Cover me: I’m about to say something nice about the TSA

It’s not often that I say something nice about the Transportation Safety Administration.  Their usual treatment of individuals is pretty horrid; and I should know since I travel every week.  But I just recently became part of the TSA Pre program – and it’s glorious.

Here in Portland, Oregon, our local airport has joined the TSA Pre™ list of approved airports.  And since I joined myself (as a frequent flier of Alaska Airlines, they joined me up automatically, but only for flights on Alaska), it has taken me no longer than 7 seconds to get through TSA after showing my identification.  It has been glorious!

So if you’re a frequent business traveler, I’d look into it.  It’s so worth the $100 fee.

One note of caution.  When you join TSA Pre™, they will give you a few options.  I chose their Global Entry option, because it made the best sense for me.  Your decision may be different.  But they give you a “Global Entry” identification card, and it’s an official identification from the Department of Homeland Security, and can be used as proper ID.  It can, no matter if a TSA agent refuses it or not.  I fly out of the tiny airport of Prescott, Arizona, and the TSA there refused to accept my Homeland Security ID and wanted my drivers license.

So there you have it.  I did manage to balance some good with some bad, so take that, TSA!  But seriously – join Global Entry.  You’ll definitely be glad you did!  And drop me a line if you have questions.

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When are airports going to learn?

So airlines and airports have suffered through the economic downturn.  And beyond that, they’ve been further punished economically because of companies not doing as many business trips – those higher fare customers have disappeared.

So why is it airports haven’t gotten with the times, to entice business travelers back?  For example, Phoenix Sky Harbor airport has free WiFi, but the terminals are outdated; you basically have to sit on the floor if you want to get an electrical outlet.  And their WiFi (when it works; lately it’s been working only about 70% of the time) is censored; nothing like trying to get to your corporate email when suddenly a Cisco popup says you can’t get to your email because your domain isn’t one that Cisco approves of.

Some of the best airports are the smaller ones.  I remember flying through Albuquerque back in 2006 and they had free WiFi, plus tables with electrical outlets and – get this – chairs!  You didn’t have to sit on the ground!  Portland International has probably 8 to 10 “business centers” that people can use.  And this week I went into the new Terminal 6 at LAX where Alaska Airlines just moved, and saw seats with electrical outlets everywhere.  WiFi wasn’t free, but at least paid WiFi isn’t censored WiFi.

So Airports: If you want to win us business travelers over, do something for us!  I now know I’ll travel through LAX more often than PHX, just because there are more options for us business travelers.

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Why I Love the State of Alaska

Last year there was an Alaska State lawmaker that got “randomly selected” to be porno-groped while going through security.  And when I say porno-grope, I mean it.  I’ve gotten farther with TSA agents than with some dates I’ve had.

But I digress.

Representative Sharon Cissna of Anchorage has sponsored at least 4 bills with the TSA in her sights.  One of them is radiation warnings (because we know that the backscatter radiation – by the TSA’s own admission – causes about a dozen cases of cancer per year), but the biggest one is one that will criminalize any invasive patdown done in the name of the TSA.  Cissna, a breast cancer survivor, knows what it’s like to have her life choices taken out of her hands – and the TSA does that on a regular basis.

My favorite quote of hers is:

“Those aren’t pat-downs,” Cissna said of TSA procedures. “It was a feel-up. I did not experience a pat-down”

And this is after 2 pat-downs in a few months.  Personally I have to go through them twice a week in order to bypass the cancer causing porno machines.  And I totally support her fight to get Alaskan airports to give the TSA requirements the boot!

Go get ’em, Sharon!

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Add PDX to the Porno Scanner List

I flew out of Portland International yesterday, and was really unhappy to see that the porno scanners have been installed, at least at the ABC checkpoint.  A couple of things.

  1. Like I posted before, the technology these machines use has not been proven to be safe for commercial use.
  2. There are only 3 scanners for the busiest security checkpoint for the airport (the ABC gates clear passengers for nearly 65% of all PDX departures, with the top 3 airlines – Southwest, Alaska, and Horizon accounting for more than 50% themselves).

This is crap.  The machines aren’t safe, for the traveling public, nor for the TSA agents that are forced to stand next to them for hours at a time.

I think I’ll print out a few dozen copies of the Mashable article and leave them around the airport.  That, and obstruct their use at every chance.

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Update on Yukari Miyamae

Lots of groups have cropped up on Facebook to help Yukari Miyamae, the woman who “groped back” a TSA agent, and was arrested for sexual assault.  Most importantly, there is a legal defense fund set up for Yukari.  Here it is:

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Turnabout is fair play!

In other words, good for you Yukari Mihamae!

If you haven’t heard of Yukari yet, she turned the tables on the porno grope that the TSA does (and having been through one myself, it would be classified as sexual assault, if it weren’t for the guise of “safety” — and I use that term loosely, based on the failure rate of TSA that has been released).  She groped back at a female TSA agent, grabbing both of the agents breasts.

So she’s arrested, but the TSA can continue this?  Bullshit.

I, myself, went through the enhanced procedure and can tell you – there was definitely fondling – of testicles and penis, among other body parts.  Though, personally, I will take the porno grope over the horrid full body scanners.  Got cancer?  Nope – and I want to keep it that way.

There’s a legal defense fund setup, with information listed in a Facebook fan page.  You can find it by clicking here.

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Security is a JOKE

With all the headlines going on about security, invasive TSA pat-downs (where a lesbian friend of mine has commented she’s had her labia touched – TWICE), and the like, what exactly is this getting us?  Where are we, as a nation, going?  Are we any safer?  I think the words you’re looking for are “HELL” and “NO”.

Not only is it getting worse, it’s getting noticeably worse.  Case in point?  Two separate incidents that I personally have witnessed over the last couple of weeks has led to three different people running out onto the taxiway of the Wenatchee Pangborn Field airport.  Yes, this is a small field, with commuter service.  But isn’t that all anyone needs?  You get access to a larger plane (a Bombardier Q400) and you can pose a threat to just about any building, large or small.  And if you wanted a larger plane, then hell – you can land at a larger airport and use your plane to commandeer another one.

Two weeks ago it was two kids that ran out through the double-door exit onto the taxiway to meet their parents.  Today, I was almost knocked down by a 50 year old lady who ran through the same double-doors and out onto the taxiway to meet someone.  Can you imagine what a couple of armed goons could do?  And how is it we still don’t double-check every piece of cargo that goes in the belly of the planes we ride in?  Too expensive?  Bullshit.

We have the illusion of security going through to catch our flights.  The TSA isn’t going to do anything serious about it unless we, as the traveling public demand it.  They’ll simply continue to jump at the latest hotspot and make us put something else on the conveyor belt when we go through the magnetometer.  It’s pathetic.

UPDATE: I just talked to someone at Pangborn Field (Wenatchee).  They weren’t aware that anyone had breached the exit out onto the runway, though they’ve had that concern.  TSA isn’t going to do anything about it.  Why?  They’ll require Pangborn to manage the exit, not TSA, for whatever stupid TSA reason the TSA can cite.  Again, I say, SECURITY IS A JOKE.

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Good roundup of TSA shenanigans

While work’s been…odd as of late, I haven’t had a lot of time to post.  Plus I’ve been home for 3 weeks (the longest I’ve been home for 8+ years).  But I’ve been keeping up with most of what’s going on out there with regards to the TSA crap – the backscatter porn cum cancer machines, and the new “I’m gonna touch your junk” searches.  One of the best articles that keeps most of these stories in one place can be found over here at Shakesville.

What you (probably) haven’t seen, though is what Secretary of State Clinton said.  Yes, she towed the line of it being “a necessary evil.”  But she also said she’d avoid a TSA patdown.  Score one for our side.

I kinda regret that Portland International doesn’t have these cancer machines yet, just so I can opt out, scream “Don’t touch my junk”, and file criminal charges against the TSA agent that touched me.

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Guess what the TSA has been doing?

Okay, not the entire TSA, but one TSA officer.  One really, really, really stupid TSA officer.  While he was supposed to be working as a “bomb appraisal officer”, he decided to pull pranks on travelers as they came through security.  Seriously.  Example:

As one passenger gathered their belongings (which had just emerged from an X-ray machine), the TSA worker displayed a “small vial of white powder” and asked, “Did this come out of your bag?” When the passenger replied, “No,” the officer asked, “Are you sure?” The traveler, according to a TSA memo, said, “Yea, I’m pretty sure,” and began to laugh. “Okay, just wanted to make sure. Have a nice flight,” the officer replied.

Seriously, WTF dude?  Are you that stupid?  Yeah, I suppose you are.  At least it’s not as bad as the time I went through TSA at Burbank Airport with Scary Spice behind me — and half the TSA staff abandoned their posts to fawn all over her.

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Another special plane

Forgot to post this last Thursday. President Obama landed in Grand Rapids about an hour before I took off. Curiously enough, security wasn’t bad. You can’t make it out much, but here is Air Force One, and the military transport that carries Marine One.

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