I admit, the TSA collected a few brownie points with me this year. After John Pistole vowed to communicate the elite status of TWIC and NEXUS cardholders down the line to his employees, after TSA brought in the backscatter scanners (not perfect but definitely a step in the right direction), and after the screeners at Kahului Airport all of a sudden started to recognize my Nexus card, they kinda had me a little less pissed off at them.
Then came 12/8/2010.
I had an EARLY flight (0600) that day from SLC to DFW. Alarm went off. Left my digs around 3:45. Got to SLC airport almost two hours in advance, like a good sheeple. Breezed through the car rental return. Nobody in line at American Airlines First Class Check-In, breezed through that too. Got to TSA around 4:25 and…..it was locked. They don’t even open until 4:30.
By the time TSA opened, about 10 baristas and miscellaneous janitors were in the service line, and the one TSA agent checking IDs of course sent them all through before any (paying) passengers. I stood there. Finally the TSA chick waved at me, I stepped forward, and . . . . she wouldn’t accept my Nexus card. Had no farking idea what a Nexus card was – despite the fact that it’s clearly listed on TSA’s own check-in information page. Despite the fact that her boss’s boss’s boss’s boss’s boss wants all TSA agents to know what the fark it is. Despite the fact that it’s 4:45 AM and we’re in Salt Lake City.
After unzipping my rollaboard, taking out my travel documents, showing her my passport with a grumble, zipping everything back up, shuffling through the barefoot kabuki dance, putting my belt back on, and shuffling down to my gate, I had about 45 minutes to kill and a good nerd-rage going. So I whipped out my phone, browsed to the FEEDBACK section of the TSA web site, and punched out a brief flame:
Just came thru TSA chkpt @ SLC Wed Dec 8 @ 4:35 AM. the agent would not accept my NEXUS card as ID, had never heard of NEXUS, had no idea what it was.
It is EXTREMELY frustrating that your employees CONTINUE TO WALLOW IN ABJECT IGNORANCE. Mr Pistole announced almost a year ago he was launching an education campaign to inform ALL TSA airport agents that the NEXUS pass is a legal form of ID and is, in fact, a much higher level of secure ID than a passport. recognition has improved, but this continued incompetence is simply unacceptable.
EDUCATE YOUR AGENTS as to WHAT a NEXUS Card IS AND WHAT IT MEANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This morning, 3 weeks later, I actually got a canned reply from TSA:
Thank you for your e-mail regarding identification (ID) requirements at the checkpoint. Specifically, you felt that the ID you presented should have been accepted………..
We regret you found your screening experiences unsatisfactory…………
We are unable to determine why the Transportation Security Officer (TSO) did not accept the ID you presented at the screening checkpoint.
Yeah, Sherlock. I regret it too. I’m shocked you couldn’t figure out why your mouth-breathing village idiot doesn’t read TSA’s own web site.
Furthermore, we have forwarded a copy of your email to the Customer Service Manager at SLC airport for review. The Customer Service Manager is responsible for ensuring that the TSO workforce adheres to TSA principles for professional and courteous customer service.
A few hours later, I was dumbstruck to receive a personal e-mail from a real person who is, apparently, a Customer Service Manager for TSA at SLC. Let’s call her Michaela. Michaela wrote that she also had never heard of a Nexus card, but would be most interested to hear back from me exactly what it is.
WTF? You know, I’ve watched my share of episodes of Miami Vice, of Miami CSI, of SVU, and I never have seen, nor heard of, a law enforcement officer asking a suspect to explain the law to her.
I wrote back. First I asked her if she was kidding. Then I sent her a few links – one to Pistole’s blog post on the TSA web site, in which he promised to educate all TSA agents nationwide about TSA/DHS’s own Trusted Traveler programs. Another link to the TSA web site, which clearly lists the following as acceptable forms of ID:
DHS “Trusted Traveler” cards (NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
I sent Michaela a link to a thread on FlyerTalk.com containing posts from lots of people, like me, flaming the TSA for not knowing anything about their own “Trusted Traveler” programs.
Then, after building up a good head of steam, I brought on my fastball, right down the center of the plate:
“So…..let me summarize. I have voluntarily submitted to DHS my retinal scan, and my fingerprints. I have been voluntarily investigated by DHS twice, they have approved me for their most elite travel status programs twice. I have invested significant time and a little bit of money filling out forms, applying to DHS for these trusted traveler programs, and going to interviews. I have been interviewed and verified by DHS agents at and Edmonton Airports. I traveled outside of the US nine times in 2010; each time I returned, my Nexus or Global Entry biometrics allowed me to pass through Customs with nothing more than a cursory glance from a United States Customs agent. And YOUR DHS-employed TSA AGENT would NOT accept my DHS-ISSUED NEXUS ID FOR IDENTIFICATION at SLC for a DOMESTIC FLIGHT?????????????????????? She wants to see A DRIVER’S LICENSE, one of the most easily-forged pieces of ID on the planet? A drivers license issued by a STATE (not The Feds), a document half the teenagers in America buy counterfeited on the internet SO THEY CAN PURCHASE BEER?
Can you please tell me why I am explaining this to a DHS supervisor?
Hey, readers, it’s the holidays.
I’ve got some time on my hands.