This week I had to fly to another state for work. Unfortunately, that meant having to submit myself to the jack booted thugs at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) has been in the news as of late for having even more miserable security lines than other airports. This is due to the airport closing all but three of the security lines (the airport use to have more open gates but for reasons unknown — that totally have nothing at all to do with the TSA wanting flyers to buy its PreCheck scam — it closed all but three of them).
My flight was very early in the morning so I actually got through security in about half an hour. I didn’t even have to opt out of the slave scanner since they only ran me through the metal detector. In fact I didn’t even have to pull out my liquids, laptop, or remove my shoes. The goons working the airport were actually being reasonable for once.
Returning to the Twin Cities wasn’t as nice. The TSA goons there wanted me to go through the slave scanner so I had to waste time opting out and getting sexually assaulted. They also pulled my carryon off of the scanner, dug through it, and swabbed everything in it (I didn’t win an unlucky drawing, they were doing this to almost every piece of luggage). All in all I probably spent forty five minutes going through security.
The TSA is the epitome is government idiocy. It’s cumbersome, doesn’t fulfill its purpose, and inconsistent. I think the inconsistency is the most annoying part. When I go through security I’m not sure whether I’ll have to take off my shoes, belt, and wristwatch or be barked at for doing so. Will I have to remove the liquids from my bag? Will I have to pull my laptop out of its bag? I have no idea because the TSA agents seem to make up the rules on the spot. This means the lines end up being even longer because people have no idea what the fuck they’re supposed to do. If they take their shoes off before getting to the scanners they may get barked at and have to waste time putting them back on. The same goes for removing liquids and laptops from bags. There’s no way to speed up the line by planning ahead because you have no idea what you’ll be required to do before you get to the scanners.
It seems that my frustrations aren’t unique. New York City is now talking about replacing the TSA with private security agencies:
Management of the New York City area’s three major airports is fed up with long lines at security check points, and they have given the Transportation Security Administration an ultimatum: Either shorten the lines or we’ll find someone else to do it.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, tasked with running John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports, is threatening to privatize the process of screening passengers before boarding their flight, according to a document sent from the Port Authority to TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger.
“We can no longer tolerate the continuing inadequacy of the TSA passenger services,” the letter obtained by ABC News reads.
Although this would be a move in the right direction I doubt it will have a major impact. Any private security agency would still have to abide by the TSA’s security policies. Privatization is of little value when the State restricts any possible innovation with regulatory burdens. However, if enough airports replaced the TSA it would help shake the agency’s iron grip over airport “security” (quotes used because the agency doesn’t actually provide security). If the iron grip was removed there would be a chance that some actual innovation could take place that would make airport security a less annoying experience.