On-the-job training, TSA style

I received a troubling email from a Freedom to Travel member today. I have her permission to publish it. So, without further ado, please be informed of on-the-job TSA training.


Last week I flew for work, SMF [Sacramento] to LAX [Los Angeles] and then SNA [John Wayne Airport, Orange County] to SMF. Both times I had new thugs being trained to “pat” down those of us who choose to opt out. On both occasions the trainees were not “patting” me down; it was a full-blown push-down.

After being patted down three times by the trainee in SMF I objected to the supervisor that enough was enough. After two more passes on the front of my body, I reached for my shoes. That almost got me in big trouble. I immediately dropped them as I felt the left hand of the supervising agent near my arm yelling at me to drop the shoes. The agent went to the chemical detection machine and didn’t return. (I’ve been the victim of that tactic previously, as well.) I was left standing until the supervisor saw the trainee walking away from her station and told her to release me.

On the way home, an agent about 6 feet tall and much larger than me began the pat-down. I had all I could do to stay standing. After the agent finished the back and two sides, I told her she was very harsh. She stopped and looked at her supervisor in disgust. That supervisor, Tom Barry, rudely stated that I “asked for it” and that “she is doing her job.” I said, “I did not ask for a push-down.” Barry cited that she wasn’t doing anything harsh. I said that was his opinion, and “yes it was harsh; I am a little person.”

He looked at the agent and ordered her to continue. That led to my hair getting pulled by the trainee. The latex gloves do catch hair.

The information above is not so much about the treatment, although I will be asking how hard they will be pushing in the future; it is about the new training method of teaching new agents to forcefully push on people’s bodies. I equate this to the same tactics the TSA used in past to get people not to opt out. My biggest fear is that they do this to my elderly parents and/or disabled people who will be pushed off balance. God, I hope they can catch themselves. I will be bracing myself in the future by putting one foot slightly in front of the other to maintain my balance.

Ah, the joys (not) of flying.