Shocking Things The TSA Gets Away With


To many people, airport security is something of a necessary evil — a royal pain in the behind that they tolerate because ultimately, it’s designed to keep us safer. But a new study into the Transportation Security Administration raises questions about just how well the agency actually protects us. Airport screeners have been accused of everything from sleeping on the job to stealing and accepting bribes. And many are not really penalized for their actions.

An audit by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed some shocking behavior by TSA agents stationed at airports around the country. In several instances, agents were found sleeping while on duty. Other agents might as well have been asleep given that they allegedly let people pass through to the secure zone of the airport without actually going through the screening process.According to the report, the agency has processed 56 cases of theft by TSA agents over the past three years. That included one agent at Orlando Airport who confessed to swiping more than 80 laptops from passengers. (These neglected to make an appearance on the agency’s new Instagram feed of confiscated goods.) Other disciplinary issues involve things like “neglect of duty,” credit card abuse and even bribery. In one such case last year, TSA agents were accused of pocketing bribes from drug traffickers in Los Angeles.

TSA Agent asleep
TheeErin, Flickr

The number of allegations against TSA employees runs well into the thousands, but the GAO says few of the agents were adequately punished for their behavior. In some cases, TSA agents were disciplined by their superiors after very little investigation, while in others, agents guilty of misconduct barely received a slap on the wrist.

The findings of the audit are unfortunate for an agency already facing public scrutiny. Just recently, the TSA came under fire for telling a 15-year-old girl that her clothes were too revealing. They have also been criticized for racially profiling passengers, and aggressively screening young children.

Galley Gossip: 10 Ways To Handle A Tight Connection

1. Book wisely. If you need to be somewhere really important, it’s probably not a good idea to book your flights with less than an hour between them. Even an hour is pushing it. An hour and a half is good. Two hours, even better. Whatever you do, don’t take the last flight out! Delays happen. So do cancelations.

2. Pay the extra fee. If you’re the anxious type and travel is stressful, pay the extra fee to sit closer to the front of the airplane and be done with it. Why start your trip out on the wrong foot and the risk a snowball effect. Because once something goes wrong, everything seems to follow suit. Better to be out a few bucks than to miss a flight! It’s worth it just to relax.

3. Check your boarding pass. Many airlines print the boarding time, not the departure time, on the boarding pass. Depending on the equipment type (smaller vs. larger aircraft), you can usually tag on another 30 to 40 minutes to your connection time. Read the fine print.

4. Switch seats. Ask a flight attendant if you can move closer to the front of the cabin on landing. Unfortunately, most flights are full these days and just because there’s an open seat up front doesn’t mean you’ll find a spot in the overhead bin for your bag too. If you’ve booked a tight connection, you might want to make sure your carry-on luggage fits under the seat in front of you.

5. Relax: I know, I know, easier said than done. Just know that while it might feel like it takes forever to disembark, the truth is almost everyone is able to deplane in less than 15 minutes. So take a deep breath and … exhale. Put in your earphones and play the most relaxing music you have. Then get ready to run. Here’s to hoping you wore appropriate shoes to sprint across the airport terminal.6. Call the airline. Don’t wait in a long line of passengers to talk to an agent. By the time it’s your turn to approach the counter, chances are the flight will have already departed. Get on the phone ASAP and call the airline’s reservation desk. Or try tweeting for an even faster response. Most airlines offer immediate feedback.

7. Hold the flight! Airlines don’t hold flights for passengers. On time departures are way too important. That said an airline might hold a flight if it’s the last flight of the day or for a large group of passengers traveling to the same destination. If it is the last flight out, rest assured the airline knows where you are and you’ll probably be booked on another flight before you even land.

8. Go, go, go! Don’t stop to talk to the agent meeting your flight. Run straight to your connecting gate and talk to the agent there, even if it’s past the departure time. Time is precious. Every second counts. Plus you never know if that flight might be delayed.

9. The thing about bad weather. If you’re delayed because you’re flying into an airport experiencing bad weather, chances are your connecting flight may also be delayed. And remember just because your departing aircraft is at the gate, doesn’t mean the outbound crew is on the ground and ready to go. They could still be in the air too. Sounds strange, I know, but we don’t stick with one aircraft all day long.

10. It’s not over until the airplane pushes away from the gate. I can’t tell you how many flights I’ve just missed only to have the airplane return back to the gate to remove a sick passenger or to fix a mechanical. I’ve actually gotten on flights airlines have brought passengers off of due to weight and balance issues that were later lifted after a creeping delay. Miracles do happen.

[Photo Credit: NewbieRunner]

Finding A Travel Agent Easier With New Tool

travel agentFinding a travel agent has never been a problem; there are plenty of them to go around. But finding a good one, an agent that can add value to our trip planning – that’s another story altogether. Now, a leading travel agency brand is providing us with an unconventional way to connect with its travel agent experts.

Travel Leaders is one of America’s top ten ranked travel companies with strong roots. The former Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates, TraveLeaders and Tzell Travel Group joined together in 2008 to form one of the industry’s fastest-growing and robust networks of travel agents.

“Since its inception, Travelleaders.com has always provided consumers the ability to find the Travel Leaders location nearest them. Now, Agent Profiler takes the consumer experience much further and offers consumers an exciting new opportunity to browse for the travel agent specialist who most appeals to them,” Roger E. Block, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group told Gadling in a statement.

Called their Agent Profiler, TravelLeaders.com has a dedicated online page that promises to match the traveling public with a Travel Leaders travel agent who best fits their own unique criteria and needs.Experts agree that a travel professional focused on being there for us every step of the way during the travel process is a good thing to have. Like having an accountant to do our taxes or a good mechanic we trust to work on our car, someone who specializes in just travel is good to have on our side. In the past, travelers looking for an agent went with someone suggested by a trusted friend or took their chances with an Internet search for one or just stopped by the corner travel agency, fingers crossed.

“Those who are currently featured on our website provide a full representation of their expertise and knowledge, including all their destination and lifestyle certifications, along with photos and biography,” added Block. “This enables consumers to select the agent that best matches their individual needs for personalized service that no online travel site can touch.”

Travelers can select expert counsel based on biography, experience, destination knowledge, specializations, certifications, awards and even by appearance. Hundreds of travel agent profiles have already been loaded onto the page.

Is this as good as the recommendation from a trusted friend for an agent that has proven themselves? No, not hardly. But surely a step in the right direction, backed by a consortium of travel pros that know what they are doing. Might be worth a shot.


5 German Phrases to Know When at a Travel Agency




[Flickr photo by hugovk]