My TSA story...I worked for them, oops!

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Timbuff10

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I have been meaning to do this for a while but have been so busy I never got around to do it, but here it goes.

Before 9/11 I had planned on going to Comair or some big flight school, but then everything changed and my plan became to work after I graduated from CU-Boulder in May of '02. I figured if I got a real job for about 6 months, then I could pay for a good chunk of my flying without dealing with loans and so on.

By July, I had applied for the TSA, as I thought it would be a great job to have and down the line the airlines would look at it and say "wow, you helped our industry in its time of greatest need". Well, during my interview process I was promised a supervisor or lead position that I was told paid really well (~$40,000/yr). I already had my 4-yr. degree and 2 years of security experience so I knew I would fit right in. This was all great and it was a secure government job with government benifits, right? Wrong--After a hiring process of about a month, at the last minute they told me that they hired too many supervisors and all they could offer me was a basic screener position or wait 6 months and I could get the high-paying Supervisor position. Well, I wanted to work immediately so I took them up on the basic screener. Turns out, pretty much everyone got this treatment.

Next up was the classroom training, which was good but I think should have been more thorough and updated. It seemed to be thrown together at the last minute and for some reason we used old programs from England to learn the X-ray. All through this process we were constantly told about how we are the first batch of screeners at our airport and will have all the chances for promotion and so on.

By the beginning of September our class finally arrived at the airport for the real thing. The first thing I noticed was how the people in charge were from the old security that was there before the TSA; all they did was change uniforms. After a while I noticed that a lot of ex-military were randomly put in charge. After a few weeks passed and the TSA took over the entire airport, we were told that everyone would be on the same level and seniority would not play a role in who gets promoted, requested days off, etc... This was lie #2.

It really got frustrating when you see people that are dumb as a rock get promoted because they can share good military stories about how they used to guard a gate when they were in the military for a few years. Others used their friends from the old security force and their Burger King French Fry managerial skills to move up. It was really sickening to see some of the people that were passed over. I think the TSA has to be one of the only government organizations where your prior experience/education doesn't matter.

Another thing that was very startling was the negative attitude that some of the trainers displayed towards the airlines and the airport. From the beginning we were told that "we dont give a damn about the airlines." It really took away a lot of the pride I thought I was going to have in "protecting America's skies." Overall, I would say there is a fairly negative attitude towards the airlines.

In November, I discovered that most of the people that were hired initially by the TSA as Leads and Supervisors were let go or either forced to take a drastic pay cut. Basically, the whole hiring process was thrown out the window and the TSA decided that the good old boy network was the best way to hire/promote. There was a lot of wasted money that was put into the hiring process... taxpayer's money.

As far as the actual security goes, I think it is an improvement in terms of what the public sees. I do believe they all speak English pretty well and there are a few people there that are really good! Unfortunately, those people are outnumbered by the uneducated morons. When the economy picks up, though, the TSA will have a huge problem.

Some of the policies are completely stupid though. If you are wearing a hat, the metal detector guy is supposed to send you down for more screening. Good luck pilots. If there is no one being screened then the next three people, no matter how old, are supposed to be sent for more screening. This is the point when the 90 year old grandma gets sent down for wanding while the terrorist looking guy zips right on through.

Don't get me wrong, there are some highly educated people there (rarely in charge) and those people will be the first to jump ship. When the economy picks up you will basically have the same people as you had pre 9/11, only wearing a Federal uniform.

One more thing that really annoyed me while working there was that the media and people in general thought we made so much money. I made a little over $12.00/hr. The old security force that was there before the TSA paid more and in some cases MUCH more than what the current screeners are making.

As for me, I just couldn't handle the job anymore. It was very boring! It didn't mesh with my plan for what I wanted to do. I turned in my resignation letter last month as my checkbook finally hit the amount that I needed so I could start flying at my local FBO. I did manage to get hired on by Frontier Airlines and have loved every minute of that job so far. It's just part time but it beats the TSA by a million miles!

If anyone has any questions about the TSA or even Frontier I would love to talk about it.

Nice to see Doug had a good experience at DCA recently with some of the TSA's brightest!

Tim Samples-no longer working for the enemy, I've joined the good guys!
PS GO FRONTIER!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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