Today I’m on the way to a course in South Carolina. The easiest way to travel that far for me is air. I just don’t have the time to drive or I would.
First, the TSA debacle in front of Congress has me worried. The director asked for a lot more money from Congress to hire more TSA Agents for screening at airports. Every government agency needs more people, according to them.
It’s a never ending budget fight. I think the TSA is probably being run like the Air Force. There’s a joke about how the Air Force uses their budget. They will get a huge budget to build an airfield. They will first put in the infrastructure for housing, then entertainment for the troops, then support things for the airport. And about this time is when the budget has been spent. So they go back and ask for more money, and get it, because of all this money that has already been spent and the runway hasn’t been put in yet.
I wonder if TSA is doing the same thing. I talked to one of the agents and he said they were shorthanded in the places you don’t see. Checking bags and other areas need more people to do well. I’m a Marine, so shorthanded is what we do. I didn’t have any sympathy for him.
What does that all mean to you? Lines are going to be longer, flights will start to be delayed, and/or your bag won’t make your flight. So the easiest thing for you to do is be early.
I’m not worried about the bags being checked or not being screened properly. TSA will do that because they are paranoid about not letting things on the plane that shouldn’t be let on the plane. I am worried about the long lines at the TSA check point. Not just because I hate waiting in line.
When I was in charge of security overseas in Iraq for an Army base, the queue outside the secure area was one of those things that would keep me up at night. No one has been checked for security reasons, but they are all outside of my control and protection. We put up intermediate barriers, separated the line into sections, and made multiple entry points for units and people with different clearance levels. It was still a nightmare situation. We kept our people alive. Other bases near us lost people in line to drive-by style shootings and bombs. We put up those barriers to protect our line a week before someone did a drive by. They hit our barriers and not the people.
So what’s to stop the same thing happening here in the States? Nothing right now. In fact it happened November, of 2013 at LAX. A lone gunman opened fire with a rifle in the line of terminal 3. Luckily, he only killed one TSA Agent and injured several other people, could have been a lot worse. The bigger the line, the better target it is, and the harder it is to protect.
I also forgot something in my carry on, actually in my wallet. About six months ago, I was given a credit card knife by another vendor at a gun show. I thought it was cool so I stuck it in my wallet. Never thought about it again. Until I got through the TSA checkpoint and was asked if that was my stuff. Of course it was, the bin with my boots, belt, wallet, keys, hat, tactical pen, and cash. My mind raced. What could I have forgotten. That stupid credit card knife. “Sonofa…” was my thought.
I told the female TSA Agent, damn it. I know what I forgot. I’m totally sorry. I know what it is they saw. I’ll let you find it, or I can tell you what and where it is. She said no problem, I’ll find it.
She brought up the picture of my stuff through the X-ray and you could see that knife blade clear as day. My keys where sitting on top of my wallet, so she thought it was the keys, but I finally told her it was the wallet. She found it and offered to let me go send it home. Nope, trash or you can have it. She thought it was funny and we had a good laugh. Glad she didn’t want to arrest me for it. I’m thankful for that.
I did add something to my carry on that I thought might get me into trouble. It sucks to have nothing to cut with on a plane. Knives are a no-go, but I always have a first aid kit with me. I left my EMT Scissors in my bag as an emergency tool. I figured I would just argue that they can’t even cut skin so I thought it would be okay. I was also prepared to toss them if there was an argument about them. Arguing with the TSA is never going to get you anywhere.
All this reminded me of an important anti-security concept that is used by spies and bad guys all over. Put something very obvious on top and let security find that, then hide what you really want to take deeper in the bag or on you. Once security finds one thing and the person is nice about it, they are more relaxed. This isn’t given as a tip to beat security but as a warning to all that do security. If you find something on someone, solve that problem and then start all over with that same person like they just stepped in front of you. If I had been trying to get on my base in Iraq and found a knife, my guys would have taken me and all my stuff back to the beginning and ran every check on me again.
Just a tip for you guys running security. If there is one thing wrong, there maybe more.
PS Flying is for the birds! I only do it anymore to teach classes. Make sure you sign up for one near you. Check the schedule here.