Sixteen airports nationwide, including San Francisco International, have opted to replace TSA screeners with private security firms since 2002. And now, in the wake of public outrage over new TSA security procedures, several more airports are considering making the change in the hope of offering better customer service. The incoming chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. John Mica (R-FL), is encouraging the switch. Should airports take heed and ditch the TSA? (Watch a local report about a banned TSA protester)
Customer service is a strong incentive: Private contractors must follow the same rules as TSA agents, and use the same TSA-approved scanners, says William Clay III in Gather. But "if the people who are executing these thorough searches were more diplomatic, then the experience could be less abhorrent" for passengers and help airports retain frequent flyers.
"Will TSA airport security be ending soon?"
This is about politics, not travelers: One of the biggest private airport-screening firms is based in Rep. Mica's district, and its president is a campaign donor, says John Aravois in AmericaBlog. That "relevant" fact makes this less "about airports ditching TSA" and more about "an incoming House committee chair trying to base our entire airport counter-terror security on who donates to his campaign."
"GOP House chair pushing TSA privatization while contractor is campaign donor"
Reform, don't replace, the TSA: While travelers are "understandably" focusing on the TSA's new "virtual strip searches" and aggressive pat-downs, as well as the agents who perform them, says The Denver Post in an editorial, the real outrage is that the government is throwing money at improperly vetted or unreliable full-body scanner machines. The TSA needs cost-benefit analyses of its technology, regardless of who operates it on the front lines.
"Serious questions about spending by the TSA"