How Qualified Are TSA Agents?

Recently I traveled from Arizona to Ohio for New Year’s Eve. My visit was peaceful and quiet and a bit blustery at times. Going through airport security at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona was a breeze because I left early in the morning and the airport was empty. The TSA Agents seem to be alert and knew what they were doing. Unfortunately, my experience at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, OH was a different story. It made me ask the question, “how qualified are TSA agents?”

My return flight to Phoenix, AZ was scheduled and on time. I arrived very early at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport because of the weather. I checked my bag and headed towards security. It was business as usual at the airport.

I presented my ticket and ID to the agents sitting behind the podium before I went through security. They wished me a good flight, and I proceeded towards a TSA line. A gentleman was in front of me, and I had to wait until his bins were on the conveyor belt and through the scanning process. I took off my jackets, shoes, and ring — loaded them into bins and pushed them onto the conveyor belt. Another traveler was behind me. I walked through the scanner and waited for my items to come down the conveyor belt. This is where it gets interesting.

The TSA Agent left her post! I couldn’t believe it; she shutdown the conveyor belt and left without any warning. My purse and jackets came through, but my shoes were stuck somewhere on the conveyor belt. I was standing, shivering in my socks in disbelief. The guy behind me was not a happy camper.

The TSA Agent came back and asked me what I was waiting for. I looked at her and was going to say, “…my shoes,” but the guy behind me beat me to it. She looked at the screen and restarted the conveyor belt. Lo and behold the bin with my Skechers came down the conveyor belt. How did this woman get a job with the airport? What kind of airport security is this? If this is airport security then it’s a joke.

Travelers and citizens of the U.S. have every right to know what qualifications are necessary for people to be hired as TSA agents. I’m not sure a high school or GED is enough. Perhaps some college courses are necessary, especially in travel and criminal justice. It’s unheard of that an agent would walk away and shut down the screening process, especially when there’s a line forming. Hopefully she had a good explanation. Maybe Mother Nature was calling and she didn’t want to or could not ignore her! If that’s the case, what’s the protocol for leaving a post? I’m sure there’s an interesting explanation.

The next time you travel, observe the TSA Agents. Do they seem to know what they’re doing? Be aware of what’s happening around you at all times. Make sure you know how many bins you have coming down the conveyor belt. You never know when a TSA agent will unexpectedly depart from her post!


What has been your experience with TSA Agents? Share your experience.