From everything that I have heard, seen and read about the TSA (Transportation Security Administration, a USA government organization), it makes me less inclined to travel to the USA. There are plenty of bad reports on YouTube about the TSA since its introduction. This news report that I found on YouTube today, makes me even more reluctant to return, although for family I will endure even the TSA. Training appears to be one of the biggest challenges in the TSA. News reports about TSA Officers and various conflicts with travelers, that I have witnessed on the Internet show that they severely lack compassion, customer service skills, politeness and knowledge of their own procedures and policies.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for airport security. The TSA was set up after 911 to tighten airport security. We have a similar security operation at airports in Australia. But being a part of airport security is no excuse for forgetting manners and being mindful of a travelers emotional well being, especially those that find the whole process intimidating and infringement on their personal privacy. There are some TSA Officers who appear to be portraying the role of an undercover CIA agent whose purpose is to interrogate, intimidate and frighten innocent travelers. I wouldn’t be surprised if a significant percentage of TSA Officers are narcissistic in their approach to their role. They appear rudely spoken, abrupt and deliberately man handle and physically abuse travelers, causing the traveler heightened emotional anxiety, rather than easing concerns.
This particular and more recent story involving the TSA troubles me, and not just because the ABC news reporters appeared to be having a good chuckle at a child’s frightening experience. The TSA Officers involved in this particular incident, have provided a handicapped three year old with perhaps one of her first, negative experiences in life. Negative experiences are usually the memories that as we grow into adult hood, we are most likely to recall. I sincerely doubt an apology or meeting Mickey Mouse will wipe it from her memory. The young three year old infant involved requires the use of a wheel chair. The TSA advised her parents that their daughter would need to undergo a “pat down”. The child was also refused the return of her favorite teddy bear, which had already been screened and was an obvious item of comfort to the child. Instead the TSA Officers turned her excitement for going to Disney World into a nightmare.
Recently, I heard on The Young Turks, that the TSA will be undergoing fundamental changes to take on more of an auditing role of airport security in the USA. The actual job of airport security will be given to private contractors. This may actually be a smart move, especially if they include customer service and general politeness as part of the audit process. Perhaps the contractor could have a couple of Key Performance Indicators to reduce the number of complaints received about airport security and increase the enjoyment of the travelers experience. Having a qualified nurse amongst their crew with a good bed side manner for those more intrusive “pat downs”, that should take place in a secure and private area wouldn’t go astray. Smiling could also help.