Random, unpredictable airport security that’s not always awful? Only in America

1-photo (1)The TSA screening area at Reno-Tahoe International Airport’s B gates isn’t much to look at. It’s a dark, cavernous processing area with well-worn linoleum floors that almost makes you feel like you’re visiting a relative in prison.

But looks can be deceiving. I just had the best TSA screening experience in Reno, and I’m not alone. On a recent Monday morning, my entire family transited through Terminal B, and they could scarcely believe they’d been checked by federal screeners.

The TSA checkpoint at Denver International Airport looks like it’s something straight out of a science fiction movie. It’s a gleaming hall with the newest technology, including an array of shiny new body scanners. It’s the kind of place where you’d expect to find a modern, friendly, and efficient screening.

Yet here, too, all is not as it seems: A few days ago, I had the single worst screening experience of my life. I still can’t believe what happened.
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Why it’s time for airport screening to come full circle

Andy deLivron says he’s no threat to aviation security. But he flies with box cutters in his checked luggage — the same weapon used by the 9/11 terrorists. And he recently packed the sharp tools in the wrong suitcase.

By the time deLivron, a sales manager from Pottersville, NY, realized the box cutters had been misplaced in his carry-on bag, it was too late. He was already past the TSA screening area at Dallas Love Field and boarding his flight to Orlando, where he planned to catch a connecting flight to Albany, NY.

DeLivron missed his connection and had to spend the night in Orlando.

“But now I had a problem toss the knife or try to get it home in my carry-on bag,” he says. “I decided if I could place the knife on edge in my carryon it would be highly likely that security would miss it again. Sure, enough I was right. My carryon went right on through in Orlando.”
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Look out! 4 things that get damaged at the airport

wheelchairTSA agents believe they are the last line of defense against terrorism, and that sometimes you have to break a few metaphorical eggs to keep America safe.

At least that’s the impression Norma Eigles came away with when she was recently screened at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in South Florida. Eigles, who was visiting relatives in Boca Raton, Fla., is 75 years old and has a knee replacement — an unlikely threat to aviation security.

“While I was being patted down, another screener opened my carry-on bag to remove my adjustable cane,” she says. “This was sent through X-ray again, and he then proceeded to unscrew the sections because he said he had to be sure there was no knife or sword in it.”
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Should Republicans blame the TSA for their loss?

When Susan Verbeeck attended a rally for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney with her two daughters and a friend at the Virginia State Fairgrounds in Doswell, Va., earlier this month, she didn’t expect to be greeted by TSA agents.

But that’s exactly what she found blocking the entrance to the fair: a row of metal-detectors staffed by uniformed TSA agents.
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The truth about TSAs lines — and lies

PR disasters are nothing new to America’s least-loved federal agency. But after a particularly bad week, it’s worth paying attention to how the agency reacts when things go horribly wrong.

What it says isn’t just a clue to how the agency feels about itself and air travelers — it can also offer insights into the future of these federal screeners.
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Who’s responsible for my missed connection?

Jeff Emerson missed his flight from Minneapolis to Washington last month. He didn’t make his connection to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and didn’t arrive as scheduled in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, where he was supposed to start work as a summer volunteer.

The story of Emerson’s delay is fascinating — maybe a little infuriating, too — for anyone who’s flying this summer, particularly internationally. It raises an important question about who takes responsibility for delays that are beyond a passenger’s control.
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TSA Watch: They never warned us about the octogenarian jihadists

The 91-year-old woman was blind and in a wheelchair, but that didn’t stop the TSA agents in Seattle from giving her a thorough screening. A very thorough screening.

“They made her get out of the wheelchair,” her daughter told me. “They made her walk to the body scanner, stand and then walk through. They absolutely would not let her have just a pat-down. Then they proceeded to take everything from her carry-on and wipe it down for explosives. I was furious, but feared saying anything because all I wanted to do was get her home.”
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TSA Watch: Did they really sexually assault his mother?

Another day, another TSA screening video.

This one came to us earlier this week from Ryan Miklus, who was flying from Phoenix to Reno with his parents for the Memorial Day weekend. The woman at the start of the clip is his mother, Carol.

Miklus claims she was groped by a TSA agent, and when she asked for a police officer, she was escorted from the screening area and missed her flight. She was screened the next day in Phoenix and traveled without incident.

The TSA has already weighed in on this dust-up with its usual statement.

I spoke with Miklus by phone yesterday to get his side of the story. I was particularly interested in the moments before he began filming.
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