Have a TSA complaint? There might be an iPhone app for that

Jan 11, 2010
Tech

In the wake of the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines’ flight 253 on Christmas Day, every move the Transportation Security Administration makes is the subject of increased scrutiny and criticism. Seeing an untapped market, Massachusetts-based On the Spot Systems quickly added a TSA-specific customer satisfaction survey to its free iPhone app Survey on the Spot. The […]

In the wake of the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines’ flight 253 on Christmas Day, every move the Transportation Security Administration makes is the subject of increased scrutiny and criticism. Seeing an untapped market, Massachusetts-based On the Spot Systems quickly added a TSA-specific customer satisfaction survey to its free iPhone app Survey on the Spot.

The free questionnaire, which can be taken in about a minute, is meant to be completed once airline passengers are through security. Using the iPhone’s GPS, users can access the TSA survey by selecting “Find surveys around me” or directly searching for the TSA. In addition to questions such as “Rate the courtesy of the passenger security screeners,” “Rate the thoroughness of passenger screening you received,” and “Should body-scan technology be used in passenger screening?,” the iPhone app allows users to add photos and comments that could potentially be helpful improving TSA procedures, rules and regulations. The survey is also available to non-iPhone users via surveyonthespot.com.

What’s not to love, right? Well, the possibility that those results, comments and pictures may never be taken into consideration by the Powers That Be at the TSA. Not only is Survey on the Spot operated independently of the TSA, it currently isn’t officially commissioned by the government agency. However, On the Spot Systems’ president Ken Kimmel said his company is committed to sharing the results with the TSA, media outlets and the public. On the Spot Systems contacted the TSA on Dec. 30 about its product, but has not yet received any reply.

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“Given the holiday timing, we have not been able to confirm specifics with [the TSA], but felt compelled to make Survey on the Spot available to the TSA and travelers in the U.S. as a public service, particularly given recent airport security concerns,” Kimmel said in a news release. 

There’s no question that travelers and airport security are on high alert, even as the holiday travel season winds down. Nine days after the Northwest incident, Newark Liberty International Airport experienced a security breach when a man slipped under a barrier after a TSA agent stepped away from his post, reportedly to take a cell phone call. The breach caused a six-hour lockdown of Newark’s Terminal C, delaying thousands of passengers. Only a day later, sections of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport were evacuated after a bomb-sniffing dog found a questionable bag. However, the bag, which belonged to airline personnel, was simply a marker to denote all bags had been placed on the baggage carousel. The Bakersfield, Calif., airport was also shuttered over some checked honey that same day.

If feedback from travelers through an iPhone app like Survey on Spot could help make the process of getting on a plane safer and more streamlined, the TSA should sit up and take note. Otherwise, this addition to the iPhone app is as unhelpful as a faulty screening machine.

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