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'Seriously!': Fargo fliers sound off in formal complaints against TSA

FARGO - Waiting in line, emptying your pockets, taking off your shoes, submitting to a body scan--even infrequent fliers know the routine. But just because pre-flight screenings have become commonplace since Sept. 11, 2001, doesn't mean the secur...

1841634+0706TSAstock.jpg
Over the course of 12 months, the Transportation Security Administration received 26 formal complaints from fliers at Hector International Airport. File photo special to The Forum

FARGO – Waiting in line, emptying your pockets, taking off your shoes, submitting to a body scan-even infrequent fliers know the routine. But just because pre-flight screenings have become commonplace since Sept. 11, 2001, doesn't mean the security procedures don't still grate heavily on some passengers. Over the course of 12 months, the Transportation Security Administration received 26 formal complaints from fliers at Hector International Airport, or about one every two weeks, according to records The Forum obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. These complaints spanned a variety of issues, including a broken bottle of scotch, spilled shampoo, slow lines and rude treatment from the TSA, which screens passengers at Fargo's airport and across the country. The 26 complaints, received from November 2013 to November 2014, represented only a fraction of the passengers the TSA dealt with during that period. In 2014, the agency screened 485,282 passengers in Fargo, or about 18,600 every two weeks, TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said in an email. However, the head of a leading passengers' rights group says a "multiplier factor" should be applied to such complaints to account for dozens, or even hundreds, of passengers who don't bother filing a complaint. "With every formal complaint you get in writing, you have to assume a significantly larger number of people have the same or similar complaint," said Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.org.
'The slowest security' The top gripes against the TSA in Fargo were impolite or overzealous screeners (27 percent), damaged luggage or belongings (27 percent) and missing or confiscated property (15 percent). The complaints themselves are littered with exclamation points and infused with undeniable rage. Here's one flier irked about a TSA screener who seized a wine opener with a blade that was less than an inch long: "She was very rude and did not let me speak and made me feel like a total idiot!" Another angry passenger wrote: "Seriously! My wallet needs to be searched? Every year I return home to Fargo to visit my elderly parents it gets worse." A third flier complained: "I fly out of Fargo ND many times a year. It has the slowest security personnel of any airport I have been through. ... Rarely is the second screening line open; even when there are 12 to 15 TSA employees loitering (so it seems) around the screening area." Of course, passengers have been protesting about their treatment at Fargo's checkpoint for years. In 2007, The Forum published a letter to the editor from a resident seething about an antique typewriter damaged during a TSA search. In 2011, another letter writer expressed his frustration over losing a small flashlight that had passed through airport screenings around the world only to be confiscated in Fargo. That same year, Jennifer "JWOWW" Farley of the reality TV show "Jersey Shore" took to Twitter to say that Fargo's TSA workers had singled her out for a pat-down search. "Travel 2x a week and never went thru what I did here :(" she tweeted. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1841592","attributes":{"alt":"Lori Tillman picks up her luggage after flying into Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. Carrie Snyder / The Forum ","class":"media-image","height":"658","title":"Lori Tillman picks up her luggage after flying into Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. Carrie Snyder / The Forum ","width":"1024"}}]] 'Pain in the neck' On Wednesday, there wasn't much anger stewing among travelers at the airport. Most people interviewed by The Forum were neutral about the TSA's checkpoint in Fargo, seeing it as a necessary inconvenience. "Security is a pain in the neck, but it's the same as anywhere else," said 76-year-old Rod Anderson of Maryland, who came to Fargo to visit his daughter. Maureen Birchem of Valley City, N.D., said that in her experience, the TSA screeners here have been good but not excellent, thorough but not rude. "They could be a little more polite, maybe smile," said Birchem, 68. Josh Astrup, who was flying to Denver for a business trip, said he's had no trouble with the TSA but that he's seen screeners become aggressive with other fliers. "That's usually if a (passenger) is not pleased with having to take off a belt or their shoes," the 38-year-old said. The screeners are "a little hostile, and they say, 'This is my job. You have to do it.' " Some fliers, like Lori Tillman who had just returned from New Orleans, had no criticism. "Security was quick," said Tillman, 41, of Rothsay, Minn. "They were friendly and real good," better than the TSA in Chicago. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1841599","attributes":{"alt":"Rod Anderson flew into Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. from Maryland. Carrie Snyder / The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"760","title":"Rod Anderson flew into Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. from Maryland. Carrie Snyder / The Forum","width":"1024"}}]] 'Reduce the hassle' Last month, the head of the TSA was fired after undercover investigators with the Department of Homeland Security managed to sneak explosives and weapons through airport checkpoints in 67 out of 70 attempts, according to a DHS report obtained by ABC News. TSA employees "are apparently unable to find 95 percent of the weapons and simulated bombs," Hudson said. "That's the whole purpose of the agency. We think there needs to be some retraining." Along with overhauling its antiterrorism efforts, the TSA has room to improve when dealing with the flying public, Hudson said. "They need to reduce the hassle factor without diminishing securities." FlyersRights.org has suggested that rather than having a knife or other contraband confiscated at a checkpoint, travelers could have the option of mailing it to themselves. "It's been well over a decade now since 9/11, and that procedure is still not in place," Hudson said. Another problem: "Bags are sometimes rifled," he said. More than a few of the complaints in Fargo concerned checked luggage that the TSA had searched. When the luggage reached its destination, items were missing or damaged, passengers reported. For instance, a woman complained that a TSA search in November resulted in lotion and shampoo spilling in her bag, and two metal turtle figurines were missing. The TSA declined to discuss specific complaints, and citing privacy laws, the agency redacted the names of passengers who filed complaints. Dankers said the TSA has the ability to investigate complaints by interviewing passengers and agency employees, or reviewing surveillance video. But she said the vast majority of passengers don't experience any problems with their baggage. In 2012, the TSA said it screened about 1.8 million travelers per day, and only .01 percent filed complaints. The agency could not provide a comparison of the rate of complaints at Fargo's airport with the rates at other U.S. airports. Shawn Dobberstein, executive director of Hector International Airport, recommends that frequent travelers enroll in TSA PreCheck, a program meant to streamline the screening process. Among the complaints about the TSA in Fargo was one passenger's endorsement of the PreCheck program, along with a not-so-subtle critique of other TSA security measures: "I love, love, LOVE TSA PRECHECK. I can only hope this teaches you that the completely unnecessary HOGWASH you make us go through is nothing more than a waste of time!" About this story: The Forum filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Transportation Security Administration in November seeking passenger complaints from the previous 12 months at Fargo's airport. More than seven months later, the agency released documents outlining 26 complaints from fliers. Fliers' complaints about the TSA in Fargo Rude or overzealous TSA screeners ... 27 percent Damaged luggage or belongings ... 27 percent Missing or confiscated property ... 15 percent Slow screening or long lines ... 12 percent Other issues ... 12 percent ID documents not accepted ... 8 percent Source: Transportation Security AdministrationFARGO – Waiting in line, emptying your pockets, taking off your shoes, submitting to a body scan-even infrequent fliers know the routine. But just because pre-flight screenings have become commonplace since Sept. 11, 2001, doesn't mean the security procedures don't still grate heavily on some passengers. Over the course of 12 months, the Transportation Security Administration received 26 formal complaints from fliers at Hector International Airport, or about one every two weeks, according to records The Forum obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. These complaints spanned a variety of issues, including a broken bottle of scotch, spilled shampoo, slow lines and rude treatment from the TSA, which screens passengers at Fargo's airport and across the country. The 26 complaints, received from November 2013 to November 2014, represented only a fraction of the passengers the TSA dealt with during that period. In 2014, the agency screened 485,282 passengers in Fargo, or about 18,600 every two weeks, TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said in an email. However, the head of a leading passengers' rights group says a "multiplier factor" should be applied to such complaints to account for dozens, or even hundreds, of passengers who don't bother filing a complaint. "With every formal complaint you get in writing, you have to assume a significantly larger number of people have the same or similar complaint," said Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.org. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1841591","attributes":{"alt":"The TSA area at Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. Carrie Snyder / The Forum ","class":"media-image","height":"680","title":"The TSA area at Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. Carrie Snyder / The Forum ","width":"1024"}}]] 'The slowest security' The top gripes against the TSA in Fargo were impolite or overzealous screeners (27 percent), damaged luggage or belongings (27 percent) and missing or confiscated property (15 percent). The complaints themselves are littered with exclamation points and infused with undeniable rage. Here's one flier irked about a TSA screener who seized a wine opener with a blade that was less than an inch long: "She was very rude and did not let me speak and made me feel like a total idiot!" Another angry passenger wrote: "Seriously! My wallet needs to be searched? Every year I return home to Fargo to visit my elderly parents it gets worse." A third flier complained: "I fly out of Fargo ND many times a year. It has the slowest security personnel of any airport I have been through. ... Rarely is the second screening line open; even when there are 12 to 15 TSA employees loitering (so it seems) around the screening area." Of course, passengers have been protesting about their treatment at Fargo's checkpoint for years. In 2007, The Forum published a letter to the editor from a resident seething about an antique typewriter damaged during a TSA search. In 2011, another letter writer expressed his frustration over losing a small flashlight that had passed through airport screenings around the world only to be confiscated in Fargo. That same year, Jennifer "JWOWW" Farley of the reality TV show "Jersey Shore" took to Twitter to say that Fargo's TSA workers had singled her out for a pat-down search. "Travel 2x a week and never went thru what I did here :(" she tweeted.
'Pain in the neck' On Wednesday, there wasn't much anger stewing among travelers at the airport. Most people interviewed by The Forum were neutral about the TSA's checkpoint in Fargo, seeing it as a necessary inconvenience. "Security is a pain in the neck, but it's the same as anywhere else," said 76-year-old Rod Anderson of Maryland, who came to Fargo to visit his daughter. Maureen Birchem of Valley City, N.D., said that in her experience, the TSA screeners here have been good but not excellent, thorough but not rude. "They could be a little more polite, maybe smile," said Birchem, 68. Josh Astrup, who was flying to Denver for a business trip, said he's had no trouble with the TSA but that he's seen screeners become aggressive with other fliers. "That's usually if a (passenger) is not pleased with having to take off a belt or their shoes," the 38-year-old said. The screeners are "a little hostile, and they say, 'This is my job. You have to do it.' " Some fliers, like Lori Tillman who had just returned from New Orleans, had no criticism. "Security was quick," said Tillman, 41, of Rothsay, Minn. "They were friendly and real good," better than the TSA in Chicago. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1841599","attributes":{"alt":"Rod Anderson flew into Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. from Maryland. Carrie Snyder / The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"760","title":"Rod Anderson flew into Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. from Maryland. Carrie Snyder / The Forum","width":"1024"}}]] 'Reduce the hassle' Last month, the head of the TSA was fired after undercover investigators with the Department of Homeland Security managed to sneak explosives and weapons through airport checkpoints in 67 out of 70 attempts, according to a DHS report obtained by ABC News. TSA employees "are apparently unable to find 95 percent of the weapons and simulated bombs," Hudson said. "That's the whole purpose of the agency. We think there needs to be some retraining." Along with overhauling its antiterrorism efforts, the TSA has room to improve when dealing with the flying public, Hudson said. "They need to reduce the hassle factor without diminishing securities." FlyersRights.org has suggested that rather than having a knife or other contraband confiscated at a checkpoint, travelers could have the option of mailing it to themselves. "It's been well over a decade now since 9/11, and that procedure is still not in place," Hudson said. Another problem: "Bags are sometimes rifled," he said. More than a few of the complaints in Fargo concerned checked luggage that the TSA had searched. When the luggage reached its destination, items were missing or damaged, passengers reported. For instance, a woman complained that a TSA search in November resulted in lotion and shampoo spilling in her bag, and two metal turtle figurines were missing. The TSA declined to discuss specific complaints, and citing privacy laws, the agency redacted the names of passengers who filed complaints. Dankers said the TSA has the ability to investigate complaints by interviewing passengers and agency employees, or reviewing surveillance video. But she said the vast majority of passengers don't experience any problems with their baggage. In 2012, the TSA said it screened about 1.8 million travelers per day, and only .01 percent filed complaints. The agency could not provide a comparison of the rate of complaints at Fargo's airport with the rates at other U.S. airports. Shawn Dobberstein, executive director of Hector International Airport, recommends that frequent travelers enroll in TSA PreCheck, a program meant to streamline the screening process. Among the complaints about the TSA in Fargo was one passenger's endorsement of the PreCheck program, along with a not-so-subtle critique of other TSA security measures: "I love, love, LOVE TSA PRECHECK. I can only hope this teaches you that the completely unnecessary HOGWASH you make us go through is nothing more than a waste of time!" About this story: The Forum filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Transportation Security Administration in November seeking passenger complaints from the previous 12 months at Fargo's airport. More than seven months later, the agency released documents outlining 26 complaints from fliers. Fliers' complaints about the TSA in Fargo Rude or overzealous TSA screeners ... 27 percent Damaged luggage or belongings ... 27 percent Missing or confiscated property ... 15 percent Slow screening or long lines ... 12 percent Other issues ... 12 percent ID documents not accepted ... 8 percent Source: Transportation Security AdministrationFARGO – Waiting in line, emptying your pockets, taking off your shoes, submitting to a body scan-even infrequent fliers know the routine. But just because pre-flight screenings have become commonplace since Sept. 11, 2001, doesn't mean the security procedures don't still grate heavily on some passengers. Over the course of 12 months, the Transportation Security Administration received 26 formal complaints from fliers at Hector International Airport, or about one every two weeks, according to records The Forum obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. These complaints spanned a variety of issues, including a broken bottle of scotch, spilled shampoo, slow lines and rude treatment from the TSA, which screens passengers at Fargo's airport and across the country. The 26 complaints, received from November 2013 to November 2014, represented only a fraction of the passengers the TSA dealt with during that period. In 2014, the agency screened 485,282 passengers in Fargo, or about 18,600 every two weeks, TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said in an email. However, the head of a leading passengers' rights group says a "multiplier factor" should be applied to such complaints to account for dozens, or even hundreds, of passengers who don't bother filing a complaint. "With every formal complaint you get in writing, you have to assume a significantly larger number of people have the same or similar complaint," said Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.org. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1841591","attributes":{"alt":"The TSA area at Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. Carrie Snyder / The Forum ","class":"media-image","height":"680","title":"The TSA area at Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. Carrie Snyder / The Forum ","width":"1024"}}]] 'The slowest security' The top gripes against the TSA in Fargo were impolite or overzealous screeners (27 percent), damaged luggage or belongings (27 percent) and missing or confiscated property (15 percent). The complaints themselves are littered with exclamation points and infused with undeniable rage. Here's one flier irked about a TSA screener who seized a wine opener with a blade that was less than an inch long: "She was very rude and did not let me speak and made me feel like a total idiot!" Another angry passenger wrote: "Seriously! My wallet needs to be searched? Every year I return home to Fargo to visit my elderly parents it gets worse." A third flier complained: "I fly out of Fargo ND many times a year. It has the slowest security personnel of any airport I have been through. ... Rarely is the second screening line open; even when there are 12 to 15 TSA employees loitering (so it seems) around the screening area." Of course, passengers have been protesting about their treatment at Fargo's checkpoint for years. In 2007, The Forum published a letter to the editor from a resident seething about an antique typewriter damaged during a TSA search. In 2011, another letter writer expressed his frustration over losing a small flashlight that had passed through airport screenings around the world only to be confiscated in Fargo. That same year, Jennifer "JWOWW" Farley of the reality TV show "Jersey Shore" took to Twitter to say that Fargo's TSA workers had singled her out for a pat-down search. "Travel 2x a week and never went thru what I did here :(" she tweeted. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1841592","attributes":{"alt":"Lori Tillman picks up her luggage after flying into Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. Carrie Snyder / The Forum ","class":"media-image","height":"658","title":"Lori Tillman picks up her luggage after flying into Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. Carrie Snyder / The Forum ","width":"1024"}}]] 'Pain in the neck' On Wednesday, there wasn't much anger stewing among travelers at the airport. Most people interviewed by The Forum were neutral about the TSA's checkpoint in Fargo, seeing it as a necessary inconvenience. "Security is a pain in the neck, but it's the same as anywhere else," said 76-year-old Rod Anderson of Maryland, who came to Fargo to visit his daughter. Maureen Birchem of Valley City, N.D., said that in her experience, the TSA screeners here have been good but not excellent, thorough but not rude. "They could be a little more polite, maybe smile," said Birchem, 68. Josh Astrup, who was flying to Denver for a business trip, said he's had no trouble with the TSA but that he's seen screeners become aggressive with other fliers. "That's usually if a (passenger) is not pleased with having to take off a belt or their shoes," the 38-year-old said. The screeners are "a little hostile, and they say, 'This is my job. You have to do it.' " Some fliers, like Lori Tillman who had just returned from New Orleans, had no criticism. "Security was quick," said Tillman, 41, of Rothsay, Minn. "They were friendly and real good," better than the TSA in Chicago.
'Reduce the hassle' Last month, the head of the TSA was fired after undercover investigators with the Department of Homeland Security managed to sneak explosives and weapons through airport checkpoints in 67 out of 70 attempts, according to a DHS report obtained by ABC News. TSA employees "are apparently unable to find 95 percent of the weapons and simulated bombs," Hudson said. "That's the whole purpose of the agency. We think there needs to be some retraining." Along with overhauling its antiterrorism efforts, the TSA has room to improve when dealing with the flying public, Hudson said. "They need to reduce the hassle factor without diminishing securities." FlyersRights.org has suggested that rather than having a knife or other contraband confiscated at a checkpoint, travelers could have the option of mailing it to themselves. "It's been well over a decade now since 9/11, and that procedure is still not in place," Hudson said. Another problem: "Bags are sometimes rifled," he said. More than a few of the complaints in Fargo concerned checked luggage that the TSA had searched. When the luggage reached its destination, items were missing or damaged, passengers reported. For instance, a woman complained that a TSA search in November resulted in lotion and shampoo spilling in her bag, and two metal turtle figurines were missing. The TSA declined to discuss specific complaints, and citing privacy laws, the agency redacted the names of passengers who filed complaints. Dankers said the TSA has the ability to investigate complaints by interviewing passengers and agency employees, or reviewing surveillance video. But she said the vast majority of passengers don't experience any problems with their baggage. In 2012, the TSA said it screened about 1.8 million travelers per day, and only .01 percent filed complaints. The agency could not provide a comparison of the rate of complaints at Fargo's airport with the rates at other U.S. airports. Shawn Dobberstein, executive director of Hector International Airport, recommends that frequent travelers enroll in TSA PreCheck, a program meant to streamline the screening process. Among the complaints about the TSA in Fargo was one passenger's endorsement of the PreCheck program, along with a not-so-subtle critique of other TSA security measures: "I love, love, LOVE TSA PRECHECK. I can only hope this teaches you that the completely unnecessary HOGWASH you make us go through is nothing more than a waste of time!" About this story: The Forum filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Transportation Security Administration in November seeking passenger complaints from the previous 12 months at Fargo's airport. More than seven months later, the agency released documents outlining 26 complaints from fliers. Fliers' complaints about the TSA in Fargo Rude or overzealous TSA screeners ... 27 percent Damaged luggage or belongings ... 27 percent Missing or confiscated property ... 15 percent Slow screening or long lines ... 12 percent Other issues ... 12 percent ID documents not accepted ... 8 percent Source: Transportation Security AdministrationFARGO – Waiting in line, emptying your pockets, taking off your shoes, submitting to a body scan-even infrequent fliers know the routine.But just because pre-flight screenings have become commonplace since Sept. 11, 2001, doesn't mean the security procedures don't still grate heavily on some passengers.Over the course of 12 months, the Transportation Security Administration received 26 formal complaints from fliers at Hector International Airport, or about one every two weeks, according to records The Forum obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.These complaints spanned a variety of issues, including a broken bottle of scotch, spilled shampoo, slow lines and rude treatment from the TSA, which screens passengers at Fargo's airport and across the country.The 26 complaints, received from November 2013 to November 2014, represented only a fraction of the passengers the TSA dealt with during that period. In 2014, the agency screened 485,282 passengers in Fargo, or about 18,600 every two weeks, TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said in an email.However, the head of a leading passengers' rights group says a "multiplier factor" should be applied to such complaints to account for dozens, or even hundreds, of passengers who don't bother filing a complaint."With every formal complaint you get in writing, you have to assume a significantly larger number of people have the same or similar complaint," said Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.org.
'The slowest security'The top gripes against the TSA in Fargo were impolite or overzealous screeners (27 percent), damaged luggage or belongings (27 percent) and missing or confiscated property (15 percent). The complaints themselves are littered with exclamation points and infused with undeniable rage.Here's one flier irked about a TSA screener who seized a wine opener with a blade that was less than an inch long: "She was very rude and did not let me speak and made me feel like a total idiot!"Another angry passenger wrote: "Seriously! My wallet needs to be searched? Every year I return home to Fargo to visit my elderly parents it gets worse."A third flier complained: "I fly out of Fargo ND many times a year. It has the slowest security personnel of any airport I have been through. ... Rarely is the second screening line open; even when there are 12 to 15 TSA employees loitering (so it seems) around the screening area."Of course, passengers have been protesting about their treatment at Fargo's checkpoint for years. In 2007, The Forum published a letter to the editor from a resident seething about an antique typewriter damaged during a TSA search.In 2011, another letter writer expressed his frustration over losing a small flashlight that had passed through airport screenings around the world only to be confiscated in Fargo.That same year, Jennifer "JWOWW" Farley of the reality TV show "Jersey Shore" took to Twitter to say that Fargo's TSA workers had singled her out for a pat-down search. "Travel 2x a week and never went thru what I did here :(" she tweeted.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1841592","attributes":{"alt":"Lori Tillman picks up her luggage after flying into Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. Carrie Snyder / The Forum ","class":"media-image","height":"658","title":"Lori Tillman picks up her luggage after flying into Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. Carrie Snyder / The Forum ","width":"1024"}}]]'Pain in the neck'On Wednesday, there wasn't much anger stewing among travelers at the airport. Most people interviewed by The Forum were neutral about the TSA's checkpoint in Fargo, seeing it as a necessary inconvenience."Security is a pain in the neck, but it's the same as anywhere else," said 76-year-old Rod Anderson of Maryland, who came to Fargo to visit his daughter.Maureen Birchem of Valley City, N.D., said that in her experience, the TSA screeners here have been good but not excellent, thorough but not rude."They could be a little more polite, maybe smile," said Birchem, 68.Josh Astrup, who was flying to Denver for a business trip, said he's had no trouble with the TSA but that he's seen screeners become aggressive with other fliers."That's usually if a (passenger) is not pleased with having to take off a belt or their shoes," the 38-year-old said. The screeners are "a little hostile, and they say, 'This is my job. You have to do it.' "Some fliers, like Lori Tillman who had just returned from New Orleans, had no criticism."Security was quick," said Tillman, 41, of Rothsay, Minn. "They were friendly and real good," better than the TSA in Chicago.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1841599","attributes":{"alt":"Rod Anderson flew into Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. from Maryland. Carrie Snyder / The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"760","title":"Rod Anderson flew into Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. from Maryland. Carrie Snyder / The Forum","width":"1024"}}]]'Reduce the hassle'Last month, the head of the TSA was fired after undercover investigators with the Department of Homeland Security managed to sneak explosives and weapons through airport checkpoints in 67 out of 70 attempts, according to a DHS report obtained by ABC News.TSA employees "are apparently unable to find 95 percent of the weapons and simulated bombs," Hudson said. "That's the whole purpose of the agency. We think there needs to be some retraining."Along with overhauling its antiterrorism efforts, the TSA has room to improve when dealing with the flying public, Hudson said. "They need to reduce the hassle factor without diminishing securities."FlyersRights.org has suggested that rather than having a knife or other contraband confiscated at a checkpoint, travelers could have the option of mailing it to themselves. "It's been well over a decade now since 9/11, and that procedure is still not in place," Hudson said.Another problem: "Bags are sometimes rifled," he said.More than a few of the complaints in Fargo concerned checked luggage that the TSA had searched. When the luggage reached its destination, items were missing or damaged, passengers reported.For instance, a woman complained that a TSA search in November resulted in lotion and shampoo spilling in her bag, and two metal turtle figurines were missing. The TSA declined to discuss specific complaints, and citing privacy laws, the agency redacted the names of passengers who filed complaints.Dankers said the TSA has the ability to investigate complaints by interviewing passengers and agency employees, or reviewing surveillance video. But she said the vast majority of passengers don't experience any problems with their baggage.In 2012, the TSA said it screened about 1.8 million travelers per day, and only .01 percent filed complaints. The agency could not provide a comparison of the rate of complaints at Fargo's airport with the rates at other U.S. airports.Shawn Dobberstein, executive director of Hector International Airport, recommends that frequent travelers enroll in TSA PreCheck, a program meant to streamline the screening process.Among the complaints about the TSA in Fargo was one passenger's endorsement of the PreCheck program, along with a not-so-subtle critique of other TSA security measures:"I love, love, LOVE TSA PRECHECK. I can only hope this teaches you that the completely unnecessary HOGWASH you make us go through is nothing more than a waste of time!"About this story: The Forum filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Transportation Security Administration in November seeking passenger complaints from the previous 12 months at Fargo's airport. More than seven months later, the agency released documents outlining 26 complaints from fliers.Fliers' complaints about the TSA in FargoRude or overzealous TSA screeners ... 27 percentDamaged luggage or belongings ... 27 percentMissing or confiscated property ... 15 percentSlow screening or long lines ... 12 percentOther issues ... 12 percentID documents not accepted ... 8 percentSource: Transportation Security AdministrationFARGO – Waiting in line, emptying your pockets, taking off your shoes, submitting to a body scan-even infrequent fliers know the routine.But just because pre-flight screenings have become commonplace since Sept. 11, 2001, doesn't mean the security procedures don't still grate heavily on some passengers.Over the course of 12 months, the Transportation Security Administration received 26 formal complaints from fliers at Hector International Airport, or about one every two weeks, according to records The Forum obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.These complaints spanned a variety of issues, including a broken bottle of scotch, spilled shampoo, slow lines and rude treatment from the TSA, which screens passengers at Fargo's airport and across the country.The 26 complaints, received from November 2013 to November 2014, represented only a fraction of the passengers the TSA dealt with during that period. In 2014, the agency screened 485,282 passengers in Fargo, or about 18,600 every two weeks, TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said in an email.However, the head of a leading passengers' rights group says a "multiplier factor" should be applied to such complaints to account for dozens, or even hundreds, of passengers who don't bother filing a complaint."With every formal complaint you get in writing, you have to assume a significantly larger number of people have the same or similar complaint," said Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.org.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1841591","attributes":{"alt":"The TSA area at Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. Carrie Snyder / The Forum ","class":"media-image","height":"680","title":"The TSA area at Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. Carrie Snyder / The Forum ","width":"1024"}}]]'The slowest security'The top gripes against the TSA in Fargo were impolite or overzealous screeners (27 percent), damaged luggage or belongings (27 percent) and missing or confiscated property (15 percent). The complaints themselves are littered with exclamation points and infused with undeniable rage.Here's one flier irked about a TSA screener who seized a wine opener with a blade that was less than an inch long: "She was very rude and did not let me speak and made me feel like a total idiot!"Another angry passenger wrote: "Seriously! My wallet needs to be searched? Every year I return home to Fargo to visit my elderly parents it gets worse."A third flier complained: "I fly out of Fargo ND many times a year. It has the slowest security personnel of any airport I have been through. ... Rarely is the second screening line open; even when there are 12 to 15 TSA employees loitering (so it seems) around the screening area."Of course, passengers have been protesting about their treatment at Fargo's checkpoint for years. In 2007, The Forum published a letter to the editor from a resident seething about an antique typewriter damaged during a TSA search.In 2011, another letter writer expressed his frustration over losing a small flashlight that had passed through airport screenings around the world only to be confiscated in Fargo.That same year, Jennifer "JWOWW" Farley of the reality TV show "Jersey Shore" took to Twitter to say that Fargo's TSA workers had singled her out for a pat-down search. "Travel 2x a week and never went thru what I did here :(" she tweeted.
'Pain in the neck'On Wednesday, there wasn't much anger stewing among travelers at the airport. Most people interviewed by The Forum were neutral about the TSA's checkpoint in Fargo, seeing it as a necessary inconvenience."Security is a pain in the neck, but it's the same as anywhere else," said 76-year-old Rod Anderson of Maryland, who came to Fargo to visit his daughter.Maureen Birchem of Valley City, N.D., said that in her experience, the TSA screeners here have been good but not excellent, thorough but not rude."They could be a little more polite, maybe smile," said Birchem, 68.Josh Astrup, who was flying to Denver for a business trip, said he's had no trouble with the TSA but that he's seen screeners become aggressive with other fliers."That's usually if a (passenger) is not pleased with having to take off a belt or their shoes," the 38-year-old said. The screeners are "a little hostile, and they say, 'This is my job. You have to do it.' "Some fliers, like Lori Tillman who had just returned from New Orleans, had no criticism."Security was quick," said Tillman, 41, of Rothsay, Minn. "They were friendly and real good," better than the TSA in Chicago.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1841599","attributes":{"alt":"Rod Anderson flew into Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. from Maryland. Carrie Snyder / The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"760","title":"Rod Anderson flew into Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. from Maryland. Carrie Snyder / The Forum","width":"1024"}}]]'Reduce the hassle'Last month, the head of the TSA was fired after undercover investigators with the Department of Homeland Security managed to sneak explosives and weapons through airport checkpoints in 67 out of 70 attempts, according to a DHS report obtained by ABC News.TSA employees "are apparently unable to find 95 percent of the weapons and simulated bombs," Hudson said. "That's the whole purpose of the agency. We think there needs to be some retraining."Along with overhauling its antiterrorism efforts, the TSA has room to improve when dealing with the flying public, Hudson said. "They need to reduce the hassle factor without diminishing securities."FlyersRights.org has suggested that rather than having a knife or other contraband confiscated at a checkpoint, travelers could have the option of mailing it to themselves. "It's been well over a decade now since 9/11, and that procedure is still not in place," Hudson said.Another problem: "Bags are sometimes rifled," he said.More than a few of the complaints in Fargo concerned checked luggage that the TSA had searched. When the luggage reached its destination, items were missing or damaged, passengers reported.For instance, a woman complained that a TSA search in November resulted in lotion and shampoo spilling in her bag, and two metal turtle figurines were missing. The TSA declined to discuss specific complaints, and citing privacy laws, the agency redacted the names of passengers who filed complaints.Dankers said the TSA has the ability to investigate complaints by interviewing passengers and agency employees, or reviewing surveillance video. But she said the vast majority of passengers don't experience any problems with their baggage.In 2012, the TSA said it screened about 1.8 million travelers per day, and only .01 percent filed complaints. The agency could not provide a comparison of the rate of complaints at Fargo's airport with the rates at other U.S. airports.Shawn Dobberstein, executive director of Hector International Airport, recommends that frequent travelers enroll in TSA PreCheck, a program meant to streamline the screening process.Among the complaints about the TSA in Fargo was one passenger's endorsement of the PreCheck program, along with a not-so-subtle critique of other TSA security measures:"I love, love, LOVE TSA PRECHECK. I can only hope this teaches you that the completely unnecessary HOGWASH you make us go through is nothing more than a waste of time!"About this story: The Forum filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Transportation Security Administration in November seeking passenger complaints from the previous 12 months at Fargo's airport. More than seven months later, the agency released documents outlining 26 complaints from fliers.Fliers' complaints about the TSA in FargoRude or overzealous TSA screeners ... 27 percentDamaged luggage or belongings ... 27 percentMissing or confiscated property ... 15 percentSlow screening or long lines ... 12 percentOther issues ... 12 percentID documents not accepted ... 8 percentSource: Transportation Security AdministrationFARGO – Waiting in line, emptying your pockets, taking off your shoes, submitting to a body scan-even infrequent fliers know the routine.But just because pre-flight screenings have become commonplace since Sept. 11, 2001, doesn't mean the security procedures don't still grate heavily on some passengers.Over the course of 12 months, the Transportation Security Administration received 26 formal complaints from fliers at Hector International Airport, or about one every two weeks, according to records The Forum obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.These complaints spanned a variety of issues, including a broken bottle of scotch, spilled shampoo, slow lines and rude treatment from the TSA, which screens passengers at Fargo's airport and across the country.The 26 complaints, received from November 2013 to November 2014, represented only a fraction of the passengers the TSA dealt with during that period. In 2014, the agency screened 485,282 passengers in Fargo, or about 18,600 every two weeks, TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said in an email.However, the head of a leading passengers' rights group says a "multiplier factor" should be applied to such complaints to account for dozens, or even hundreds, of passengers who don't bother filing a complaint."With every formal complaint you get in writing, you have to assume a significantly larger number of people have the same or similar complaint," said Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.org.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1841591","attributes":{"alt":"The TSA area at Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. Carrie Snyder / The Forum ","class":"media-image","height":"680","title":"The TSA area at Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. Carrie Snyder / The Forum ","width":"1024"}}]]'The slowest security'The top gripes against the TSA in Fargo were impolite or overzealous screeners (27 percent), damaged luggage or belongings (27 percent) and missing or confiscated property (15 percent). The complaints themselves are littered with exclamation points and infused with undeniable rage.Here's one flier irked about a TSA screener who seized a wine opener with a blade that was less than an inch long: "She was very rude and did not let me speak and made me feel like a total idiot!"Another angry passenger wrote: "Seriously! My wallet needs to be searched? Every year I return home to Fargo to visit my elderly parents it gets worse."A third flier complained: "I fly out of Fargo ND many times a year. It has the slowest security personnel of any airport I have been through. ... Rarely is the second screening line open; even when there are 12 to 15 TSA employees loitering (so it seems) around the screening area."Of course, passengers have been protesting about their treatment at Fargo's checkpoint for years. In 2007, The Forum published a letter to the editor from a resident seething about an antique typewriter damaged during a TSA search.In 2011, another letter writer expressed his frustration over losing a small flashlight that had passed through airport screenings around the world only to be confiscated in Fargo.That same year, Jennifer "JWOWW" Farley of the reality TV show "Jersey Shore" took to Twitter to say that Fargo's TSA workers had singled her out for a pat-down search. "Travel 2x a week and never went thru what I did here :(" she tweeted.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1841592","attributes":{"alt":"Lori Tillman picks up her luggage after flying into Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. Carrie Snyder / The Forum ","class":"media-image","height":"658","title":"Lori Tillman picks up her luggage after flying into Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D. Carrie Snyder / The Forum ","width":"1024"}}]]'Pain in the neck'On Wednesday, there wasn't much anger stewing among travelers at the airport. Most people interviewed by The Forum were neutral about the TSA's checkpoint in Fargo, seeing it as a necessary inconvenience."Security is a pain in the neck, but it's the same as anywhere else," said 76-year-old Rod Anderson of Maryland, who came to Fargo to visit his daughter.Maureen Birchem of Valley City, N.D., said that in her experience, the TSA screeners here have been good but not excellent, thorough but not rude."They could be a little more polite, maybe smile," said Birchem, 68.Josh Astrup, who was flying to Denver for a business trip, said he's had no trouble with the TSA but that he's seen screeners become aggressive with other fliers."That's usually if a (passenger) is not pleased with having to take off a belt or their shoes," the 38-year-old said. The screeners are "a little hostile, and they say, 'This is my job. You have to do it.' "Some fliers, like Lori Tillman who had just returned from New Orleans, had no criticism."Security was quick," said Tillman, 41, of Rothsay, Minn. "They were friendly and real good," better than the TSA in Chicago.
'Reduce the hassle'Last month, the head of the TSA was fired after undercover investigators with the Department of Homeland Security managed to sneak explosives and weapons through airport checkpoints in 67 out of 70 attempts, according to a DHS report obtained by ABC News.TSA employees "are apparently unable to find 95 percent of the weapons and simulated bombs," Hudson said. "That's the whole purpose of the agency. We think there needs to be some retraining."Along with overhauling its antiterrorism efforts, the TSA has room to improve when dealing with the flying public, Hudson said. "They need to reduce the hassle factor without diminishing securities."FlyersRights.org has suggested that rather than having a knife or other contraband confiscated at a checkpoint, travelers could have the option of mailing it to themselves. "It's been well over a decade now since 9/11, and that procedure is still not in place," Hudson said.Another problem: "Bags are sometimes rifled," he said.More than a few of the complaints in Fargo concerned checked luggage that the TSA had searched. When the luggage reached its destination, items were missing or damaged, passengers reported.For instance, a woman complained that a TSA search in November resulted in lotion and shampoo spilling in her bag, and two metal turtle figurines were missing. The TSA declined to discuss specific complaints, and citing privacy laws, the agency redacted the names of passengers who filed complaints.Dankers said the TSA has the ability to investigate complaints by interviewing passengers and agency employees, or reviewing surveillance video. But she said the vast majority of passengers don't experience any problems with their baggage.In 2012, the TSA said it screened about 1.8 million travelers per day, and only .01 percent filed complaints. The agency could not provide a comparison of the rate of complaints at Fargo's airport with the rates at other U.S. airports.Shawn Dobberstein, executive director of Hector International Airport, recommends that frequent travelers enroll in TSA PreCheck, a program meant to streamline the screening process.Among the complaints about the TSA in Fargo was one passenger's endorsement of the PreCheck program, along with a not-so-subtle critique of other TSA security measures:"I love, love, LOVE TSA PRECHECK. I can only hope this teaches you that the completely unnecessary HOGWASH you make us go through is nothing more than a waste of time!"About this story: The Forum filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Transportation Security Administration in November seeking passenger complaints from the previous 12 months at Fargo's airport. More than seven months later, the agency released documents outlining 26 complaints from fliers.Fliers' complaints about the TSA in FargoRude or overzealous TSA screeners ... 27 percentDamaged luggage or belongings ... 27 percentMissing or confiscated property ... 15 percentSlow screening or long lines ... 12 percentOther issues ... 12 percentID documents not accepted ... 8 percentSource: Transportation Security Administration

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