A new way for TSA to screw up your travel day

Travelers’ advisory: Don’t let this happen to you.

I should be home by now, but instead I am writing this in O’Hare Terminal B. Why? Here was the dialogue as I prepared to board at SeaTac this morning:

United agent: “Where’s the TSA stamp on your boarding pass?”

Me: “Stamp?”

United agent: “Yep. They have to rubberstamp them now, and they’ve missed you.”

Oh for god’s sake.

I had to hop back on the shuttle train and head back to the main terminal where a dour TSA guy patted me down and, right about the time the door to my plane was closing, stamped my now useless boarding pass.

It made me feel ever so much safer.

14 Comments

  1. How awful. Sure beats being TSA and having to deal with all the arrogant passengers who have no idea what you have to deal with.

  2. “Sure beats being TSA and having to deal with all the arrogant passengers who have no idea what you have to deal with.”

    I wasn’t arrogant. I was, however, delayed 5 hours because somebody whose job it was to rubberstamp my boarding pass neglected to do it.

  3. I’m sure that stamp can’t be faked, either. Do they do it like music venues and alternate colors on different days to make it more difficult to counterfeit?

    Oh, they should completely use blacklight ink! Then I’d feel REALLY safe, because they’d have to look at it under a special lamp.

    Is it just me, or is CYA-driven process becoming more and more dominant in the public sphere? If we pooled all those lost hours from missing stamps together could we maybe invent an airplane that couldn’t be hijacked instead?

    Of course, we’d miss the theater then…

  4. Ugh. I’m really sorry this happened to you. Fewer flights, razor-thin time margins, heightened security, inevitable mistakes, increasingly callous customer-service folks (I bet that United customer-service agent could have tried a little harder to get to plan “b”): it’s a perfect storm. There’s got to be a market niche here somewhere for just-enough-better service at a just-a-little-higher price, something like the Target to the current airline K-Mart mentality.

    I hope you didn’t have to spend the night at O’Hare.

  5. Many of us feel for you, bro. I have been screwed by “Untied” Airlines before, although this appears to be (partly) the fault of an outsourced gnome…..

    Of course, the primary reason they have to ‘stamp’ your boarding pass is because of the combination of On-line Check-in and dropping the ID-check at the jetway door. I love On-line check-in, but it caused enough “loss of control” over the concept of a boarding pass, that they figured that they must have someway to ensure that the slip of paper you showed with your identification back in the Main Terminal is the same slip of paper you’re using to get onto the airplane. I was aghast when I realized that all you’d have to do once you’ve printed your boarding pass at home is to actually “print” it to a PDF file, then modify the name on the paper to match whatever fake ID (or real ID that you don’t want to be checked by the airline’s computer) you wanted to use to get through security.

  6. “I was aghast when I realized that all you’d have to do once you’ve printed your boarding pass at home is to actually “print” it to a PDF file, then modify the name on the paper to match whatever fake ID (or real ID that you don’t want to be checked by the airline’s computer) you wanted to use to get through security.”

    Fair enough. I guess this new procedure is not yet universally deployed at all airports, though. So until it is, you have to ask yourself: Do I not have a stamp because this airport doesn’t require one, or do I not have a stamp because this airport does require one but somebody didn’t get the memo?

  7. This kind of bureacracy only protects you from the terrible terrorist threat of somebody flying with a fake name. Because hijackers are all so worried about protecting their real identities…

  8. So the next time I fly back home to from EWR to DUB via OHR, I have to so what to get a stamp?

    obviously the brain trust have been let out again

  9. TSA is an equal opportunity offender, it doesn’t matter how rich, privileged you are they will definitely enforce the rules no matter how little sense they make. As has been pointed out multiple times by Bruce Schneier:
    http://www.schneier.com/cgi-bin/search/search.pl?Realm=whole+site&Terms=tsa

    and rather scatalogically by Adam Curry:
    http://curry.podshow.com/?p=795
    http://curry.podshow.com/?p=817

    No doubt you are in good company pointing out the many paradoxes and inconsistencies within the day-to-day operations of the Transportation Security Administration.

  10. Personally, I would rather live with a possible terrorist threat if it meant keeping my shoes on at the airport and my laptop in its backpack…and do away with the TSA and all the ridiculous rules completely. If only the world we lived ran on logic.

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