Everyone still hates the TSA

It must be tough being the TSA. They search. They pat down. They often deal with unhappy passengers.

They even allegedly violate privacy by posting a picture of a passenger’s bag with $75,000 in it.

And when they make mistakes, it becomes big headlines, which equal even more bad publicity.

Well, not to pile on the TSA, but a recent study of Twitter user sentiments regarding the TSA from January to April discovered most people think negatively of the TSA.

Except, for some reason, at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.

From 7,377 Twitter posts, here are some of the findings:

States with the most positive sentiment

✓ Kentucky
✓ Tennessee
✓ Wisconsin
✓ Virginia
✓ Alabama

States with the most negative sentiment

✓ Connecticut
✓ Nevada
✓ Utah
✓ Pennsylvania
✓ Missouri

Airports with most positive sentiment

✓ Burbank/BUR
✓ New Orleans/MSY
✓ Austin/AUS
✓ Denver/DEN
✓ Portland/PDX

Airports with the most negative sentiment

✓ Oakland/OAK
✓ Long Beach/LGB
✓ Charlotte/CLT
✓ San Jose/SJC
✓ San Diego/SAN

The study also looked at the location from which tweets were sent, what device and application the users used, the language that was tweeted and the number of firearms found by the TSA.

As an homage to David Letterman, the top 10 words mentioned in tweets regarding the TSA:

1. Search
2. Confiscate
3. Grope
4. Rude
5. Took my
6. Delay
7. Stole
8. Yell
9. Force
10. Violate

As for firearms found, since 2005 the number has increased each year except for one. In 2005, the TSA found 660 firearms, and that number has climbed to 2,212 in 2014.

Related story:   Is my 15-year-old son a terrorist?

So what do we take away from this study?

First, the TSA is most often seen in a negative light. At times it is 2-to-1 negative-to-positive sentiment for travelers.

Second, when travelers are negative about the TSA, they don’t stay quiet. It seems people are generally more likely to complain than praise, so there may be more positive sentiment about the TSA than this study reveals. Regardless, the TSA has a lot of room for improvement.

Third, frustration is a regular part of travel. But this does not mean that keeping travelers safe has to be frustrating. The TSA should strive for courtesy as it attempts to execute safety.

Finally, they’re doing something right at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Calif. Burbank is the only airport in the country with positive sentiment toward the TSA. This is especially interesting to note since four of the five most negative sentiment airports are also in California (Oakland, Long Beach, San Jose, San Diego).

Maybe the TSA should hold all of its training in Burbank?

TSA Burbank, we don’t know what you’re doing right, but keep it up.

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared July 20, 2015. Since then, the TSA has abandoned its opt-out policy for body scanners, which has not made the TSA any more popular.

Kent Lawrence

Kent Lawrence is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He is a husband, father to two, executive pastor, travel enthusiast and sometime writer. You can contact him at kent@kentlawrence.com.

  • Lee

    Overall, Burbank is a great airport from which to fly – small, well organized, nice sitting areas while waiting flights, etc. Found security there a breeze many times.

  • fairmont1955

    TSA agents were given permission to molest travelers; it’s unconscionable that they can grope women – with an audience – to feel for under wire bras. Men and trans have also had their share of issues. Anyone else were to touch us that way, they’d be arrested, but somehow TSA agents get a pass. As long as they have policies that allow for that behavior then they don’t deserve high rankings.

  • Grant Ritchie

    And I don’t know if they still do, but a few years ago when I flew into Burbank… deplaning through the front AND the back of the plane. Loved it! :-)

  • SFNative
  • To me the worst policy of the TSA is that they not only admit to being inconsistent, but trumpet it as a feature. “Yes, we sometimes take your toothpaste and sometimes we don’t” is their line, “because that way, terrorists won’t know what our exact criteria are!”

  • KarlaKatz

    “TSA Burbank, we don’t know what you’re doing right, but keep it up.”

    Perhaps the agents at Burbank have discovered that posting false positive statements, and having their family members do so as well, makes for a high-positive public image. After all, fake reviews are rampant in every other industry, why not the TSA?

  • Kairho

    A photo of $75k violates nobody’s privacy unless a person’s name or photo is included. And the easiest way to avoid seizure of such large sums is to duly file a report, in advance of flying, with Treasury as required by law, and carry a copy. I’ve had occasion to transport mid-five figures and always had a copy of that filing wrapped around the cash where it couldn’t be missed. Never a problem.

  • Kairho

    You are correct … I pretty much only travel international and simply forgot to qualify my statement.

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