If you’re afraid a TSA agent might bungle your screening when you fly somewhere this summer, maybe you should do what John Klapproth did when he was traveling from Seattle to Anchorage recently.
Like many air travelers, Klapproth declined to use the TSA’s full-body scanner, and was sent to a holding area for an “enhanced” pat-down.
“I told the TSA agent that was no problem,” he says. “I explained to him that I was a retired state corrections officer with 25 years experience doing pat-searches in a maximum security prison and knew what to expect. I also told him that I knew a proper pat-search could be performed without touching my genitals or anal areas and that I did not consent to be touched on either area.”
And guess what? The screening happened by the book.
“The result was a very proper and respectful pat-search conducted by the TSA agent,” says Klapproth. “It is a tactic that I will use in any future travels.”
As America gears up for the busy summer travel season, and some head to the airport, passengers are bound to ask how they can avoid an unpleasant screening experience. Is there anything they can say to ensure they won’t get unduly poked, frisked, prodded or microwaved?
Review the TSA’s written rules. The TSA spells out a lot of its own rules on its website. For example, if you’re confused about what kind of items can be brought on board, you can find out exactly what’s allowed at TSA.gov. I recommend you read these shortly before your flight, since they change from time to time, and often without much warning to the public. Note: The TSA is known to disregard its own rules from time to time — if it does, you’re well within your rights to politely point out the inconsistency.
Know what words can make a difference. Even though the TSA likes to pretend it isn’t in the customer service business, it actually is. The agency is processing thousands of passengers a day through security, and how it does so matters — if not to the agency, then to the passengers who ultimately pay for the agency. Simple words like “please” and “thank you” can ensure you’re treated with politeness and courtesy. Being nice to your TSA agent shouldn’t be necessary in order to be respected, but it can’t hurt. And if that doesn’t work? Ask for a supervisor.
Know what you can’t argue. As tempting as it might be to debate the constitutionality or legality of the screening process with your screener, the airport isn’t the time or place to stage a protest. (At least not if you want to catch your flight.) Try the ballot box, instead. What you should know is that TSA screeners aren’t law enforcement officials, and they don’t have the ability to detain or arrest you. That is certainly an argument you can make if you run afoul of a screener. If you run into a problem you can ask the TSA to call the police.