Chicago Sun-Times

TSA officer responds

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Last week, I did a story about TSA uniforms left unsecured at O'Hare Airport,CST-NWS-tsa14.article

One of the responses we got was from a TSA officer, who didn't want to be identified. Here it is:

Ms. Wisniewski I just wanted to offer you a suggestion and I don't know if it has been purposed or thought up on a local level but it would be nice if a sun-times reporter or a local media reporter went undercover as a screener at either Midway or O'Hare to see what really happens and how we as screeners get treated by the general flying public. I know this has been done a couple of times in other markets but, it would be nice to see this happen here locally in Chicago. As for your article regarding the breaches at O'Hare I just wanted to tell you that at Midway Airport where I am a screener the change box for instance is and has been located at our Supervisors podium at the checkpoint so no passengers have access to it. Regarding Mary Schiavo's comment about screeners being just waved through security that also is untrue as we have to swipe our airport id to allow us access to the checkpoint and our breakroom. At that screening location not only do we have to swipe in
but every employee at the airport has to swipe in as well. Also there is at least one TSA officer if not more present at that location along with a Dept. of Avation officer present as well. Once we want to gain access to the checkpoint we must then go through security screening before being allowed onto our lanes so Ms. Schiavo's comment is untrue! So if a person came into the airport with a TSA uniform they must show a valid airport i.d. and if they don't have one sorry no go. As for radios being left out I know at least at Midway our radios all have to be signed in/out and they all are stored in our managers office which is secured at all times. As you can see there were a few points in regards to Ms. Schiavo's comments that weren't true. It would be nice if before you print an article like this that you research a little better as appearently Ms. Schiavo does not have all her facts straight. I know that news sells and bad news in particular sells but I along w/
other fellow screeners would like to see a local reporter step in our shoes for a day or a week or whatever and show our perspective. We constantly hear the bad stuff about TSA for a change it would be nice to see the good side and it would also be nice for the flying public to see how they act when they come through the airport. Thank you for your time in reading my response and I hope to hear back from you. I do have one request that if for any reason you chose to print any part of this article that you not use my name. Thanks.

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To B Happy (May 2, 2008 4:23 PM post)-
I fully appreciate what happened to you. I DID miss my flight from Manchester New Hampshire to Midway (fun overnight all night, believe you me!!! Not.) due to the TSA's being fascinated by a jar of peanut butter in my carry-on. Unbeknownst to me, and with all good intentions, as I left from my family's home in VT, my mother pressed on me some treats to take to eat on the plane. I tried my best to explain that crackers and peanut butter were not a hot idea due to security, and why it might slow me down or even get me pulled aside. She apparently did not (naively, I might add, and not her fault really as she is in her seventies and hasn't flown for many years) take this to heart because while I checked over the bag before getting in line she shoved one peanut butter jar way down and there it was on the X Ray!! The TSA snapped into action, passed it all around, pulled me aside, yelled at me to step aside and generally made a big deal out of it. In the background (5 feet away was my check-in desk and 20 mins to make it...) I could hear my flight being called. I pleaded, I yelled back, but to no avail. Finally I pointed to the desk and said: Please use your radio and call over there to tell them I AM HERE please, please, etc. Again, no avail. They continued to examine the Jif jar with much clamor. I kept saying: "just keep it, and let me catch my flight, please" but no go. I was in tears. My flight left. I was left with no way to get out of NH that night except I could go to Midway --- and spend the entire night there. Let me tell you it was a cold, bad night. The night crew was kind, but there was nothing open to eat, the televisions blared all night and I finally ended up barricading myself in a bathroom stall to get some sleep and feel safe and not get blasted by cold air. I had to call work and explain and of course they did not believe I could not fly out of CHI, since they think of O'Hare, not Midway. Anyhow, I am also quite unforgiving of that freak show that day but since I love my family, I will have to visit them by flying there to use the vacation time I have. My deepest sympathy to you for your degrading experience that day and as a laptop user, thank God!!!! I did not have it that day. I have of course forgiven my poor mom but still cannot look at PBJ without thinking of that ridiculous experience with crackers, peanut butter and jelly and TSA!!!!!! Karen in CA

We all need to stop trashing O'Hare security and take a look around the rest of the country. Recently, I flew from ORD to Charlotte N.C., and connected to Charleston S.C. What a joke!!!!! I had no problems at O'Hare, the screening process moved very fast and the TSA employees were very professional. However, when I arrived in Charlotte, I had a Hour layover to go to Charleston. BIG MISTAKE. In Charlotte, while waiting at the gate, a TSA official approached me and demanded that I open and turn on my laptop for him to inspect. After giving the officer my credentials, witch includes but not limited to Eagle Scout, B.S.A. the TSA gentelman persisted until I demanded to talk with his supervisor, and my father's cheif Pilot in Charlotte. This TSA Official then forced me to go through the security check point in Charlotte. After waiting an hour in line, after I was already in the terminal, I had five minutes to get back to the flight gate. That was after jumping in line to make up time. The TSA officer would not give a specific reason why he was doing this to me. When asked why, he did not respond at all. Thanks to the ORD TSA for making my security experience as painless as possible. I could only hope that the rest of the country could see both sides of the TSA like I have. Then you wouldn't be so critical of Ohare security. My father, a pilot for American Airlines, informed me that I was singled out probabally because I am a 27 year old Male traveling alone. I have been in military aircraft and have flown almost every major airline at some time or another. I personally know how to fly and am not licensed due to health reasons. The TSA sealed the fate on that. For now on, I will not fly anymore. If it is not within driving distance, I will not go. I am not a criminal or a thug, yet the TSA still corrupted any respect I had left for the U.S. Government. Next time you want to yell at the screeners at Ohare, think of my experience. Think about sitting peacefully and a TSA officer comes to you to make unreasonable requests. I almost missed my flight that day, and I will not forget this experience.


the TSA guy can accuse reporters of sapping morale by publishing bad news. i can accuse the TSA guy of compromising security by telling all the terroristic blog readers where to find the radios and change box at Midway. Backbiting and second-guessing never help anything.

What is TSA responder driving at? This is a news piece concerning a Dept of Aviation report and an authoritative source (Schiavo) being quoted directly.

If responder can convince TSA or the Dept of Aviation to make a press release of good news I'm quite sure the Transportation beat at the Tribune will run with that story too.

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This page contains a single entry by Mary Wisniewski published on April 22, 2008 10:31 AM.

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