More bad news for United Airlines: After a summer travel season already plagued with technical glitches and security issues, a report revealed today that the airline has been the target of a massive hack that compromises the personal data of potentially millions of Americans.
The Transportation Security Administration’s timing couldn’t have been any worse.
It’s what we count on when we fly. And if you’re like me, you assume the word means more than the inconvenience you endure before reaching your departure gate.
The disparity is as dramatic as any you’re likely to see in a public opinion survey. Nine out of 10 Americans say it’s important to control the information collected about them and who can see it, but fewer than 1 in 10 Americans are confident that either the government or corporations can provide that control.
If airport security is so good, why do passengers feel so bad?
That’s a valid question, considering how the Transportation Security Administration seems to be spinning its performance lately. The agency wants you to believe the dark days of body scans and pat-downs, of liquids, gels and shoes obediently placed on the conveyor belt, are well on their way out, thanks to its vaunted new Pre-check system. And remember, there have been no successful terrorist attacks since the agency’s creation, it would hasten to add.
So why aren’t we buying it? Why are lawmakers such as Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., threatening to introduce legislation that would force TSA agents to mind their manners?
A day after Sheilah Reardon checked into the Bellagio Las Vegas, she received an e-mail alert from American Express warning that her credit card had been compromised. Among the fraudulent charges: a $67 bill from an online memorabilia store.
A day later, her friend Jennifer Henderson got a call from a MasterCard representative. Her card number had also been stolen. The thieves had made a $67 charge at the same online store moments after they hit Reardon’s account.
“We had checked into the Bellagio at the same time, side by side,” says Reardon. She and Henderson believe that their credit cards were targeted while they were at the resort — most likely while they were checking in — because it was the only time when their cards were used together. Reardon says that she hadn’t used her card, a “travel-only” Amex, since a trip to Florida last summer.
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. You arrive at the airport to fly home from your family vacation, and something goes wrong — terribly wrong — at the TSA screening area.
It happened to Susan Bruce recently when she flew from Phoenix to Dallas with her husband, teenage son and daughter.
“When we got to security, my son went first in line through the X-ray machine and TSA flagged him for the hand swab test,” she remembers. “While the rest of the family was stuck on the other side of the X-ray machine, my son was pulled aside for supposedly having a positive result for explosives.”
Bruce, who lives in Dallas and is a mathematician by training and a homemaker, is certain it was a misunderstanding. Her son is no terrorist, she says. He’s a clean-cut honor student.