Travelers rate TSA as “terrible” in new poll: “They treat us like we are criminals”

Travelers think the TSA is doing a “terrible” job, according to a new survey of this site’s readers.

Asked to rate the agency on how it keeps travelers informed, handles complaints, explains its policies and is prepared, a majority of travelers gave TSA a failing grade. Only in one category — protecting travelers — did a majority of respondents say the government had done a “fair” job.

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In some categories, the “terrible” votes outnumbered the other responses by more than 2 to 1. Those included “keeping us informed,” “handling complaints” and “explaining its policies.”

There were 472 respondents to the poll.

The results probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone who flies. And given the agency’s decision to begin imposing tougher screening requirements for those who resist its new full-body scanners, it’s difficult to imagine the scores getting any better in the near future.

Your comments reflected that, too.

Jo Gilbert sums up the frustrations of a lot of readers. The new full-body scans seem … well, stupid.

I’ve been poked and proded is various ways, put in their scanning device, you name it.

For whatever it’s worth, they aren’t very good at it – I could hide all sorts of stuff on my body and they wouldn’t get it. There are inconsistencies: items that I’ve carried for some years suddenly become confiscated. Other items that are a bit iffy sail through.

Rarely though do I have serious problems. It just seems such a waste of time and energy when one could walk in with luggage to be checked with no scanning at airport entry in the US – they do scan it immediately at many overseas airports.

Another reader, who didn’t want his name mentioned because he feared retribution from the agency, said TSA agents were nothing more than petty tyrants.

They come across as power-mongers in how they process passengers at my airport. Not only are they unfriendly, they operate as though every person has contraband or explosives hidden somewhere. They have one person manually checking luggage and every suitcase is opened and everything is taken out and inspected.

Erika Woter agrees: The service from TSA is simply awful.

Good golly, where do I start?

Do I start with telling you about the time they confiscated a bottle of water with about one sip left in it but missed the knife I inadvertently left in my backpack after a recent camping trip? That happened twice.

Or the time they wanted to open the container that held my father’s ashes and inspect the contents despite the numerous documents I provided which showed it had already been inspected and cleared for transport from Washington back to Alaska?

Or the time they scolded and were really rude to an elderly gentleman — I’d say he was in his 80’s — because he was a little confused about the whole process?

Reader Sheri McBee says she is humiliated whenever she goes to the airport.

Out here in Fresno, California, we have some of the rudest TSA people. They treat us like we are criminals.

I have a knee replacement so of course I need the pat down every time I fly. I have gotten used to it now, as I fly over 40,000 miles per year. I am treated like I am stupid about the process.

If these agents can’t take the pressure of their job find a different job. They do not need to be rude to the people that are paying their wages. If we didn’t fly they wouldn’t have a job!

What to do? Maybe we should do away with the TSA, suggests reader Rosanne Skopp.

They will never meet the standards and anything less is just a pathetic waste causing needless frustration to the traveling public.

And, by the way, why pick on airlines for enhanced security? What about trains? Ferries? Buses? Schools? Universities? Shopping malls? It’s so random and incomprehensible.

How true.