I kept my shoes on through security!

Let it be said: the TSA security protocol is a joke. I witnessed this first hand.

Scene: Monday December 19th, JFK terminal 4 (the busiest), during rush hour; me going through the security checkpoint.

What I usually experience, what travellers have been subject to in the last 15 years in the name of security:

  • shoes off; shoes go through the x-ray machine (while every other country I’ve flown from lets you go through the scanner with your shoes on);
  • computer and other battery-containing electronics out of the bag and out of its case in a separate tray;
  • passports in tray;
  • belts out, jackets off, sweaters off, all in the x-ray machine;
  • backscatter “hold your hands up in the air like a criminal” machine with 50% chance of heavy pat-down upon exit regardless of what the machine did (or usually, didn’t) detect.

Of all these, mostly the “shoes off” policy was my own proof that the TSA was a joke, given that other airports, with more evidence of risk, didn’t bother with shoes. But I digress.

On that fate day, December 19th 2016, the terminal was both under-staffed and over-crowded. Over-crowded should mean more risk to let a terrorist slip through? More victims in case a bomb would go off? Never mind the real risk, here’s what we were greeted with at the security checkpoint:

Ladies and gentlemen; keep your shoes on; take your coat or jacket off and put them on your bag and push your bag through the x-ray machine; do not take items out of your bag; your computer and electronics to stay in your bag; put any item containing metal in your bag, you can leave items in your pockets, but put metal containing items in your bag, so as to avoid delay when you go through the scanner.

The backscatter “hold your hands up in the air like a criminal” scanner was turned off; we simply went through the regular, old-school walk-through scanner. It did beep sometimes, denouncing remaining keys or belts, proving that it was doing its job.

Needless say, the throughput was high and people pleased.

Now, that’s what I expect from the security check experience, given that’s how it’s done in most places, excluding those that ape the usual TSA antics. And it also demonstrates that the other, non-rush-hour protocol is as intolerable as it is useless.