Flying out of O’Hare this past weekend. Arrive to the gate to be told that they were moving the gate down a few. Okay, no problems. Happens all the time.
Then things were delayed and they said something about a medical emergency on the plane that had arrived at that gate. I saw EMT-types and an ambulance drove up to the plane so it might have actually been true and regardless wasn’t all that uncommon.
However what happened next was strange.
When we were getting set to board, next to the line was a makeshift TSA checkpoint. Mind you, we were all supposed to have been checked the standard way just to get to the gate. Despite that, there was a line of several TSA agents in latex gloves checking IDs to see if they matched the boarding passes.
They were picking people to have their bags checked manually in the line. The only person who I saw searched was right in front of me, a woman who was not white. I mention this because I was not checked, neither was any of my family including my teenage son who didn’t have ID (and who looks older than 16). They might have been truly random, they might have been looking for a specific gender or ethnicity but whether this profiling was due to whatever reason we had TSA there to begin with or was of the insidious nature, I do not know. My wife says she saw them search the bag of a Sihkh gentleman.
I don’t want to get into the profiling, I only mention it because maybe it’s a detail that could have someone answer the question of why we had to go through a redundant TSA check at our gate?
The wife and I had a few ideas - some related to the government shutdown - but we’re not conspiratorial types. We didn’t want to ask anyone because we didn’t want to be annoying and didn’t think we’d necessarily get a straight answer.
Do any frequent flyers here or people who work in airports know why this happened and what they were looking for that they missed before - and why they missed it before?
I’ve had these before, very occasionally. I was told these are random. I doubt that explanation though. Very low occurance random checks will by definition have very few hits. So then the motivation for such random checks would be deterrence. But if no one has ever heard of them, the deterrence factor is very low.
Second the medical emergency. The med techs were likely waved past or around the initial security station as they were responding to an emergency. Obviously not likely but one of the emts could have slipped a banned item to someone, a passenger, at the gate boarding area.
As far as the possible profiling, I think it’s there, but they try to disguise it. Back in 2001, I had a shaved head and a full beard. I have dark hair, brown eyes. My friends at work jokingly called me. “Mullah Bob” . This was about a month after 911. I was going to Florida on a 1 way ticket. I had been checked twice already. Waiting to board, they pulled me out of line, and a couple other middle age guys. And the 80 year old grandmother in front of me. It looked to me like they came right for me, then grabbed the next person in line. Kind like one of the usual suspects.
This happens from time to time. I’m not what one would call a super-regular air traveler (probably 5 or six times a year), and I can think of it happening three times in the last three or four years to me. I believe that it is simply a regular, random double-check done to ensure that nothing has slipped past the initial screening.
Yeah - I also have imagined it was intended to keep all us prospective terrorists on our toes. Same reason they won’t clearly post instructions as to exactly what we do or don’t have to take off or take out of our bags. If they no longer are herding us like frightened sheep, that will mean the terrorists have won, right?
The OP has obviously never flown EL AL from the U.S. to Israel. El Al’s security will always set up a second screening near the gate, before passengers board the plane. They do a better (and faster) security check than the TSA yahoos.
The weirdest thing I saw was last February at O’Hare, there was a collection of CBP agents showed up at the boarding gate and started pulling some people out as they boarded the plane, checking passports. They waved us through. This was he only time I’d ever seen customs check people leaving the USA. But then, the plane was headed to Istanbul (not Constantinople). My theory was they were looking for ISIS sympathizers headed for the front.
Prior to a flight from Dallas to Leon, Mexico, one time, the gate attendant announced that anyone with currency greater than $10,000 must report it. A few minutes later, she repeated it. Apparently someone knew that someone had some cash, because customs intercepted someone on the jet bridge while we were boarding.
I understand what you are saying, but I tend to think that the terrorists won on 9/11. They have caused us to create a system that has resulted in trillions of dollars of wasted opportunity costs. Not counting the actual billions spent by the government to create the theater of security we call the TSA. Think of the total number of hours we as people waste arriving at the airports hours before we need to, simply because 19 men with box cutters boarded 4 planes on that day. They won.
I have always joked this is a conspiracy from the vendors at the airport. In China and in Amsterdam, I have been nailed with the ‘second TSA check point’. You go through the first check point, buy a water or soda, then are forced to throw it out at the second new check point before boarding the plane.
I flew El Al between NY and Tel Aviv in September. In NY, El Al asked me some questions before I got to TSA (although other people had their carry-ons searched). On the way back, El Al had some extra security right before boarding the plane in Tel Aviv, which I only remember because my brother couldn’t bring a bottle of water onto the plane that he had bought in the gate area.