tsa agent behaving badly
a friend of mine was flying out of washington dulles international airport (iad), and encountered a tsa agent who just was not being very nice.
the agent made him remove his laptop from his checkpoint flyer, even after he explained that it was in a checkpoint friendly case.
this agent also made a mother dispose of breast milk she was carrying for her child.
if you run into this sort of situation, my suggestion would be to ask for a supervisor. it may take them a moment or two to get someone there to assist, so keep in mind how much time remains until your flight departs and how long it will take for you to get from that security checkpoint to your gate.
the problem is that most of us are in a hurry when we go through security. i've arrived at the airport within 30 or 45 minutes of my flight on more than one occasion. the result is that us not having the time to prevent this sort of behavior from a tsa agent just reinforces their behavior.
having said this, i would also say be careful when you're abroad. i had a very bad experience in doha, qatar - and i won't fly through that place again.
I agree that, whenever possible, I leave plenty of extra time to deal with the possibility of TSA problems. I'm not shy about escalating to the supervisor level when I get a TSO who doesn't understand their own regs, or is making things up as they go along, or is on a power trip or whatever. Like you, Maverick, I feel that ignoring or putting up with bad behavior makes it more likely to be repeated to the detriment of other travelers.
Here's an example from my home airport, Seattle. I was in line at the screening point behind an elderly man carrying what appeared to be a Korean passport. He put his shoes in the bin together with his small bag and jacket, and the TSO was yelling at us "Put your shoes on the belt, not in the bins!" This gentleman didn't comply and the the TSO yelled at him directly, "I said, put your shoes on the belt!" He still looked confused and did nothing, so I took his shoes out of the bin, saying softly "Okay? Okay?" hoping he understood. The TSO then waved him through, and then sent me through the screening point. As soon as I was on the cleared side, I turned back to the TSO and said, "Did you notice that he was carrying a foreign passport in his hand? I don't think he understood what you were saying, and yelling at him didn't make it any clearer." The TSO then ordered me to stand aside while he called for a 'female assist' to pat me down. I demanded a supervisor, since I thought the guy's behavior was over the line, both with the Korean passenger and now with what appeared to me to be a retaliatory patdown after I had cleared screening just for my comment about the way he handled the Korean guy. after. When I explained to the supervisor what had happened, he turned to the TSO and told him to be more sensitive to possibly non-English speaking passengers and also waved me on without the patdown.
The whole episode detained me for about fifteen minutes but it was worth it to call out the TSO on what I saw as abuse of power.
Most terrorists, I believe, would not like to call more attention to themselves by confronting someone in authority. Just a guess.
maverick, I remember well your story about that frightening experience in doha, qatar. I'm glad you won't be flying through there again.
Summoning a supervisor won't necessarily help. I once spent about 36 hours in jail because of a Sea-Tac TSA supervisor. There are good and bad folks of all persuasions.