, 11, 7:19 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 2,424
were they wearing their blue gloves in unusual locations?

Probably just mating season.
nachtnebel is offline  
Old Feb 15, 11, 7:28 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: SYD (usually), GVA (occasionally)
Programs: QF PS, EK-Gold, Security Theatre Critic
Posts: 4,605


Originally Posted by PhlyingRPh View Post
As passengers walked toward them, some TSO's would look directly at them, terrifying some, while others would engage, or attempt to engage them.
Men who stare at goats?

Originally Posted by PhlyingRPh View Post
Edited to add: and how on earth can one justify having even half that number standing around BDOing passengers???
Since when has TSA justified, well, anything to, well, anyone? Why start now?

Originally Posted by nachtnebel View Post
Probably just mating season.
...........
RadioGirl is offline  
Old Feb 15, 11, 8:39 pm
  #8  
Suspended
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: USA
Programs: UA/CO(1K-PLT), AA(PLT), QR, EK, Marriott(PLT), Hilton(DMND)
Posts: 9,539
Originally Posted by SDF_Traveler View Post
I'm extremely familiar with JFK T4 and seeing "herds" of TSO's as you explain is unusual activity. T4 normally isn't all that busy in the morning hours compared to the evening TATL push or the late night Central America bank.

I looked at TopFlyer, did you actually post the picture?
I never got to take the picture in the first place!

Originally Posted by SDF_Traveler View Post
You should have dropped into one of the merchants downstairs, like Express Spa and asked them if they knew what was up.

Anyways - if you didn't call it a TIV, I hope you enjoy the evening A388 service to Dubai.
TIV. Will try again next week
PhlyingRPh is offline  
Old Feb 15, 11, 11:22 pm
  #9  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 3,728
Originally Posted by PhlyingRPh View Post
I whipped out my camera, and since they were observing me observing them, it didn't take long for a TSO to approach me (less than 20 seconds, actually) and ask how I was doing. We exchanged pleasantries, then I asked him to "move back a bit, so that I can take your picture". He informed me that I could not take his picture, so I walked around him and aimed my camera at the blue herd, which by the way was what I would have captioned the picture after posting it to TOPFlyer. As I was framing the picture, he told me I could not take any pictures in the area at all, as photography was not allowed in the terminals.
Just how long should it take for the news that TSA policies don't cover photography of anything but the scanner screens to percolate through the blue-shirted critical mass of stupidium currently staffing our airports?

For Pete's sake, even Bloghdad Bob has admitted it.

And photography is either permitted at JFK, or they've been incredibly lax in enforcing a rule against it.

As a taxpayer, I'm really, really annoyed that such complete knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers are employed, let alone allowed to claim the authority they think they have.

You should have asked the BDO if you could see the scars he should have from that frontal lobotomy they apparently give all TSA employees when they're hired.
Caradoc is offline  
Old Feb 16, 11, 12:03 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 189
[QUOTE=

You should have asked the BDO if you could see the scars he should have from that frontal lobotomy they apparently give all TSA employees when they're hired.[/QUOTE]

Nah man, it's the "koolaid" they all drink at the initiation-er...hiring.
FaustsAccountant is offline  
Old Feb 16, 11, 6:50 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 8,499
Originally Posted by Caradoc View Post
Just how long should it take for the news that TSA policies don't cover photography of anything but the scanner screens to percolate through the blue-shirted critical mass of stupidium currently staffing our airports?

I believe they do know the rules and simply choose to ignore them.

TSA has developed a workplace culture where telling lies to passengers is OK.
Tom M. is offline  
Old Feb 16, 11, 6:55 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 855
Originally Posted by Tom M. View Post
I believe they do know the rules and simply choose to ignore them.

TSA has developed a workplace culture where telling lies to passengers is OK.
Lying to the public is so ingrained that it seems to serve as an automatic first response. It's not just OK, it's SOP.
ElizabethConley is offline  
Old Feb 16, 11, 8:01 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Louisville, KY, US
Programs: QF Plat - OW EMD | DL Gold / Starwood Gold
Posts: 6,106
Originally Posted by PhlyingRPh View Post
I never got to take the picture in the first place!

TIV. Will try again next week
Ah, I likely would have taken a picture regardless. I wouldn't have photographed the TSO -- it would have been within your rights, but I would have kindly honored his request that he did not want to be photographed personally. No need to inflame.

I would have walked around and taken a few pics of the shopping / duty free area -- given the # of TSO's, I presume they were all over on both levels.

Otherwise, in general -- it depends on the situation, but when wrongly challenged I will usually hold my ground and be polite about it. If something just doesn't feel right (i.e. gut feeling) or if the no photography harassment crosses a certain line, I'll back off, place appropriate phone calls, and then return to photograph when appropriate.

If there is something I'd like to get a photo of (i.e. an event happening) or something of interest where I likely won't be able to return soon to snap that photo, I'll often just grab the shot.

Most people realize it is a public area and you can take photographs at the end of the day. Certain people like private security guards or employees that direct pax around may have instructions to discourage photography, they may get in your face and yell at you, but the best thing IME is respond in a calm, polite manner -- turn the tables, calmly ask a question of them -- it typically makes them look like fools.

At any rate -- hope things go better next week with EK.
SDF_Traveler is offline  
Old Feb 16, 11, 8:10 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: DCA / WAS
Programs: DL 2+ million/PM, YX, Marriott Plt, *wood gold, HHonors, CO Plt, UA, AA EXP, WN, AGR
Posts: 9,387
Originally Posted by Tom M. View Post
I believe they do know the rules and simply choose to ignore them.

TSA has developed a workplace culture where telling lies to passengers is OK.
It's called "no accountability".
Global_Hi_Flyer is offline  
Old Feb 16, 11, 2:51 pm
  #15  
Suspended
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: USA
Programs: UA/CO(1K-PLT), AA(PLT), QR, EK, Marriott(PLT), Hilton(DMND)
Posts: 9,539
Originally Posted by SDF_Traveler View Post
Ah, I likely would have taken a picture regardless. I wouldn't have photographed the TSO -- it would have been within your rights, but I would have kindly honored his request that he did not want to be photographed personally. No need to inflame.

I would have walked around and taken a few pics of the shopping / duty free area -- given the # of TSO's, I presume they were all over on both levels.

Otherwise, in general -- it depends on the situation, but when wrongly challenged I will usually hold my ground and be polite about it. If something just doesn't feel right (i.e. gut feeling) or if the no photography harassment crosses a certain line, I'll back off, place appropriate phone calls, and then return to photograph when appropriate.

If there is something I'd like to get a photo of (i.e. an event happening) or something of interest where I likely won't be able to return soon to snap that photo, I'll often just grab the shot.

Most people realize it is a public area and you can take photographs at the end of the day. Certain people like private security guards or employees that direct pax around may have instructions to discourage photography, they may get in your face and yell at you, but the best thing IME is respond in a calm, polite manner -- turn the tables, calmly ask a question of them -- it typically makes them look like fools.

At any rate -- hope things go better next week with EK.
I should have snapped the shot, but it was better at that particular point to back down and not have my friend, who has worked there for a long time, be caught up in a problem that might impact her job. Otherwise, I was in the unusual position of literally having all day to mess with the TSA and not miss a flight - something that doesn't happen every day
PhlyingRPh is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: