TSA Calls Out 6 Boston Bag Screeners For Being Too Distracted By Cellphones To Actually Screen Bags

The Transportation Security Administration is gearing up to fire six bag-screening officers at Logan International Airport because they were a bit too distracted on the job to actually perform their duties of carefully checking to make sure said bags weren’t filled with bad stuff like explosives. An additional 14 will be suspended for inattention to duty.

This all went down after a routine audit showed that some officers were simply letting bags roll on by, with the screeners not paying close attention to the computer monitors showing what’s in each one. Often, the problem was that the screeners were fiddling around on cellphones or other electronic devices while working, reports the Boston Globe.

The time for such inattention is allotted to one 30-minute meal break and two 15-minute breaks during an eight hour shift, and shouldn’t be going on during work hours.

Meanwhile, other officers just didn’t follow the rules when bags would trigger alarms. They’re supposed to hand inspect such items, which sometimes set off alarms because they hold dense items like cheese. The TSA nothing bad got past as a result of such laxity, because of the other levels of inspection involved after screening.

All of the employees in trouble worked in the same baggage room at the airport, out of 1,374 TSA workers at Logan.

“All TSA employees are held to the highest standards of conduct and accountability,” the TSA said in a statement about baggage screeners. “These standards are critical to our work and TSA’s commitment to the safety of the traveling public.”

One of the suspended officers didn’t seem too positive about the whole working environment, saying baggage rooms are understaffed and workers have to resort to eating on the job because those 15-minute breaks somehow never happen.

“The place is a walking disaster,” he said. “The place is anything but safe right now.”

The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents TSA workers, says the employees will likely appeal the TSA’s actions.

“This incident is an indication of a systemic problem that exists not with the employees but with the managers and supervisors at Boston Logan International airport,” said the union’s acting supervising attorney for TSA employees, adding that the workers “are highly monitored employees. They don’t have the discretion to make the decisions that are not in compliance with what their managers say they should or shouldn’t be doing.”

*Thanks for the tip, Lenny!

TSA set to fire 6 Logan Airport staffers [Boston Globe]


Edit Your Comment

  1. JustJayce says:

    Why would you want to fiddle on your cellphone when you can spot and steal someone’s iPad.

  2. Sarek says:

    “…nothing bad got past as a result of such laxity, because of the other levels of inspection involved after screening….”

    No plane was hijacked, so obviously nothing got past them.

    The oft-repeated mantra of gov’t officials: The public is in no danger.

    Yeah, right.

    • Walker66 says:

      Exactly. How can they say nothing bad got past? The ONLY TSA person who could see in the bags (the one watching the x-ray monitor) didn’t watch the monitor. So what “other level” of TSA would see in the bag? None. They are lying out their a$$ as usual.

      • Zmidponk says:

        If the ‘laxity’ involved basically means that this bag screening process didn’t happen, yet ‘other levels of inspection’ mean that ‘nothing bad got past’, does this not mean that this bag screening is utterly unnecessary, and this is therefore just more TSA ‘security theater’?

  3. dush says:

    If the TSA isn’t giving their staff a half hour lunch as the law requires and they have to try to eat on their 15 min break that is shameful.

    • George4478 says:

      Based on my experience with union employees and union reps, if that were actually true we would have heard a lot about it over the past months as the union tried to force/shame the TSA into compliance.

      Instead, we only hear about it after the union employees get busted for not doing their job.

      I am skeptical.

    • msbaskx2 says:

      The article doesn’t say they weren’t getting their 30-minute lunch break. It says the 15 minute breaks weren’t happening.

  4. Dustbunny says:

    You’d think somebody could invent a robot that could do this job. They don’t need to take breaks or get distracted or bored.

    I for one welcome our new robot overlords.

  5. legotech says:

    “All TSA employees are held to the highest standards of conduct and accountability,” Really? I guess their standards are harassing elderly, handicapped, and underage flyers.

    Even ANNOUNCED TSA internal tests show that these fools can’t find a gun with both hands, a map, and a big flashing neon sign. Can’t someone PLEASE remind these guys that they were never about being a law enforcement agency and all about making sure that Joe Nascar was comfortable putting his wife and kids on a plane to Disneyworld?

    If something gets as far as the airport, we are already screwed. But if they went with legitimate policies then they’d have to start buying their own stuff instead of just stealing from the passengers.

    • msbaskx2 says:

      If something gets as far as the airport, we are already screwed.

      This is so true, yet completely overlooked.

  6. Lyn Torden says:

    They should be leaving their personal cell phones in their lockers and only carrying the work walkie-talkies. But if there are now TSA apps that need smartphones, they need to be issued work-related phones that are locked down from non-work-related stuff (including not allowed to download apps and such).

    • msbaskx2 says:

      Bingo!! Why are these people even allowed personal cell phones in such a ‘high security’ job?

      I know people who aren’t even allowed to bring their cell phones to work because of security issues.

      • Jevia says:

        There are certain jobs to which people should not be allowed to use personal cell phones. Such use caused a big accident on the Delaware River that ended up killing two teenagers when a cargo ship operator was using his cell phone and didn’t see/hear that a tourist boat had stalled in the river lane.

      • Not Given says:

        How else will they be able to post their stolen goods on eBay or Craigslist so they can have it already sold before they leave the airport, if they can’t do it from their phones?

  7. Beauzeaux says:

    These people are not “officers” — though the TSA would like them to be. They have no powers of arrest or detaining. (They have to call in the airport police who are officers.)

  8. Overman says:

    We have this problem at work.
    People SHOULD be paying attention to details, but are busy texting, tweeting, or facebooking.
    Even the managers who admonish people for using, can be seen checking their smartphones every couple of minutes.
    I recently had a manager ask if I had recieved the email he sent, and I told him
    “No, I was busy WORKING.”
    There is an assumption that just because the communication is instantaneous it takes priority.
    Sorry, I will not allow myself to be distracted from the task at hand to answer your text.
    I am being paid to work.