New “security” policy at SFO….

This is quite possibly the dumbest thing ever. Flying out of SFO on Saturday morning, I handed the ID checker at the security checkpoint my ID and boarding pass. She asked me what my last name was, in a somewhat demeaning tone, so I figured she wasn’t just curious about the pronunciation. Dumbfounded, I pointed to my ID and said “it’s right there.” She said “no, you need to tell me what your last name is.” I asked why, and she responded that it was a new policy.

It seems I’m not alone and that this isn’t an isolated event. This is a new policy at SFO to “keep us safe” (her words, not mine). Can anyone rationalize that? I guess they think they’re stopping people with fake IDs that way? Seriously, are they that dumb?

Next time I fly through there, I’m either going to refuse to say anything or give a different last name, just to see their reaction.


Filed Under: Security/TSA
  1. allie-akbar



    beginning to think the people who applied to the TSA is what’s left on the bottom of the barrel.

  2. Did you miss the “STOP: WAIT HERE” sign? At SFO, you must now stand back a few feet while you wait for your turn to be interrogated.

  3. I got that too on Monday morning, and then the woman proceeds to bend my license back and forth, and I said something about that, to which her snooty reply was that she was required to bend my license back and forth and that she won’t break it. If every TSA screener bends my license back and forth like that they will eventually break it.

    What a ridiculous bunch of crap that was. I think we should contact Team SFO to ask them w.t.f. is going on there. Like asking you for your last name is real security.

  4. Maybe it’s about fake IDs and the “bad guys” not knowing how to pronounce their new names?

  5. happend to me last Thursday @ SFO @ 5am – I glared @ the guy who asked me the question … then just answered … I put it on the ‘just more crap’ pile ..

    I suppose forgetful people people with multiple personalities or people that can’t speak English are no longer allowed to fly …

    the whole thing is a pile of crap …

  6. As someone who knows a guy who works SFO TSA, I’d like to implore you all not to take it out on the front-line employees. They’re required to jump through these hoops just like you are. If someone’s snooty or obnoxious about it, flame away, but don’t misplace your wrath on someone who’s just trying to do their job.

  7. Lucky you should have just responded in your native tongue.

    They started the last name and stand back on the footprints until you are called on March 9th. Although when I went through on Saturday the document checker said, “Patricia?” It is helpful to have a last name that people are afraid to say from time to time. 😉

  8. @LIH Prem: “bend my license back and forth

    That’s because US licenses in many states have a security feature where, if you bend the licence in on itself, the center part takes on a grainy feel. Try it yourself.

  9. What’s the big deal? Is it really that much of an inconvenience to just tell them your last name? Yes it’s stupid, but you don’t have to be a jerk about it. Refusing to say your last name/giving them a different one is only going to make the TSA person’s life more difficult it’s not their fault they have to enforce stupid policies. They’re just trying to do their job.

  10. @44John .. tried it, and it doesn’t feel any different. I’ve never seen anybody do that at any other security checkpoint.


  11. Having to say our last name?!? Being ask in “a somewhat demeaning tone”?!? The horror!!!

    Seriously, I’m not a fan of TSA, but is this really the best that you can do? This isn’t a personal privacy issue, or search issue, or anything else. Its not even a time issue, unless you make it into one (which it sounds like you may have).

    IDK, i really don’t see why this would aggervate anyone. They used to asked me that when i got carded at bars, and didn’t have a problem with it then.

  12. Not as dumb as the LGA-only (as far as I can tell with my travels) trifecta of 1) show BP to redcoat to enter security line, 2) show BP to TSA, and 3) show BP to TSA 20 feet later on the other side of the metal detector. What’s up with that!?!?

  13. Don’t lie and say something offensive or racist. That’s too easy. Just pronounce your name like they ask. Only do it in a way no one would actually pronounce it. Are they going to correct you? How do they know?

  14. Somewhere Jefferson continues to weep. This is beyond pathetic, sadly any chance of freedom and sanity prevailing left long time ago.

  15. Sure it’s only a minor thing. But what’s next? Recite your address, hair color, etc? Every little ridiculous add-on we say “ah it’s no big deal” but it just adds to the layer of crap.

    Not to mention – what good does it do? Now terrorists will just work extra hard to remember their fake ID name? Heck the 9/11 terrorists used their real IDs! Most likely they will manage to trip up a few elderly people with mild dementia and some newly married women forgetting their DL still has their married name on it.

    Given the huge cost & bureauracracy of TSA or their privatized counterparts in this case, it would be nice to know that additional measures are really value added.

  16. Hyperbole much, Boston Flyer?

    It’s one thing to say that the new procedure is ineffectual. But to claim that having to state your last name is a gross violation of your freedom that makes Jefferson weep?

    Flying into an indignant rage over every little thing will make it that much harder for people to take you seriously when you complain about something egregious.

    FWIW, it’s common when being interrogated or questioned to be asked your name. You are being scrutinized not just for what you say but also how you say it (expression, etc.), though it’s doubtful the TSA has been sufficiently trained for that .

  17. Got it too at SFO international terminal. Asked me for my full name. Figure it is just to see how you answer the question. Not that big of a deal to me. I’m used to people of “authority” being demeaning anyway so I don’t care about that any more.

    Answering in your native language would be interesting. Or maybe “well, I pronounce it ‘Jigglypuff’ even though it’s spelled Smith.”

  18. This TSA hate is RIDICULOUS. How freaking hard is it to tell someone your last name? Takes about a half of a second and doesn’t cost anyone anything.

    I saw a Dateline a few weeks ago where someone was caught at a checkpoint because they gave the wrong last name. They has so many aliases they forget which one they were that day.

    If it saves ONE criminal and/or terrorist from flying, it’s WELL worth it and since this has happened once, it’s probably happened many other times we don’t know about.

    Bottom line, stop the TSA hate, there is nothing wrong with demanding a last name in fact, you should appreciate the people that make it safe for YOU to fly.

  19. Got this last night as well–and the nude o’ scope, where I was interrogated why I wouldn’t go through it.

  20. I think this is pretty stupid. However, I also think it’s stupid to be a smartass to the TSA people, for two reasons. First, as @faded said, the TSA front line employees are just doing what they’re told. If you don’t like the policy, complain to the bureaucrats and politicians in Washington, not the guy in front of you who’s just doing his job. Second, arguing with airport security is like arguing with a cop who pulls you over. Even if you’re right, you won’t win. If you go looking for trouble, you’ll find it.

  21. Oh, please. “If it saves one criminal/terrorist from…” gimme a break. Every time I go through security I get mad at myself for allowing this stupid madness to continue. Not only do we have to deal with this nonsense for every flight, we have to pay for the privilege.

  22. @SFO1K- Even though they are private security they still have to comply and abide by every TSA rule and regulation. This will be spreading to every airport soon……

  23. As someone who’s last name is somehow hard to pronounce (with an american pronunciation that is phonetic) I could have fun with this.

    Maybe mix my Irish and Polish background…


  24. I had that happen recently at SFO. Kind of strange, but I am not going to be upset about their stupidity. The next time they ask it will go like this:

    TSA: What’s your name?
    Me: Blarfengar
    TSA: What?!
    Me: Blarfengar! Oliver Blarfengar.
    TSA: Huh? It says here “Smith”
    Me: Right, it’s pronounced Blarfengar.

    For background:

  25. @Oliver -YES! I was about to post the exact same thing. If you’re lucky (no pun intended), the TSO will get the reference & laugh.

  26. I got it this morning in the *A security line at T3. At 4:55 AM. So close to mouthing off but couldn’t risk missing. My SEA hop.

    Did not get the same question in SEA on my outbound to YVR this PM. Idiots indeed.

  27. One way I think the flying public would have more respect for the TSA is if the rules were consistent across airports. As it stands, every little airport is its own fiefdom with its specific set of rules. Why at LGA (my same example) do I have to carry a green laminated piece of paper through the metal detector to show TSA #2 just because I used mobile boarding?

  28. @acker It has already proven to stop one criminal that we know of and likely much more that we don’t know about. Maybe you don’t care about your safety or the safety of others but I sure do and if something as simple as verifying a last name takes even ONE criminal off of the streets, I am all for it.

    It’s crazy to think some people would rather we not take simple, free steps like this to increase the chances of stopping a criminal. Maybe the people who think like this are depressed and don’t value life? Makes no sense.

  29. Just doing their job? That’s the same argument the Nazi’s made at Nuremberg. Didn’t help them…and I hope someday it doesn’t help the criminals employed by, and contracted by, the TSA and DHS.

  30. From some dumb post “it’s common when being interrogated or questioned to be asked your name. You are being scrutinized not just for what you say but also how you say it (expression, etc.), though it’s doubtful the TSA has been sufficiently trained for that .”

    Where is the probable cause for him to be interrogated or questioned? There is none.

  31. @greg Probable cause is that he is flying on an airplane, plain and simple.

    I think the TSA does a great job and I have got to tell you, if some of you whiners think you don’t want security, why don’t you ask the families of the 9/11 victims if they would mind giving a freakin last name when they fly.

    You should be ashamed of yourself.

  32. @ Steve so flying on an airplane is reasonable proof that a crime has been committed? If you cowards think that giving up those rights is OK, why don’t you ask the hundreds of thousands of families who have lost loved ones in the battles to secure and keep our Liberties?

  33. Lucky, I think you’re pointing out the wrong problem. If one believes that establishing a person’s identity is an effective means of ensuring flight security, then what the TSA is doing is quite sensible: asking redundant questions is a fairly effective way to catch people that have something to hide. Sure, it’s not foolproof, and there are obvious ways to defeat the question if you know to expect it, but it will catch some people who travel with false identities. The real problem is that merely establishing a person’s identity has very little to do with aviation security.

    @Steve: stopping criminals is irrelevant. The TSA is not a law enforcement agency. Just like it’s illegal for police to stop and question you on the street without probable cause (4th amendment), it should be illegal for TSA to stop you without good reason. The connection between airport security and fighting crime is very tenuous — it is based on the same principle that if a police officer stops you for littering and then finds out you have an outstanding drug charge, they can book you for the drug charge despite the fact that it wasn’t probable cause for stopping you in the first place. I believe this principle does not apply to routine identity checks — as far as I am aware it would be illegal for law enforcement to run criminal checks on the passenger lists submitted to TSA and then wait for the criminals at the airport. While the TSA is allowed to turn over suspected criminals to law enforcement (for example if they identify drugs in your carry-on), this is only incidental to their mission. Screening people at the airport for the purpose of identifying criminals is illegal, so effectiveness in catching criminals is not a valid argument for screening procedures.

  34. @greg LOL, if you fly you are calling yourself a coward then.

    @ron I understand that TSA is not a law enforcing agency but they are in a position to see many people on a daily basis and if they are able to catch a few criminals, that is a GOOD thing, not bad. And no, screening people to determine if they are criminals is most certainly not illegal.

  35. @ Steve LOL that’s what you got from what I said?

    I don’t know where you are from Steve, but in the USA screening people to determine if they are a criminal, without probable cause, is most definitely illegal.

  36. @Greg, so you’re compring airport security screeners with war criminals who murdered millions of people? Seriously? And you’re suggesting that said airport security screeners should be put on trial? Frankly, as the grandson of a holocaust survivor, I find that absurd and offensive.

  37. Why is it that, we are constanly challenging security like they have a hidden agenda? Travel abroad and realize how easy we have it here. Just answer the question an move on. We need to stop challenging the government on every stupid thing and focus on what is really is important. We are spoilled! We need to deal and stop bitchting about stupid stuff. Sorry!!!

  38. YA Brian I am comparing them to war criminals. They are molesting people and violating their rights in a supposed attempt to protect us. When was the last time a bomb went off on an airliner in the USA? 1962. How long until we started using metal detectors? 1972? Something like that. TSA is security theater at best, conditioning the people to accept tyranny is the real reason they are put in place.

    Being the son and nephew of people who put an end to the holocaust, I find it offensive that you don’t take the time to learn a bit of history about the people who saved your grandfather.

  39. How does being a jerk to the ID-checker solve anything? How is this question different than asking if you’ve packed the bags yourself, which they’ve been asking for decades? If you have a problem with the question, take it up with a supervisor (who at least might have the people skills to take the abuse), or better yet with the people responsible for putting the law in place. Or get the ACLU to sue over loss of civil liberties. I try to be nice to those who have a crappy, low-paying job instead of being condescending to them for following directions.

  40. I am amazed at all the snide comments you make to TSA agents and then boast about on your blog. Correct me if I’m wrong, but frontline TSA agents make very little money and have no say in procedures. I’m sure they really enjoy reading the “I love being treated like a criminal by TSA” sticker as you galavant around the globe on premium tickets. You seem to make their jobs so much more enjoyable and a lot of good comes out of your wise remarks, I’m sure.

  41. glad to know they’re catching illiterate terrorists in san francisco!
    seriously though, they should ask the birth date, that is more likely to stump somebody with a fake id then asking for the name on it!

  42. Last friday I refused to say my last name all they did was pat me down in front of everybody and escort me to the end of security a bunch of BS

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