Are You on the TSA's Not-So-Secret Security List of Angry Passengers?

Have you ever seen a passenger go through the airport security line who is not having a good day? Maybe they’re cursing or slamming their shoes around or just acting like a jerk in general – so much so that you’re dying to tell them to chill?

When Passengers are Jerks

Well, it’s possible that ill-mannered jerks could wind up on a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) list of anger-management cases. The chances are pretty slim, but it could happen.

This list was brought to our attention by USA Today’s story about airport security screening. The article states that “pushy travelers” who take out their frustrations on security screeners with the TSA may land on “a little-known Homeland Security database.”

Indeed they could, notes the TSA (via their airport security blog); TSA spokespeople acknowledge keeping what they call “a TSA workplace violence database”. This is information that’s been collected for the past three years for the protection of the screeners.

When Screeners are Jerks

However, it takes a little more than calling a TSA employee “stupid” or otherwise acting like a jerk to make the list. In fact, as USA Today points out, attacks on screeners are “rare” – and even rarer by passengers: out of about 240 incidents in the database, only about 30 involve passengers while the other unseemly incidents involve fellow TSA screeners and other airport employees.

So how do you get on what appears to be a kind of secondary “watch list”? You behave really badly. This is how the TSA’s explanation for how those 30 airline passengers got on the list:

  • “The police got involved.  In all but one incident, local police officers responded to assist in resolving the incident.”
  • “They got arrested. In the majority of these cases, the individuals involved were arrested or issued summonses by local law enforcement officers for allegedly assaulting a Transportation Security Officer.”

The TSA blog continues by saying one must commit an “egregious act that harms, or threatens to harm” others.

Let’s Play Nice

Clearly there are times when passengers – and TSA officers themselves – are not having a good day. We’ve all seen security folks that can be abrupt or even rude, but – don’t let it get you down, and DON’T respond in kind.

Courtesy isn’t the answer to everything, but it can help, and may even get you through the security line with a minimum of discomfort – and faster, too (see the “Nine No-No’s of Flying).


Published: June 7, 2010