Category Archives: The shorcomings of airport security



As the disdain for a trip through the TSA controlled airport security intensifies it appears that progress is being made to reduce the level of intrusion that occurs at these government-mandated check-points. Ironically, this backlash against the onerous activities of the poorly-trained and often un-screened cadre of the all-too-frequently “wannabee cops” is being led by the former TSA Administrator, Mr. Kip Hawley. He has published a whistle-blower-themed book titled: Permanent Emergency: Inside the TSA and the fight for the future of American Security. He is in demand at the news-talk shows and with his impetus; perhaps we can get our government to cease stripping us of our dignity unnecessarily.

He points out the obvious fact that the pilots now often have guns in the cockpits, there may be armed Air Marshalls in the cabin, and the cockpit door is fortified like a CITI bank safe. It is no longer necessary to snatch away personal possessions such as small knives, scissors, or any other pointed object that the TSA agent could deem to be a weapon. He also points out that the 3 ounce rule for liquids is equally inane. The most frequent complaint amongst air travelers, the overzealous pat-down, should be seriously curtailed and a bit of judgment interjected. (See Ace Abbott’s book, The Rogue Aviator, for more information about pat-down scenarios.)

The draconian and often hostile treatment of innocent people who are treated like criminals must come to an end. Currently, we are seeing the old axiom of “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The agents have the ability to have people arrested for the most meaningless transgression and the intervention of police at these emotionally charged and stress-inducing situations, all too often, results in actual arrests with no crime—the old “disturbing the peace” charge can always be employed and anyone who is paying close attention to the intensification of the “criminal justice system” is aware that trumped up charges are the norm. I experienced police intervention twice in the year 2002, but since I was in my airline uniform and had 170 people waiting to go to Cancun the police officers decided to let me proceed to my aircraft. One of my pilot colleagues was not so fortunate—he was arrested and fired from his job when he protested the idiotic snatching of his nail clippers since he had a large crash-axe in his cockpit.

Janet Napolitano has her work cut out for her and she had better step forward. The commercial airline environment is coming unraveled and more potential flyers are now heading for the highway as they do not want to deal with all of the stress, grief, and aggravation that frequently haunt the airline passenger. Chaos in the cabin is intensifying and now we hear of pilots and flight attendants flipping out. A precursor to the stress in the cabin is the always emotionally-trying passage through the gauntlet of airport security. The airlines are losing a lot of revenue as people avoid the long lines and oppressive treatment. As Popeye so famously said, “I can stands so much, and I can’t stands no more.” It is time for the American people to take back at least a portion of their human rights and dignity and stand up for some humane treatment at the airport.

You-Tube has numerous videos that portray activity at airport security that will repulse the viewer. To become further repulsed please note that a recent drug bust in LAX implicated several TSA agents and a similar East Coast investigation revealed that agents at three airports were on the take while facilitating illegal prescription drug transportation. An internal memo recently revealed that TSA people are hired for their jobs before a security clearance has been accomplished. Pre-TSA airport security was pathetic but our current system appears to be in need of major rehabilitation. We must hire people who can be trusted to make sound judgment decisions such as avoiding the pat-down of babies and crippled grandmothers in wheelchairs. For those folks that understand the airport environment it is very clear that most of the TSA concourse lunacy is eye-wash.

This blog is prepared by Ace Abbott, the author of The Rogue Aviator: in the back alleys of aviation. (