Wish list for the TSA

TSA Administrator chief John Pistole—the longest serving administrator of the agency—recently announced he’ll be stepping down at the 11-14-14-1end of this year.  During his four years overseeing the agency I’ve noticed pretty steady improvements in how we go through airport security, and overall I’m relatively satisfied.  There are, however, some things I would like to see improved in the coming year.  Here’s my wish list for when the new Administrator takes office. 

Stop letting people test out the TSA Pre-check line.  Occasionally TSA will allow people that they consider to be minimal risk to go through the Pre-check line.  Part of the reasoning behind this is to get people through security faster, but another reason is the hope that people will love the experience so much they will turn around and pay the $85 to be TSA Pre-check eligible for the next five years.  I get their thinking but really they should find another way to promote this to people besides giving it away.  Lots of times you’ll get non-frequent travelers going through who slow down the line, not realizing they can keep their shoes and jackets on and leave their laptops and travel size liquids in their luggage.  I paid for Pre-check to get me through security quicker and with less hassle.  Letting people use this service without having to go through the application process, and without having to pay is unfair to those did have to do those things. To be clear, I have no problem with lots of people signing up and using it correctly; it’s just the random people who have no idea what to do that prefer use other lines.

Reduce the TSA 9/11 fee.  The 9/11 fee is used to help fund the TSA.  This summer the fee increased to $5.60 each way for non-stop flights.  It’s a small fee, but the problem I have with it is a lot of this money is going to the U.S. Treasury’s general fund, and not towards actual airport security.  The TSA expects to bring in $36 billion in the next ten years from fees and $12 billion is going to the Treasury fund.   I’m obviously all for keeping flights safe from terrorists, but to me I feel like the fee is just an excuse not to find smarter, more efficient solution to security.

Improve the screening process.  I totally get that they want to change little things up to make it harder for terrorists to sneak something through. But oh how I wish for consistency with a few small things. Like, traveling with breastmilk for example. On the five or so trips I took while I was pumping I had very different experiences going through security with breastmilk and the accompanying pump and other paraphernalia. One airport threw away my icepack even though it was frozen solid, at one airport the TSA agent had no idea what my pump was and tried to make me check my suitcase, and at one airport they slid everything through with no additional screening. Last week I was asked if travelers had to take their tablets out at security, and after researching the TSA website I said no. However, several commenters said that they are often asked to take out their tablet even though the website specifically says they can be left in the bag. Obviously these are just two examples, but there is a lot of inconsistency that makes for a less than stellar security experience.

Readers, what changes would you like to see in security?

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  1. Since PreCheck is simply security as it was before 9/11 (except now we have the government doing it instead of private companies), there is no need for the TSA.
    My wish is to abolish them

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