Frustrating PHX

02.27.08 | Comment?

Since I seem to be on a travel related kick, here’s your travel warning about the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport. Leave early or fly first class. Why? Otherwise the security lines will cause you to miss your flight.

At Terminal 4 where we flew out on Sunday, there were 9 security checkin stations. Four of these stations were manned with 2 being devoted to first class, business class, and airport/airline personnel. That left 2 stations to service the hundreds of passengers left in a limitless line. In my mind, there were two frustrating aspects to this interminable wait:

  1. Inefficient/Ineffective screening – Let’s face it, if a person is unable to remove their shoes without assistance, they’re not going to be a threat to bring down an airliner. It’s not like these people are faking, harassing the elderly and physically challenged is a stupid policy that simply slows down the line. Next, the liquids screening policy is horse hockey, it adds nothing to security, slows down the line, and causes confusion about what can be packed. I listened to a screener giving a woman a hard time about a container with 4.2 ounces of makeup related stuff. I saw multiple people get hand scanned after the metal detector – what that says to me is the metal detector doesn’t work – if we need to hand scan folks, just do that and skip the metal detector. It’s as if no one is thinking in these places, they’re just droids enforcing policies established by mentally challenged bureaucrats.
  2. Ineffective use of personnel – Since I stood in the line for over an hour, I think it’s safe to say the 20+ people in TSA uniforms against the wall behind the closed screening stations weren’t on break. Yet, the entire time they were in small gaggles shooting the breeze while passengers waited their turn to be hassled by their colleagues. Sorry, but if you’ve got time to BS, you’ve got time to open another couple of freaking security stations to facilitate traffic flow. This is big government at its worst, thanks Bush Administration!

Travel in the post-9/11 USA is a nightmare, and it’s getting worse, not better. We need to retool the process to facilitate throughput of passengers and weed out the obvious threats. No matter what, the system will not be perfect – so let’s acknowledge that and move on. Meanwhile, whomever runs the TSA should be doomed to standing in their security lines watching their personnel screw around behind closed security stations in perpetuity.

Written from the Palais in Cannes, France. (no, not the film festival, it’s VMWorld Europe.)

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