Feeling comfortable about airport screening

Making security screeners federal employees wasn’t just supposed to be a sop to government employees unions. It was supposed to guarantee screener quality. But the New York Times reports that prospective screeners were given the answers to their tests, not that that was even necessary as simple as the questions were.

    Most of the questions on an examination to become an airport screener were rehearsed with the trainees before the test, according to the inspector general of the Transportation Security Administration, who called the practice “extremely disturbing.”


    Some questions were “simplistic,” and “a number of the questions were phrased so as to provide an obvious clue to the correct answer,” the inspector general, Clark Kent Ervin, found.

There wasn’t much guarantee of quality. Unless we’re worried about whether they know the following:

    A multiple-choice question asked why it is important to screen bags for explosives. Possible answers were: batteries in explosives “could leak and damage other passenger bags,” wires could “cause a short to the aircraft wires,” the timer ticking “could worry other passengers.” The correct answer: explosives “can cause loss of lives, property and aircraft.”

But I guess we were worried that high quality propsective screeners might not have known that. The TSA’s response?

    TSA spokesman Brian Turmail said, “There is always debate on whether or not education methodology is appropriate.” He said Irvin’s review confirmed an internal TSA probe in May that found “no misconduct” by instructors and noted that there was no criticism of testing given to screeners after 60 hours of on-the-job training.


    “These folks have been thoroughly trained, tested and evaluated and were required to demonstrate competence on the equipment,” Turmail said.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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