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Hospitality Examples Observed From TSA Airline Security Staff

By Doug Kennedy
May 10, 2011

Having been a frequent traveler averaging well over 100,000 miles a year for 20 years, I was in my early years convinced that that absolute hardest job in the travel industry was the lost luggage attendant at baggage claim.  I didn’t think there could be anything else that would bring out the worst in people than being involuntarily separated from their possessions for a few hours.  But that was in the Pre-911 era.  Although the lost luggage desk is still a tough place to work, I’ve lately observed that an even tougher job to report to every day can be working airport screening for the TSA.
It’s hard to think of a travel industry job that has drawn such overall negative publicity, especially lately with all the talk about body scanners and the alternative of full body pat-downs.   Having myself been on a morning departure flight non-stop to NYC on the morning of 9-11, I have always been extremely respectful of the airport screener.  I’m just thankful they are there trying to improve safety, even if the systems and procedures they use don’t always make sense to me. 

It seems the last several months has brought even more negative attention from the media about the TSA screeners, so I feel like it is a good time to share some positive examples of where I have experienced hospitality gestures being warmly extended.
  • More often than not the officer who checks my ID and ticket addresses me by name; someone on the line usually always wishes me a good day.   
  • As a business traveler, it can sometimes be frustrating when those who don’t travel much have prohibited items causing re-checks.  I’m both thankful and amused when I fly out of Terminal One in my home airport of Ft. Lauderdale because most days there is a large, imposing man with a loud booming voice speaking to everyone in line…  “Come on now, someone here has a bottle of water in their carry on.  Who is it?  Who is it?  Which one of you has a laptop computer they forgot to take out?  Let’s get it out now so we don’t have to re-check.”
  • Flying out of Myrtle Beach I dropped my driver’s license between the screening tables.   It was no small effort for the TSA officer to move several tables in order retrieve it, but she was so polite and friendly instead of scolding me. 
  • Flying out of Pensacola (not a small airport) the TSA officer at the screening point noticed my flight number as being one that was cancelled.  This saved me time in getting to the front counter for re-booking, instead of me clearing security and then finding out.
  • Flying out of Miami I encountered an unusually long wait time, which probably would have caused me to miss my flight.  The TSA screener reminded me that I could go to the security entrances at one of the gates to the left or right, where the lines were much smaller.  Thanks to him I made that flight!
  • Returning out of San Diego, my Delta Million Miler luggage tag got caught in the conveyer belt.  I didn’t notice but thankfully a TSA officer did and got it to me.  I paid a lot of dues to earn that tag and appreciated getting it back. 
  • When flying out of New Bern, NC, I didn’t anticipate there was no kiosk to print a boarding pass.  Nor did I imagine that the check-in counter would only be open for like 8 minutes, then the attendant goes back to do the boarding.   I had been outside making a phone call and found myself stuck on the wrong side of security without a boarding pass, with the check-in closed.  Thanks to the kind TSA officer who told the airline gate/desk attendant about my situation, they re-opened for me and I made it home that night.
Aside from noticing how well I’ve been treated, I could easily list dozens of times when I have seen TSA officers being extremely kind, empathetic and patient with those who require special screening, such as the elderly, the very young, and those with special needs.  I’ve seen them brush off rude remarks made by passengers about the procedures and equipment, which can’t be easy to do. 

Of course no organization is perfect and I have also seen some TSA officers be unfriendly, un-empathic and downright curt.  Overall though my experience has been a positive one, so I will just conclude by saying thank you to the honorable men and women who for the TSA and who perform their jobs so well despite a lot of negativity. 
Doug Kennedy, President of the Kennedy Training Network, has been a fixture on the hospitality and tourism industry conference circuit since 1989, having presented over 1,000 conference keynote sessions, educational break-out seminars, or customized, on-premise training workshops for diverse audiences representing every segment of the lodging industry. Ee-mail Doug at:

Doug Kennedy
Kennedy Training Network, Inc.
1926 Hollywood Boulevard, Suite 203
Hollywood, FL  33020
Office: 954.981.7689
Mobile: 954.558.4777


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