I flew into small-town America last week – a city with an airport and that airport had a single gate. The first thing I learned was that United didn’t staff the airport with enough people to keep the front desk open while they were unloading the plane. When I left, they closed down the counter to go load the plane. Not so with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). It made clear the difference between how the government and a business differ in operation.
After I arrived and failed to locate my suitcase I returned to the counter. It wasn’t open. All the United people were out getting the plane turned around. However all the TSA people were there – four of them to screen the dozen or so people who got on the plane that I had arrived on. I asked the TSA quartette “Did you guys out- number the passengers?” I don’t think they thought it was funny. I regretted that immediately as I had to run the same TSA gauntlet in a couple of days.
When I returned to the airport the following morning there were two United employees who returned my errant suitcase. There were four TSA employees.
When I returned a few days later to leave – same scenario – two United workers and four TSA screeners for twelve passengers. They had all of the tools that you have at a multi-gate airport in the USA except that there was only one screening line. How exactly does this make sense? Now I know that once they cleared me I was cleared to go anywhere in the USA, but it does seem that if all those feeder airports around the country have the same set-up we are bleeding cash to sustain that level of security effort.
As an aside, I saw my first enhanced pat-down at that airport. It was embarrassing. I was the fifth person screened and filed into the small waiting area. All the seats were arranged in an “L” shape around the screening area. Nearly all the seats (including mine) faced the screening area. For no apparent reason a young woman in tight shorts and a floppy shirt was held up for enhanced pat-down. I can tell you that it was obvious to me that she didn’t have anything in the pockets of those shorts but the TSA gal stroked her hands over her butt anyway. I didn’t think that a blue-gloved finger thrust into the tight waistband of those shorts was going to find anything either – and I was right. However it was cupping her breasts that utterly surprised me. It wasn’t like getting to second base or anything, but hey – cupping a breast is cupping a breast. I can’t imagine allowing that to be done to my mother, daughter, or wife. I was shocked. Hadn’t they heard of the Fourth Amendment?
I think that this security level has gone too far. The plane that flies back and forth to an airport with one gate is too small to take down a building. We need to back off and only screen at larger facilities. Further we have to stop the degradation of our wives, mothers, and daughters by TSA screeners. It is beyond absurd.