How Does One Provide Feedback on the TSA Effectiveness

Over the last 10 years of being a frequent traveler I have always wondered – How Does One Provide Feedback on the TSA Effectiveness…? Why do I say this now?  Because of more and more incidents of complete frivolous behavior by the TSA which certainly is hard to qualify as taking care of passengers or security — and more of lawless actions of unsupervised force that does not have to answer to anyone for its actions!

There are more and more cases of such actions — some more frivolous than others.  Here is my experience: 

Over the last 4-5 years on trips overseas we consistently get damages to the content of our luggage…Those are usually inflicted by overzealous TSA agents who do not want to apply common wisdom in doing their job. The most recent in my case was returning back to the States this summer — where we had a few jars with tough to find in the US tomato paste which was commercially packaged in jars, and the jars were placed in a plastic box with a lid.  Once we came home and opened the luggage we were VERY SURPRISED to find that one of the three jars was opened and closed just slightly and put back in the luggage.  Of course once the jar cap had been opened the content is at least compromised and won't last long even if I knew what had been done to it…. For all I know dirty fingers have been stuck in it!  Or who knows what else…!  The more I think about it the more annoyed I get !!!  What on earth did the TSA had to do to "inspect the content" of a commercially sealed jar?   There are no warnings whatsoever anywhere advising that we should not transport canned goods….!  All in all this is just insane! 

I wrote to the TSA and to my representatives in Washington D.C. — and of course I got letters with canned – no pun intended responses — as to "how concerned with security the TSA is…."  — Great!!! Canned tomatoes are really a problem!!!

So, I thought I had seen it bad — but the latest incident of a wheelchair-bound pre-teen being held for search for an hour at Dallas Ft Worth airport is even more mind boggling — the article is here and another one here

I wonder at what point in time we will be able to grade and provide feedback that is being paid attention to on the effectiveness and fairness of the TSA…???

New Discovery in Xian – a Palace in Emperor Qinshihuang’s Tomb

I think the Terracota Warriors of Xian are very familiar to many in and outside of China.  Now we have a new discovery in Xian – a palace has been discovered in emperor Qinshihuang's tomb.  According to a report published by China Daily, the discovery is significant for multiple reasons

  • the palace complex is very large — based on its foundations it is believed to extend 690 by 250 meters — about 1/4th of the size of the Forbidden City in Beijing
  • the palace is mostly intact – i.e. it will offer a great deal of artifacts to allow the study of the period with a lot more factual information

For those of you who have not seen the site I am talking about you can take a look at these photos:

xian-163    xian-170

The pictures above are taken at the cemetery is located in Lintong district of Xi'an city;   Based on an ongoing study of the emperor's tomb, scientists believe that there may be as many as 6000 clay solders in the tomb.   Here it will be appropriate and important to note that each of the solders is supposed to have a unique face — therefore there are 6000 unique clay statues buried in the emperor's tomb.  Incredible!

 

Holiday Travel Tips

The holiday are coming upon us fast.  And with that we have the significant increase of travel and travel concerns, which in turn calls for a quick refresher on what are the key holiday travel tips to keep in mind.  I can summarize those in several categories:

  1. What are the rules about going through security
  2. How to get quickly through airport security
  3. How to avoid airport hassles — what are the better travel days
  4. Most of all stay positive and do not stress

So here they are the Holiday Travel Tips from this blog:

1) What are the rules – i.e. what are the latest guidelines and updates from the TSA.  For that the best source of information is the TSA's own blog — follow the link to it for a wide range of information.  And of course, I am constantly amazed at what types of dangerous objects the TSA is finding in passengers' possession.   This is happenig even after so many years now of very strong security and information on airport and TSA requirements.

2) So given the rules above, how do we get efficiently (and fast) through the airport security checks ?  Several things:

  • Get organized ahead of coming to the TSA checkpoints – get your electronics, toiletries and liquids in easy to access areas in your carry on luggage so you can pull them out fast and be ready to move through the security line quickly
  • As you walk towards security – make sure you empty your pockets and place car keys, wallet, cell-phone in your carry on luggage;  this way they are well protected and also allow you to only pick up one bag from the conveyer belt and ensure you will not forget one of the items above at the check point.
  • We are talking about the Holidays here — so if you are headed out to relatives and friends and carrying gifts, make sure they are not wrapped in gift wrapping.  Yes, no one will prohibit you from wrapping those presents, but guess what those fancy wrap jobs will only invite more scrutiny.  So what shall you do?  Make sure you can pack in this most convenient way — presents to be very clearly visible in their purpose
  • You may want to check the TSA web site (see above) – to check what ae the most recent regulations to ensure you and your items are OK
  • LEVERAGE your premium status (if you have one) — all airlines have now given their premium passengers the ability to avoid the long lines and use special lines with significantly shorter lines as you can imagine;
  • Make sure you have taken care of the invitation you have received from the airline!  I signed up for it and am wreeping the rewards even from Southwest ailines

All thes are important but what is even more critical is to pay attention to the airport security areas and take the one with least number of people

So now how to avoid agrevation and how not stress ?  JUST FOLLOW THE ADVICE ABOVE AND think positive.