What’s New In TSA Crazy: The Bad, The Good, & The Good Riddance

Jul 22, 2017 by

What’s New In TSA Crazy: The Bad, The Good, & The Good Riddance

Three things the TSA stopped doing out of the goodness of their hearts wait just kidding

While I’ve been a convicted terrorist for nearly a decade, the TSA didn’t put me on their list until 2010, and I didn’t start publicly making fun of them until last year.

And in this short time, a lot has changed.

Here are the top three things I can no longer make fun of the TSA for doing because they don’t do them anymore:

  1. The TSA no longer sets up “random bag checks” at the gate

As made famous in a previous story, this is (was) the TSA’s practice of sending two to five agents to the gate and searching bags as people board. They usually brought a wheeled cart and tons of hubris.

They called it “random,” while happening for every flight I was on. If you ever boarded a plane and had the TSA check your bag a second time, at the gate, someone on the TSA’s terrorist list was on your plane. Probably me.

The part I’ll miss most about these is a two-way tie: Either watching the airline employees standing around visibly rolling their eyes while the TSA turned a 15 minute boarding process into a 30 minute one; or enjoying the only examples of overt hostility I’ve ever seen sleepwalking members of the American public direct at the TSA for searching their bags twice in 20 minutes.

I kind of miss these.

Update: I take back what I said about missing these. They brought them back. Only worse.

2. There are no more weird meltdowns at the gate over boarding pass confusion

The TSA requires airline employees to clear terrorists for entry by entering a code at the gate when they see the “SSSS” on a boarding pass. Problem was, they didn’t tell airlines what the code was.

This led to dozens of instances of hilarity, gridlock, and airline employee meltdown in the scramble to figure out what key-sequence to push that would “clear” me for boarding.

This will be missed for two reasons:

  1. It increased friction between the TSA and airlines.
  2. It got me a free flight once.

3. Computers installed which no longer let the TSA miss the “SSSS” on my boarding pass

In the glory days, when they first stopped me at security, the TSA would only be alerted to my terrorist-status via the crude and often spectacularly ineffective method of using their eyes.

Usually they noticed the “SSSS” on my boarding pass and treated me accordingly. About 10% of the time, they didn’t.

In the latter scenario, at my gate the airline would see that my boarding pass bore no mark indicating I’d been cleared by the TSA, send me back to security, and I’d miss my flight. This happened three times.

Within that 10%, a missed flight could have been easily prevented if I alerted the TSA to their oversight at the podium. As in, “Hey, you missed the ‘SSSS’. I require extra screening.” Which I would never do because dignity.

While America rested well believing they were safe in the TSA’s hands, as it turns out… No. Terrorists could slip past TSA checkpoints without enduring additional screening if the TSA just, oh, I don’t know…. didn’t notice four letters in 8-point font on the top corner of a boarding pass.

If you’re one of those people who prefers the illusion of security to actual security, you’re welcome for this comforting revelation.

Of the three recent changes, this is the one I’m most glad to see go because it was really annoying.

What’s the common denominator here?

Look at this list again closely.

These changes are not a result of the TSA slowly warming up to sanity and not looking stupid. The TSA has gotten more intrusive and obnoxious, not less (more recent changes are covered in an upcoming chapter).

Of the dozen or so ways suspected (or in my case, admitted) terrorists are treated differently at airports, I suspect these three were dropped because they had one thing in common:

Each one bred contempt between the airlines and the TSA.

To varying degrees, each one of these made the TSA’s incompetence the airline’s problem.

While the TSA is openly hostile towards the public, its likely they don’t want the airlines hating them to the point of revolt.


Sand pours through the hourglass, the pages of the calendar blow away, and the seasons change around the full body scanner and the second-year TSA doofus palming your wallet as he pats you down, it’s easy to lapse into nostalgia for the days of yore and flail for something – anything – one can cling to for stability in these times of rapid TSA change. It can leave you wondering: Is there anything we can count on anymore?!

Just remember, we’re all going through this together. Take solace in the words an off-the-clock flight attendant in Denver shared with me once:

We all hate the TSA.”

-Jetsetting Terrorist

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