A trend I’ve noticed lately is TSA agents asking questions — not just making small talk — while checking IDs (I experienced it as far back as March at SFO). If TSA agents were actually properly trained in behavior detection or were smarter about the way they did it, I’d say it’s not a half bad idea (though those are two Jupiter-sized “ifs”).
Case in point, while clearing security at JFK earlier in the week the TSA agent asked every single passenger for their first name and where they were flying to. Now maybe I’m just an ass, but I find that to be ridiculous. What exactly are they trying to stop by doing that? Are they trying to stop someone with a fake ID? If so, I’d think someone with a fake ID would at least know the name of the person they’re pretending to be and where they’re flying to. More importantly, the agent asked every passenger the same question, so one would hear it in advance and be able to find out that information before actually being asked.
Anyway, when it was my turn and the agent asked me what my first name is and where I was flying to, I responded with “it’s on my boarding pass and ID, ma’am.” She said “let me ask you again, where are you flying to today and what’s your last name?” I responded with “do I have to answer that in order to be able to fly tonight?”
She said “it depends,” and I responded with “how about I give you another form of identification so you can verify my identity?” She rolled her eyes and tried to call over a supervisor, though he was busy. Instead she looked at my second ID and waved me through.
I know some will say I’m being stubborn and should just answer the question. I can appreciate the sentiment, though feel that at a certain point passengers have to stand up and ask “why?” This, to me, is as silly as being asked what your favorite flavor of ice cream is at the checkpoint. Others will say my frustration is misdirected at the front line agents. I actually don’t want to make their lives any harder, though at a certain point I think the best way to rally for change is to express my displeasure to front line employees and hope they pass it on to their superiors. If 70% of passengers asked why they were being asked something ridiculous, I’d be willing to bet we would see change.
Of course this is nothing compared to the pat down I got from a one armed TSA agent…