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Thread: Randomly flagged by the TSA!

  1. #1
    *Flashaholic* James S's Avatar
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    Default Randomly flagged by the TSA!

    I'm taking a quick flight out tomorrow morning to helpout my sister with something and while trying to checkin to my flight online today I kept getting a message from the (expletive deleted) airlines website that it was "unable to process my request, please see a ticket agent at the airport" not being happy with not checking ahead of time I called their support telephone number and waited more than 45 minutes to talk to someone who was able to tell me right away that I had been randomly flagged by the TSA and that they required a certain number of people to checkin in person, thats all, nothing they could do.

    OK, first of all an extra sentence or 2 on their (expletive deleted) website would have saved me nearly 2 hours of frustration, but I already emailed their (expletive deleted) support department about that.

    But what does this mean that I've been "randomly flagged" by the TSA? Is this just that they want to see the person across the desk to check them in? Or am I going to be subject to further pointless cruelty when I get there?

    Has anybody else had this happen to them? Did you survive?
    -James

    E=sqrt((mc^2)^2+(pc)^2)

  2. #2
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Randomly flagged by the TSA!

    Either your name somehow got on the "potential problem" list, or it's one of their ultra thorough searches. At any rate, it can't be good.

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* BIGIRON's Avatar
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    Default Re: Randomly flagged by the TSA!

    Be interesting to see what would happen if you booked on another airline with the intention of cancelling your original reservations if you were successful with the secondary booking.

    But then you might get on TSA's really, really bad list.

    Probably best to suck it up and go like 5 hours early.

    And people wonder why we don't fly commercial anymore unless it's an absolute must.

  4. #4
    Flashaholic* Pellidon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Randomly flagged by the TSA!

    How far in advance did you book the ticket? If less than 24 hours (maybe 48) you will almost always get a "SSSS" tag on your ticket for further screening. I don't do the online boarding pass so I can't guess that one.

    Northwest is the worst I've seen to issue further screening. US Air and Southwest have not flagged me yet for changing departures which I have to do almost every service call.

    I agree that the website could have been more informative.
    My doctor says I am a paranoid narcissist. I have the feeling I am plotting against myself.
    Rule #9: Always carry a knife. Rule #9a: Always carry a flashlight.

  5. #5
    Flashaholic C4LED's Avatar
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    Default Re: Randomly flagged by the TSA!

    They probably have some quota of random checks they are supposed to do...

  6. #6
    *Flashaholic* James S's Avatar
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    Default Re: Randomly flagged by the TSA!

    I am less concerned by WHY it happened, than what they were going to do to me and how much earlier I should be there.

    I didn't make the tickets last minute, actually made them more then 2 months ago, so the airline has changed flight numbers 3 times since then and sent me updated itinerary. So it's quite possible that the TSA can't tell the difference between them changing it and me changing it.

    but in any case sanity has prevailed! Another hour spent mostly on call chatting with a very polite woman with a very thick indian accent over a telephone line that really did sound like it was going half way around the world I seem to have sorted it out.

    First she misunderstood what I was worried about and I spend 30 minutes on hold waiting for her to talk to her supervisor only to find out she had a list of reasons why I might have been flagged. I understand that there are random checks now more on top of the regular reasons that they normally do. But I kept my cool and was polite to her and explained again that I was more worried about how much earlier I should get to the airport, did they just want me to show up at the desk with an ID? Or was I going to get searched in detail and should allow an extra couple of hours on top of the extra 2 hours that I had already planned for. Looking back it was probably silly to think they were going to tell me to be prepared to be searched bodily due to a random check

    But anyhow, another 30 minutes later on hold and she had worked it out with her supervisor and asked me to try to print my boarding passes again and sure enough this time the computer let me!

    I dont know what they did, nor what I was flagged as or if it was simply messed up in the computer (though they did tell me that I was flagged the first time I called) but being calm, polite and patient (and calling back) payed off.

    I'll let you all know next week how flying with my flashlights was Though I'm not bringing anything even remotely big and dangerous looking.

    just my fenix, QIII, stylus, 1.5w river rock (and bringing 4 more in the suitcase for gifts) and a couple of arcAAAs. I also have a 5 watt neuwi (sp?) in the checked on bag too cause I"ll need a brighter light there too.

    Which reminds me, I better take the batteries out of that last one...
    -James

    E=sqrt((mc^2)^2+(pc)^2)

  7. #7

    Default Re: Randomly flagged by the TSA!

    Make sure you pull any stray firecracker fuse out of your shoes...

    Bundles of wire and road flares in your carry-on bag aren't a good idea either.

    Also, "helping" the crew with the landing by shining a Maxabeam or a Costco HID out your window at night is frowned apon by the FAA.
    Last edited by AJ_Dual; 12-16-2005 at 11:01 AM.
    Life is an amazing thing... Without it, we'd all be dead.

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* leukos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Randomly flagged by the TSA!

    Aw, I thought you'd get the strip search, obstacle course, 1 hour questioning, and DNA sample taken.

    Glad this worked out ok.
    Light is sweet and pleasing to the eyes....

  9. #9
    *Flashaholic* gadget_lover's Avatar
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    Default Re: Randomly flagged by the TSA!

    If it happens again, don't get too worried.

    The current set-up (with southwest, anyway) is that if you are chosen you get to have the 'extra thorough' screening. It takes an extra 10 minutes BUT you go through a seperate line to get to that screening so it may actually be just as fast. No waiting!

    My wife was flagged last month and it took her the same amount of time as always, give or take a few minutes.

    It's kind of dumb to use this technique, since any terrorist would simply leave all their contraband at home for that flight if they ran into the "cannot issue your borading pass" message. It's just as blatant as the previous SSSS or checkerboard on the boarding pass.

    When they get smart they will pick a random person from the check in line whenever they look suspicious or when there's an opening in the extra screening lane. If they get REAL smart they will check every passenger with the same degree of thoroughness.
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  10. #10
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Randomly flagged by the TSA!

    each airline has a master list and when you are checking in, it cross references that list. if your name is spelled or pronounced close to a name on that list, you will get a boarding pass with a SSSS on the ticket. which means you will get secondary screening going to the gates. this will consist of a tsa agent swiping the metal detector wands over your whole body, checking your carry on bag personally, and getting it swiped with a cloth that goes into a machine to see if there is bomb making residue on it. the airlines also flag someone every so many people checking in. i guess its like a quota. if you fly standby, you will likely get flagged. and finally buying a ticket one way is another way. in all, its a bother but doesnt take more than 10 minutes extra.. hope that helps

  11. #11
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Randomly flagged by the TSA!

    I fly standbye most of the time as my sister works for Continental. This puts me on the "flagged" list everytime. It's become a normal routine for me now, only takes a couple extra minutes, nothing to worry about.

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