Lawmakers Ask TSA To Place Passenger Advocates In Airports

Considering all the negative press the Transportation Security Administration has received in recent years over its invasive airport security screening procedures, it couldn’t hurt for the TSA to have staffers on hand whose job it is to consider the best interest of the passengers.

At least that’s the line of thinking for U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer and NY State Senator Michael Gianaris, who yesterday asked the TSA to place passenger advocates at airport security checkpoints so passenger complaints could be addressed immediately.

“We are calling on the TSA to give a voice to those who feel they may have been inappropriately treated or subject to overly onerous screening,” said Schumer.

The latest round of TSA hate followed claims by an 84-year-old woman who says she was strip-searched by airport security after her implanted heart defibrillator set off some sort of alert. The TSA denies the woman’s claims.

Regardless, that octogenarian cheered yesterday’s announcement.

“I think it’s a good idea,” she said about the senators’ request to the TSA. “I think these things shouldn’t happen. You rely on the airport and the security there to protect you. You should not be exposed to this kind of abuse.”

Senators Want TSA Passenger Advocates At Airports [CBS Miami]


Edit Your Comment

  1. IphtashuFitz says:

    And exactly how will TSA “passenger advocates” help in any way when it’s the TSA itself that’s the problem? How exactly will these so-called advocates help in all these continuing cases where people claim all sorts of abuses by TSA screeners?

    • The Wyrm says:

      Because a significant number of people will file a complaint with the ‘passenger advocate’ instead of going to the media about the TSA misbehavior. The net result will be fewer stories about TSA misbehavior in the news. That’s the ‘good’ they will do.

    • Velvet Jones says:

      Unless the Advocate is given a large club for which he/she can beat the offending TSO over the head with repeatedly, not much.

    • BobOki says:

      The obvious solution will be a 3rd party advocate.

    • MeowMaximus says:

      A better idea: Fire all the TSA agents – in fact disband the agency. Its utterly useless.

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I agree with this so long as the advocates are not TSA-paid employees. Otherwise, they are only TSA advocates.

    • nishioka says:

      I’d like to see there actually be some bite behind the bark, too. An advocate isn’t much use if all they can do is go “hey, stop making that 85 year old woman take her diaper off” and the TSA agents can ignore it.

  3. Darury says:

    Why do I suspect this will become yet another government hole in which money is thrown for no actual results?

    Example: Passenger complains about TSA to advocate. Advocate takes detailed notes of complaint from passenger. As soon as passenger leaves, notes are basically filed away and never looked at again.

    It’s more security kabuki theater that will really enhance the feeling they care while doing nothing to address the actual issues.

    • Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

      Hey, watch what you say about Kabuki theatre. That is a very fine art form with a long history.

      Now comparing TSA to vaudeville, that is a lot more accurate.

  4. axhandler1 says:

    If done right, I imagine this would be sort of like the Internal Affairs department in the police community, only more immediate since the person you can complain to is right there. This could be a huge benefit to travelers who feel they have no outlet for their complaints. For instance, a buddy of mine was going through security this past weekend and the TSA agent who was examining the contents of his bag took his Kindle and kind of “flexed” it, no doubt looking for bombs. Instead, the agent managed to crack the screen. When my friend pointed out to the agent that he had just broken the device, the agent placed it back in his luggage, looked at him, and said “Prove it.” then went on with his day. Ridiculous.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Video footage would prove it, not that it wouldn’t be an incredible hassle to get to the end of that ordeal.

    • Quirk Sugarplum says:

      I giggled at the idea of flexing something you suspect could be an explosive device. Because everybody knows that’s how you check for and defuse a bomb. That and hitting it with a giant wooden sledgehammer.

      I suppose it might make you feel better if you could complain on the spot about some goofball TSA agent. But I’m skeptical much else would come of it.

      • axhandler1 says:

        Yeah, that’s the real issue. If all they can do is take a report about it and get back to you, I doubt this will do much. However, in the situation I described, if you could go to them and be like look what happened!, and they could go to the supervisor right there, pull the security footage and vindicate you, then punish the agent or compensate you, that would be an effective monitoring agency.

    • tooluser says:

      There are security cameras at every checkpoint. That’s how you prove it. Might not be able to see the screen break, but it would show the improper behavior of the blue-shirted thug.

  5. DeeJayQueue says:

    How about instead of putting more people in between me and my flight, you take some away?

  6. NightSteel says:

    Traveler: “I’m 85 and wearing a colostomy bag. I have the requisite paperwork from my doctor. Is an intrusive search really necessary?”
    Advocate (paid by the same agency, under the same supervisor as the screeners): “Cavity searches all around!”

    Problem solved.

  7. ctcatfur says:

    Have the TSA place consumer advocates? yeah, that will help. Unless we are looking at a third party, this would be a total joke.

    • mcgyver210 says:

      Yeah I can see it now when the jerks show up for work they are asked what do you want to do today Harassment or Coverup for Harassment?

  8. Marlin says:

    Why? Is it not the supervisors job to handle complaints there if they come up? What is another person going to say or do? That and would they have the ability to tell the TSA agent they are wrong and to ignore their training?

    Road to hell is paved…

  9. Leftstrat says:

    Paid by the same agency the trouble starts with….. What a bunch of morons…

  10. Conformist138 says:

    Ok, i think this is just a sign the TSA is taking things too far. If things are so bad we need advocates like underage crime victims, then maybe instead of hiring advocates we just abolish the TSA and go back to more reasonable security screenings? Even since the TSA took over, terrorists are still found in the sky more than in the airport.

  11. maxhobbs says:

    So long as these advocates are neutral and NOT employed by the TSA. Otherwise it is like asking one cop to watch another cop.

  12. little stripes says:

    A friend of mine recently had to use a patient advocate at a hospital, and they were very, very helpful. If done right, this could be a good thing.

    • lucky13 says:

      “If done right, this could be a good thing.”

      And that is the crux of the issue. Somehow, I’m not filled with confidence.

  13. Crackpot says:

    An excellent idea, but my sense is that it will ultimately prove to be useless.

    My father was once accused by the TSA of being a terrorist. Accused, as in, airport evacuated, thrown in jail on $500,000.00 bail, etc. The TSA didn’t follow their normal procedure, and if they had, none of that would have happened. Once lawyers got involved, they backed down, got rid of the bail, and released my father as soon as it went to court.

    However, both during and after this process, the TSA kept breaking their word. So I got what is called a TSA Ombudsman involved. This person acted as a sort of mediator between myself and the TSA/DHS Office of Chief Council, A.K.A. their legal team. This ombudsman stayed on the line while the lead attorney in charge of the case repeatedly made promises on the phone that she refused to honor later. The ombudsman was flabbergasted – she told me quite a few times that she didn’t know what to say; that she had never experienced this before in the organization.

    The ombudsman also told me that she had no power to enforce the agreements that the TSA’s attorneys made. She was just there to try to convince them to do so. If they refused, there was nothing she could do.

    Will this be different? Perhaps. But so far, my experience with the closest thing TSA has to an “advocate” have proven to be almost entirely useless.

  14. Rexy on a rampage says:

    I always pay a visit to my local TSA agents if I’m feeling lonely. If I get really kinky, I’ll yell “I’ve got a big-ass bomb!” I like to think I make their day.

  15. bben says:

    TSA is a useless money sink that is just for show. Somehow all that theater is supposed to make you think they actually do something to stop terrorists. Hint – they have not yet apprehended a single real terrorist while detaining thousands of innocent travelers. Exactly how does screening the PILOT of the aircraft supposed to stop him from hijacking his own plane?

  16. smo0 says:

    If I could be a 3rd party from TSA – I would gladly take this job, I’m an excellent mediator.

  17. mcgyver210 says:

    I say put every TSA KGB Gestapo Agent in Prison & then they can feel what they dish out everyday since everyone knows in prison if you mess with children your in for it. IMO They are Scum & unless Freedom of Speech is also gone I guess I can still voice my opinion.

    • maxx22 says:

      The administration. will be very happy with this idea. A bigger TSA budget; more union members; more votes.

      We need somebody with the power of US Marshals who can stop offending TSA people on the spot; write them up; if necessary, get them fired.

  18. teamplur says:

    They need to hire people who have been harassed by TSA in the past. That way it’s someone with an actual interest in keeping them in check.

  19. FLConsumer says:

    Option B: Remove the TSA from airports. Problem solved.
    Option C: Disband the TSA and DHS entirely. Problem completely solved.

  20. EvilOne says:

    I kind of look forward to cavity searches. It’s the closest I get to human contact some times.

    Seriously though, I think it all depends on the airport and who they choose to hire. I took 4 laptops on an international flight once about 2 years ago through SFO. (call me racist, I am not and don’t really care what you think of me because you don’t know me – oh, and I live in South East Asia. I know discrimination first hand, but it was a white guy in his late 40’s/early 50’s)

    They were brand-new, right out of the box, with nothing on them except the OS and whatever bloatware Dell puts on.

    The TSA guy said “you have a bunch of laptops, what are they for?” I said “making porn” He laughed, pointed to one and said “this is for shooting it , right?” I pointed to one of the others and said “Yeah, we edit it on this one, and we do the upload on that one.” He laughed.

    Straight through security with no problems.

    The TSA just needs to stop hiring people who are too dumb to work the fry cooker at McDonald’s.

  21. dush says:

    Headline, TSA calls 84-year-old a liar.

  22. acatchyscreenname says:

    The Passenger Advocate’s first question will always be “Do you want to fly today?”

  23. oldwiz65 says:

    The people that work at the TSA aren’t paid enough, so they need to fondle underage girls, confiscate cupcakes (maybe they get no meal breaks), steal iPads, steal cash (again, not paid enough), and do all kinds of humiliating things to people with medical devices. I’m only surprised they don’t routinely rip out insulin pumps, citing the danger of potential terrorist weapon. Of course if a few diabetics die as a result, at least the rest of the people on the plane are going to arrive safely. I have an implanted medical device and I am far more afraid of being killed by TSA ripping it out rather than a terrorist.