9 Investigates: TSA security changes at OIA

Updated:

Loading
ORLANDO, Fla. —

9 Investigates possible security changes at Orlando’s largest airport.

The airport board at Orlando International Airport just launched a review of the TSA and how the agency treats passengers.

Now, investigative reporter George Spencer found out it could result in a private contractor moving in to that role.

In their blue uniforms, TSA agents are perhaps the most recognizable part of modern air travel, and at times, they may also be the most disliked.

“I think they're incompetent.  I think it's a very expensive agency.  They're rude,” said OIA passenger William Lopez.

Complaints about the TSA’s attitude toward passengers at OIA have been consistent in recent years, according to the chairman of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. 

Now, the authority has appointed a 10-member advisory committee to review the TSA’s customer service.

“You can call it a warning shot.  What it is is simply a shot that says, ‘I'm not avoiding the issue,’” said chairman of the GOAA board Frank Kruppenbacher.

Kruppenbacher said the TSA has kept flyers safe. 

However, issues such as long lines with insufficient staff and short lines with too many agents consistently irk passengers. 

“Is this the first step to privatizing the TSA at our airport?” asked Spencer.

“The answer is, I don’t know the answer to that question,” replied Kruppenbacher.

The review committee was just formed last week, but removing the TSA and using private screeners overseen by the federal government is one change members might recommend. 

Alternatively, they could find that TSA agents are providing customer service just as strong as private agents would.

The TSA said it already takes customer service very seriously and keeps a customer service manager on-duty during peak travel periods. 

Last year, the Orlando-Sanford International Airport was approved for the same switch, joining just a handful of airports to “go private” nationwide. 

But such a change at OIA carries risk:  The airport and its private screeners would be liable in a security mishap, rather than the federal government.

The TSA still has support among the traveling public, like John DeCarolis, who travels with his children.

“[It was a] very friendly experience for what they have to do,” DeCarolis said.

The TSA cites a Valencia College survey which found that 89 percent of OIA passengers were satisfied or very satisfied with officers’ courtesy at OIA.

All but two percent said they were confident in the agency’s ability to keep air travel safe.

TSA Response to George Spencer:

The TSA at Orlando International Airport takes customer service very seriously and proactively trains all officers in customer service.  We have a customer service manager and passenger support specialists on duty during peak travel times.  We have also partnered with Valencia College to develop a customer service satisfaction survey  and to independently validate customer survey results.  The survey indicated:

 

  • More than 89% of passengers were satisfied or very satisfied with the courtesy of our officers.
  • Nearly 90% of passengers felt the screening process was appropriate.
  • Nearly 90% of customers were satisfied or very satisfied with officers attentiveness to their duties.
  • Overall, more than 88% of passengers were satisfied or very satisfied with the security experience.
  • More than 98% of passengers expressed moderate to extreme confidence in the ability of TSA personnel to keep air travel safe

Providing World Class Security and World Class Customer Service to 17.7 million passengers a year is paramount to TSA Orlando. 84 percent of the comment cards filled in at our checkpoints last year were positive comments and we have always been committed to addressing any concern. 

TSA meets with the Orlando International Airport leadership on a regular basis and has since TSA was created.  TSA leadership has met with both the current and past GOAA chairmen. 

A long list of awards attests to the partnership of TSA and GOAA over the years.