Life as an Airport Screener

No thanks:

Inside Job: My Life as an Airport Screener : Condé Nast Traveler on

Six months earlier, I had spotted a job advertisement online for part-time airport security screeners. The posting was notable for its dry recitation of the drawbacks of the job, as if to discourage all but the most desperate from applying. “This is a very physically demanding job with unique requirements,” it read; I’d have to stand for up to four hours without a break, lift seventy-pound bags, and walk the equivalent of two miles during my shift. I would be expected to maintain my cool while dealing with constant stress from the noise, crowds, and “disruptive and angry passengers,” which I couldn’t let distract me from my ultimate objective: to ferret out what it described as “devices intended on creating massive destruction.” For this I’d be paid $13.91 an hour; I’d work weekends, holidays, and odd hours; and I’d remain on probation for two years, during which time I could be fired without warning.

The story (all 15 pages of it) starts here.

One thought on “Life as an Airport Screener”

  1. Most people can be fired without warning. “At will employment” and all of that.

    That being said, while I was job searching in Ohio in 2002, I interviewed and “tried out” to be a TSA screener. It was a very demanding interview process:

    The nearest center (a hotel in Detroit) was an hour drive each way.

    The first day started early in the morning and included sitting for long periods waiting for your name to be called. You had to take a lengthy written exam on computers as well as do some paperwork.

    After the exam we sat in the room for many hours watching people get called one after another and be escorted to the door. We had 30 minutes for lunch. The day ended at 6pm with us being notified that we made it on to the next round (very much like American Idol I guess).

    We went back a week later for the same sorta thing. More tests, more waiting. At the end of that day I was told I would need to fill out extensive background history paperwork and bring it to a third interview process that would include physically demanding tests and to come prepared with proper attire in tow.

    I arrived and was escorted with a small group to an obstacle course with heavy baggage that we had to navigate in the least amount of time possible. The baggage was in the 50 to 70 pound range and varied. It wasn’t easy — honestly.

    Afterwards, I sat one on one with an interviewer and was asked questions and did mock situations with “agitated customers”.

    I wasn’t picked for the first round as they were looking for people with previous airport screening experience. I went home with high hopes (being jobless) and waited for nearly a month. In the mean time I had an interview in Minnesota and was waiting for that call as well.

    One day I got the call from the TSA and the next from Minnesota. Being that I didn’t have to work odd hours, holidays, and the fact that the pay was more made me choose Minnesota. The only advantage to the TSA job was the location and the fact that I wouldn’t have to leave my future wife.

    In the end, I’m very glad I chose the path I did and I feel sorry for those that do have to work for the TSA.

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