View Full Version : TSA harassing foreign air crews ?

25th Jan 2003, 10:08
TSA? are they harassing everyone equally? Is it just me or are foreigners getting shafted more often that locals?

Early this week most of Finnair cabin female crew on a flight from JFK to HEL where stripped to their underwear in front of the PAX "to find a metal objects". Ensuing search was described as very intimate and humiliating.
After spending 4 years in security (Mil) I fail to see how targeting aircrews and humiliating them advances or improves security in any way.

How would you think that US gov would react if crews flying for US companies where subjected to same treatment say in FRA or LHR. They would be crying bloody murder and demand immediate stop to this unlawful and uncivlized harrasment of their citizens. Perhaps that is what it takes to get some senses into their actions.

It is sad to see a great nation turn into a "Banana Republic". I have lots of very good American friends and have had plenty of good time there. I have enjoyed visiting US as part of my job and for pleasure and while training lived in US for 2 odd years.

I have heard countless stories like this in the last month. But unfortunately cannot verify details on the others than the one above. Any experiences wih TSA you want to share?

Lou Scannon
25th Jan 2003, 11:04
Exaggeration or what?

I cannot believe that either security would try to strip crew members in public or that any crew members would be so stupid as to go along with what would be an illegal search under any set of rules.

The further suggestion that a "Scandahooligan" flight deck would stand there and allow this to happen to their female crew is remarkable.

Faire d'income
25th Jan 2003, 12:42
Or should that be Lous Crew, why bother logging on to PPrune if you don't believe anyone?:p

25th Jan 2003, 13:52
I'm JFK based, and I can say from my experience in the BA terminal they harass every one equally.

No Flight Attendent I know of wears an underwire bra anymore because they will get felt up to insure a weapon/knife/pick isn't hidden in the bra.

Just remember, interfering with a flight crew in the conduct of their duties is a federal offense, and all screening areas are videotaped.

Me, myself and I am just waiting for some do-good TSA guy to accuse me of having alcohol on my breath. Some of the things that New York City is not lacking is a shortage of Good Jewish Lawyers. :)

25th Jan 2003, 14:09
I also find it hard to believe that even the dumbest TSA person would require anyone to actually strip down to underwear whilst in full public view. Whilst I have observed them asking people to remove jackets, belts and shoes, no one has ever had to literally strip without the protection of a screen of some sort.

I had the pleasure of going through MIA twice in the last week and the TSA people were their usual efficient mode... NOT. On Sunday evening I was in a queue to go through the TSA check for a flight to the Caribbean and an elderly gentleman a few places ahead of me in the line had to remove his jacket, belt and shoes. He had quite a bit of hand baggage and a lot of junk in his pockets. As I passed through the screen only sans belt I observed the old man getting the 3rd degree from a grossly overweight TSA woman. He must have been in his 80's and appeard to be feeble as he was having great difficulty organising all his belongings and threading his belt was achieved with great difficulty. The fat TSA woman made no effort to assit the old man and the others were milling around, chatting to a Miami policeman.

It was inefficient and pathetic as they had randomly 'selected' the old man, probably because he was the 10th since the last random check or some dumb reason like that. I was a lone male in my 40's (but much younger looking ;) ) travelling with only hand baggage and much more likely to fit any 'profile' than the old man. At no time was my ticket checked by any TSA agent and no questions were asked.

As I returned through MIA on Friday the person who checked me in advised me to use the gate 'B' security checkpoint to avoid problems using the gate 'A' one and to pass between terminals after security. Whilst I appreciated the advice and had no problems getting through, I thought to myself that if there can be such disparity between checkers at different gates that it doesn't say much for the system they have in use. No profiling whatsoever and just random detailed searches. In other words... cosmetic.

Another thing that I found suprising was that TSA agents didn't appear to have a staff room for their breaks. They were observed sitting in groups near the departure gates drinking their coffee and eating their Big Macs or wandering around the duty free shops. In the Miami Deli food court area of Gate A departures one TSA agent was ordering some food. The amount ordered would have fed a small army but this woman took it all to a table and started to lay into it with gusto. Mind you, she obviously had room to put it all away as I reckon she must have weighed close to 250lbs and whilst she would not be very good at sprinting she would make an effective blocker should they have to close off the airport in a hurry. As to her intelligence, I have no idea but her fitness would have caused me to have doubts for her role as a uniformed TSA agent. Whilst my comments may be unPC to the horizontally challenged, they are my own very recent observations and show to me, that the role being played out by the TSA is not particularly efficient.

As for the original post, I would have my doubts about the extent of the 'stripping' described but I certainly wouldn't put it beyond reality. The level of personality required to become a TSA agent doesn't appear to be high on the list of priorities but you would have thought that they would at least require some humanity and self respect. :eek:

25th Jan 2003, 14:30
I can't judge how bad it really is, I guess they might probably be isolated incidents. Or are they? Can this be one of the reasons air travel is suffering so much in the U.S? I know that the many stories, such as that of Danny's about the eighty year old gentleman, I've read in a variety of forums and in the media has put me off returning to the USA for the foreseable future. Prior to 911 I was a regular visitor. It's not the fear of terrorism which worries me but the fear that I might just lose my cool with one of these moron TSA people and end up behind bars. I'm not going to take the risk and so I'm staying out of there. I wonder how many think the same and if tourism (and the bucks it brings in) is suffering?

Johnny 7
25th Jan 2003, 14:34
Passing through PHX late last year I saw a TSA individual ( albeit screening boarding cards ) in what can only be described as a state of sleep . She was accompanied by a colleague who was checking the cards for her during a quiet period but nevertheless !
I watched for several minutes - must have been her restbreak .

And they are talking about arming them ?

25th Jan 2003, 14:55
Passed through IAD recently (out of uniform) and the security staff impressed me mightily with their courteous good humoured diligence. Well Done.
Just like EGCC really. :rolleyes:

25th Jan 2003, 22:27
I'm with Avman. Although I'm an American, I can't say that visits back to the home country have been exactly enjoyable as far as airport checking is concerned.

It is far more rigorous to some extent in the U.S., but the key question is the reason why? It seems that the personnel on duty are the same old ignorant people making minimum wage, but instead of working for some kind of private security outfit, they now work for the federal government. Intelligence quotient about 10.

Were they not hired from that old private security firm en masse?

If you take British, German, Dutch, French, and other continental European security, they may not be as "in your face" as the Americans are, but I believe they are much more professional and astute than their American counterparts.

At least you are treated as a human being and not as trash. Yes, if they find something, you'll end up arrested, but you won't have to go through the demeaning searches as Danny's 80-year old man.

26th Jan 2003, 01:25
Recently flew from MCO (as pax) and found TSA to be a shambolic bunch of morons. Very rude and ineffective. They spent most of their time eating junk food and drinking pop from ridiculously large containers. Where a search was carried out it was in full view of all other pax queuing at check in.NOT good.

26th Jan 2003, 02:58
The El Al pre-flight security folk are the best I've encountered - intelligent, efficient, very thorough, and courteous; they sure do it professionally. Perhaps they are Israeli military folk on relatively low pay and therefore cost less than would be be expected for such high quality people.

26th Jan 2003, 08:58
Unfortunately the story I told is one that I can confirm. I found it hard to believe for reasons mentioned by Danny and Lou Scannon. As to why would they do it? Well to show the power they have, to cover their lack of training and judgement with aggressive behaviour. Being smart was not one of the prerequisites to become a screener.

A-V-8-R, You got it right

"No Flight Attendent I know of wears an underwire bra anymore because they will get felt up to insure a weapon/knife/pick isn't hidden in the bra."
This was apparently the reason for the search. How a F/A that is just short of 60 constitutes for a threat that would warrant a strip search just beats me. Whats next ? A cavity search?

I am not sue how "interfering with crewmembers in cnduct of theiur duties" Exactly applies to this case but I will tell this to the person in question. Video taped or not. I am sure that TSA people can justify their actions, regardless how inappropriate they are, and in this case use the weapon/knife/pick hidden in the bra suspicion as their exuse.

I hope that these are isolated cases as there clearly have been positive encounters with TSA.

How does the negative publicity affect travle to US. I have heard more often than once people saying that they just do not want to travle to US anymore. A friend of mine flying for a EU company said that if he was scheduled for a trip to US, he would try to swap it and if unable call in sick. I hear more and more of this from people flying for living. I am sure that the travelling public has been put off as well.


26th Jan 2003, 09:24
I for one have crossed the US off my holiday list. The only reason I go there is because I HAVE to.. for simulator recurrency in Tucson AZ, as the sims only exist in the states for my type airplane.
Yes, I fit the profile, young guy, foreign, travel alone etc.. so I was profiled (not that they admit it) and had the pleasure of being searched 4 times (almost 5 as after being the "10th" at the gate for one search, I rejoined the line, only to be the 10th again so I promptly told them to ****** off)

So until the TSA drop their McCarthyest attitudes I ain't dropping my tourist dollars in the US economy

Lou Scannon
26th Jan 2003, 11:29
So it would seem that TSA employ people who are less than bright. But do they really make female flight attendants strip to their underwear in front of passengers? If there is real evidence that they have done this then they can almost certainly be sued for all manner of offences in both the criminal and civil courts.

If this has happened and those concerned have done nothing about it they have to accept responsibility for not putting an immediate stop to what is probably a criminal act.

26th Jan 2003, 13:17
Went through JFK Terminal 7 10 days ago, nothing unusual 'cept the shoe xray, no particular problems other than a longer wait than usual whilst pax make 6 attempts to remove metallic objects. Portable curtained booth was available if needed, and a "dance floor" mat with two footprints so ya know how to spread 'em :cool:

Size of staff no larger than usual, and indeed no larger than average (American average that is ;))

26th Jan 2003, 14:04
So.....dumbass security goons, blonde Finnish hosties, power without responsibility. I think we can see how this happened. The forces of the Law do spend some much time punching themselves in the mouth...

26th Jan 2003, 15:14
There are plenty of reasons not to come to America right now, but dislike of the screening process at airports is the about the stupidest I have heard in some time. TSA have done a great job in the short time they have been around, and when they get past the scramble to provide decent security, things should get better still. Inspecting people is not a nice job for either side, but you cannot on one hand scream for extra security on the ground, then when it is implemented complain because it is thorough. Never had a problem myself, and when I see somebody being searched (and when it happens to me I just keep a good attitude and it's soon over with) I never assume they are being hassled unless I hear them say that for themselves. As for seeing somebody being strip searched in public, I can only assume you had been smoking some strong weed.

So now I have got you all pissed off, let me really throw some gas on the flames :)

In the States the crew go through the same machines as the SLF, and they get to push in at the front of the queue. Whether this is fair is not the issue here, but I would say that none of us like queuing up, when I am flying on business the airport is my workplace too, and all I do is get there a little earlier.

It's a lovely sight to see the crew all turn up in their smart uniforms, especially if they are from the home country, it makes me feel all warm inside. It's not so lovely when I have waited patiently for my turn, am next in the queue to go through the machine, and a whole bloody 747 crew turn up.

Obviously this is planned beforehand at the crew briefing. The nimblest one nips in (obviously the team scrum half) and without a word throws her bag on the X-ray machine conveyor. I am somewhat shocked, move back a foot or two, and then the whole damned pack comes thundering on the scene, sort of like one of those flying wedges the Welsh once used with great effect against an otherwise superior English side. A couple of meaty props (must be the heavies they assign to the economy class cabin to keep people in their seats in case they divert for somebody farting in the toilet) guard the flanks, and the rest of the crew pile in through the middle. Last but not least, the captain turns up nonchalently filing his nails, then sneaks the pointy nail file into some unsuspecting blind 90 year old ladies pocket, so he can have a laugh when she gets thrown to the floor and strip searched by those TSA bullies who obviously have nothing better to do. Ten minutes later, it's my turn again.

How about you letting one of us punters through every time one of you goes through? Sort of stagger your assault on the queue? I did once suggest this to a young lady in her smart blue uniform. I was put down with a line which if transcribed would be so innocent, but the delivery was performed with such perfection that I felt I had been cut off at the knees. Essex girls do this so well :), and I have to say if it the circumstances were different, I would have offered to marry her on the spot.

Funnily enough she was working on the same flight I was on, and I was sitting in one of the seats where they have to be nice to you :D Such joy. She was a charming lady when she wanted to be, it was a very good experience, so why not start this when you turn up for work?

I thought about having a word with the CSD, but didn't think it would help. Maybe this heartfelt plea for courtesy from all who find themselves in the security screening process will be good enough instead.

Check 6
26th Jan 2003, 15:19
JJ Flyer, if what you are saying is true, why not report your facts to the TSA Director at JFK, Mr. William Hall:

[email protected]

;) ;)

26th Jan 2003, 16:41
Better yet, tell the media. Such a story (if true) would be lapped up. I'm not convinced that even the TSA would go so far as to 'strip' anyone in public, let alone a crew member. If they did then they should suffer the consequences.

26th Jan 2003, 17:43
Recently flew in and out of ATL. Security was pleasant and efficient. JFK remains a nightmare, rudeness must be a staff selection requirement!

Surely it would be simpler all-round to process crew through a separate route? Maybe there is a reason to follow the SLF route. We were told to go to the front of the queue by security staff at ATL, by the way.

26th Jan 2003, 17:49
The attack on the WTC was a major wake-up call to the world, and a response was definitely needed. In Europe and Asia airport security was stepped up, with training, purchase of some new equipment and extra staff. I would say that it seems to be effective and appropriate.
But the US went crazy, with the new Homeland Security Department, TSA and full baggage screening.
Homeland Security is obviously just a power grab and how the American public can allow itself to be fooled so badly is beyond me. All I can think is that they are driven by fear. There is a word for that type, but I hesitate to use it here.
At the airport, the private screeners were thrown out and the new government system was put in place. We were told that the standards, like those for the Air Marshalls, would be high, yet both departments have been forced to cut back on qualifications and training, such that the people in place now are barely better than those who went before.
The responsibilities of the TSA are to prevent criminals from taking dangerous items on board airplanes. I doubt that they have the intention or the ability to stop the terrorist himself. We have seen many cases where airplanes have been put under threat by persons armed only with mundane items such as a TV remote, or have had no weapons at all. Some of the most dangerous weapons cannot be detected by the TSA equipment, and if seen would not be identified as a weapon. I won't go into what those weapons might be here, but suffice it to say that the terrorists know. Again, the TSA cannot detect or identify those weapons.
Thus the TSA cannot do a 100 percent job. It is manifestly impossible. If you believe that they are protecting you, you are quite wrong.
The private security firms used low pay employees, but through time they had a lot of experienced and effective checkers working for them. The TSA said they would not employ any of those people, since they had their heads in a dark place at the time, but many of those checkers are now working again. The majority are new to the job and the training they have received so far leads me to belive that they will never amount to much. It takes a certain ability to stare at a monitor for hours and to be able to pick out the weapon from the thousands of carry-ons pasing through the machine. It is not a job for most persons, being boring, repetitive and (still) low paid. Computers are used, of course, since they can be programmed to recognise certain shapes, and the detection rate is probably higher. But I would remind all that the 9/11 criminals used a weapon (boxcutters) that were allowed for carriage at the time. The best we can hope is that these people will find most guns, knives or pointy objects. Never mind that these items are rarely used to commit crimes on airplanes.
A more effective way to stop airborne crime is to identify the persons who are most likely to commit those crimes and stop them from boarding in the first place. This is done in most places in the world, but not in the USA. Profiling is a PC word and therefore is forbidden there. Thus we see children, old ladies, crew, fanilies and so on stopped for thorough checks while the 18-40 year old male is breezing through. Even Al Gore was subject to a full search when he travelled last year and he thought that was alright! Never mind that if the ex-VP of the USA is a threat then we might as well pack up and shut down all aviation. The sheer stupidity of the people who make the rules for this outfit is astounding.
Instead of using brains to select passengers for checking, the TSA uses a computer that randomly selects victims, or by counting (every tenth person or such). It is hard to imagine a more inefficient and wasteful way to do it. I challenge a mathematician to come up with a worse way. The present system is guaranteed to not only waste the resources of the TSA, but to give the terrorist the best possible chance to smuggle what he needs on board with the smallest chance of being stopped.
But to make the gullible public think that the TSA is doing a good job, they make a fuss about what they do, and the worse they treat those who pay their salaries (we who want/have to fly) the better the public seems to like it. Never mind that 15-20 percent of the peopple who used to fly no longer do so, mainly because they cannot suffer the abuse at the airports. They say a successful parasite will try not to kill the host, and in that regard the TSA is most definitely not going to be successful.
Then the TSA put in those great big Xray machines, even though they knew the technology was not good enough to reliably do the job of detecting explosives. They cost millions, and it would be interesting to see what politicians and their wives/husbands got the kickback for that purchase. The failure rate is some 20 percent, so we, the traveling public, see our bags being manually searched and we are told to leave the bags unlocked. Never mind that we get no compensation for theft or loss, and no protection if a smuggler chooses to use our bag to get drugs into Miami.
When the bag is rejected by the machine, one would imagine that this is because it might contain an explosive, yet the baggage handler then puts on the latest in bomb handling tools, rubber gloves, and proceeds to rummage through the suitcase. He would not know a bomb if it climbed out and bit him on the butt, and if there was a bomb in the case, his handling would be bound to set it off, killing and injuring the thousands who are forced to stand around the lobby area, waiting in lines to have their bags checked or to check in for the flight. What is being done is so stupid that it must mean that the authorities know that there is no threat. There has not been a bombing of a US domestic airplane for forty years or more, and this threat is so small that the old 5 percent screening was just as effective as this massive over-kill.
"Follow the money". Who stands to gain most from this massive increase in government? From the loss of rights and freedoms that Americans used to enjoy? Using fear and coercion, this travesty has been forced on us. That so many accept it and believe that it actually makes flying safer is the truly sad part.

26th Jan 2003, 18:45

It's all about deterent, and being seen to be doing something.

Personally, I'd rather the crew had their own route airside, as is typically the case on arrival. Ditto baggage handling on arrival - there's nothing worse than seeing the crew heading for the hotel, their bags having some magic priority!

Capt Homesick
26th Jan 2003, 21:41
The magic priority of crew bags is usually due to one thing- they load and unload their own bags.

Ignition Override
27th Jan 2003, 04:57
At various US airline crewbases, as a pilot, you can watch a two-hour video (so you learn about ramp safety) , fill out a form and have a new ID card, which enables you to BYPASS security at your 'home' airport. You swipe it, punch in your top-secret number, and can bring any object you want up to an airplane, (hopefully some protein-filled snack to get you through a busy day, flying very fast-paced short legs).

All of our ramp employees never go through security, unless they just happen to walk down the concourse talking to some really tall, good-looking redhead (in a blue uniform?), probably towards the KLM gate etc.

When you folks stand in line at large US airports, look around. How many ground employees do you see going through Security?

I've had no problem with the TSA people, and most seem to be a bit educated and more worldly, which is a pleasant improvement. Y'all should remember what some of the previous personnel were like...that was a glaring minimum-wage issue, with hundreds of background checks 'allegedly' ignored/falsified by the contracting companies-and this was just at ONE airport, in Philadelphia, (PA)!!

27th Jan 2003, 07:06
This happened to a friend of mine while travelling back from the USA on a business trip.

Selected for a search at Dulles after check in as 'something' showed up when baggage was screened. Taken to private area where suitcase was screened again test showed positive for 'explosives' - only a couple of people present at this time to take details. Suitcase opened and searched - dog handler (&dog) arrives, more details taken, dog handler states that the case should have been left closed as the dog was distracted by other things in suitcase (laundry etc) More people turn up, same details taken etc. My mate had a good idea what was causing the problem and pointed out a film bag. This eventually resolved the problem but at no point did anybody actually open the film bag to check what was actually inside!!

27th Jan 2003, 08:58
I position a lot through the USA, mainly through Florida to the Caribbean. After 9/11, security became almost intolerable. Non english speaking people who didn't have a clue what they were doing, didn't understand who aircrew were and were downright rude. Since the TSA have taken over, all I can say is that it is much much better. You get greeted with a hello, they speak english, they recognise aircrew, they are thorough and polite. What is a glaring ommission though is that we are now being asked to leave suitcases unlocked :o I cannot believe after all has been drilled into us regarding security etc, that they want us not only to leave our cases unlocked, but then leave them unnattended while a porter comes to trolley them off to security. now that is dumb !

27th Jan 2003, 13:27
I would agree with the statement made earlier by Avman

Can this be one of the reasons air travel is suffering so much in the U.S?

I have lived just about nine years in the States whilst doing my university and flight training there. I had a good time and absolutely no problems. I retuned in early 99 and haven’t retuned since. For a while I thought I should give it a go this spring but a recurrent flood of such stories is still keeping me from a weekend in south Florida. Someone mentioned “what if you loos your cool with those sh!t for brains TSA f@t @ss bimbos? Jail? Do you get on the permanent “Axis of evil” list, or even be charged as a wannabe terrorist? At what point is one considered a threat by the TSA? If looking at the security guards too long or in some suspicious way? Perhaps being young, backpacking around and having a pilots licence?

Europeans have been labelled as anti-American lately, though I think that Europeans are not as much anti-American as much as anti Bush Jr. Administration, unfortunately for us all, these new nonsense guidelines won’t disappear with a new administration I’m afraid.

27th Jan 2003, 15:51
According to the latest as of Friday if the TSA determin that you are a risk of any description you can be grounded. The link below goes to an artical which refers to FAA documents and licences but just how much notice do you think is going to be taken of foreign licence reciprocity if an argument develops?


:( :(