Dec 102010

I recently flew to Kansas on a business trip. Obviously this necessitated a little air travel and obviously this was going to mean a couple of encounters with the TSA.

The plan was to fly out of John Wayne airport in Santa Ana, an airport that is pretty local to me. I arrived in plenty of time for my (really early) flight, grabbed my tickets and headed to security.

OK, let me rewind a tad, prior to embarking on the trip I made sure that I was ‘in compliance’ as far as I could possibly be, no liquids, beyond a couple of items in my toiletries bag, no knives, guns, rocket propelled grenade launchers or nail clippers and very little metal ‘on my persons’. Apart from a Seiko Orange Monster wrist watch.

As I prepared to go through security, I took off my shoes, and placed them in a tray, my jacket went next, then my laptop bag, carry-on luggage, them my actual laptop and finally my wallet and $0.75c in change.

I then walked through the metal detector – the security ‘guard’, actually a young woman with overly severely scraped back hair, several spare tires and serious case of ‘cop wannabe attitude’ seemed to give me the universal signal for ‘move along please’. So I moved towards the conveyor to grab my shoes and she started barking at me. Well, not so much barking, more screeching. ‘Move away from the equipment Sir.’ is what I believe she said – then told me that I needed to be re-checked, so I walked back through the detector and she started yelling at me. I honestly could not tell what she said – she had a fairly thick (Spanish) accent overlayed with wannabe cop phrases, overlayed with what sounded like 500 claws being scraped down a blackboard. I went back through the detector – she was screeching about my watch – ‘Sir, I am going to have to ask you to remove any metal sir, else I will have you arrested’.

I tried to explain that I was deaf, but it fell on, well, deaf ears I think.

I think by now it had decided that I was a terrorist, she seemed to be both furious with and also scared of, me.

‘Sir, if you are carrying weapons, I must ask you to gently remove them from your persons right now,sir.’ she screeched – bats several miles away probably crashed into things due to the sonic interference.

Another guard started to close in on me and I was certain that I was going to get the full ‘service’. By this time there was a fair queue of people making disparaging ‘tutting’ noises behind me and I think I was probably public enemy number one in the airport at that time.

Oops, I still had my watch on – so I undid it and dropped it into a dog bowl and then realized I still had my belt on – so I pulled that as well. I patted down my own pockets and realized that a pen in my shirt pocket – the pen clip was perfectly visible – I pulled it, dropped it into another dog bowl and walked cleanly through the detector – much to the security ‘operatives’ annoyance it would seem.

Seriously, the ‘lady’ was so over officious it was not funny she is the sort of security guard that gives the TSA a bad name.

I sat and watched her for a short while afterwards – it seems that this was her normal ‘manner’, she was an ill-tempered bitch to everyone that passed through ‘her’ line.

A couple of days later I arrived at Kansas City International to fly home.

What. A. Difference.

I got to Terminal A about 90 minutes before my flight, I grabbed my boarding cards (KCI and Phoenix), bought a couple of souvenirs, packed my jacket and the new purchases in my carry-on, re-organized my laptop bag and headed to security. There was no line, luckily, I loaded the conveyor with my shoes, carry-on, laptop bag, laptop and the contents of my pocket, forgetting once more to lose my belt and get my watch x-rayed.

The security lady was an older, kinder, altogether more human one.

As expected the red lights went off – she noticed my watch and said something along the lines of ‘do not worry, it was just your watch’, she then actually wished me a nice flight and then noticing that I was on the flight to Phoenix mentioned that my gate number had changed and heading to gate 6 rather than 7 would be a good idea !

Holy crap what a difference.

The lady at SNA fitted the public perception of the TSA, she was rude, nasty, ignorant and frankly aggressive. An utterly loathsome way to start your day (it was before 6AM) and an unnecessarily objectionable way to start a journey. Flying stresses most people to a degree and having an obnoxious security guard yelling at you and treating you like a terrorist or an idiot, or maybe both is not a good start and it does nothing at all to make the trip easy. …

 Posted by at 2:25 pm

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