Rude TSA agent? Now you can review them on Yelp

Posted at 9:06 PM, Aug 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-20 21:06:04-04

If a TSA agent treats you rudely in an airport security line, you don’t have to just seethe silently.

You can fire back — on Yelp.

That’s right: No longer must you limit your scathing, one-star reviews to that overpriced Italian restaurant with the lousy osso buco. Yelp has announced an agreement with the federal government to allow the TSA and other federal agencies to claim Yelp pages and respond to reviews.

It’s not a drastic change. Travelers have been posting comments — well, mostly complaints — about the Transportation Security Administration on an assortment of Yelp pages for years. But this would gather them in one official place, monitored by TSA staffers who would incorporate feedback into service improvements.

The idea is to make government more accountable to its citizens. In practice, it mostly gives its angriest citizens a place to vent.

The vast majority of customer reviews on Yelp’s unofficial TSA pages are of the one- or two-star variety, filled with such choice phrases as “a joke,” “total bozos” and “a crappy knockoff of the Gestapo.” While a few travelers post positive feedback, others gripe about unfriendly TSA agents and invasive pat-downs.

GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina even took advantage of the announcement this week to post a one-star review of the TSA, calling it an example of an inept federal bureaucracy that she will fix if elected.

Given that most Americans’ exposure to the TSA is in the airport security line — a stressful place for many travelers — the agency may not be eager for Yelp feedback. Asked Thursday about the new Yelp deal, a TSA spokesman sounded less than enthusiastic.

“We’re still learning more about it,” David Castelveter said, adding that the TSA already fields comments on Twitter, where it has 48,000 followers.

“We believe that there are more benefits to a real-time, two-way exchange between the TSA and travelers on Twitter,” he said.

The TSA is monitoring comments on Yelp but has yet to reach out to reviewers, he said.

In the meantime, some observers find the idea of “reviewing” a government agency sort of pointless. Unlike restaurant customers, most travelers can’t really take their business elsewhere if they don’t like a particular TSA checkpoint.

“What other option would you have to fly from Atlanta — drive to Birmingham (Alabama)???” asked one traveler. “Gotta deal with them anyway.”