From a Wired article that will surprise no one…

Female Passengers Say They Were Targeted for TSA Body Scanners:

“[The TSA agent] says to me, ‘Do you play tennis?’ And I said, ‘Why?’‘You just have such a cute figure,’” Ellen Terrell recalled to CBS News in Dallas.

Terrell said the female agent appeared to be acting on a request from male agents who were in a separate room viewing the scans and who apparently asked the agent to send Terrell back through the scanner twice because the scan was blurry.

After the third scan, Terrell said the agent seemed frustrated with her co-workers in the screening room. “She’s talking into her microphone and she says, ‘Guys, it is not blurry, I’m letting her go,’” Terrell said.

This is one of several testimonials in the article.

Even more damning is this was a behavioral pattern found among 500 complaints lodged against the TSA. The complaints were collected and reviewed in a CBS investigation. Shameful.

It’s an open secret that the TSA is security theater. Ineffective at best, dangerous at worst, and enormously expensive on both ends of that spectrum. This is all not to mention that they’re protecting us from something that, statistically speaking, never actually happens. (Yes, when it happens, it’s horrifying. There are far more dangerous things in this world that actually are quite common, like heart disease or car accidents. These are much less emotional/polarizing though, and cannot be brought to market politically with much success. But I digress.)

To me the most interesting part of this TSA farce is from a user experience and marketing perspective. The TSA allows airports to opt out of federal screening and hire private firms to do the job instead. I wonder if/when it will become a competitive advantage for airports to ditch the perverted thugs running TSA security?

Here’s a list of US airports with private security (via Wikipedia):

  • San Francisco International Airport
    (One of the top 30 in the world, by traffic.)
  • Kansas City International Airport
  • Greater Rochester International Airport
  • Tupelo Regional Airport
  • Key West International Airport
  • Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Airport
  • Jackson Hole Airport

If you’re flying, and have a choice between one of these airports and a TSA airport, remember to vote with your dollars.


DanielBMarkham commenting at Hackernews:

Sadly, up until today TSA is not allowing airports to opt out of the system, even though the law was specifically set up to allow them to do so. The new FAA bill — which also calls for the FAA to set rules for thousands of law enforcement drones to monitor civilians sometime in the next decade or so — changes this. (random Google link:…) A bunch have already applied — and been turned down.

Hopefully this will change.

Even if an airport uses private security, under the current system they are regulated so closely by the TSA that the experience is a wash from the traveller’s perspective. And under the new system it looks like no one is getting approval to bypass the TSA anyway. I’ll say it again: shameful.