TSA at SAN – Clueless

I didn’t have the best experience going through security at the SAN commuter terminal today. A little background: SAN has a curfew for takeoffs that ends at 0630. My flight was scheduled to depart at 0620; there were five flights scheduled to depart from the commuter terminal right at 0630.

Each of the five flights were regional jets, about 50 passengers on average. That’s up to 250 people going through security in the 1.5 hours from when the terminal opens until the flights close about 30 minutes before departure.

Now, the TSA has two lanes there. One was open; there were over 100 people in line when I checked at at 0500. I note for the record that TSA had the normal number of people staffing that lane (six), and another eight standing around watching.

TSA was using their horrible backscatter “we MUST see them naked” machines. Now, it takes extra time for people take off all belts, pens, wallets, chapsticks. Then the machine takes 10 seconds or so to get loaded with the traveling public that has had the million-dollar monstrosities forced on us (using our own tax money, I might add). The stupid machine takes 10 seconds to irradiate you, and then at least another 10 seconds for the hidden TSA person to finish staring at the naked body. So that’s at least 30 seconds per person to (1) strip you of your clothes and your rights, and (2) get a single person through the checkpoint (and that doesn’t count if they have to do secondary screening because the damn machine doesn’t work – more on that later). So to get a couple hundred people through the checkpont using the backscatter machine would take more than 1.5 hours, which is impossible since they have roughly an hour to do it.

So somebody came to their senses (finally), and they opened up the standard magnetometer, and started cranking people through in less than half the time. At that point the line really started moving.

So I was next in line for the magnetometer, and some TSA guy who is working the backscatter literally interposes himself between me and the magnetometer and pulls me over for the backscatter. Now I had to take off my belt. And take my chapstick out. I managed not to take my wallet out. THAT got me secondary screened.

Side note to TSA: Your policies are stupid. The NO METAL policy is dumb – they treat a quarter in your pocket like a 9mm pistol. And their magic million-dollar machine is not bright enough to figure out that a Chapstick isn’t a threat (I found that out in Boston last week). Or a wallet. But really, TSA, how many square leather guns do you run across?

So now that the Invisible Commissar Of The Backscatter Machine has Detected An Unauthorized Wallet, you have to have it Inspected by yet another TSA guy. And that also means that they swab your hands, because TSA apparently Knows For Sure that if you have a wallet that isn’t taken out during the scan, then you, a loyal American with a security clearance since 1984, have probably handled explosives and You Might Be A Threat.

TSA is, as an agency, stupid. The security situation is NO different than it was pre-911. Except, of course, it is hideously more expensive due to having twice as many TSA people than they had before, and they have spent huge amounts of money on machines that detect that you have an Chapstick in your pocket. And let’s not forget the tens of millions expended on machines that puffed air at you, AFTER you went through the magnetometer, in an attempt to find out if you have had explosives on you recently.

I’ve read many releases from TSA “Administrator” John Pistole, and he has a deaf ear to the taxpaying traveling public. They need to rethnk, or actually think, through their policies, and abandon the strip-us-naked machines and stick with what works, the magnetometers.

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2 Responses to “TSA at SAN – Clueless”

  1. Tom Says:

    Here are a few more tips for surviving the traveling public’s nemesis:

    No P-38s on your keychain. They’ll think you’re a highjacker.

    No large earrings that might accidentally line up with wedding rings (women, mostly)

    Don’t call it their “strip-search” machine…

    Don’t announce that you must be a good guy since the State saw fit to give you a concealed carry permit.

    Don’t brag to your traveling companion that you never board an aircraft without several weapons (use you imagination as to what) that TSA always lets through.

    I’d be much more confident if concealed carry holders could carry on board (assuming some specific training and use of fragile bullets). Think of it as a “airline endorsement” of the license.

  2. Raegan Says:

    I haven’t had a chance to fly anywhere since all these rules took effect. So not looking forward to the scanning process, either.

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