The Last Aeroplan Hurrah: United Global First Lounge San Francisco

Introduction
United Global First Lounge San Francisco
Lufthansa First Class San Francisco to Munich
Le Meridien Munich
Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich, Swiss Business Class Munich to Zurich
Swiss First Class Lounge Zurich, Swiss First Class Zurich to Bangkok
St. Regis Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
Ritz Carlton Hong Kong
Exploring Hong Kong
United Club Hong Kong and Thai Airways Royal Orchid Lounge Hong Kong
Asiana Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul Incheon
Hyatt Regency Incheon Airport
Asiana First Class Lounge Seoul Incheon
Asiana First Class Seoul Incheon to Frankfurt
Sheraton Frankfurt Airport
Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt, Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Seattle
Four Seasons Seattle


We spent the night at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport and requested late check-out. After being evicted from our room at 4PM we spent a couple of hours in the Regency Club catching up on work, before heading to the airport at around 6PM.


Terminal exterior

We arrived at the international terminal only to find that check-in wasn’t opening until 6:45PM.


Lufthansa check-in

Lufthansa is interesting in that they let Star Gold members check-in with first class, while business class has a separate queue. I’ll never quite understand that, since I would think someone on a $6,000 business class ticket would be more valuable to Lufthansa than a US Airways Gold flying in coach. Or maybe I have it wrong all along and they are prioritizing the business class queue, given that just as many US Airways flyers are in first class as in coach. ;)


Departures board

Sure enough at 6:45PM check-in opened. They separated the first class line into those flying first class and those that were Star Gold members, which had to be about a dozen people. It was rather embarrassing how they did it, since we were probably last in the premium queue, though the only ones traveling in first class, so they called us to the front.


Premium check-in

Check-in was efficient and we were informed we would be escorted from the lounge to the gate towards the end of the boarding process. They explained that first class boards last since there’s otherwise quite a bit of traffic through the cabin.

We headed for security where the general queue was very long, though the premium one had only about five people in it, so we were through in no time (in theory). Unfortunately they were playing the “game” whereby they tell you to say your name when they check your ID.

Perhaps I’m a bit stubborn or rely too much on principle, but I really object to this for a few reasons. First, at a certain point we all become “sheeple” and have to wonder about the logic behind the rules. Not that it’s necessarily related, but I don’t think you should even need an ID to get through security. After all, as long as you’re properly screened, who cares who’s in the “secure” area? But more importantly, at a certain point the TSA’s orders just become absurd. If they tell me that they either need to touch my private parts or see a picture of my them in order to fly, would I comply? Oh wait, they already do that… nevermind.

Anyway, after talking to a few people with shiny badges and in suits I was through more-or-less unharmed.

The international terminals at SFO is one of my favorites, though I had some work to catch up on so headed straight for the United Global First Lounge, which is located near gate 100 towards the end of the concourse.


International terminal


United Global First lounge

The ladies at the entrance were rather rude (some things never change), though I do find the Global First Lounge at SFO to be one of the nicer lounges in the US. It’s very quiet, which is what’s most important to me in a lounge, since I just want a place to get work done.


United Global First lounge


United Global First lounge


United Global First lounge

The buffet spread was decent, consisting of all kinds of snacks/appetizers. It included nuts, cheese, finger sandwiches, vegetables, cheesecake, etc., as well as a self serve bar.


Spread


Spread


Dinner


Ready to go!

At around 9:45PM we made the decision to go to the gate despite the Lufthansa escort not having arrived yet. As soon as we saw the queue (and 350 people pushing and shoving each other) at the gate we headed straight back to the Global First lounge.

At around 10PM the Lufthansa escort paged the Lufthansa passengers in the lounge. We headed upstairs, along with a couple of other people, and then the Lufthansa escort asked the United agent if she knew if anyone else was still in the lounge. The United agent rudely looked at her and said “how am I supposed to know?” She then asked if she could page for Lufthansa passengers one more time, and she said “you already paged, not again.” Wow…

Anyway, we were walked to the gate by the very nice Lufthansa agent, who brought us all the way to the door of the plane. There were some rather pissed off looking business class passengers since they stopped business class boarding to let the five of us aboard.


Departure gate


Boarding

While any flight in Lufthansa first class is a treat, I was especially looking forward to this one. I’ve always wanted to take one of their late night departures out of San Francisco or Los Angeles, since it’s the perfect flight, in my opinion – about 10 hours and it’s a late night departure which makes it great for sleeping.

Comments

  1. says

    1) Good for you for standing up for yourself against the checkpoint. I’m sure you get some flack for it, but I do exactly the same, am not rude to the frontline workers, and find more-often-than-not that they agree with the ridiculousness.

    2) Do you have any idea why there seem to be more surly personalities stuck working for the airlines than elsewhere? I never see anything like your stories when, say, getting groceries or renting a movie. Even within the union, why aren’t the superb staff (like the ones working with Captain Fletcher and Captain Flanagan on United) upset when their coworkers seriously damage the reputation of their employer?

  2. Levi Flight says

    I am amazed how rude UA staff are getting. Perhaps it is all the stress of the changes in the company and all the unhappy people around them. One thing for sure though, first class passengers more than any should not see any signs of poor attitude. I’ll be using that lounge in a few weeks will see if this attitude is persistent. (UA seems to hate it’s customers – an incredible business model.)

  3. lucky says

    @ Kevin — Thanks, appreciate it (and I realize I’ll get flack for what I did). I was friendly to them, but firm. I wasn’t going to play their “game.”

    As far as why there are so many surly staff in the airline industry, I think it comes down to the fact that everything is seniority based. That not only means that there’s little incentive for performance, but it means that if you don’t like your company after 20 years you really can’t leave, because you’d be starting at the bottom of the totem poll at your next airline. So they just stick to it, no matter how much they hate it.

    And I think you’ll find a lot of good employees *are* embarrassed by their “lesser” co-workers.

  4. lucky says

    @ Levi — Oddly the agents in that lounge probably have the easiest job at United, yet they’ve been rude for 5+ years…

  5. Carl says

    In this age of high unemployment and double digit underemployment, I guess I will never understand the attitude of some of these employees. The long term unemployed who are really struggling would kill to have that job and would do it much better, and with a smile, for less pay.

  6. says

    UA may think they are getting these rude and troublesome employees “out of the way” by placing them in lounges. But these lounges are full of premium passengers and “first impressions are lasting impressions.”

  7. says

    I’m still looking for more details on the TSA interaction. :) I want to know if you ended up having to say your last name.

  8. lucky says

    @ JP2 — Let’s just say I ended up giving them a name, though my pronunciation was a little different than what they wanted. Then again, they weren’t able to prove that my name was pronounced differently than I had told them, so…

  9. Andrew says

    Lucky–can you elaborate on how the TSA interaction played out? I’d love to hear the specific approach you took, what exactly happened, and how long it all took in case I’m faced with a similar situation! Thanks.

  10. Eager Traveler says

    Taking many segments of this trip later this year. Looking forward to reading it all.

  11. Andy Bluebear says

    “yet they’ve been rude for 5+ years…”

    Well, duh, Lucky. Like it says on the napkin in one your pictures, “Planes change. Values don’t.” ;)

  12. Voice of reason says

    Standing up for your principle refers to situations where you sacrifice yourself and suffer consequences for your actions.

    In this case there was no sacrifice involved other than the few minutes you spent bantering with the agents. What would have been your reaction if the agent refused to let you board?

    When you’re willing to suffer actual pain for your “lofty” ideals then you can pat yourself on the back.

  13. Frank says

    Lucky, I find your consistent complaints about TSA rules and your interactions with their agents to be immature and naive at best; arrogant and petulant more likely. Those of us who recall 9/11 like yesterday understand that these people have a job to do and it is not, as you described it, a “game.” They are charged with our safety. I do find they sometimes cross the line, such as the strip-searching of a Marine that I read about, but these instances are extremely rare.

    The rules in place are designed to protect us as much as possible because there are those in the world who want to kill us. They will do so by finding their way onto a plane hoping to take advantage of lax security. If you have a problem with the security regulations, then you shouldn’t fly all the time.

    I also believe you should consider the fact that you are a very young man and a much older person – be they a TSA agent, a flight attendant, a hotel employee, what have you – who spends their life working to put their kids through school might have a reason to be a bit cantankerous at times, especially when you can be as particular and demanding as we all know you can be. You need to realize that having a travel blog doesn’t make you king – you remain a kid in your early 20′s who considers it a travesty if someone twice your age takes a few minutes too long to refill your glass while you sit in a first class seat that is worth nearly half their annual salary.

    Grow up.

  14. lucky says

    @ Ian — I did indeed, and read his report only a few days before taking my trip. Sadly I didn’t get the new configuration.

    @ Andy — LOL!

  15. lucky says

    @ Frank — I appreciate the feedback, though I don’t think you understand where I’m coming from. I’m constantly flying, and therefore I really *do* care about airport security, because it impacts me more than most.

    And that’s exactly why I’m so disgusted by the TSA. I understand they’re *trying* to do their jobs, but they’re failing miserably at it, and there’s evidence to back it.

    Look at the number of TSA agents that have been thrown out for misconduct, the number of weapons that have made it through checkpoints, the number of TSA agents that are convicted criminals, and the massive amount of money the TSA “program” has wasted (just to name a few).

    There was a video a while back of a guy that more or less debunked the full body scanners using a little metal box. This is a program the TSA put billions of dollars into, and it can be fooled that easily.

    So it’s because I care that I do this. I could sit on the sidelines and pretend like everything the TSA does is keeping us safe. But it’s not, and it’s because I care that I call them out on it.

  16. Jay says

    Voice of reason is completely correct. All you did is delay the line to play games with an agent… i bet you and your friend had a good “LOL!” afterwards.

    Your actions don’t do anything to but pester a low level employee and hold up people behind you. i’d recommend that if you want to protest the TSA you find a productive way to do it.

    Out of curiosity, how would you handle airport security. you constantly complain about TSA and what not, i’m curious how you think it should be done

  17. Frank says

    Your care about TSA only because you are inconvenienced by it. You generalize the TSA by the “number” of agents who have been thrown out for example, but I’d love to see proof that this is a higher proportion than – for example – the amount of soldiers discharged for bad conduct. And, by the way, would you rather have the TSA not throw out agents for misconduct? I am glad to see they have high standards.

    As Jay said, none of your commentary has included any proposed alternatives, thus I believe I am correct when I say that your only references to TSA have been either A) bashing them in an immature fashion or B) complaining about how they inconvenience you, while – as Jay said – you inconvenience others.

  18. lucky says

    @ Jay — Not quite, it was escalated to the “manager” (in a suit) as well as law enforcement, so it wasn’t just pestering a “one striper.”

    But I do believe even something as minor as delaying the screening process to express displeasure can help. For example, if everyone opts out of the full body scanner, the TSA will be forced to rethink it.

    What would I do? Private security. Spend less money on the “theater” aspect of it. Perhaps hire real behavior detection officers and not rent-a-cops.

  19. Carl says

    I hate how people keep bringing up 9/11. It was not private airport security that failed that day. It was the government. As a result they created a system of political patronage that feeds the bureaucracy, while making their constituents feel safer.

  20. Alex says

    It always amazes me with how many people just cop TSA policies on the chin. Perhaps you need to consider whether or not that changes they implement are actually helping keep you safe, or just bureaucratic faffing about to give you the impression of security.

    If TSA is wasting their time on finding out if your ID is yours or not, then are they really doing a thorough job of screening your bags and belongings?

    As far as I am concerned, TSA’s job is security not immigration. As long as there are no questionable materials in your bags and belongings, there their job is done. And no, full body xrays are not the only option.

  21. GoAmtrak says

    For those who aren’t aware, SFO uses contract screeners from Covenant Air Security. From what I’ve read and experienced, it seems that TSA beta-tests new “games” at SFO before they spread to other airports with in-house TSA screeners.

    I’m of two minds on objecting to front-line TSA workers. Yes, there can easily be a DYKWIA/class angle to it. Policy objections aside, there are way too many bad apples at TSA. TSA is so out-of-control in its arrogance at all levels, starting with top brass. The parade of documented malfeasance and criminality by employees is staggering. There are also too many hostile mallcop types who seem to hurt security by escalating situations with no provocation. Honest, service-oriented screeners are undertrained, underpaid, and forced to do humiliating, dubiously constitutional things to people. It should surprise no one that the morale is very low compared to other federal agencies. That’s on top of agency expenditures investing in dubious technology and lining the pockets of Chertoff and his well-connected Beltway pals, while providing marginal actual security. Again, the meany reasons the TSA is rotten from top to bottom are well-documented.

    Obviously, giving the TDC or TSO a hard time won’t fix much of that. I always try to be polite even if they’re not. Yet there does come a point when public discontent needs to be heard and felt in how you engage with the stupid policies the screeners are enforcing. There are many good reasons to politely opt-out of the NoS, so I feel comfortable doing that and can live with the grope treatment (which everyone is potentially subjected to anyway). And each opt-out gets logged, which is a good thing IMHO. I don’t know if each name game objection gets logged.

    Ben, did you get to SDOO? At that checkpoint there’s often a screener blocking the WTMD lane while standing behind a “position closed” sign. The mind boggles.

  22. snic says

    Alex says:

    “Perhaps you need to consider whether or not that changes they implement are actually helping keep you safe, or just bureaucratic faffing about to give you the impression of security.

    “If TSA is wasting their time on finding out if your ID is yours or not, then are they really doing a thorough job of screening your bags and belongings?”

    So much of what the TSA does is an utter waste of time and money. No snow globes in the cabin! No bottles larger than 3 ounces! Take your shoes off! Let’s see your (easily faked) ID and match it to your (printed out at home and thus VERY easily faked) boarding pass! Oh, and let’s ogle you on a nude-o-scope, despite the fact that any idiot with $0.25 worth of needle and thread can defeat it!

    Yes, it’s just theater. It is most certainly *not* keeping us safer. It is a fraud and a waste of taxpayer dollars, which the public willingly spends to buy the illusion of safety. I applaud Ben for standing up to the TSA, and if it inconveniences the same sheeple who think the whole performance is working, so much the better. Maybe the experience will prompt them to rub a few brain cells together to figure out they’re being had.

  23. Stephan says

    Amazing to me how people like Frank above buy into the TSA theater and truly believe that they are safer as a result. Let’s stop pretending that catholic nuns and little old ladies from Iowa pose the same threat as Islamic fanatics! I’m sure there are many good TSA employees out there just doing their job, but their jobs are flawed to begin with. Anyone who travels outside the USA soon realizes how ridiculous the whole thing is.

  24. beachfan says

    I am not a fan of TSA theatre. And I have found many TSA folks with bad attitudes. However, I think it has improved dramatically. They are in general courteous, and more efficient than before.

    I have had occassion to speak to a few security experts, and they believe that security theater is effective. It’s a pain in the ass for a lot more people than the behavorial profiling that EL AL does, but we don’t have the resources to do for the US what they do for their flights.

    It doesn’t stop me from being annoyed. But if you ever experienced El Al security after being singled out, you would never think our protocols were problematic. Don’t think El Al doesn’t have false positives.

  25. beachfan says

    I should add, when I say “effective”, I don’t mean that the stuff they do is well targeted to finding stuff. I mean the whole theater is a PITA and therefore terrorists will find avenues that are less of a PITA.

  26. says

    Stephan has it here. A number of countries – Japan and Switzerland, for instance – run perfectly acceptable airport security without yelling at passengers, or nude-o-scopes, or the whole shoe/liquids/belts rigmarole. I can’t imagine Ben is being *rude* to the frontline TSA agents. I imagine that he, like many of us, is just expressing his displeasure at such a pointless violation of our rights, and hoping that such expressions get passed up the chain of command.

  27. Stargoldua says

    +1 to Kevin
    Airport screener at Zurich lduring our last trip asked to hold our baby while we went thru with our stuff. But then , I’ve found Swiss people to be very polite in general, even more with kids

  28. Simon says

    Frank, you sound like a shivery old fart that blows dust out the backend at the clap of a hand. Of course there are people in the world who want to kill you. You’re unpleasant.

    Now, about the TSA. Even if it were 100% effective, it would eliminate only one of the many ways you and a crowd of other milksops could be vapoorized. But, 100% it is not. So, rest assured, an airplane is still on the menu.

    Besides, protection from ‘terrerrists’ should be the least of your worries. If you’ve been watching the news lately, everyday Americans, Flight Attendants and Pilots are the ones whose genitals need rubbing for our protection.

    And, about being cantankerous – it’s never excusable. Most especially in the workplace. The cantankerous deserve the boot. And with their time off, they ought to travel to Thailand and unlearn the bitter old queen part.

    Lucky is young, bright and successful. His standards are entirely reasonable and his greatest comfort ought to be that the days of those like you are numbered thanks to God’s greatest invention – the expiration date.

    Instead of publicly revealing your personal inconsistency as you read Lucky’s posts and then go on to insult him – just do yourself a favour and go back to bed.

    And when you wake up, read the Economist’s debate on airport security. You’re in the minority:

    http://www.economist.com/debate/debates/overview/225

  29. Matrix says

    I spend over 6 years studying 9/11 and all connected issues and I am very distant in my beliefs from the original findings, so for me the whole TSA safety issue is ridiculous. Btw. I am not a geek in a back valley, even high level German and British MP’s dont believe 9/11 as it “happened”…

    But, even forgetting 9/11, the EU working commission found out in 2010 that liquid bans have not effect on security…

  30. Frank says

    Simon, your numerous references and wishes to me dying or being killed have been noted and I am considering reporting this to the authorities. After all, I do have to provide my email address to post here and know that you could hack this information to find my address.

    If you have simply debated the issue without taking it way too far, things would be fine. But as is, you have wished harm upon me simply for having a different point of view, and I am disturbed and threatened enough to where I have to consider whether or not to report this.

  31. Frank says

    And – by the way – how can you say TSA has been less than 100 when there has not been a single successful attack on a TSA-screened plane since 9/11?

  32. LBB Flyer says

    Lucky,

    I’m not a full-on Frank here, and I think that TSA is mostly security theater. However, I do think that the asking-your-name thing is actually a valid and potentially effectual step to increase security, while being no additional invasion of privacy at all (since they already have your ID).

    Somebody who’s planning on attacking an airliner would reasonably be expected to be carrying a false ID. If they have problems stating the name on their ID or show certain reactions when asked to state their name, it could be a way to suss them out. I would much rather have to state my name than go through the body scanner. Given the litany of abuses that we go through, what with liquids, taking our laptops out of our bags, taking off our shoes, etc., I think that the name thing is practically nothing at all. It’s a step that could have reasonably been taken in the pre-9/11 days (and probably nobody would have complained about it). I don’t see why the name thing is apparently such an affront to you.

  33. lucky says

    @ LBB Flyer — I see where you’re coming from, but think you’re forgetting that frontline TSA agents are NOT behavior detection officers. Therefore they’re not trained to tell the “signs” of someone that may have bad intentions. If they were behavior detection officers I actually wouldn’t have an issue with it. But even if someone answered the name question in a jittery/nervous way, they wouldn’t be sent to secondary.

    So my objection isn’t that it’s too personal/private of a question, but rather that it’s being asked by someone that can’t do anything with the information, therefore just wasting everyone’s time.

  34. LBB Flyer says

    You really think that they’re completely untrained in behavior detection? Wouldn’t something like that be pretty basic to the training of someone in any security-type job, even just a mall rent-a-cop? I mean, I know the government/TSA is incompetent, don’t get me wrong…. but are they really so blind as not to include this basic stuff in training?

  35. Simon says

    @Frank: You said “there are those in the world who want to kill us.” I said “there are people in the world who want to kill you.” Potato, pohtahto, tomato, tohmahto.

    If you feel threatened, take it up with God – he’s responsible for your expiration date, not I.

    It’s you who needs to grow up, not Lucky.

    @Simon sucks: I am disturbed and threatened enough to where I have to consider whether or not to report this.

  36. Simon says

    @LBB Flyer: The only agents who receive behavior detection training are BDOs. It’s specialized training and costs $127K per agent.

    Between May 2004 and August 2008, 2 million people passed through TSA checkpoints. 152K were sent to secondary by BDOs and 14K were questioned by law enforcement and 1K were arrested. Not a single one was suspected of terrorist activity and none were arrested for anything related.

    During that same period, U.S. intelligence agencies found that 16 alleged terrorists had traveled through 8 airports where BDOs were deployed. Not a single one was detected by BDOs.

    Sourced from Steven’s post:

    http://boardingarea.com/flyingwithfish/2011/01/13/are-tsa-behavior-detection-officers-effective-no/

  37. Dax says

    @Lucky, Thank you for posting about your experiences with America’s security screening apparatus. I look forward to hearing as much as you’re willing to tell us so I know what sort of rights we’ve lost and what sort of new indignities I’ll be subjected to.

    @Frank: I realize getting photographed and frisked by an airport screener is a highly patriotic and mildly stimulating experience for you, but some of us remember the great nation we used to be, before the scaredy cats and bureaucrats took over and turned us into a nation of fascist sissies.

  38. LBB Flyer says

    @Simon: So run-of-the-mill TSA agents don’t get any behavior detection training at all? Of course the BDOs get more/extra, but you are certain that the standard agents get absolutely none? Saying that the government trains the BDOs specially and expensively is NOT the same as saying that “the only agents who receive behavior detection training are BDOs”. I would like a citation for that, please. Simple observational skills are a part of every security/LEO’s training AFAIK. (Yes, I know TSA agents are not LEO’s.)

    The government’s incompetent; that’s a given. The actual detection rates don’t interest me…. it’s a lot of wasted money, but I think that this particular waste is probably a better use of money for the stated purposes than the other wastes all around. (Note, I’m not stating that I think the government should be involved in airport security… just saying that if it is involved, this expenditure seems more worthwhile than other expenditures.) I think it’s a given that there will always be failures, but overall I am in favor of a more profile-based approach rather than the security theater approach that is currently being slathered upon all American travelers.

    All that I’m saying is that asking the passenger’s name is not any sort of an invasion of privacy above and beyond the existing invasions of privacy; nor is it, IMO, worth making a big deal over. Not compared with the other crap we put up with.

  39. lucky says

    @ LBB Flyer — If an “average” TSA agent puts you through extra screening or whatever for suspicious behavior that would be called discrimination. Only BDOs would be able to do that. Seriously, they’re not “authorized” to many any decisions beyond checking the ID and letting you pass based on that.

  40. LBB Flyer says

    So if the guy checking your ID asks you your name, and you refuse to answer, he’s not authorized to pull you aside to be talked to?

  41. lucky says

    @ LBB Flyer — No, if you refuse to answer he’s not supposed to let you through the checkpoint. Their job is kind of “binary.” If you answer it (even if you’re sweating or stuttering) they let you through. If you don’t, they don’t let you through. There’s no behavior detection. They’re just following orders.

  42. LBB Flyer says

    Funny. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but that is truly stupid. Still, I don’t see why this should be the thing that gets in your craw. Anyway, thanks for opening my eyes a bit.

  43. lucky says

    @ LBB Flyer — Two reasons this bothers me more than other things:
    a) It’s still in the early stages of adaptation, so “protesting” it now is more useful than trying to protest the worldwide liquids ban, for example.
    b) While I can see some value in full body pat downs and full body scanners (if they in theory made us safer), the “name game” does *nothing* to make us safer. Nothing. It just wastes everyone’s time.

  44. Simon says

    @LBB Flyer: Yes. Only Master/Expert TSOs receive the training and may operate as BDOs. (2009 TSA Budget)

    The inquisitive TSOs at the checkpoint entrance have been and are still performing an unsupported task that consumes time and money. Their questioning generates “emotional noise” in passengers and makes a BDO’s observations extra challenging. Any screening element that raises the ambient level of stress or fear makes it less likely that “inordinate levels of stress, fear and/or deception” will be detected by a BDO. So, sans an “Assessor”, a checkpoint TSO’s questions do little in the way of operative screening.

    That said, the TSA is not stupid. It’s just a massive bureaucracy that has grown beyond oversight. It’s a bureaucracy within a bigger bureaucracy (DHS). Corruption, waste and ineffectiveness are abound.

    Lucky should be applauded for having the stomach to point these things out. Any citizen of the US who is critical of what they are paying is doing themselves and others a great service.

  45. Ciaran says

    1) They check your ID to check it matches the bording pass as this is the data that is checked against no-fly lists etc. Who knows if the name game is behaviour detection or not – I don’t and unless you work for the TSA I doubt you do either. If you have a problem telling them your name when it’s clearly printed on your ID in front of them then sorry you’re probably just being a dick.

    2) I find it very interesting that the checkpoint at SFO’s new terminal 2 doesn’t even appear to have full body scanners, so maybe they’re beginning to think they’re not worth the bother?

  46. Simon says

    @Ciaran: No one in this discussion has questioned the merit of CATS/BPSS and manual boarding pass / ID verification.

    Of course. It’s no mystery that entry checkpoint questions are intended to be BD. And you don’t need to work for the TSA to understand that. Read through their briefs, it’s crystal clear what is intended.

    The problem with the process is that without BDO training, an “Assessor” present and the ability to act on a suspicion, it accomplishes nothing. It’s a process that wastes resources and makes the checkpoint’s BDO’s detection task more difficult. It’s a trade of actual security for theater.

    If you approve of “telling them your name when it’s clearly printed on your ID in front of them” with a lone checkpoint TSO, then you are engaging in a process in which the tools needed to observe and act on your response are not present. And worse, as mentioned before, it produces “emotional noise” in non-threats.

    The US is a far larger system than the models that the TSA has borrowed from. The TSA’s implementation of BD cites examples such as TLV. But, what works for TLV, doesn’t necessarily work here. The ethnic and social profiles here are far more complex and the scale is incomparably large. TLV handled only 13 million passengers in 2011. ATL alone handled 92 million.

    The security of American airports requires efficient mechanisms that can scale. Humans just don’t cut it at a cost that isn’t stifling.

    Travelers who point out (“protest”) inefficiencies are not dicks. They’re intelligent people who take the time to point out when a process is theater instead of actual security.

  47. Levi Flight says

    Expected for from the first class lounge. The snacks were great (I was there late morning) but over all the experience was no better than one of the bigger Star Alliance lounges.

    First Class flight to London with the new interior was much of the same ilk. Felt like an extension of business class (aided my a constant stream of folks wandering through from that cabin to ours looking for snacks. Expected more of a distinction between the two. Overall though the UA refurbishment of the interior is a big upgrade from the old style. Right, now on to the next leg to the Mediterranean.

  48. lucky says

    @ Levi Flight — Sounds about right. I think the major benefit of the Global First lounge is that it’s fairly quiet, while the United Clubs are packed and it’s often tough to find a seat. The relative peaceful of the lounge is the only selling point for me.

    As far as the onboard experience goes, sounds like United to me!

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