Transport Airports

Orlando Airport Considers Replacing TSA with a Private Firm

Sep 26, 2013 4:00 am

Skift Take

A TSA-commissioned survey is not the best tracker of agency performance. But it’s likely much more reliable than counting on the state of Florida to deliver a public service that’s not riddled with political graft and local shenanigans.

— Samantha Shankman

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Rusty Clark  / Flickr

The security line at Orlando's airport. Rusty Clark / Flickr


Sam and Hope Bass, along with her service dog Windsor, drove two hours from Wildwood to Orlando International Airport on Wednesday to say that Transportation Security Administration officers there are kind, courteous and professional.

“They just took me in their hands and walked me through everything,” said Hope Bass, who uses a wheelchair. She was fearful back in May that she would have a hard time getting through the security checkpoint.

But her husband said agents were so accommodating that they took them through the security line on a practice run a few days before they flew to Louisville, Ky., to see a grandson graduate from high school.

The Basses told their story during a news conference called by the TSA to tout the results of a customer satisfaction survey the agency commissioned from Valencia College. The report said 96 percent of the 1,100 respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with their TSA security experience.

The federal agency is facing the possibility of losing its contract at Orlando International to a private firm.

The airport’s board earlier this year created a 10-member committee that will recommend whether to fire TSA. A decision could be made in November.

Members of the committee visited San Francisco International Airport in August because a private security force works there under TSA supervision. Next month, the group is going to the airport in Sioux Falls, S.D., which switched from TSA to a private company.

Dean Asher, who serves on the airport board and is in charge of the group reviewing TSA, said he has not decided what to do. “I’m still down the middle,” he said.

Though he did not attend the TSA event Wednesday, he said the agency has been doing a better job since the start of the review.

Starting in January, the TSA has provided 26 specially trained passenger support specialists at Orlando International to help people such as the Basses.

Hope Bass said she was so pleased that she volunteered to tell her story to the news media. The officers, she said, were almost as good to Windsor, a Lab mix who picks up items she drops, closes doors for her and pulls her in her wheelchair, among other duties.

“He’s pretty amazing,” she said. “He does what we need.”

(c)2013 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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