TSA allows me to board a plane with my ID and someone else’s boarding pass:

I had an interesting experience with TSA yesterday. I was boarding a plane in Seattle and the TSA decided to visit the gate and check ID’s against boarding passes as the plane boarded.  This doesn’t happen often, and I am sure it is just a practice designed to lessen predictability it really wasn’t a big deal.

But, when I arrived at the airport and checked in my boarding pass indicated I needed to get my seat assignment at the gate.  So, I did and Delta issued me a boarding pass. I did not pay close attention to it other than the seat number and zone for loading.

Obviously I used that boarding pass to go through the TSA line where the TSA checked my ID and boarding pass. The glanced at the boarding pass, then at my ID, and let me through only saying “Have a good flight.”

Interestingly, the Delta agent taking my boarding pass noticed an error as she scanned it, but told me they would figure it out on the plane if there was really an issue.  When I went to sit down it turns out Delta had issued me someone else’s boarding pass and the gentleman was in the seat.  Yes, it was his seat; both his boarding pass and my boarding pass had his name on it.

This turned out to be of little consequence for me as I was assigned another seat.  Remember, I missed the name details on the boarding pass, as did Delta (which is interesting in and of itself since they noticed an error but let me on the plane anyway).

BUT, how did the TSA – the very agency designed to protect against this, miss it. They were at the gate specifically to check IDs against the boarding passes. TSA didn’t even blink an eye and I was on the plane with my valid ID and someone else’s boarding pass.

Perhaps the TSA is too focused on patting down 3 year olds instead of minding the details.

EOBRs and the American Dream

There have been several news stories in a variety of publications talking about how Electronic On Board Recorders are dividing the industry between the large carriers and the small independents. Based on my recent observations (and I am posting this later than I wanted to, but hey, things happen), this is so very true.

Last week the FMCSA held the second “listening session” on driver harassment and Electronic On Board Recorders (EOBRs). The session was lightly attended, primarily by a few already at the CVSA conference, and it was broadcast over the web (though that seemed to have minimal attendance as well). My kudos though to the FMCSA for making it available on the web – that was a nice way to reach out.

During the session (which I also live Tweeted about @TruckingDC), there were a few things that struck me:

  • It’s obvious there is a divide between large carriers and the smaller independent carriers / owner operators (recent news stories have also reported on this, including this one in the Journal of Commerce).
  • FMCSA appeared, from my perspective anyway, to be more accepting of supportive comments and wanted to delve further into the unsupportive comments, almost debating the issue right there and wanting to change minds instead of “listening” or asking more probative questions.

  • FMCSA will move forward with EOBR mandates regardless. Don’t be surprised when FMCSA concludes EOBRs will not create new harassment issues.
    Much of the session was not about harassment.
  • Questions about EOBRs remain: If a carrier operates primarily intrastate, but has a few trucks that run interstate, will all trucks require an EOBR? What if the EOBR stops working – will drivers be required to maintain a paper log book anyway? How will EOBRs be mandated for buses? How can we assure the data from an EOBR won’t be manipulated?
  • I think the questions that remain (other than the bus question) will be addressed after the rule is implemented to see if they are even an issue.

There’s little doubt an EOBR mandate is coming. This, like so many government mandates will be an unfunded mandate. Independent owner operators will be required to reach deep into their already thinned out pockets to plop down around $1000 to be in compliance. It will simply be a cost of doing business. Unlike the larger carriers who can absorb the cost or pass it on to their customers, the independent will have a more difficult time doing this as they work to remain competitive or accept the rates dictated by larger carriers.

New unfunded mandates are not the solution for improved safety. Unfortunately though, we tend to regulate/manage to the lowest common denominator (thus punishing those who are proven safe) instead of rewarding and incentivizing desired behavior. In the end, its small business – the American Dream – that becomes just a tad more of a challenge to succeed with.

See the Tweets form the April 26 Listening Session at www.twitter.com/TruckingDC