Controversy or Confidence? My take on TSA.

I’ve been a travel agent since January 1990. As I approach the dawn of my twenty-second year, I must say, things have changed……from smoking on airplanes to meeting friends at the gate…..and everything else in between.

Those days are gone.

We can wish, want, and cry for the good ol’ days, but it won’t bring them back to life. Not even a spark of it.

You know what? I wouldn’t want them to.

Why?

I’ll give you one reason – September 11th.

And that should be the end of my post. But nooooo. With every new unveiling of more security measures comes what? CONTROVERSY.

It started with the shoes, the liquids, and date of birth implementations.

Now, the latest being Advanced Imaging Technology at the airport. Travelers believe this is invasive of their privacy (parts) and harmful due to the incredible imaging the machine provides.


(source)

The alternative? Being patted down.

The uproar? Being patted down. The alternative? The imaging machine. The uproar? The subject’s privacy (of body parts being viewed). The alternative? BEING TOUCHED pat searched (professional and non-invasive). The uproar? The damaging radiation machine (alleged). The alternative? Same gender pat search!

Do you see the dilemma?

For me, I don’t even have to think about this one. Yes, I would go through the machine. No, I don’t think it’s harmful (no more than holding an iPhone to your head while standing in front of a microwave). What I do have a problem with is boundaries. I have a personal space radar and would prefer not to be touched patted (if say, I had a choice) (by going through an imaging machine). And thank GOODNESS there is a choice now.

My travel career includes a time when passengers were not just afraid, but downright terrified of flying. I would get calls (more than one) after 9/11 of being in the gate area and seeing a man wearing a turban awaiting the same flight. They would insist on being moved to another airplane. A bit much? Of course, it was a major overreaction, but that is what fear does to people.

How do you combat fear? More security measures. More safety. More assurance; enforcement of I.D. checks, baggage scanning, birth dates, boarding passes, x-ray of shoes, laptops, people, and anything else they can think of to make it safer (backscatter machines).

I had my purse checked more than once for a bomb. Was I carrying a bomb? Or bomb materials? No. Did I look like a bomber? I don’t think so. Was I offended? No! Why would I be? I don’t think on 9/11 any one person stood out. No one seemed threatening or suspicious that I know of. But then again, I probably couldn’t pick a terrorist out of a line-up that was trying not to look like a terrorist. I hear a lot of noise about seniors, or handicapped travelers being put through extreme security measures when they are harmless individuals. Listen…threats do not come packaged as threats. Just like drug smugglers don’t carry hash over the border in a ziplock bag (do they?). They are smuggled and hidden, and honestly? If it were my job, I wouldn’t want to be the THAT guy. The one to put 200 passengers in danger. I don’t think you can be too careful and I don’t understand why more people don’t get that.

Can you hand-pick a threat out of crowd? How do you choose? How do you exclude?

Controversy or confidence?

Let’s not be part of the problem. Let’s be part of the solution. Confidence to fly without fear.

Stick to the guidelines that a team of aviation security has designed to define safer travels, or don’t fly. It’s that simple.

I’m not just talking the talk on TSA. I’m walking the walk (x-raying the walk?). I’ll be flying to Chicago this weekend……I’ll probably be going through an imaging machine at DFW airport.

Smile for the camera…


(source)

Haha.

Edit

Please know, this is just my stance as a corporate travel agent, and a very laid back person.

I can be as skeptical and fearful as the next person. Maybe, I do trust more than I should. I believe flying is safer today. I believe there is more evil plans by terrorist than ever. I believe EVERYONE is entitled to their views and I absolutely respect that.

P.S. I found a great CBS news article on the radiation of the ATI machine. You can read it on the link below.
TSA Airport Scanners: Radiation Truth & Lies

This post part of Mama’s Losin’ It writer’s workshop. I choose prompt 3.) CONTROVERSY! Are the new security measures performed by the TSA really that bad? Take a stance!

No Date of Birth, No Travel for you!

Says, the Travel Nazi.

That’s right. Your birthday. Woo-hoo and happy birthday to you. I promise it’s not so I can steal your identity, or note a calendar reminder to send you an e-card. It’s not just that you were born, grew and could travel either – although that works fairly well.

The truth is, it’s a new TSA rule mandating a date of birth in all airline reservations. A requirement for travel agents, and airlines to obtain, before a passenger gets to the airport. To speed up the security process, avoid strip search, and identify more of the watched list persons, and not just the innocent folks who have the bad luck of sharing the same name as the watched list person – which is what happens now. It’s been coming down the pipe a long time, but now, it’s getting serious. My work requires we have the date of birth before we can even issue an airline ticket. No date of birth. No travel for you! NEXT!

I know I don’t talk about my job a lot. I have been a business travel agent for twenty years. Most of the time when I say that, people respond, “I didn’t know travel agents were still around?” And yes, yes we are. Sure the internet changed things. Now travelers can book flights all-by-themselves by the click of a mouse or tap of an app.

It’s a fancy thing. It’s a cool thing. It’s technology brilliance. I had no idea so many people were as talented as me, or travel agent wanna-bes. I have to admit, I don’t blame them, it’s a lot of fun. I book tickets online myself (or by app), when I have personal travel. It’s simple. But not everyone travels a simple round trip. Not every company trusts their employees to book the lowest fare and adhere to the policy guidelines. And lastly, not everyone CAN book themselves online, because they have (um) challenges. You know who you are, or maybe you don’t (ahem).

Our business took a dip 9/11, but not for long. It took another dip when the economy bellied up a few years ago, but also recovered. Flights are more booked than ever. It’s like spring break travel every week. Hotels are sold out again. Every car company in a city is booked. International travel is off the charts, despite the Iceland volcano ash cloud scare that disrupted flights for a month over Europe. Business is business, it has to go on. With all the telecommunication equipment, video conferencing, and virtual training, one would think travel would not be as demanding. It doesn’t have to be done “in-person” anymore.

Not true either, most customers, clients, and businesses understand, there is nothing like face-to-face. Many training and physical labor has to be done by hand. Sensitive information has to be transported in person. Conferences and people networking with handshakes and golf, not Facebook. Business travel is big business and even bigger if the company can save and track funds as much as possible, which is where I come in. I suggest lower fares. I advise company policy. I search. I shop. I track, and I book flights – keeping in mind the demands and limits, my dear business person has.

It’s a crazy travel life, but it’s my crazy travel life.

So, when I ask for your birth date and you get all “suspicious” of my motive. When your feathers ruffle at my request because that information is PRIVATE – Puh-leeze. I no more need to know your age than your favorite color. I am just doing my job and trying to make your travel experience more pleasant and care-free in the security line, like the good ol’ days. So before I bust out in song, “You say it’s your birthday! Dun, nun, nun, nun – It’s my birthday too – yeah!” I need your date of birth for your airline ticket, or no travel for you!

And by the way…..does your government issued ID have your middle name or initial on it? It has to match. Why do I need to know (sigh)…because the government told me to. Yes, I’ll wait while you look.

Happy Trails!