As frustration grows, airports consider ditching TSA

January 1, 2011

By Derek Kravitz, Washington Post

Every spring, private security officers at San Francisco International Airport compete in a workplace “March Madness”-style tournament for cash prizes, some as high as $1,500.

The games: finding illegal items and explosives in carry-on bags; successfully picking locks on difficult-to-open luggage; and spotting a would-be terrorist (in this case Covenant Aviation Security’s president, Gerald L. Berry) on security videos.

“The bonuses are pretty handsome,” Berry said. “We have to be good – equal or better than the feds. So we work at it, and we incentivize.”

Some of the nation’s biggest airports are responding to recent public outrage over security screening by weighing whether they should hire private firms such as Covenant to replace the Transportation Security Administration. Sixteen airports, including San Francisco and Kansas City International Airport, have made the switch since 2002. One Orlando airport has approved the change but needs to select a contractor, and several others are seriously considering it.

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1 Comment - what are your thoughts?

  • Nickk says:

    The TSA has become a whsrolets organization. However, the worst experiences I had when traveling were in Zurich and Paris. For the latter I was on my way from Paris to Seoul, South Korea, through Beijing. In Paris three police officers entered the metal detector in front of me as a sign of intimidation, although I didn’t realize this at first. After waiting in the lobby for a few minutes I was called over to the counter and informed I wasn’t allowed to enter South Korea without a ticket to leave, which is ridiculous, since at the time I lived there. I told him I’d be entering Korea, picking up a ticket to Japan, and leaving the next day to renew my work visa. He said I had to have the ticket then, I informed my work was paying for it, and it was already bought. He said again that I had to have it with me and he had absolutely no way of checking it out, which was again, BS. After a few minutes of arguing he used my passport to find my ticket to Japan which had already been purchased. During this entire time 3 police officers have formed a half circle around me. The guy at the ticket counter said I could go then 10 min later I was called over again by someone I think was another security official for the Chinese airline I was flying on. He got really pissed because he thought I was somehow getting off easy, and walked through the glass door behind the desk and started screaming at someone on the phone. It was all Chinese and all I could understand was him saying American about 6 times. Eventually I was let go. The French officials were actually quite polite overall. Shitty long and frustrating day though

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