Near Yellow Mountain

Saturday, January 29, 2011

TSA - defining the 3rd World experience

Just finished going through security at LAX. This was my 8th trip through a security line in 11 days. Charlotte, NC (where my trip began) generally does a good job. No complaints - reasonable courtesy and speed. My next experience was the terminal in Newark where most foreign carriers operate. Aside from the terminal being dated and dreary, the security experience gives one the feeling of a 3rd world  operation - rude, slow, slovenly. Several hours after my Newark experience, when I was changing planes in Singapore, the experience was totally different. A wonderful bright and clean new terminal where security was almost a pleasant experience - polite, smiling people - 2 minutes in the line. My next stop - Shanghai is a mixed bag but is constantly improving and generally fast, if not always friendly. Japan employs excellent technology and well trained, courteous staff. I mistakenly forgot to take a Coke out of my bag as I passed through security in Tokyo last week, the smiling agent asked if it was daijobu (ok) for them to check my drink in their special scanner - 15 seconds later she gave me the nod and let me put the drink back in my bag. LAX is similar to Newark - slow and generally speaking ... abrupt if not rude. Two of our gateway cities are an embarrassment - we greet visitors to the US more like a struggling 3rd World country than a superpower. Foreigners find it quizzical. We deserve better and so do they.They love the country but don't like the experience of entering.

I wish I could say that there is a strong possibility that I am generalizing from a small sample of experiences - unfortunately that is not the case.