OT: TSA (again)


Xander wrote on 6/12/2006, 3:16 AM
When I bought a one-way ticket from DC to Dallas last Monday, the lady checking identification and boarding pass said I was randomly selected for the full works in terms of screening. Luckly, two colleagues travelling with me, who also bought one-way tickets to Dallas, were randomly selected for special screening too so I had some people to talk too. Random - hmmm!
Spot|DSE wrote on 6/12/2006, 8:01 AM
FWIW, One-way tickets and short-notice tickets are sure-fire triggers for SSSS. (Special Security Screening)

Update to my travel to add more to the fray:
Flying out of SLC with my skydiving rig, not a word from the folks labeled TSA while I was there. BIG sticker covering latches saying "If you're gonna open this, Federal Law requires the passenger to be present. Said tag had my flight number, cell number, and emergency phone number on it as required by the TSA and FAA forms on the outside of the box.
Get to Canada, find it's been tampered with, so go to the TSA rep in Edmonton. he's shocked to find that a life-saving device that is protected by FAA, FAI, and virtually every other law has been tampered with. I tell him I'm not willing to jump the canopy as-is. He wrote up a report against the Utah TSA.
On return from Canada, the Canadian security and US TSA were very good. They looked at the rig, X-Rayed it, said..."Yup, lotsa fabric, lines, and a bit of metal there, can you show us the electronics?" I showed them how the explosive charge in my Cypress works (that's what saves your life if you fall too fast at low altitude) and they were impressed with the colors of the rig and the Cypress more than anything. Yet the Canadians were incredibly polite (as usual once outside of Montreal) and very thorough.
So, once again...it's been demonstrated that security "professionals" that have been trained and have a career in securty are quite good. TSA people are transients at best, and it's no wonder they're terrible at what they do. They just don't get it.

BTW, Canada is on serious terrorist alert due to recent events, yet there was zero change in their calm, confident, and courteous manner with passengers.

Canada, I'm ALWAYS happy to fly in your airspace. Same with Israel.
jkrepner wrote on 6/12/2006, 8:40 AM
I disagree with the above... I feel the Canadians inside Montreal are nicer.

(p.s. Too bad for the smoking ban up there in Quebec. I was there at 11:59 PM on St. Paul St. May 31 when it happened. Many unhappy people.)

Spot|DSE wrote on 6/12/2006, 9:15 AM
You'd likely be one of the very, very few feeling Canadians inside Quebec are "nicer." Outside of Nat, a few folks from this forum, and the Sony guys, Montreal is always an alien city to me, and they're pretty proud of their "anti-anyone not-French" attitude. It's been the subject of many travel journals, and I for one, have found it to be mostly true. Remember that they boo'd the American National anthem when a youth hockey team from the US visited last year?
Montreal is a beautiful city though. But I'll take Vancouver, Toronto, Edmonton, etc over Montreal any day of the week. In other words, "English-speaking" Canada has a much more warm approach, IMO. The Toronto International Film Festival is amongst the best in the world.
jkrepner wrote on 6/12/2006, 10:46 AM
DSE, on my first visit to Montreal I was of the same belief. But staying in Old Montreal on my second visit I did a 180. I met some pretty interesting people and learned that the French speaking people are not anti-anyone that's not-French. In fact, to my understanding, the French speaking people learn English but the English speaking people make almost no attempt to learn French. This makes it very difficult for them to maintain their heritage. The attitude stems from the fact that other people don't want to learn French but yet the French are expected to learn English. Double standard, eh?

It's also a culture clash of sorts with the French speakers fancying themselves more European and more fashionable.... you know, a French thing.

Just a few weeks ago San Jose Sharks fans booed the Canadian Anthem before an NHL game, so I wouldn't judge a city by it's fans, eh?

But I do understand what you mean overall. I know when I get back to the U.S., I'm always like... "God, Americans are fat."
Spot|DSE wrote on 6/12/2006, 11:01 AM
I didn't know that about San Jose...that's sad indeed. Montreal hasn't gotten any more appealing for me whether it's first, second, or 20th visit. Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver on the other hand...I could EASILY move to Vancouver and love it there. People, place, attitude, etc.
Google "quebec, attitude" and see what you get. Worldwide articles, even found one in Arabic that is anti-Quebec, pro Canada.

Montreal is a historical, beautiful city whether it's winter or summer. But if it wasn't for the hospitality shown by the music/film community, I'd likely never return. Then again, I'll likely never return to Paris, either. Too much dog poop everywhere, and the people act like they can't smell it. Or maybe there is another reason for the nose-in-the-air. :-)

But no matter what, security at Montreal is horribly off-balance IMO, compared to Nova Scotia, Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver...
During the psychotic weekend of Oilers and the playoffs, security was raised in Edmonton this weekend. But it was still very calm and courteous. In fact, the guard inspecting my Z1's wanted a whole lesson on HDV, he was so enamored with the camera. I gave him an old HDV book, and today received a "Thank you" email. First I've ever gotten, and I've given out at least 20 of them to various security people over the past year.

jlafferty wrote on 6/12/2006, 1:39 PM
I wish I had "Moore Vision" - he was four years ahead of the average American Joe.

Which is insane considering the millions of us around the world who marched in November just before the war and who "got it" then. Hopefully you'll be out with us the next time an administration decides 40,000+ dead and $285,000,000,000+ lost is a fair trade for <insert agenda here>.
dhill wrote on 6/13/2006, 12:41 AM
I'm heading to Canada in a couple of days. Thankfully all of our stuff is being driven across. Vancouver I believe...they're (cities) all running together in my head now though. Too much traveling. :o) My last couple of trips there were completely painless and they were very courteous as you also experienced. No checked gear so I'll sleep well. Tampering with a parachute. Unbelievable. Derek
jrazz wrote on 3/23/2007, 3:07 PM
Spot, just thought you would like to know.

LAX TSA Busted!

j razz
Spot|DSE wrote on 3/23/2007, 3:21 PM
Nah, that story is *absolutely* untrue.
I was told (in person) by the assistant director/TSA at LAX that their employees "don't ever steal." This was less than a month ago.
He has a badge, a nice face, and seemed to be a nice guy. I'm sure he was sincere in what he was telling me.
jaydeeee wrote on 3/23/2007, 3:26 PM
>>>I remember when flying was FUN. Now, it is a monumental pain in the butt. With the exception of a suitcase full of clothes (which I will reluctantly check), if I can't carry it on, it isn't going.


Christ, if I could only make my wife adopt this carry-on rule.

farss wrote on 3/23/2007, 3:29 PM
Please, no more stories about LAX,
Ah no, it's OK, going via San Francisco this time, phew!

teaktart wrote on 3/23/2007, 8:48 PM
How much gear do you/can you "hand carry" ???

I just returned from a trip and video shoot on a small island in Fiji.
I brought:
two small camcorders
SLR camera plus telephoto lens
small point-and-shoot waterproof camera
I hand carried these everywhere. That alone filled up a knapsack and weighted a lot...

I also dragged a jam packed carry on suitcase with :
4 recharging cords/bricks
a multi-plug power cord
power converter
plug adapters
half dozen+ camera batteries
about a dozen miniDV tapes
Audio recordering equipment: Mini-disc recorder
10 blank mini discs
3 mics
batteries for the mics
USB cable
FireWire cable
mic cables
Pelican box
etc, etc, etc.

Spare underwear??? Jacket??? Toiletries??? no room!!!

I hate having to drag absolutely everything on board which in this case amounted to at least 50#s of gear. If anything got "lost" in checked baggage I couldn't have pulled off the shoot of local musicians. I had to pretend it was easy to lift the suitcase into the overhead bin (I'm a 5'6" gal with "girl arms" !) without falling over backwards in the attempt!
The good news is that I didn't get busted for overweight baggage or having carried two large items on board.
The embarrassing news is that on a small interisland plane I had to personally get on a scale holding my carry-on bags so they could add up the total weight the plane would be carrying......
I blamed my bags of course for the "heavy" number and since I was the one and only passenger that day I didn't get charged for being way over the limit...

How are others coping with bringing lots of gear?
What do you hand carry?
As per all the above posts of stuff being stolen out of checked baggage and the latest TSA bust at LAX what strategies do others use?


p.s. Thank god for suitcases with wheels!

p.p.s Had to even take off my Teva sandals even though my feet were clearly visible as were my sandals, go figure!
Serena wrote on 3/23/2007, 9:47 PM
Yes, I've done the "this ain't heavy, it's just a couple of carry on things". My FX in its Pelican case exceeds the 10Kg carry on for major airlines and I've had to make it look particularly light for the 5Kg limits of feeder lines.

My first time into LAX in the 90s on government business established a general impression of the States that I still find hard to erase: being aggressively herded by police armed with sub-machine guns. Hard to think of how they can have made it more unpleasant, but obviously they have devised ways.

An observation from Clive James: "There is a danger inherent in liberal democracy, which is a very successful political system, that its citizens will, generation by generation, forget that its construction was achieved against great opposition. It was by no means a done deal that liberal democracy would emerge victorious at the end of the 20th century. Hitler had other plans and so had Stalin. Democracy won out, but not simply because it's a state of nature. Fascism is probably more natural."
Jonathan Neal wrote on 3/23/2007, 10:00 PM
Spot, you forgot to include your </sarcasm> tag on that last post! :)

Regarding the T.S.A - Not every last government institution ever created has been absolutely worthy of sticking around; some are just duds, in fact, some ideas are just duds, and some people are just duds too. Of course, in today's day in age, it seems nearly impossible to undo any mistake - be it a failed attempt at higher security or some meaningless forgivable faux pas. Basically it's like this - I can't tell you why I've heard the line "mistakes were made" a couple hundred times in the last few years, and yet never once have I heard "we're fixing things"; it's almost like we're afraid to improve upon ourselves anymore.

Now, to sum it all up - kids - if televised news has taught you anything this millennium, it's that crimes within the government are admittable, not punishable. Goodnight and Goodluck, Spot.
teaktart wrote on 3/24/2007, 2:32 PM
I noticed that non-US citizens are now required to be finger printed and have a photo taken (and possible iris scan?) as a part of "normal" procedures now for entering the US....
Didn't see any guns per se... but I think its implied that force will be used if someone acts up.
Finger printing and "mug shots" used to be for those arrested for a crime.....not just your average person trying to enter the country.

Welcome to the new world order.....

Serena wrote on 3/24/2007, 5:09 PM
Yes you're right. All countries have had to have their passports reconfigured to meet US demands. Not that the changes making forgery more difficult are a bad thing. Similarly one expects to follow the procedures required when entering a country, whether they're ridiculous or tedious. However when visiting a friend one hopes to be welcomed as a friend, even if the bouncer on the door needs to make sure you are who you say. US airport police display aggression (you wouldn't be here unless you intend criminal acts). Once passed that lot things improve immensely. Going into the UK is a very notable contrast; police doing the same job with courtesy and probably much more effectively.
riredale wrote on 3/24/2007, 5:29 PM
One big difference I notice in airports is that I can videotape inside a USA airport, and I do so all the time when I accompany kids on a choir tour to Europe. But break out the camera in the Paris or Frankfurt airport and you will suddenly be confronted by a stern uniformed man carrying a machine gun. Again, mind you, while I am surrounded by little kids wearing choir T-shirts and ID lanyards around their necks.
teaktart wrote on 3/24/2007, 8:11 PM
Frankfurt airport ...."
I think our experience there was also the very worst to date, you too?

We had the Nazi from hell going thru my sister's carry-on knapsack:
Search and X-Ray'd everything 3 times, still can't find anything....on this middle-aged gal.
We saw this same guy make a 10yr old girl take the hairpins out of her hair, ransacked another womans' box of Tampax ...., none of the other personnel were getting off on doing this like this one fellow...
no reason for any of that.
We were held up so long they had closed the door on the flight we were booked on which must have been a 1/2 mile full speed run thru the airport to get to, and they kindly opened the door for us and took off the moment we were seated. It was incredibly nerve whracking and completely unreasonable and illogical.
Yeah, actually worse than anything to date in the US....

MH_Stevens wrote on 3/24/2007, 9:40 PM
Eileen: Seems you found a real weirdo. I think the NSA has a lot of them. I had a shell case that my dad had used in WWII, it was drilled and had a thick chain through it and I wore it around my neck and the bastards took it and destroyed it.
teaktart wrote on 3/24/2007, 11:42 PM
MH Steven:

I think that goes to show the power of symbols..vs...reality!

Obviously your shell was empty and harmless yet.....
<fill in your own personal paranoia here!>

And for some dumb reason makes me think of all the nonsense in Congress about a flag burning amendment (talk about getting hung up on a symbol ! vs. the reality...(does anyone really do that anymore?)
Which the Supreme Court already upheld the right to do...
While the war goes on and on and on...
the country goes bankrupt
and its hard to afford health insurance, etc., etc. etc

I'd love it if all agencies would focus on the "real world" instead of getting hung up on symbols and "appearances", and "sending a messege",,,,,

DGates wrote on 3/25/2007, 12:24 AM
Wow, this is an old post!

I know alot of videographers that simply FedEx their equipment, fully insured, to the city they're travelling to, and pick it up at the FedEx location there.
MH_Stevens wrote on 3/25/2007, 8:43 AM
The symbols are put there quite deliberately so the people don't see the real world. Unfortunately, Americans like symbols more that most folks and they fall for it every time.