I’ve been doing a lot of traveling over the last couple of years and especially during the April-May months. I travel for writing conferences and for my dental hygiene licensing boards (I’m in Pittsburgh writing this blog at the moment!). So, a couple of years ago I also decided (for many reasons) to avoid all the newfangled scanning machines that they make you go through at airport security checkpoints, choosing instead the more personal attentions of TSA agents. . . .
AKA the PATDOWN.
I traveled through many airports, some big and some small, from the East Coast to the Midwest and out to the West Coast, spending many minutes, hours?, being legally groped from my head to my toes. by a number of different TSA agents. I tried to be positive about this process, especially since I’d made the choice to do them and so I decided to share my experiences and evaluation of the various airports and screeners.
LOL – I even told them I was going to blog about them!
So. . . what did I learn in undergoing lots of up-close-and-personal-attention?
The first thing I learned is that TSA agents must have undergone more training in late 2011-early 2012 because I found a big change in their whole attitudes in how they took the news that someone was ‘opting-out’. Before that, they seemed ready to argue and tell you why you were being stupid. After that, they seemed to be more zen about it — nodding politely, mentioning only that it would mean a ‘thorough pat-down using their hands to search your body’.
And, their approach–calm, soothing voices, polite instructions–became nicer, too. I had some very interesting conversations as the agent would be skimming her hands over my body parts, using the back of her hands in the ‘sensitive areas like the breasts and groin’. LOL!
Looking back at all the screenings, at all the airports, I would say that the Midwest screeners were just a tiny bit nicer in carrying out their duties. They generally had a nice sense of humor and seemed to try to put me at ease during the sometimes embarassing situation. The screeners at the Grand Rapids airport receive my award for best patdown at an airport!
The worst? Well, I hesitate to say this but I have terrible travel karma at the Orlando airport – yes, the gateway to my favorite place on earth is the airport I’ve had the most trouble traveling through! Clearly, they need some Disney magic or Tinkerbell’s pixie dust applied there!
How about you? Have you experienced the up-close-and-personal screening? Do your travels go smoothly or are you travel-challenged?