Is Anybody Exempt from TSA Inspection?

Palm, meet face:

And by “contradictory,” here’s some blockbuster news: Although the X-ray and metal detector rigmarole is mandatory for pilots and flight attendants, many other airport workers, including those with regular access to aircraft — to cabins, cockpits, galleys and freight compartments — are exempt. That’s correct. Uniformed pilots cannot carry butter knives onto an airplane, yet apron workers and contract ground support staff — cargo loaders, baggage handlers, fuelers, cabin cleaners, caterers — can, as a matter of routine, bypass TSA inspection entirely.

All workers with airside privileges are subject to fingerprinting, a 10-year criminal background investigation and crosschecking against terror watch lists. Additionally they are subject to random physical checks by TSA. But here’s what one apron worker at New York’s Kennedy airport recently told me:

“All I need is my Port Authority ID, which I swipe through a turnstile. The ‘sterile area’ door is not watched over by any hired security or by TSA. I have worked at JFK for more than three years now and I have yet to be randomly searched. Really the only TSA presence we notice is when the blue-shirts come down to the cafeteria to get food.”


  1. It still baffles me that pilots have to go through security. If they wanted to destroy they plane, all they would have to do is point the nose DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWNNNNNNNNN………

    1. At first thought, yes. But there are usually two pilots on board. If only one is planning to crash the plane, naturally the other one would do something to avert it as soon as he/she knew something was awry. If the hijacking pilot brought a gun or knife, it would be a lot easier to just kill the other pilot and get on with the terror.

  2. The whole idea that somehow the plane is the ultimate goal for a bomber is just retarded. The 9/11 terrorists didn’t need a bomb. And if your goal is just to kill alot of people, why not just blow up a crowded lobby at the airport before you even get to the TSA checkpoint?

    1. You’re right about a plane not being the ultimate “terror weapon.” Blowing up a subway train while it’s under a densely populated part of a city would be just as effective. I don’t live in a city with subways, but I know that there are no scanners or pat-downs there. They could also crash a bomb-packed private plane into a nuclear power plant. It’s almost like we are making air travel our own “Operation Fortitude” to distract us from other vulnerabilities.

      But getting back to planes, while the 9/11 boys didn’t need a bomb, they did use weapons (box cutters) to subdue the crew and passengers. And the TSA is citing the Shoebomber and Underwear Bombers (both failed, but potentially effective attempts) to justify the increased security measures. Aside from covering their backs from “they didn’t do enough to protect us,” the TSA is weeding out the amateurs and reducing the number of ways to take down a plane. It’s really just a back and forth of better mice and better mousetraps. Who knows what the next step will be?

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