Let’s Celebrate TSA’s Officer of the Year!

Here’s what it takes to be the TSA’s officer of the year.

“Officer [Last Name] is the type of TSA officer who others look to model,” says TSA Federal Security Director Dan Ronan.

…Officer [Last Name] was just selected as TSA’s Officer of the Year for 2014 among the 45,000 TSA officers nationwide.

…One afternoon when Officer [Last Name] was working earlier this year, she realized that there would be a need for additional female officers working the late afternoon shift. The airport was expecting an influx of travelers attending a nearby national woman’s lacrosse tournament, so Officer [Last Name] proactively approached her manager and offered to stay well beyond her normal 4 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. shift at HPN to assist with the expected increase in passengers.

…Officer [Last Name] saw the checkpoint line of passengers at HPN had grown in a very short timeframe. “Without needing to be directed, she quickly initiated actions to open an additional screening lane, single-handedly gathered additional checkpoint bins and recruited some co-workers who were on break to assist her in opening the additional lane to get the travelers through the screening process,”

“[S]ingle-handedly gather[ing] additional checkpoint bins” will heretofore be considered a feat of strength to demonstrate on Festivus!

She did other things too, beyond just working an overtime shift and one time doing her boss’ job managing checkpoint resources.

To be clear, my issue is not with this employee being honored but that these items represent the highest achievements out of 45,000 TSOs.

(HT: Flyertalk via Jessie B.)


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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Comments

  1. There’s something very mean-spirited about this post. It’s one thing to criticize the organization or all of those bad apples who’ve committed criminal activities. It’s another to mock someone who’s trying to do a good job, regardless of what you think of the organization.

  2. @Will – I completely agree with you, the tongue-in-cheek sarcasm is unwarranted and poor form. This poor woman might work for a typically inept organization but she’s working extra hard to do her best. I work for an inept company but certainly hope that I’m not judged in the same vein just because I work here. So please ease off on someone who came out on top of all 45000 employees, it sounds like she’s doing a fantastic job!

  3. By the way, you know if there were inordinate delays at HPN, Gary would be saying, “They knew a women’s lacrosse team would be coming through, but they didn’t have additional screeners? No one even thought to open a new lane and move over some bins?”

  4. Since it wasn’t meant to come off at all mean-spirited towards one particular individual, I will remove the last name of the employee. That should have been done in the original posting. Thanks for the flag.

  5. So she got employees to work on their break. How much did that cost us in meal penalties that had to be paid because of her?

  6. I agree with the conclusion

    (To be clear, my issue is not with this employee being honored but that these items represent the highest achievements out of 45,000 TSOs) –

    this post wasn’t about mocking the winner – it was about showing how LOW the bar is to win TSA officer of the year out of 45,000 people.

  7. Gary: when benchmarked against most other federal agencies, I’d say this was a high mark of employee effort. Give them another ten years, who knows, it’s the makings of a hero…

  8. The winner was probably a much better employee than the simple facts suggest: it’s supremely difficult to show initiative and to improve outcomes in organisations with poor culture. Of course, in a better organisation she probably would not be doing a manager’s job – she would be the manager.

  9. I notice that my comment about your selective quotation did not pass the “moderator’s” muster.

    The woman went to her car to give a cold passenger her coat, bought someone a coffee and explained the security/flying process because they were nervous, and on her break, walked that person through security and to the boarding gate. None of that, notably, makes Gary’s post.

  10. Shouldn’t her manager be awarded the title of the “Worst TSA Manager of the Year”? It does seem that the task she did are rather simplistic in nature and should’ve been overseen far before. Many times I see long lines on TSA and many closed screeners and lines and officers are just talking and enjoying each other’s company. The overall management of the screening is very questionable and should be improved.

  11. Most awards like this are random. Kinda mean spirited to mock her for doing her job. It sounds like she’s not a jerk or anything, so i don’t know why you feel you need to belittle her for doing her job.

    Janitors at science institutes win employee if the month awards. That doesn’t mean that they are indeed they smartest and most important person at the institute.

    But I guess hard working, nice people should instead get mocked bc you don’t like taking off your shoes.

  12. I don’t read this as Gary belittling anyone. He’s simply saying that an employee doing something that at most companies would be called “doing your job” is rewarded with officer of the year status.

  13. Andrew +1

    “I don’t read this as Gary belittling anyone. He’s simply saying that an employee doing something that at most companies would be called “doing your job” is rewarded with officer of the year status”

    After all this is “TSA’s Officer of the Year” out of 55,600+ employees!

  14. @ Andrew – at some companies, employees “doing their job” get paid millions of dollars a year, with bonuses and secretaries and cars and housing assistance.

    Gary’s comments are snobby, childish, and smack of elitism.

  15. Another vote of distaste for this post, but it’s not an isolated instance in the world of travel blogs (and honestly this blog is far from the worst). There seems to be a general consensus that, if one repeats the phrase “first world problems” enough it constitutes a license to demean people who work in service jobs.

    Whether transportation security, airline personnel, or cab drivers these are generally people who earn 10 to 20% of what the bloggers who are criticizing them earn, who don’t qualify for free flights and hotels by virtue of being eligible for extensive credit, who will never see the front cabin of an airplane or the inside of a Hyatt Suite, and who are doing jobs that the people criticizing them would never undertake themselves.

    There is a legitimate discussion to be had about air travel security but the parties in that discussion should be frequent fliers on one hand and on the other the politicians and general public who have demanded the level of security we now have. The $15 an hour workers don’t deserve that kind of disdain.

  16. I don’t see this as belittling the woman or being mean spirited towards her. I do this this belittling the TSA and being mean spirited towards them which, if this really is the bar, seems justified to me

  17. Earlier in the year, I had a VA appointment and I didn’t see the resident physician until way past my schedule time. After my exam, I attempted to check out, except the staff has left. All I could think about is a herd of heifers watching the clock and then shuffling to the elevator.

  18. >>There’s something very mean-spirited about this post. It’s one thing to criticize the organization or all of those bad apples who’ve committed criminal activities. It’s another to mock someone who’s trying to do a good job, regardless of what you think of the organization.

    One of Gary’s missions in life is to badmouth the TSA. Nothing will change that unfortunately. He uses his soapbox of his blog to do so almost continuously. Mean-spirited and poor form are unfortunately the norm for his writings about anything TSA-related. Maybe it’s time to grow up.

  19. It is perfectly acceptable to criticize the TSA as an institution. The TSA has huge room for improvement. To highlight the occasion of an individual worker doing their best to help the public was not constructive.

    I read examples of great work that you failed to mention in your editorial including: “While on break, Officer [name] walked the elderly woman through the process and personally handed her off to the airline gate agent”.

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