TSA Insanity

I haven’t posted to my blog in months, but my latest encounter with the TSA has to be documented.

I’m not a frequent flier, I usually fly about 5-10 times a year. Most of the time I’m travelling for extended trips, so I usually check my bags. This week I had a quick business trip to Pittsburgh.

You would think that the Philadelphia to Pittsburgh flight would be a very affordable ticket. There was a brief time when that was the case. A few years ago Southwest came in to Philly with great fanfare and had very affordable flights to Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, a few months ago Southwest stopped the PHL -> PIT route, and US Airways subsequently jacked the ticket price to $700 round trip.

Fortunately this was a business trip, but regardless of the reason for air travel we all have to go through the TSA. Tonight was a slow night, so there was no line. I walked right up with my boarding pass and my ID. After getting through that checkpoint, I went through my bin ritual as well.

After I walked through the scanner, a TSA employee asked me if I had anything in my pockets. The scanner did not go off, but I had my wallet. He then told me that my wallet would need to go through the bag scanner. He also told me that my buttocks would need a pat down from where the wallet was removed. He then told me not to move, as he wanted to swap me for some sort of explosives test. He also told me to look away towards the scanner as he was swabbing my hands and clothing.

After going through all this nonsense, the bag scan operator flagged my suitcase. Another TSA agent had to hand search my bag. She opened it up and went straight for my toiletry bag. I usually check my bag, so I’ve never bothered with this plastic bag idiocy.

She informed me that all my toiletries were the correct size, but I needed to get a plastic bag from the information desk. She then informed that I needed to place the toiletries in the plastic bag, leave the secure area with a TSA escort, then re-enter the security line and go through the ENTIRE process again.

I wasn’t sure that I really understood her, so I echoed back what she wanted me to do. She then mentioned that it was the process, and if I wanted to I could speak to her manager. I usually never do such a thing, but I said that I would LOVE to speak to your manager. The manger repeated the same line, that it was standard process. I literally had to go through the entire process again.

I hope everyone feels safer knowing that my toiletry bag is now in ziplock bag.

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