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Oh yeah - Tactical Ninja

Apr. 24th, 2013

12:11 pm - Oh yeah

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I also wanted to mention that on the way out of SFO, I opted out of the nudey scanners. In the line approaching security, the scanners were very clear. Pretty much everyone was going through them. However, I asked the first TSA person how to opt out. She very politely explained to me that I needed to tell the next TSA agent, and that it would be best to do it early because sometimes it takes a while to get someone there to do the patdown. Telling them early ensures not being separated from your stuff for long.

I did this, and the lady called on the radio for a female agent to come, then asked me to stand by the gate until the person arrived. When she arrived she asked me to come through, then we waited until my stuff had come through the X-ray machine. I was taken to a screened area, where she explained exactly what would happen and then asked if I wished to go to a more private place. She then patted me down, and after that put her gloves into a swab detector. It took less than 2 minutes and at no point did I feel pushed or coerced. Everyone was polite and they treated me with respect.

Constrast this with Melbourne, where they pull you out of a line to scan you without warning, bark orders at you, give you no option to avoid being nudey scanned, threaten to chuck you out of the airport if you object, and treat your objections as if they are completely unfounded and childish.

Melbourne could take a lesson from San Francisco about how not to alienate travellers, just saying. None of the officials I wrote to about my experience in Melbourne even bothered to acknowledge my complaints. Bottom line: Melbourne airport, you suck and put me off going there. +10 dehumanisation.

Comments:

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From:pombagira
Date:April 24th, 2013 12:36 am (UTC)
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yay for positive experiences with the TSA...! and politeness and respect. whoot


*beams*


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From:tatjna
Date:April 24th, 2013 12:40 am (UTC)
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Yeah. I was feeling pretty tense about the whole thing after my experience in Melbourne, and the officials at SFO just made the whole thing reassuringly easy. The difference was that they treated me with basic respect and acknowledged my rights.
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From:pombagira
Date:April 24th, 2013 01:00 am (UTC)
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yeah it was like that in Canada, i was given a choice, so when i asked what are my options, they said you can be xrayed, or patted down by a female guard.. always good given a choice!!

*beams*
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From:rivet
Date:April 24th, 2013 01:38 am (UTC)
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That's great, I'm really glad to hear you had a more positive experience.
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From:sophiawestern
Date:April 24th, 2013 02:15 am (UTC)
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Heh, my friend "opted out" of those in a way that got her cited by an officer at the airport. She got out of the ticket though!

https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/press_release_channel/tsa_alert_rutherford_institute_defends_female_protester_arrested_for_attemp/
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From:tatjna
Date:April 24th, 2013 05:09 am (UTC)
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Hahah, that's kind of funny - but at the same time it makes a really good point.

(i don't think that underwear counts as disturbing the peace tbh)
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From:richaarde
Date:April 24th, 2013 04:56 am (UTC)
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You lucked out with the TSA. There is constant criticism in the news about how incredibly rude the TSA workers can be. I've also heard of planted guns, knives, and other suspicious items getting through because of overworked and/or incompetent inspectors, indifferent management, etc.
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From:tatjna
Date:April 24th, 2013 05:08 am (UTC)
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One thing I think is relevant here is the level of expectation regarding how one will be treated by service staff. In the US, it was really noticeable to me how polite, friendly and helpful people in these roles were. It wasn't just the TSA, it was everybody, from the folks in the Radio Shack where I sorted my phone, to the people in the BART station, to folks selling newspapers and groceries.

Everyone was polite and friendly without fail. Now, I'm aware that some of this is probably related to my accent being a novelty and also to the fact that my default mode is cheerful, but by comparison with NZ, treating customers well really stands out as a US thing.

It seems to me that if this is the case, then a person who is accustomed to such treatment may be much more affronted by treatment that is brusque or impolite that someone who is used to a lower level of service.

I can imagine that there probably are lots of instances of TSA rudeness and nastiness - I've read them. But I'm wondering how much of the criticism arises from unmet expectations of service due to understaffing or whatever.

PS don't get me wrong, service in NZ isn't surly or anything, it's just much more understated and can be seen by those used to more effusive treatment as indifferent.
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From:morbid_curious
Date:April 24th, 2013 07:15 am (UTC)
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SFO is definitely my favourite international airport so far.
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From:morbid_curious
Date:April 25th, 2013 05:30 pm (UTC)
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I think this may be relevant to your interests:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/04/24/drug-policy-reform-action-21st-century-approach-0
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From:tatjna
Date:April 27th, 2013 11:31 pm (UTC)
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Wow, that is a really bizarre juxtaposition of anti-drug propaganda and actually pretty good policy aims.

I guess if we're to take the bottom line, they are attempting to reduce harm and that's a good thing. ;-)
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From:morbid_curious
Date:April 28th, 2013 02:09 am (UTC)
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*nod* I suspect that, in the U.S. narrative, you have to pre-load it with enough of the expected anti-drug rhetoric, and then try to sneak some actual evidence-based drug reform ideas in after.
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From:pundigrion
Date:April 26th, 2013 04:15 pm (UTC)
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Heh, meanwhile I had a completely exasperating time at SFO and refuse to go through there again. They nearly made me lose my glasses! (And the metal detector still beeped on my bare arms anyhow...)
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