Huffpost Travel

TSA 'All-Stop' Drill At Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport: What Is It? (VIDEO)

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YouTube user velmawallenrod uploaded a video earlier this week of TSA's so-called freeze drill while traveling through Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport.

Velmawallenrod reports that he/she was past security at the airport when the drill occurred. On YouTube velmawallenrod wrote,

At Phoenix, Arizona's airport, WITHIN the "secured" area of the gates, I suddenly found myself in a bunch of travelers who were being sharply told to "STAY RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE! DON'T MOVE!". A TSA employee was pointing his blue-gloved hand at anyone who moved a muscle (including airport workers) and barking these orders. Beyond him were two other agents doing the same thing to everyone in a 90-degree radius. The tension was rather palpable, as you might imagine. No explanation was given, no other words were spoken. No one moved a muscle. Parents grabbed their children. Anyone who fidgeted or made a step forward got yelled at.

Two minutes or so later, Mr. Gloved Hand brusquely waved everyone about their business (as seen in the tape). I only managed to capture the final 30 seconds or so of the incident.

After this, I walked into the terminal intersection they had cut off, expecting to see someone in handcuffs, face down on the carpet with a bunch of cops on him. Or at least ONE single police officer or security guard... but there were none. There was NO incident happening, whatsoever. And everyone went onwards to their gates...

I'm still picking my jaw up off the floor. Felt I should share.

One of the TSA's regional spokesmen, Nico Melendez, tells Huffington Post that these freeze drills, which the agency calls "all-stop drills," have been occurring for roughly 10 years. Though this was a drill, the exercise has "been used in a real situation," Melendez said.

"We use them to control the situation, stop screening and identify the breach," Melendez continued. While there is no mention of the drills on the agency's website about "all-stop," Melendez said that he would be soon publish a blog post about the topic at blog.tsa.gov.

Earlier this month, a flier at Port Columbus International noted his surprise as he recorded TSA officials holding test strips over the beverages of his wife and son as they about to board a plane. According to the TSA blog, however, the testing isn't anything new.

On the site, agency spokesman Bob Burns writes:

The most popular question that comes up with this topic is: "Isn't this redundant?" On the surface, it does seem that way, and it's the first logical thought that many have. However, any security expert will tell you that nothing is ever 100% secure. So, gate screening is kind of like our safety net to keep up with anybody who might be trying to get things past conventional screening.

What do you think? Do you think these "changes" are adequately communicated to the public? Check out the TSA's website for more.