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Monday, November 22, 2010

Orlando Sanford Airport (Not Okay Part II)

I’m happy that the pilots have been able to opt out of these TSA scans and searches, but overall it still doesn’t help the general law abiding American public. One of the situations I had been waiting for, occurred over the weekend. The TSA broke a traveler's colostomy bag. The man had to continue on his trip covered in his own waste. He had told the TSA twice that the bag was there and that if they touched it that they could break the seal. My heart goes out to this gentleman just trying to get to Orlando for a Wedding.

According to the Orlando International Airport’s website “more than 50 million tourists holiday here every single year.” It is the busiest airport in Florida and the 13th busiest in the nation. Orlando International's ground breaking transportation deal that brought Disney’s Magical Express to them, makes it *the* airport of choice for guests headed to the Walt Disney World Resort. However, the Transportation Security Administration is not having a very easy time of it at Orlando International. Accusations of sexual harassment, child molestation, rampant discrimination, and a vulgar teasing of passengers moving through the security checkpoints seem to flow freely from this airport. That doesn’t even begin to address the newer issues of body scanners and rough, invasive, pat downs that have recently come to light.

I want to say that I personally have never had a problem with security at Orlando International, nor has anyone else in my family. I do however, have a fair amount of concern regarding experiences that may be coming down the line in the future. It’s not that I don’t believe security measures are needed. It’s that I believe that they can be done without invading our person, with good customer service, and with a general respect for everyone involved. As we’re mainly Disney travelers there is a bit of recent news that has peaked my interest.

Larry Dale, the director of the Orlando Sanford Airport has said that Sanford will be opting out of the TSA conducted screenings and instead go with one of five approved private security firms. It will still include the TSA scanners (if and when they are installed at Sanford) and the full body pat downs, as the private firms must abide by the TSA rules. However, one hopes that with a private firm being held accountable, that they will conduct the searches to the guidelines set forth, and only subject those people deemed suspicious will be subject. It’s a small victory for the passengers who have been complaining about the rough TSA agents. Dale hopes to begin the turn over of his airport to the private firm beginning in January, after a few small details are worked out. The hope is that with the security team only answering to the airport, not to Washington, accountability and efficiency will be greatly improved. Dale understands that if the customers aren’t happy, the customers will go someplace else.

The Orlando Sanford Airport is a smaller airport, but still very close to the Walt Disney World Resort, it is not an option for all travelers, as airlines flying there is limited, but it is worth looking into. Many of the ground transport companies run shuttles and limos from Sanford. It does add a ground transportation cost when there may not have been one before. However, I believe retaining my dignity is well worth some more money into my vacation budget.

**At the time of this post it is my understanding that Orlando International is reviewing what switching to a private firm would mean with their larger volume of travelers. All opinions contained herein are my own and I have received no compensation or endorsement.

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