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.

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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.

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