Last week when we were coming back from St. Louis, we got shuffled into a TSA line where they are apparently testing new equipment. No taking off our shoes, no pulling out our little baggies of liquid, no requests to dump water bottles.
At first I thought this would be great but was very shortly disabused of that idea. After your bags went through the scanner, anything that looked funny got shoved off to the side for additional scrutiny. In the regular line this happens as well but since our line had been specifically told NOT to pull out anything including liquids or toss water bottles, it meant that more than half of the bags going through got held up. Water bottles were opened and examined with some kind of test strips, bags were opened and rifled through; it was not a quick check.
Neither YA nor I had anything unusual but we were behind a few people who did. So we stood back and waited while watching everyone else’s problems pan out. The family who went through right before we did were a hot mess. Three kids, all under the age of five and already hot and tired after waiting in line. Four adults – it was hard to tell who belong to whom but they were clearly all together. Because they were told not to take things out of baggage, there was a plethora of sippy cups and water bottles. Every bag was opened and pawed through (sorry, my bias is showing here). Every sippy cup and bottle was opened and tested.
As the kids started to melt down, one of the adults started to melt down as well. She was angry – about everything. When her anger did nothing to make the situation better, she got angrier. Her voice got quite loud, she got in one TSA agent’s face. The folks with her tried to calm her down, but she was having none of it.
I’ve never seen anything like this in person but it was amazing how fast other TSA agents were in coming to their co-worker’s defense. And how MANY TSA agents came over. I was extremely glad right then that TSA agents do not carry firearms or any other weapons but there were enough of them that could have taken this woman down with ease. They did end up asking her and one of the other adults into a side hallway (six TSA agents for the two adults). When they came back a few minutes later, the distraught woman seemed a little calmer and she didn’t say one more word. I can only imagine what they said to her.
I asked one of the agents who was standing behind us how long this new process/equipment had been in place. He sighed and said “one week”. I wished him luck. Then our bags came through. All they did was confirm our little baggies of liquid/cream which was easy because we both had them in side pockets of our bags; off we went, plenty of time to get to our gate despite the delay.
Have you ever been a test case for anything?