Sunday, October 30, 2016

My TSA Massage

We have traveled a lot; several international flights after 9/11 and dozens of Central American and Caribbean countries in the last two years; but when it comes to the TSA's new millimeter wave technology, you get no credit for being a "well behaved" traveler.

On our flight from Fort Lauderdale to Orlando yesterday, AFTER ALREADY FLYING FROM COSTA RICA TO FT. LAUDERDALE, I was pulled over with two yellow squares on my scan.

I must say I was surprised, but as I waited there for the next level of pat down, I noticed the next five people behind me also got yellow boxes, which indicate non-standard substances on their bodies. I'm thinking those machines aren't that accurate and the TSA needs to evaluate their system better.

The agent then patted me down there in the screening area, swabbed her gloves, got another positive reading for "chemical residue", and sent me to the private pat down area.

By now I was starting to worry about making my connecting flight which would be leaving in 20 minutes. Nevertheless, I had no choice but to wait while they patted down the flight attendant in front of me!

Finally it was my turn, they took me into a private room with two female agents, and they delicately asked me if there was anything I'd like to discuss before they proceeded. I'm thinking they were offering me an "out" just in case I really did have six bombs taped around my middle.

It was rather ridiculous, but I kept my calm and said, "No, let's just get this over with so I can make my connecting flight." What I really wanted to say was, "This is crazy! I'm like the most honest person in the world."

So while one agent observed, the other agent gave me a thorough pat down including the bottoms of my feet! After being awake for 24 hours and doing a red-eye on a minimalist plane, I was actually kind of enjoying the free massage, but it ended too soon, and after swabbing her gloves again, she declared me clean.

As I ran to my gate I couldn't help but wonder how many people are subjected to this treatment while the pros, who really study the technology and know how to get around it, are plotting the next tragedy. I also wondered why the procedure varies so much from one airport to the next. Even within the US, our experience with the TSA has varied wildly. Shouldn't it be the same at every airport on American soil?

I think I'll stick with sailing into countries from now on.

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