This encounter got me thinking about TSOs and the recognition that they receive from the public. We often hear about the negative side of airport security, but rarely do we recognize the great work that the majority of TSOs do every day. It's not difficult to find stories about people expressing their displeasure with TSOs so I won't be linking to any of them today.
In looking for some slightly more positive articles, I did a quick search for "thank you TSA". This resulted in finding a lot of posts along the lines of "Thank you for taking my peanut butter TSA!"
I think that the tendency to criticize more than we praise is just part of human nature. We tend to ignore good service, but we latch onto bad service. What we don't often recognize is that it's all the good service that we regularly receive that makes the bad service stand out. I explored this idea more fully in my 3 to 1 Service Rule post a while back.
In the past 5 years or so, I've been through TSA controlled security over 120 times, and I've never seen a TSO act in an inappropriate fashion.
I have seen plenty of excitement through security lines, but this was caused primarily by passengers who were trying to take liquids through security. Most of the time, this occurs after international flights when people fail to put their duty free items in their checked bags after clearing them through customs.
These people don't realize that they have to go through security again once they are through customs. There are always announcements instructing travelers to put liquids in their checked bags, but someone always forgets. This person tends to be a bit cranky after a long flight and ready to argue. Fortunately, the TSOs I've seen in this position have remained calm and dealt with the cranky travelers in a professional manner.
Being in customer support myself, I know that dealing with an argumentative customer can take a lot out of you so I make sure to thank every TSO agent I run into at the airport. Most of this time this is a simple thank you or wishing a TSO an uneventful day. I usually get a great response back which makes me think that there aren't enough people thanking the TSOs.
Similar to bad service sticking out when compared to so much good service, a simple expression of gratitude can stick out when compared to a day of sprinkled with grumbles and verbal abuse. It embarrasses me that this can be the case, but I think it's safe to say we take the TSOs for granted. I have no doubt that there are some bad TSOs out there, but there are bad members in every group; to say that they are all bad is to do the vast majority a great disservice.
Every day, TSOs go to work, unsure of what they will encounter. One of the things that they are after are artfully concealed weapons. Take a minute to read that post and then tell me that they're not doing something important.
I'd like to take this time to thank all of the great TSOs out there for doing a tough job and putting up with a lot of abuse that they don’t deserve. I'd also like to invite you to join me in thanking the great TSOs out there when you encounter them.
From where I stand, most security line issues can be avoided by making sure that you are up to date on the current security restrictions. The current rules are available at the TSA website. I've also found that following the TSA blog Evolution of Security is a handy way of keeping up to date on the rules.
All in all, I feel that the TSOs are doing a great job. Do I have it right or am I way off on this topic?