We Complain A Lot But Survey Says Most Americans Think The TSA Is Doing A Good Job

Maybe we just hear all the worst things about the Transportation Security Administration, rendering us dubious, but for most Americans the agency seems to be doing a pretty good job running airport security. That’s according to a new survey that found 54% of the country feel the TSA’s work is either good or excellent, and about 30% grading it as just fair.

Mishandling medical equipment, accusations of aggressive pat-downs, large anatomy singled out for special screening, spilled ashes  of a family member — you name it, and we’ve seen it all from the TSA. Despite that, Gallup’s poll said only 12% graded the TSA as doing a poor job, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Perhaps it’s a recent shift in favor, as the TSA performed better with people who’ve dealt with it more recently: 57% of travelers who flew in the last year gave the TSA a thumbs up, according to the survey.

We’re feeling pretty safe from threats with the TSA on the job, as well. Among those surveyed, 85% said the TSA’s screening procedures are extremely effective, very effective or somewhat effective at preventing acts of terrorism.

Perhaps those Congressional panels telling the TSA not to pat down famous people in order to improve its image weren’t necessary, after all. And hey, notes the LAT, Gallup’s numbers show that Congress only has an approval rating of 16% anyway.

Let’s conduct our own research just for fun, shall we?

Most Americans think the TSA is doing a good job, survey finds [Los Angeles Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Akuma Matata says:

    TSA – Security Theater at its finest

    • MeowMaximus says:

      And what company or agency commissioned the poll, and how much money did the TSA pay them? This is utter bullpuckey!

  2. dolemite says:

    Most Americans are completely clueless about the world around them, but could name how many Grammys Kanye won, and Kim Kardashian’s favorite popsicle brand. “Sure…TSA is savin’ us from all them terr’ists, right? Good job boys! U-S-A, U-S-A!”

  3. HomerSimpson says:

    Gallup needs to stop polling the TSA’s family members.

  4. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Sounds to me like at least 84% of Americans are so woefully gullible and uniformed/misinformed that they would believe pretty much anything.

    Newsflash: the emperor has no clothes.

    • Jeepman says:

      Yep – you know how them ole’ dumass ‘Mericans are! Stupid bastards can’t do a thing right . . . oh, except lead the free world. But that’s so minor it doesn’t bear mentioning.

      • dolemite says:

        Concerning America leading the free world, I’ll use one of the best quotes from a movie. “Well hellooo Mister Fancypants. Well, I’ve got news for you pal, you ain’t leadin’ but two things, right now: Jack and shit… and Jack left town.” America’s on the fast track to becoming a 2nd or 3rd world country. I believe our days as world police are coming to an end.

  5. Geekybiker says:

    Wow. This poll proves how dumb people really are. TSA excellent? You have got to be kidding.

  6. lancedriftwood says:

    I don’t believe ‘most ‘ Americans were surveyed.

    • JEDIDIAH says:

      Chances are that most Americans don’t fly or fly so infrequently as to have no good frame of reference for the situation. If you are a kid, then you don’t even know how bad it is because you’ve not experienced better.

  7. JollySith says:

    I am a TSA hater of the first order. Wasteful government bloat that sucks up tax dollars to employ the unemployable in jobs where they make their fellow Americans miserable while failing entirely to keep anyone safe.

    That being said I flew at Christmas and last Week. Over Christmas the TSA agents were rude, indifferent and for the most part appeared to be homeless people who had slept in the uniforms. Everyone was leaning against something, sitting down or slouching, they mumbled instructions and got upset when asked to repeat themselves.

    Last week every TSA agent I saw was smiling, alert and being as helpful as their jobs allowed. Uniforms were clean and neat.
    They still perform no useful function and they still follow asinine guidelines, but at least they were not openly hostile.

    • dolemite says:

      Last time I flew (which averages to about once every 10 years), they were very rude and hostile. I felt like I was in prison waiting to get food slopped onto my tray. One of the agents paced back and forth at the front of the line hollering instructions at people, something about needing to move faster and be sure to follow his instructions. Everyone had a frown or grimace on their face and no smiles were returned. I suspect that if they were given cattle prods, they would have used them judiciously. I’m glad I don’t have to fly often.

  8. Samuelm456 says:

    Okay – maybe someone can explain something to me.

    Maybe someone could explain…how a survey of Americans can prove anything about anything?

    Just because a small group of people may THINK the TSA is not doing a terrible job – does NOT mean they aren’t doing a terrible job.

    I mean, seriously. What a joke survey and article. How about the fact that every time someone does a test to sneak a knife about a plane…it almost always works? How about all those times someone accidentally gets a pair of scissors on board a plane – that’s doing a good job?


    • sagodjur1 says:

      Not to mention that we already know that how questions and possible answers are phrased can change the chosen responses.

      I would say that the TSA is somewhat effective, but somewhat effective isn’t mutually exclusive with pretty damn ineffective. Any amount to me can be “somewhat,” so unless you allow those who are surveyed to qualify what they mean by their responses, their answers are meaningless and/or just waiting to be manipulated and spun.

      Some people saying that the TSA is very effective may equate in their minds to, “my plane didn’t blow up when I flew last month, so the TSA was very effective!”

      • Coles_Law says:

        Right. I think the policies are dumb and pointless, but the agents I’ve dealt with have been as friendly and helpful as their job allows. If I were asked about policy, I’d say fair or poor. If I were asked about the employee, I’d say good. If the survey was vauge, I could see many people getting confused about what the survey meant to ask about.

        • PeriMedic says:

          Agree with Cole. TSA, as a whole is incompetently run, creates ridiculous and knee-jerk policies, and its management acts like they are not a department of a democratic republic, but a totalitarian regime. I work in the government, and they are a joke to the other agencies, too.

          But regarding the actual front-line TSA employees, I can say that I have had a decent experience 85% of the time.

  9. ColoradoShark says:

    I read up a bit more about the survey. A very large number of the people survey *never* fly so have never had to interact with the TSA. This is the same way most people think the police are doing a fine job until they are pulled over for speeding.

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      Many folks who are pulled over for speeding would still admit the police in general do a fine job.

      It’s those who are pepper-sprayed for sitting peacefully on college campuses, shot for no apparent reason, bullied and harassed by cops, are made to wait an hour or two for a cop to respond to a robbery or minor accident, or who’ve been “stop and frisked” for no valid reason, or arrested and strip searched for failing to signal a turn, jaywalking, or some other minor infraction of the law that causes ire and mistrust of the police.

      Do I believe that fewer would be terrorists of all stripes or other idiots bringing stuff the shouldn’t onto planes (guns, fireworks, boom boxes, etc.) make it aboard because of the TSA? I’d have to say yes, but very far from perfect in that respect. Does the TSA violate constitutional rights, civil liberties, and expose its workers and civilians to unnecessary health risks, humiliation, and general incompetence..Very much so!

  10. JayDeEm says:

    I don’t travel much, so I suppose I have not had enough exposure to the TSA to have had a really bad experience. In the dozen or so times I have had to fly since its inception, the TSA we see (screeners), have been little more than a minor speed-bump along the way to getting wherever I need to go. I know the drill, laptop out, CPAP out, shoes off. Give the screener a heads-up that your CPAP is on the way and they seem to appreciate it and get me on my way quickly.

    My overall feeling as that ‘Security Theater’ is an apt description. Like many other things in life, they act as a deterrent, another obstacle to overcome in executing another attack. Much like a ‘No Parking’ sign, they may not be able to prevent the activity 100% of the time, that probably is not actually possible, but they can discourage most from trying.

    The reality is that the 9/11 hijackers walked through security with all of the tools they needed do what they did. If we made no change gate security, people would be outraged/frightened that nothing was done to prevent it from happening again. The TSA, however effective/ineffective you thing they may be, is the response to that.

  11. Velvet Jones says:

    A couple have sites have already torn this survey to shreds. The sample size was extremely small(around 1000 people), and included almost as many people who had not flown recently as those who had. The number of frequent flyers was extremely low, around 10%. For the people that never flow, the TSA was doing a bang up job. For the frequent flyers the results were the exact opposite.

    • ninabi says:

      And for the people that flow, the TSA is doing a bang up job with them as well. With super x-ray vision scanners they get to see all the feminine hygiene products hiding in underwear.

  12. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Even if you’ve never been pulled out of line (and I finally got to experience that lovely joy, thanks to my ankle weight, which I TOLD them about before it beeped), the TSA is a huge waste of money on an ineffective strategy. I’m still polite to them, because they can fuck up my day, and also because that has to be one of the shittiest jobs imaginable.

  13. Tegan says:

    In other news, most Americans are blindingly drunk. At least that would be some sort of explanation of this survey.

  14. naenae78 says:

    Perhaps they polled mostly people that work for the TSA…just sayin.

  15. Margaret Picky says:

    Forcing people to walk around in the airport barefoot is absurd and that is typical of the whole TSA scam that has been perpetrated on U.S. citizens and everyone else who flies.

    I think that poll was someone rigged and Gallup is now suspect in my opinion. No one I know thinks the TSA is doing a good job. Every time I fly, my opinion of the TSA is decreased. It really is security theater.

    Most of the TSA personnel are polite but they whole system is absurd. . . .then there are the TSA personnel who steal from passengers’ luggage or commit other crimes, like in Newark.

  16. cspschofield says:

    I would be far more interested in a poll of people who flew regularly, or even a poll of people who have flown at all since 9/11. The opinions of those who don’t fly – and I’m one, BTW – should weigh a lot less.

  17. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    In other news, most people who never take the trains think Amtrak is doing a bang up job as well.

    • PeriMedic says:

      Yes. I hear so many people talk about the train and how wonderful it is. I ask, “Have you ever taken a transcon train trip?” I have; twice. I nearly lost my mind, and I’m not kidding. I won’t write an article on all that was wrong, but I’ll share one item.

      People complain about service on airplanes today. In 1990 I took the Amtrak on a trip from LA to Las Vegas. Driving in 5 hours. The train trip was 12. The air conditioner was broken and so it was about 50 degrees inside. I asked the conductor if they had blankets. He told me it would cost me $10 (in 1990 money), and it was thinner than airplane blankets (did have a nice Amtrak logo though).

      Free food? Not even free soda. I can’t remember the exact price, but i do remember a can of Coke and a prepackaged sandwich was the same price as a steak dinner at Chilis. And the ticket? Twice what it was for airfare to Vegas.

      Today, I won’t even take them from DC to NY.

  18. bawkbawk says:

    I call shenanigans.

  19. who? says:

    As someone who flies a lot….I think the front line, hands on (so to speak) TSA employees are doing about as well as could be expected given the constraints they work under. I think the TSA leadership, however, is a bunch of incompetents who don’t understand risk, and couldn’t define what security is, even if I handed them a dictionary and pointed them to the correct page.

  20. matlock expressway says:

    Summary of poll:

    “There haven’t been any 9/11s since 9/11, therefore the TSA is obviously succeeding.”

    It’s just like how my grizzly radar has succeeded admirably in keeping bears out of my apartment.

  21. ZukeZuke says:

    I’ve flown over a dozen flights since 9/11 and I’ve never found TSA agents to be rude or unprofessional. In my experience, they’ve always been very polite, quick and efficient. Plus, I think treating them with respect and politeness always benefits the entire experience. Admittedly, I still complain in my head about having to remove my shoes every time I fly – so freaking inconvenient because of a single incident so many years ago. And, I always follow the rules for no weapons or anything that could be perceived as a weapon or more than 3 oz. of liquids in my carryon. Anything that’s even a tiny bit questionable that may cause a 2nd look goes into my TSA-approved locked checked baggage.

    Maybe I’ve just gotten the best TSA agents every single time over 11 years?? But I do tend to think some % of the complainers exaggerate and/or contribute to their own bad experience, whether they have some degree of self-awareness in public or not. And some people are just ridiculous, like those folks who post vids of themselves stripping all the way down to their underwear in the airport, etc. just to cause a scene or “take a stand” about the security checks. Others may genuinely get bad agents, I don’t know.

    • Velvet Jones says:

      Wow, a dozen flights in 11 years? You must have a special card from the airlines. Try flying a dozen flights a month for 11 years, then tell me how you feel.

    • Santas Little Helper says:

      You have obviously never flow in to Las Vegas. Easily the worst TSA agents in the world. They nearly brought my wife to tears once.

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      I would also hazard a guess that you don’t appear to be a Muslim. Don’t wear an insulin pump, pacemaker, or other medical device/implant. That you aren’t “supermodel” attractive.That you are disabled, transgender, exceptionally (over/under) endowed in those “special” places, or traveling with infants or toddlers. I’ll further guess that you’ve never had to travel with valuables which had to be checked such as golf clubs, DL Projectors, musical instruments, etc.

      But most of all, I’d guess that you naively believe that removing your shoes and limiting liquids to 3oz or less and stored within a quart size Ziploc is actually making air travel safer. That backscatter imaging is as safe, effective, and efficient as walk-through metal detectors in detecting dangerous items. And that given the longer queues that form at security checkpoints today as opposed to Pre-TSA that no one intent on carrying out a terrorist attack would detonate an explosive within the line at rush hour or use anthrax as “foot powder” to expose all those unwitting sock-clad or barefoot folks in line with them.

  22. bben says:

    Good job of what? They have caught exactly zero terrorists while harassing millions of passengers, slowing down the process of getting through an airport, and costing the taxpayers billions in their tax money.

    The probability of the 9-11 hijackers getting through present security with the same weapons they used then is still in the 85 to 90% range. It is easy to hide a cheap box cutter with a razor blade. The probability of them getting away with what they did using those same ‘weapons’ is close to zero today. Not because of the TSA security theater, but because the cockpit doors are now locked and reinforced – and the passengers will take them down as has already been proven multiple times.

    • PeriMedic says:

      I think you nailed it. The reason flying has been safe is because of a change in the procedures on the airplane, and a change in the passengers. The flight deck is locked and there is a more restrictive procedure for opening it. And, most importantly, no one believes that being passive will save you anymore; passengers will fight.

  23. donovanr says:

    Either the TSA rigged the study or the question were
    A) The TSA is great!
    B) The TSA sucks (this answer gets you on a no fly list)*

    *A DNA sample must be supplied in order to be able to answer B.

  24. Kuri says:

    The TSA is the main reason my family and I refuse to fly, ever.

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      Yes, and I’m taking two days off work next month to travel to Chicago for an event for which I might not have to take any days off if I flew. Yes, bus fare is cheaper than airfare, but once you factor in the missed .Air travel is much safer than ground travel (especially in light of all the incidents with MegaBus recently) I’m taking MegaBus and missing work so that I don’t have to be harassed by the TSA.

      • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

        missed … Work, it works out about the same. But still far less pleasant than air travel, excepting the TSA.

  25. Santas Little Helper says:

    Most Americans are idiots. Also, remember in school when you got 54% on a test? Yeah, that was a fail.

  26. Over the River says:

    Perhaps it’s a recent shift in favor, as the TSA performed better with people who haven’t flown in ten years.

    I fixed that for you.

  27. JustJayce says:

    To say that the TSA is doing a good job is like saying the government is doing a good job. As someone who has flown at least twice a week every week for the past 18 months I can tell you that this entity cares little about the people they harass on a daily basis. Cares even less about your possessions and ultimately could care less if you actually make it on your flight.
    The TSA does not seem to understand load planning. When things are not busy there are many agents standing around doing nothing and only one line open. When it’s very busy you have the same issue! One lane and agents standing around. If you are lucky enough to get Bubba to feel you up because you are selected for additional screening you wait for that privilege for sometimes as long as 10 minutes while agents remain standing around. I’ve had my laptop broken when they didn’t care enough to pick up my bin with two hands… the paperwork to get that fixed is a nightmare, on purpose. I guess I should count myself lucky that I am not one of the people who’ve had their iPads, jewelry and money stolen by these agents who are supposed to keep you safe.
    Sadly the TSA has done its own tests with private security screeners in select airports. They found that those private companies were much better at finding contraband than the TSA’s former McDonalds drive thru workers. What a surprise.
    Why not just fess up that this organization is nothing but a government created job works program filled with the same mediocre workers you find at the post office or passport office. We really aren’t that much safer… but we are definitely a lot poorer for it as the government sucks up that 9/11 security fee on top of the 20%+ the consumer pays in taxes, PFCs and other tribute to various government entities.

  28. prosumer1 says:

    TSA is doing a good job = EnRon is a good stock purchase = dog crap makes a great air freshener = smoking is good for you.

    Get the idea?

  29. NickRayko says:

    Most people are idiots.

  30. Patrick Le Floch says:

    If their job is to catch terrorists, I’d say, they have failed miserably because I am unaware of any that got nabbed in any of the (endless) TSA lines. If it is to deter, I guess that, short of a highjacking, they are doing fine, But at what price?

    In the interest of disclosure It would be good for each airport to have a scorecard showing the fees collected, the number of travelers “processed”, the number of shampoo bottles confiscated, and the number of highjackers arrested.

  31. Sad Sam says:

    I fly with regularity. I always opt out of the x-ray machines so I get the pat down by the TSA. 75% of the time the TSA acts inappropriately in response to my opt out.

    First, I am almost always delayed because I am a woman and they don’t have enough female screeners. Second, I regularly get into arguments with the TSA over my carry on items. I no longer put my carry on through screening until a screener is located for me, b/c otherwise my carry on stuff will sit unattended and out of site on the other side of screening. Third, I regularly have arguments with the TSA about what kind of machine it is that they are using and why I should submit and occasionally, although its gotten better, I’m told its mandatory (which is false).

    Most of the female agents that do my screening are respectful and appropriate but I’ve had a few that were downright rude. I’ve gotten out of the crotch grab b/c I now make sure to wear a skirt when I fly. Guess what they don’t pat you down under your skirt. Why because its all security theater.

  32. dush says:

    The reality is with the huge volume of travelers the TSA doesn’t screw over most of them.
    But that doesn’t justify the TSA’s existence just because it doesn’t destroy people’s lives the majority of the time.

  33. Bob A Dobalina says:

    The TSA is to thank for the lack of terrorist incidents in the same manner the Boy Scouts have protected us from an Ebola outbreak. They are being credited for something they are not responsible for.

    The TSA is there for one reason: to monitor and control our movements. They are nothing less than the check points in Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany.

    Except that they don’t just settle for papers (please)

  34. clevershark says:

    Hey look, this rock keeps tigers away! After all you don’t see any tigers around me, do you?