This week I was in St. Louis overnight, so I went through the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at Port Columbus on Thursday and the TSA checkpoint at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport on Friday. I therefore must ask: why are the checkpoint procedures so different from airport to airport?
In Columbus there are separate lines for “expert travelers,” casual travelers, and families in order to improve the flow through security. In St. Louis everyone gets in the same, slow-moving line. In St. Louis you can’t put your shoes in the plastic tub, you need to put them on the belt separately. In Columbus, shoes can go in the tub with everything else. In some airports you seem to need to hold your boarding pass as you go through the scanner, in others you don’t. In some airports laptops need to be placed in their own bin, in others that is not the case.
Maybe the TSA procedures are ever-changing and that is the reason for the discrepancies, but I doubt it. It seems like every airport has its own special procedures, and I think that is a mistake. The TSA is a federal agency, and as a federal agency should enforce uniform procedures on a nationwide basis. Having different, seemingly weird procedures — like placing your shoes directly on the belt in St. Louis — just slows down the security check-through process. Passengers are already on edge because of the slowness of the process and the prospect of missing their plane, and it just makes them mad when they get yelled at by a TSA officer for not following a completely unknown requirement.
Is it too much to ask for some consistency in what is supposed to be an important security process?