TSA: Thousands Standing Around

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Thousands Standing Around I'm sure this isn't a new thing, but it's the first time I've seen it, especially in parody-logo form, and I am finding it hilariously funny.  I have stolen it (fair use!) from Eric Turkewitz's New York Personal Injury Law Blog, which has a post today about a remarkable security lapse at LaGuardia to which the logo seems relevant.

Jason Paris, also a New York lawyer, had boarded a JetBlue flight to Fort Lauderdale and was sitting in seat 11F.  Someone else sat down in 11E.  Then someone else showed up with a boarding pass for 11E, and the flight attendant told the first guy he was in the wrong seat.  He said, yes, he knew that, but someone was in his assigned seat and he was too nice to ask that person to move.  He then produced a boarding pass showing he was supposed to be in 11F, in which, as you learned four sentences ago, Jason Paris was sitting.  Okay, that happens sometimes.  But this man's boarding pass also showed that he was in fact Jason Paris.

As you might expect, the Jason Paris in seat 11F was a little concerned about new Jason Paris, who it appeared was not only claiming to be him but was now claiming his window seat.  (These would be almost equally infuriating to me, but then I am fanatical about window seats.)  These concerns apparently grew after it turned out 11E Jason Paris did not have any ID saying he was Jason Paris.  He did, according to 11F Jason Paris, have "a French passport that was issued in Paris (which is my last name)."  Hey, close enough.

It appears that 11E Jason Paris did in fact have a seat (21D) on the plane under the name that appeared in his passport, and he was reseated there.  That is, somehow a man whose boarding pass and passport did not match was allowed to board a plane, and even when this came to light was just moved to another seat with little if any investigation.  When 11F Jason Paris and his law partner (in 11D) expressed concern about the mystery man who had been sitting between them, "the gate agent and flight attendant gave us dirty looks and made us feel [that] if we said anything that would kick us off the plane."

This caused 11F Jason Paris and his partner to look over their shoulders for the entire flight (although they did stay on the plane).  Personally, I think it is far more likely that this was just a paperwork snafu (caused by the "Paris") than a case of a dangerous person being let on a plane, so probably there was never any real danger.  But this again should cause travelers to wonder, in my view, why we have to put up with so much nonsense that is not making us any safer.

An official quoted by NBC said this sort of thing has to be expected.  "Given the fact that this system is made up of individuals who try their best but can be incredibly bored with their job," he said, "you can expect this to happen sometimes."  I'm sorry — are we keeping you awake?  Given that you have your airport lady yell at us every five minutes to remind us we are still at Threat Level Orange!, I assumed you would still be paying attention.

By the way, if you're not looking at the IDs too closely, could you also stop trying to look at us naked?  I realize you are incredibly bored, but please.

As I have written before more than once, the body scanners that the TSA is busy deploying all over the place cost us a lot of money, cost us most of our remaining privacy, and do nothing to make us safer.  But, to not give credit where credit is not due, having the scanners did recently lead to an arrest – of a TSA worker.

According to police, a 44-year-old worker at Miami International Airport went through a body-scanner as part of a training exercise, only to have co-workers then make fun of his allegedly tiny equipment.  The worker said he had repeatedly been mocked after his co-workers saw how non-threatening his previously concealed weapon was, and that was why he confronted one of the mockers in the parking lot and beat him up with a police baton.  According to the police report, the defendant "stated he could not take the jokes anymore and lost his mind."

So, let the record reflect that the first "success" of the naked-vision body scanner was to lead to the arrest of a TSA worker who was furious about an invasion of his own privacy.  It is enough to make you lose your mind.

Link: NBC New York
Link: New York Personal Injury Law Blog
Link: NBC Miami