Friday, September 08, 2006

TSA airport screeners

And now for something completely different: an article about a day in the life of a TSA airport screener. USA Today profiles Transportation Security Officer Matt Bulger, who works at Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC. It's an interesting read.

The focus of the article is on 28 year old Mr. Bulger's on-the-job experiences. He has worked as an airport screener for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) since 2002. Bulger seems an amiable sort, as he recounts the kinds of incidents -- some funny, some serious, some simply routine -- that occur on a daily basis at airport screening checkpoints.

From the article we also learn things such as this:
Dulles employs 671 full-time-equivalent transportation security officers, or TSOs (the official name for screeners) at 21 security lanes at a single central checkpoint. (By comparison, TSA's largest operation at Los Angeles International, which has eight terminals and eight separate checkpoints, employs three times that number.)

Screeners undergo criminal-background and medical checks. They have to be able to lift 70 pounds, be proficient in English and be U.S. citizens. New hires complete 40 to 60 hours of training, and everyone is subject to up to three hours of additional training weekly.
The sidebars on the article provide additional nuggets of TSA trivia. There is a "Glossary of TSA Lingo" -- our favorite item:
VAP (Voluntarily Abandoned Property): Banned items stopped at security checkpoints. The most common are cigarette lighters (37,000 a day, nationwide), which are disposed of as hazardous waste. Non-hazardous items are given to state agencies for surplus property.
Another sidebar gives us "TSA by the Numbers."
2002: Year TSA was created

$6.2 billion: The agency's annual budget

43,000: Current number of screeners

55,000: Number of screeners in 2002

$23,000 to $56,400: Salary range

2 million: Average number of airport screenings daily, nationwide
Reading the article gave us a great idea for a sequel. How about, "Confessions of a crew line screener." On second thought, maybe not!

Read the whole article (with photos) here: A day in the life of an airport screener - USA Today

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