Make us your home page

Airline passengers call reinstituted random gate checks too intrusive

Show your ID. Take off those shoes. Run your laptop and carry-on bag through the X-ray machine. Set off the metal detector, and an officer waves an electronic wand across your body or pats you down like a criminal.

Isn't that enough scrutiny for a lousy airline flight?

Apparently not. Last week brought news that federal officers are occasionally selecting passengers at random for additional screening as they wait to board planes at the gate. The move has some frequent fliers fuming.

Uniformed Transportation Security Administration officers ask travelers to step out of line to search carry-on bags, check IDs and wand them for weapons, according to USA Today, which first reported the new effort.

Gate screening was standard procedure after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But the agency phased out the practice in 2003 amid complaints about the increasing hassle of commercial air travel.

The agency quietly resumed gate screening two years ago. Officers stepped up checks on passengers at airport gates in the last two months.

The change wasn't in response to a specific threat, it says. Instead, the idea is to keep terrorists from finding holes in security by making the agency's tactics less predictable, said agency spokeswoman Sari Koshetz.

"Gate screening is particularly effective at addressing insider threats and serves as a random and unpredictable security layer," she said.

Insiders are airport workers who get only occasional screening as they enter secure areas of airports and could smuggle in weapons.

Frequent fliers on the Internet forum FlyerTalk ( reacted with alarm and bewilderment as gate screening popped up at airports nationwide.

A member identified as KNRG told of getting picked out while waiting for a Continental Airlines flight at Tampa International at 6 a.m.

"It was just odd — go through security, walk (to) the end of the nearly empty airside … and then get a second check," wrote KNRG. "Seemed so obviously pointless."

That was among the kindest comments. One reported that officers in San Diego patted down passengers in full view, because there weren't screened areas or booths like at the checkpoints.

Another complained the Transportation Security Administration held up his already-delayed United Airlines flight by checking the IDs and boarding passes of passengers who had gone through the same drill at a checkpoint 50 feet away.

Writing from his seat on the plane, he concluded, "I can't even find the appropriate words to describe this monumentally stupid organization!"

Steve Huettel can be reached at or (813) 226-3384.

Airline passengers call reinstituted random gate checks too intrusive 03/24/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 10:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. A sports rout on Wall Street


    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  3. Grocery chain Aldi hosting hiring event in Brandon Aug. 24


    BRANDON — German grocery chain Aldi is holding a hiring event for its Brandon store Aug. 24. It is looking to fill store associate, shift manager and manager trainee positions.

  4. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters


    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  5. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights


    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.


    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]