My mistake = TSA oversite

On Tuesday, June 28, I traveled south to continue a site security survey for a client.

As usual I arrived 2 hours prior to my flight at my departing airport. The lines at TSA were long and moving very slowly. As I approached the first agent, who checked my ticket and government issued ID he looked at both with intent, then made his secret markings in red across my boarding pass. I proceeded to my security aisle. I noticed that there was an unusual amount of TSA personnel looking at the x-ray monitor. After about 10 minutes I was next in line and was conveniently (not surprised) to enter the star trek tube.

I was cleared and allowed to exit and gather my personal belongings which were still in the x-ray tunnel. I asked the lady in plain clothes, who appeared to be in charge, “why were they slow this morning?”. She said, “terrorists don’t take a day off so we are training on new protocols.”. I grabbed my LV messenger bag, put on my shoes and went to my gate.

On Wednesday, June 29 I arrived at my airport in Florida for an early departure. Once again my boarding pass was scribbled with secret TSA codes. I placed my personal effects on the belt and approached the tunnel, where I was greeted by a TSA agent who looked to be about 45 years of age, with creased slacks, shirt neatly blouses and whose hair was slicked back with enough hair gel to seal a NASA shuttle O ring. He had this intent look on his face and instead of motioning through he pointed me to the ” this is a stick up” tube. After 15 seconds I passed with flying colors.

As I went to retrieve my belongings I was asked by a female TSA agent to follow her to the strip search table and, “spread ’em”. Just kidding. She asked if I had a knife in my Louis V bag. I said, “No.”. She proceeded to rip out my items ( receipts, class III, paperwork, expense reports, Paul Howe book on leadership etc). Then he scanned the bag again. She came back and said it was still in there. Once again she started removing pens, flash drives etc. Again she went back to re-scan the bag. No joy! This time she turns the bag upside down and low and behold- “Voila” my leatherman tool drops in the metal table.

“How in the hell did that get in there?” I said to myself. Then I remembered, I had placed it in my bag to attach it to my plate carrier and forgot.

I made a blundering mistake on my part that could have been an embarrassing moment given the circumstances but she allowed me to mail the tool back to myself without confiscating it.

I take full responsibility for the oversight on my part but remember I got through the supervisor at the initial airport ( who I won’t name). In lieu of the Nigerian passenger this week that boarded the plane with a fake boarding pass, we are still wide open in the air.

What did I learn? Every time I travel I’m stripping my carry-ons down and start packing from scratch

1 comment

  1. @safarprotection

    A well written article which brings to light that we are dealing only with the perception of security in most cases when flying. I was recently on a job in the US and had travelled throughout the world carrying a tactical pen in my carryon luggage. After the TSA so nicely destroyed my 5.11 Tactical bag only leaving a note inside to advise me it was for my own safety and they were not responsible for any damage (the bag had no lock) I decided to run a test. On the next three legs of my journey within the USA I placed a small nail file next to the tactical pen (twice the size, made from aircraft grade aluminium with a strike bezel and break glass point) Twice the flimsy nail file was removed and the third both were ignored. Never was the pen questioned.

    Security = inconvenience + money, the trick is finding the right balance to make our domestic and international flights a hard enough challenge that ‘would be’ attacker’s chose softer targets and the general public are not that inconvenienced that air travel suffers major losses. As when losses in profits are involved corners are cut. This reply is by no means solely directed at the TSA, this incident was used as an example for airport security in general.

    I look forward to reading more of your articles.

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