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Complaint triggers training for TSA staff

Sun., Jan. 27, 2008

BOISE – A businessman’s unpleasant airport experience has prompted additional training of screeners at the Boise Airport.

Dan Cartwright is a frequent flyer between Boise and Dallas.

In early January, the 58-year-old software engineer was flying home to see his wife and daughter in Texas when a security screening by Transportation Security Administration officials left him feeling humiliated and angry.

“I felt like I was being terrorized,” Cartwright told the Idaho Statesman in an article published Saturday.

While sitting at a boarding gate, he was singled out by Boise Airport TSA workers for an extra, random security check. Cartwright said he questioned the TSA officials about the procedure.

“He basically told me to shut up or my traveling experience was over,” Cartwright said. “They intimidate you. You can’t talk back because they’re the federal government.”

Cartwright has filed a formal complaint with the TSA about how he was treated.

A Los Angeles-based TSA spokesman said the added screenings, called the Aviation Direct Access Screening Program, began in August 2006. Such random screenings are routine at many European airports.

“It is completely random to add to the unpredictability,” TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said. “We find value here in being unpredictable.”

By design, there are no signs to let travelers know about extra searches, Melendez said.

“It is intentional, the element of surprise,” he said. “We’ve never had anybody complain that we’ve had too much security. It’s good that they’re out doing their job.”

The screenings are generally done shortly before boarding begins and were started to ensure airport employees have not passed off things to travelers, Melendez said.

Cartwright’s screening was close enough to his boarding time that he was worried he could miss his plane while security officials searched him. That’s why he waived the option to go to a private area for the screening, he said.

Melendez said the additional screenings should not result in someone missing a flight.


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