May 8, 2013 Airport 24/7 MIA or Why I continue to dislike the TSA.
I just finished watching season two, episode three of Airport 24/7 MIA. Tonight’s episode featured a bomb threat in the rental car facility, an overbooked Lufthansa flight, and customs search.
Read more after the break for a breakdown and spoilers.
So a note was left in a car in the rental car garage stating there was a bomb in the car. It turned out to be a hoax but it did give us all chance to catch up with our favorite over-cooked ham, MIA’s security director. I think she may have gotten the message and toned down the drama, so it wasn’t as bad as it was first season. Anyways outside of delays and such, the bomb turned out to be a hoax and that is obviously a good thing.
Lufthansa overbooked their flight.
Lufty decided to deceive passengers and sell more tickets than they had business seats. Ok, sure why not. Now they ended up offering 1,500 euros to several business passengers in order to try and get voluntary downgrades. Personally, I wouldn’t take it unless I was part of twosome and could get two economy seats together or a guarantee of lie-flat coach.
Customs searches a Lufthansa passenger.
So, in the US it is law that anyone shall declare to USCIS if they have more than $10,000 in cash or cash equivalents on the way into and out of the US. On the way in it is pretty easy, you get a form and check the box and declare the cash. On the way out it’s more difficult you have to find the Customs office in the airport and secure the form there and hand it over.
The form is on the CBP.gov website and the MIA office is on the second floor of terminal D. Lufthansa departs from Terminal J on the other side of the terminal concourse from Terminal D. Basically, you have to be looking for the CBP office in order to find it. In this episode the passenger being searched for undeclared cash didn’t know about the declaration requirements and the CBP acknowledged it was an honest mistake.
But wait how did the CBP know about the cash? Well CBP does do spot checks of international flights and passengers but not today. The TSA told them a person on the Lufthansa flight had excess cash.
The TSA TOLD THEM.
Wait what is this?
What’s the TSA’s mission?
“Protect the Nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.”
My first question is how does cash fall under protecting the transportation system? The TSA rep on the show stated:
“Well it could be used to fund terrorism.”
Fair point, but doesn’t the US have the IRS, DOJ, CIA, FBI and CBP to investigate that? It was never within the purview of the TSA to go after money, though they have done so on several occasions. But while that bothers me, it was not the most insidious action on the part of the TSA here.
When you go through any TSA checkpoint, there is the document checker, then you get in line to be scanned, poked, and prodded. The X-Ray scanner would have had to call an alarm on the suitcase. Now if the TSA called it intentionally, the X-Ray scanner person is basically saying the cash is an immediate threat, which it is not. If it was random, the TSA would have had to find physically find the cash in the suitcase, then call a supervisor. Now,20,000 isn’t a lot of cash physically, side-by-side it is about the size of a sandwich. There is no reason for the TSA to look at the cash.
Here’s the kicker though, how did the TSA know which flight he was on or how much cash he had. The bag check guy wouldn’t have known, he would have had to interrogate the passenger. He would have been interrogating the passenger on a topic that has nothing to do with air safety or the TSA mission. It’s shameful. Now while the passenger with the cash is being looked at, a real threat could have been getting through.