Airport Security

It seems utterly unfathomable that at one point we were able to just walk through the airport and go meet someone at the gate.  Those were the days.

This past week we went on a quick trip to Berkeley for our niece’s wedding.  Going through security was the worst.  I had my son’s bag because he was meeting us at the airport and the TSA person made me downsize to only going thru with two bags.  As she said, those are the rules.  Really?  No flexibility, no understanding, and inconsistency as I have only heard the two bag deal one other time.

The TSA is like the new post office.  A hired workforce that seems insanely unhappy and just follows the rules.  USPS employed over half a million people in 2017.  The numbers are decreasing as the industry of mail has changed.  Revenue was almost $70b in 2017 decreasing almost $2b from the year before.  More than likely that decline will continue.  The TSA has a budget of almost $8b with almost 50,000 security officers.  Obviously, USPS has more employees but they are both Government agencies who employ a large workforce that could be dramatically changed with technology.

Technology will certainly change the workplace in the years to come but as I stood there in that miserable line at the airport I thought there has to be a better way.  No doubt the technology is available to scan everyone through at the front door without us even knowing and without the lines and random checking.  It could be so much more fluid but where would that money come from?  Just noting that LA is putting full body scans into the public transportation system so the technology is available.

Our roads need fixing, our urban transportation systems are falling apart and antiquated, the education system has been bled dry, our healthcare system is laden with costs and our support of our Veterans is abysmal so I suspect fixing the torturous TSA systems in place at the airport are far from the top of the list.  Yet, as one of the richest countries in the world, how do we fix these things?  How do we move us forward using technology as the platform to get us there?  Cutting taxes when we are in desperate need of an upgraded infrastructure makes zero sense.

All I see at the TSA is misery and stagnation.  There just has to be a better way.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Pointsandfigures

    Yup. After 9/11 they rushed to build a new bureaucracy and this is what we received. I’d be for revamping the entire Homeland Security Dept. It could be rolled into other agencies. When they created it, they splintered a lot of the controls on immigration. For example, suppose I live in Mexico and want to go pick strawberries in California for the day. I go through the border, go to the farm, pick strawberries. Suppose I fear for my life if I return and think there is a decent chance I will be robbed or raped. In pre 9/11 days, I could file a letter with an agency and everything was a-ok. Today, if I file that letter the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing so I will be considered “illegal” in one part of the government but not illegal in another part. Only something like a crypto Immicoin could solve that problem (which isn’t nefarious-it’s procedural)

  2. Steven Kane

    I completely agree. However the solution you posit – using sophisticated tech (eg biometrics) to passively scan people – is controversial to say the least. That would be “profiling.” Personally I have no problem with profiling, for TSA purposes, for policing, for immigration control, for national security. I think it’s just inevitable. And if we’re honest we already live with profiling 24/7. It’s how Google and Twitter and Netflix the rest make a living. But the civil libertarian in me trembles. Who watches the watchmen? Also the political me has to acknowledge that my friends on the much farther left than me have very intense opposition to profiling. So it’s unlikely we can achieve a consensus support for mass adoption of the sort of TSA remedy. Finally if you’re really interested, check out how Israel handles travel security. They obviously have pressing need. And zero cultural or political opposition to profiling. But even the Israelis don’t rely exclusively on tech solutions. Seems a little good old fashioned human intervention is important too, even if it means stultifying lines…

    1. Gotham Gal

      I have no beef with it either. Nothing is secret anymore.

  3. TanyaMonteiro

    I’m reminded of the curb check-in we used to do in NYC, at the time it felt SO odd to me, i’d never experienced it in any other country before. All too soon it was gone. Now it almost feels hard to believe. 100% wish I loved this enough to get involved, there has to be a better way!!!

  4. CCjudy

    next month I travel to NYC and I want to carryon not check bags so this information is helpful. That event in 2001 changed Everything and it is all just a knee jerk reaction to it. Extremism

  5. Erin

    Just travelled through singapore and loved the airport experience. Barely any line-ups and pleasant staff. Not to mention it’s supposedly one of the most beautiful airports in the world.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Airports in Asia are so efficient.

  6. Semil Shah

    Too many jobs. So many countries get stuck here out of fear of not employing enough people.

  7. JLM

    .WTF?Not using TSA-PreCheck, Global Entry, or Clear?AMEX will refund the fees for TSA-PreCheck and Global Entry.Gate check extra bags.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  8. Sierra Choi

    The US Postal Service has suffered immensely when delivery services became privatised (FedEx, DHL, etc). I’m always surprised by how terrible the US Postal system is compared to the rest of the world, which is more tech savvy, with many nations sending out text messages of delivery times and asking for special instructions etc whilst in the US, many packages are just stolen off the porches if there is no one to receive them, which I’ve heard is the no. 1 complaint with no customer service.I’m not certain if this is the way for the US to phase out the US Postal Service but I certainly think that would be a shame, as other nations have such superior, high tech services, and by giving preference to privatised delivery services, the US Postal Service has really lost a lot of business.The question is also for why the TSA makes it so unbelievably unpleasant to fly when other nations have exceptional and unobtrusive security services. Perhaps sometime in the near future, we will all have access to high speed rail in the US, so we no longer have to rely on airplanes for travel. I think about my experience on the Eurorail and it is so much more pleasant than having to go through airport security for any international flight. Japan has super high luxury train options that have already launched, and it’s so much nicer to sit and relax with a drink than having to be full body scanned, standing in queue, and being pushed around by people left and right.

    1. Gotham Gal

      High Speed rail would be a dream come true.

  9. BillMcNeely

    Here is a tasty treat on the TSA. Domestically, If you are a minor you are not required to present ID. You just simply tell them your name. It’s possible to swap children without TSA being wiser. That’s bad for since you can’t track child trafficking or child suicide bombing.

    1. Gotham Gal