There’s never a shortage of criticisms for the TSA, given that they give travelers so much material for criticism, but the most recent development is truly the most disturbing: a TSA agent didn’t recognize a Washington, D.C. license as a government-issued ID and doesn’t believe that it was in the United States.
In case you missed it, a man was initially denied access to security screening at Orlando International Airport because he had a Washington, D.C. driver’s license. The man was told to present a passport because the agent said the license was not a valid, government-issued ID. The traveler’s tweet was seen and he soon received a response from a TSA spokesman, a picture of the tweet is found at the bottom of this post.
The agency has since verified that a Washington D.C. license is a valid form of identification, but the agency almost seemed to justify its employee’s severe lack of American civics and geography, saying, “Officers are trained to identify fraudulent documents, which can potentially deter and detect individuals attempting to circumvent this layer of security. TSA officers work to make sure facts are gathered and quickly resolved to avoid future confusion.”
This wouldn’t be nearly as bad if it was the first time it happened, but as reported in February, the same thing happened to a woman as she attempted to go through security screening at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. That time, the agent had to ask his supervisor if the woman was good to pass through. Thankfully, this supervisor had enough of a civics lesson to know that D.C. is in fact a legitimate place within the United States.
This is seriously a new low for the agency, an agency who’s mission is to keep the commercial airline industry safe. It’s rather troubling that a fact that you learn in kindergarten is not known by the same person who may be sitting at an x-ray machine determining if a bag is safe to get on to an aircraft.
I know the TSA has become an easy target because of all of its flaws and the unflattering job of inconveniencing travelers, but shouldn’t the standard for agents be a little higher than where they currently are? Should a traveler really have to tweet the TSA headquarters in order to obtain clearance to get through security?
This truly raises the question of what kind of training these agents receive. It makes it entirely more believable to see how the TSA has consistently failed tests where a number of banned items have made it past security screenings. If an agent can’t even recognize a DC license as legitimate or as part of the United States, should we really have faith that the agent can recognize a dangerous item in a five-second x-ray scan?
. @TSA Agent in Orlando never heard of “District of Columbia.” Demanded passport because he didn’t believe my drivers license was from US!?
— Justin Gray (@grayjustin) July 12, 2014