Travelers: Might want to carry a pocket atlas

As Washington, D.C., resident Justin Gray was trying to board an airliner in Orlando, Fla., earlier this summer, a Transportation Safety Administration agent asked him for some identification. Gray produced his D.C. driver’s license.

He began to wonder when the agent asked for his passport. People traveling inside the United States do not normally carry passports. So Gray asked the TSA agent whether he knew where the District of Columbia is located.

He didn’t.

Gray finally was able to make his flight. Afterward, once the TSA was made aware of the fiasco, an official there said corrective action would be taken. TSA agents in Orlando will be shown copies of D.C. driver’s licenses.

Yes, that’s it. Instead of questioning whether their personnel policies need updated to ensure the agency does not hire people without basic knowledge, including that of U.S. geography, the TSA is taking a Band-Aid approach to the problem.

Taking the public relations approach rather than addressing root causes of problems is typical of government, of course.

Given the attitude, we have some advice for travelers: If you’re planning on boarding an airliner in Orlando, take a pocket atlas to the airport with you – just in case the TSA screeners never heard of your state.