Beware at O’Hare: TSA agents behead flute, threaten player with arrest

Beware at O’Hare: TSA agents behead flute, threaten player with arrest


norman lebrecht

October 04, 2015

Jessica Schmitz was trying to board a plane at Chicago, heading for Houston where she’s playing on the Arijit Singh tour, when security officials treated her in the most appalling way.

Here’s what she tells Slipped Disc:

Studio portraits of Jessica Schmitz taken on April 24, 2009. Credit: ©Stephanie Berger

At O’Hare, I just had the worst instrument TSA travel experience of my entire life. I’ve flown with my flute at least a few thousand times, and it’s frequent they ask to look at the case, even open it, to see what it is. But today a power- hungry agent decided to mess with me and said my flute headjoint needed to be removed from its case and run thru the X-ray LOOSE in a bin.

I said this was absolutely not an option, despite three supervisors assuring me my flute made of gold “would be fine” rattling around in a bin. And when I insisted that this was not, in fact, “standard procedure” and closed the case so they wouldn’t damage it, they called the Chicago Police department to have me removed from the airport.

And that was just the beginning.

As the Chicago police were taking my license and getting ready to escort me out, one TSA agent suggested wrapping the headjoint on paper towels And then running it thru xray so it wouldn’t be dented/ damaged. Since it was either that or be escorted out by the police I had to agree. She was actually quite nice and felt horrible and let me put it in the bin and wrap it while the police and guards looked on.

When it of course came back clear, she gave it back. But then I had to get a full pat down, groin, chest and all. Then the police told me it would not be on any permanent record, gave me my license and ticket.

One agent told the police I tried to hit him, which I did not. He also detained me at the gate saying I was “not allowed to leave” until the police arrived.

If I weren’t allowed on the flight I would have missed shows today and tomorrow.  When given such unchecked power the TSA are threatening not only citizens’ personal safety and civil rights, but also in this case their livelihood.


jessica schmitz

O’Hare is getting a reputation for this kind of hassle. Beware.

We have the names of the agents involved and they are being reported to the responsible authorities.

What happened next: click here.


  • Eddie Mars says:

    “Land Of The Free”??


    A nation that spits on culture, and bombs doctors in hospitals!!

  • Anon2 says:

    This is outrageous – every flutist’s nightmare. She had every right to refuse to put the headjoint loose into the bin.

    However, I think a lot of how you’re treated at security and boarding planes has to do with your attitude and how you treat employees. If you approach security like some great entitled flute diva on your way to a big gig, passing thru security and treating staff like lesser beings, yeah, you’re probably going to get some flack. Especially if you’re a good looking young woman, which Jessica appears to be. The gut reaction from any employee, esp. males, might be to take you down a notch.

    Here’s the thing: no matter what they ask you, you can’t be rude, you can’t be condescending and it’s not a good time to assert your rights. It’s TSA’s show. Every flute player in the world, the greatest included, passes thru TSA and we learn to be respectful, obedient and to make our point politely. Being on your way to a gig, any gig, is not an excuse to make a fuss.

    Yes, Jessica is right. She shouldn’t have had to remove her head from the case. But in all my many yrs. of travelling with flutes and knowing others who do the same, I have never heard of this scenario happening. Never.

    I am reading between the lines here, and I suspect she panicked and became confrontational about their request. This never goes over too well with folks with badges. Calling the Chicago Police in is an extreme gesture, which implies that she probably wasn’t behaving too well herself.

    So here’s the lesson: you may be right at TSA, but be smart. Don’t freak out, which it sounds to me like this girl did. TSA will react badly and you will have all sorts of problems.Be polite, obedient and respectful. No gig is worth a police record. Follow the rules. And get TSA pre check.

    • Jim says:

      Wow, that’s a lot of baseless accusations of Ms Schmitz. Where do you get the idea that she was rude, condescending, or freaked out?

      • Anon2 says:

        Look, this is a scary precedent and I am trying to find an explanation. Why, with all the millions of flutists who go thru security regularly and the hoardes of jerky power hungry TSA agents who screen them, has this never happened before? The flute world is very tight and I’m pretty sure we’d know about it if it had.

        The only other explanation that occurs to me is that certain precious metals used in headjoints – I believe platinum is one – don’t read well on the scanners. I had a platinum risered head that always showed up blurry and they used to have to run thru again to check.

        So maybe that was Jessica’s situation – instead of running it thru again, they made her take it out. Since she clearly has a lot of friends and supporters reading this, it might be interesting if someone asked her about the materials in her headjoint. Does it have a platinum riser, or some other precious metal that didn’t read well on the scanner?

        I’m a little baffled as to why this discussion has evolved into America bashing. And I have no doubt thatJessica is a very nice person. It’s just that when you’re going thru security it’s like defensive driving. You know the kind of people you might be dealing with who and you act accordingly. It’s not a North Korean mentality, it’s a “get thru the line quickly and with no hassles” mentality. You play the game. And it IS TSA’s game.

        Standing in line at TSA is not the time to assert your rights. You’re not going to win. You’re polite, you do as they ask and then you go home and do as the cellist who commented here did, write the letter and raise hell on social media.

        Me? I am just trying to find an explanation for why this happened.

        • AnnaT says:

          No, you’re INVENTING explanations for what happened, and you’re creepily linking your fiction to your perception that the flutist is “attractive” and thus(?) could perhaps, possibly, maybe, in that novel you’re writing, have acted like a “flute diva.” Get a grip.

          • Anon2 says:

            Oh, please stop attacking me. I never accused your friend of anything. I do not know her. I am sure she is a lovely person. I was hypothesizing. I have seen plenty of pro. musicians behave this way at security, that’s all.

            Stop being so defensive. YOU get a grip. I also am truly sorry she had to go thru this. We all are.

        • Philip Amos says:

          You say you hypothisize, but when that word is used formally, the hypothesis is inspired but some evidence. Informally, it is merely assumption, which is that you are writing, and I’m sure you know the adage about assuming. You go on so long about it, that it eventually enters the realm of fantasy. Dragging her appearance into your fantasy is just peculiar, but we get some idea of your general caste of mind when you refer to Jessica as “this girl”. RE your point that hordes of flutists travel without difficulty, I would mention that there are also still some pianists who travel with their piano, perhaps in general without trouble. But then I would remind you that on his arrival in New York, Kristian Zimmerman’s modified concert grand was literally destroyed by customs agents because they thought it might harbour a terrorist device. So it does happen, Anon, even to one of today’s truly great, internationally renowned pianists. Either the agents who destroyed a $300 000 piano and examined Jessica’s flute are idiots and they are turned what may be a boring job into a game for their own entertainment. That gets us closer to the heart of the matter than your fantasies about Jessica’s appearance and demeanour.

    • ALH says:

      Jessica is as sweet as pie! I highly doubt she behaved like a diva and it’s strange to jump to those conclusions. Not all working flutists are crazy, lol. I’m a flutist too and I think this situation is insane. The TSA has never gone this far with me, but they have done things that made me feel very uncomfortable. Furthermore, it’s true, some airports are worse than others, so there’s no consistent standard or procedure, which further demonstrates how an agent can go overboard. As a community, we need to have one another’s backs when it comes to this type of mistreatment, not immediately blame and school one another.

    • Eddie Mars says:

      Maybe you need reminding that these terrify-the-public procedures are allegedly in place to keep fare-paying airline client’s safe?

      It is NOT ‘the TSA’s show’.

      It is an AIRPORT where the first and only priority is public safety – and not the psychological issues of uniformed psychopaths.

      Under the guise of acting for all of us, you and your psychopath army murdered 17 doctors and nurses in a bombing raid which purposeky targetted a hospital on Friday.

      Look in the mirror, buddy – before you start pointing your finger. Because it’s you and your fellow Republican extremists who are playing the I’m-so-damn-entitled card.

      Passengers have a right to take their lawful non-forbidden belongings on planes. END OF.

      • Pirkko says:

        Eddie Mars, perhaps Anon2 was too quick to make his/her assumptions, but YOUR shameless accusations are way over the top.

    • CDH says:

      Follow the rules, says Anon2. Indeed: this is what all passengers travelling with instruments pray security agents and all others involved in the flight will do every time they enter an airport. The rules are apparently not clear enough for the minimum-wage school-leavers to whom American airlines seem to contract out the important business of people-carrying.

      And all this calling for obedience: although politeness ought to be a given, on both sides of any transaction, the obedience requirement is positively North Korean.

      it is high time airlines remembered what they are in business to do: transport people and goods in machines worth millions of dollars. This ought to be a pleasant, customer-oriented business they are in — it used to be. I am as sorry as everyone else in the civilised world about what happened to Americans 14 years ago, but they behaved then and continue to behave as if nobody else in the history of the world had ever been subjected to a terrorist attack, when in fact the front lines then and now were and are elsewhere. American ignorance of anything that does not happen to THEM is legendary, and the result of their ignorance at that time was the draconian security measures that have made a mockery of their constitution and required similar horrors by anyone they do business with, which means just about everywhere. But their equally legendary unwillingness to use taxes as all other civilised nations do in order to provide public services (including health care) has led to the meanness employed by contractors who are unwilling to pay for a high standard of employee for work as essential as airport security.

      It’s a great nation in so many ways, but you only had to look at the President’s frustration — exasperation, even — after the recent Oregon shooting — was it the 15th mass shooting of his tenure? — to know that there are rottennesses at its core, that simply will not be addressed while the almighty dollar trumps morality, decency, civility and other qualities of humanity. Politicians are bought and paid for. America could never elect a Vaclav Havel or even a Lech Walęsa. And the result is characters like this TSA, who is like something out of Eastern European fiction. Only not nearly as funny.

      I seriously doubt this artist, or many travelling musicians, diva their way along at airports — they will all be far too experienced at the security gates and in the cabins to risk unnecessary confrontations. But when push comes to shove: they are the ones paying, and they ought to get any deference going. It’s a cardinal rule of business.

      And it’s time Americans discover that security bought at the cost of democratic and constitutional liberty is not very secure at all. A cursory look at history would introduce them to notions such as tyranny and revolution.

      • Stephen Owades says:

        TSA workers are employed by the US government, not the airlines, so the people who made a fuss over scanning this flute’s head-joint were not “the minimum-wage school-leavers to whom American airlines seem to contract out the important business of people-carrying.”

      • Joe says:

        Very well said, CDH. Very well said. I would like to add that, at the core, it’s also about treating others as you would want to be treated. It’s about having compassion for your fellow man and imagining yourself in their place in the same situation. It’s about trying to help one another. We are rapidly losing these traits in America. I don’t know why. But I will tell everyone this — I would gladly miss my flight if it came down to protecting Jessica’s instrument of such great value, and her career, against the hands of an evil, sick, mindset that now permeates our nation and is being allowed to persist and grow like a cancer. I’m not speaking only of TSA. It’s manifesting itself in almost every part of our society, from individual, to corporate, to government. Greed, and power over others, seems to be the primary catalysts.

        Yes, I know. This is an old board. It’s now 3/2019

        But, the message here is timeless.

    • bratschegirl says:

      Anon2, I’m going to guess based on your statements that you’re a non-threatening-looking middle to upper class white guy. I myself am a middle class, middle aged white American gal. I used to think the way you do, that people who have unpleasant experiences with authority must have done something to provoke it. Kind of the way we all used to think about, say, victims of domestic violence and excessive police force. But the past year has opened my eyes. It’s not true.

      Every day, some of those with badges and even the tiniest bit of power use their authority to mistreat others for no reason, based on no provocation, simply because they can and feel entitled to, and even the most respectful and polite request for explanation or protest against truly unreasonable treatment, such as this was, is treated as a challenge that could become life-threatening. The civilian simply becomes an “other” instead of a fellow human being. I watched a young (non-white) man be removed from a local commuter train recently, by at least a half dozen (white) officers with guns drawn, because he had a paintball gun in his backpack. I still say a prayer now and then that he made it home to his parents that night.

      I also recall a recent secondary screening experience at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, watching the agents deliberately take 10-15 minutes per passenger with 5 or 6 other passengers’ carry-ons waiting, taking every single item of clothing out, leafing through every single book or pamphlet, and visibly enjoying the discomfort they were causing those passengers who were missing their connections.

      None of these people had done anything to “deserve” the poor treatment they got. This is the new norm.

    • Jessica Schmitz says:

      Hi there. I just posted my thoughts on this as a new comment. Please do read.

      Thank you,

    • Marg says:

      Please refrain from calling Jessica, or any other grown woman, a girl.

      • Mandoman says:

        Oh please spare us your politically correct blather – girl is an a normal for a young women refer to themselves as girls all the time.

        • Philip Amos says:

          Okay. Then we’ll just refer to young men as ‘boy’. I’d like to be a fly on the wall if you visit Mississippi and refer to a young African American man as “this boy”. Calling Jessica “this girl” is utterly demeaning.

    • Pudin Tane says:

      “Here’s the thing: no matter what they ask you, you can’t be rude, you can’t be condescending and it’s not a good time to assert your rights. It’s TSA’s show.”

      Had we stood up against the TSA when this despicable agency first crawled out of the swamp, we would not be hearing these horror stories of maltreatment at the airport by these despicable little despots. If everyone would start NOW challenging them, it would end.

    • Lisa Simeone says:

      ANON2 writes: “I think a lot of how you’re treated at security and boarding planes has to do with your attitude and how you treat employees.”

      Yet another blame-the-victim response. Talk about attitude.

      As editor of TSA News, I’ve seen it all. ANON2 may never have heard of musicians — and others — being mistreated by the TSA, but plenty of us have. Many foreign musicians now refuse to come to the U.S. anymore because of this sch1t. The Master List of TSA Crimes and Abuses, at TSA News Blog dot com, will make your head spin.

      Then again, all those people probably just had a bad attitude.

      • Nobody of Import says:

        Heh… After seeing my disabled wife get groped and prodded repeatedly with silly, utterly insane things like bomb swabbing your hands with a SERVICE DOG, I’m sorry…I’m perfectly willing to believe that she didn’t go through with an attitude (WE don’t, but every time my Wife and I fly, we get “heightened” scrutiny because of the service dog, my Wife’s artificial knees, and the like.)

        The TSA is security theater, if you believe any different, you’re dumber than a box of rocks- and I just insulted the box and rocks by the comparison.

        They’re dumber than a box of rocks in many cases. (Anecdote: One TSA screener asked my wife how much she paid for her trophy buckle from the second batch of wins from the second year in the ring from my first horse of record and our then three-time National Champion Half-Arab Cutter. (Hint: This is like asking a woman how much their husband paid for their rock on their hand…strictly a no-no…) Filters being off after yet another *FUN* trip through the checkpoint, she told the ‘tard flatly- $40k. (Which is, of course, the costs of buying said horse, putting it into the trainer, showing it, etc…))

        You cannot convince ME or HER of anything other than it being the “Totally Stupid Agency”.

    • Amy Alkon says:

      Our Constitution doesn’t have an “if” provision — as in, “if you’re not a diva.”

      That said, you make a lot of assumptions about this woman.

      The TSA thugs treated her rottenly. And let’s be clear — the repurposed Cinnabon workers in the TSA are not finding terrorism. This is a jobs program for unskilled workers, a way to obedience-train the American public to be docile when their rights are taken from them, and a way for the Michael Chertoffs of the world to get rich lobbying the agencies they used to work for.

    • Greg says:

      Well arent you a good little sheep!

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Angry inferiority complex-affected abusers of power are a big problem.

    • Ann says:

      I agree. Having witnessed the entire event first-hand, I saw a very clear abuse of power. Someone who felt their possession was better than everyone else’s and demanded special treatment.

      • Kevin says:

        Better? No. But far more fragile and expensive? By far. Any passengers carrying unusual property should not be treated in the usual fashion. TSA ‘business as usual’ would have had disastrous results to her instrument. And people who don’t understand that demanding special treatment for special property when met with those who would damage it, don’t understand the underlying issue here.

  • Heather says:

    When will Americans finally open their eyes and minds to the reality that fascism has taken hold and that they live in a totalitarian police state? I don’t have much hope, as they haven’t yet woken up to the endless gun massacres at schools and elsewhere in their dystopia, basically doing nothing, nor demonstrating en masse. No, they prefer to propose that all citizens be armed to the teeth in order to “avoid” these massacres and protecting themselves from their appalling gun violence. How can music, arts and creative thinking thrive in such a society?

    • MacroV says:

      The TSA behavior was stupid and inexcusable; surely running the instrument – in its case – through the scanner should have been sufficient.

      But be careful with the America-bashing; by far the worst airport I have experienced with respect to counterproductive security is Heathrow, which gave us the 100 ml. limit, shoe scans, among other joys of modern international travel.

      • Larry Howe says:

        Actually, x-raying a flute makes absolutely no sense because x-rays cannot penetrate metal. Ever look at your dental x-rays? If you have any metal fillings, crowns, or posts, they’ll show up as bright white areas because the radiation is reflected by them. So running a metal cylinder–hollow or not–through an x-ray machine will show that the object is a metal cylinder, which the naked eye would discern.

        If the TSA agent was worried that some part of the flute was filled with a dangerous substance, then swabbing the flute with its cleaning rod and then checking the rod for chemical residue would be the effective way to determine if the flute contained explosives.
        If, on the other hand, the TSA agent was merely trying to annoy the passenger, then mission accomplished.

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      This is neither an exclusively American issue nor a post-9/11 phenomenon. The temptation to abuse power is part of the human nature. Abuse of power occurs everywhere, and it is probably worse today than it has ever been in free societies. While some expect profiting of the abuse (it comes to mind American sheriffs in Wyatt Earp’s time that got paid for every arrest, a practice that surely predisposes for abuse and an idea that is quite living in the minds and hearts of, for example, TSA agents, some think like “the more I use my authority the better for my career”, what does not need to be true), others seem just to draw pleasure of it (the soprano Birgit Nilsson, who had an acute heart problem in her late years, refused to use a toothbrush that had just been used by another patient and was then rudely handled by the assistant nurses as “uncooperative”). And no permanent record, of course, can be offered to the victim after a fragrantly stupid occurrence, and most victims will just take it as a solution just to avoid more problem. Maybe the effective way to handle this issue is not reforming “American fascism” or “European socialism” (what a utopia!) but to focus on the employees’ suitability for doing the job.

      • Philip Amos says:

        I must point out that it’s been a long time since Europe was socialist. You should look at the complexion of each European state — you’ll find that most are on the Right. Fascism is a looming menace in both North America and in Europe. It is not a matter of uniforms and funny salutes. Fascism is more accurately termed ‘Corporatism’, which is its ideological basis. Research how every sector of society is being corporatized and how the corporations work with Government, and the menace of Fascism becomes evident. Its very misleading identification with Mussolini et al. is what prevents people from recognizing it.

        • Pianofortissimo says:

          Leftists control most of the European media, dictate what is good or bad opinion, are aggressive activists that spit on people and do their best to silence people with disagree with them. Aggressive activists have succeeded in getting rights than sometimes are considered evident wrongs by the silent majority. Leftists call “fascist” everyone who disagrees with them (I do not know your political views, maybe you are on the left, maybe you are under leftist media influence). By the way your use of the term “corporatism” is not the use done by the Italian fascists. This digression has nothing to do with the current discussion (power abuse by “idiots” [that have] turned what may be a boring job into a game for their own entertainment” (your words), but I felt the need to comment your reply.

    • William Safford says:

      That is both factually and rhetorically false. There are many legitimate complaints that can be made about various current conditions of existence in the U.S., but that is not one of them.

    • MWnyc says:

      Heather, I think Milan Kundera might like to have a word with you about what exactly constitutes “a totalitarian police state”.

      So might, for instance, Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen (who literally had to move her wife and children out of Russia and to the US for their safety), Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi (banned for 20 years from making films, speaking to journalists, or leaving Iran), North Korean defectors/authors Hyeonseo Lee (The Girl with Seven Names) and Kang Chol-hwan (The Aquariums of Pyongyang), or the good folks of Belarus Free Theatre.

      The United States has many, many problems, but it’s no totalitarian police state. At least, not if that term has any real meaning.

  • Julia Morneweg says:

    I filed a complaint at LGW last month after one of their security staff asked me to open my Stevenson cello case and proceeded to ram the plastic stick with the swab cloth in the tight space between the wall of the case and my 225 year old instrument! In many years of travelling I had never experienced such careless and rough treatment and I shouted at her to stop immediately! She tried to have a standoff with me, but luckily the tried and tested ‘Get me your supervisor NOW!’ put an end to it! I made an official complaint to the airport about her.

  • Ar Adler says:

    I know Jessica personally, and the judgmental, holier than thou comments made here are baseless and have nothing to do with how she was treated in the airport and everything to do with TSA agents wasting their time and energy on people and issues that are clearly not a threat. Ms. Schmitz is not someone who is disrespectful and would behave like “an entitled diva” under any circumstances. I find it appalling that her behavior and demeanor is somehow under scrutiny and that she is being blamed for what happened by those who were not there and have nothing else to go on but the facts she herself disclosed. The musician’s union has an expressed written agreement with the TSA about the handling of musical instruments because apparently this is a very common occurrence.

    • James of Thames says:

      “The musician’s union has an expressed written agreement with the TSA about the handling of musical instruments…”

      Wow. Has this agreement been successful so far?

      • NYMike says:

        The US Dept. of Transportation has circulated this agreement to all Airlines and TSA units.Whether or not the agreement is read or adhered to is another matter.

      • Daisiemae says:

        TSA screeners frequently violate the law and TSA’s own procedures. I seriously doubt they are concerned with or even aware of any agreement with the musician’s union.

    • Anon2 says:

      With all respect, this is not a common occurance. I’ve never heard of it happening before. It sends shivers up the spine of every travelling flutist, and everything should be under scrutiny in this situation so it never happens again.

  • Frank says:

    No one is really all right or all wrong here. Another factor we need to keep in mind is that musicians and law enforcement are different cultures, and cultures that nowadays harbor unspoken, mutual disdain. And face facts – LE folk are not going to question how they are coming off to the public. It’s our job to not come off as the kind of musicians they disdain. A little thinking and foresight will help.

    (BTW, why does the not-a-robot thingy expire every 30 sec? Are we supposed to comment or Tweet?)

    • Nobody of Import says:

      Seriously? Are you insane? Must be. The TSA insisted on X-Raying a *FLUTE* something made out of metal that the X-Ray machine would’ve gotten NADA out of that a proper, simple visual inspection would’ve produced better results on.

      The TSA was off in the weeds and then compounded it in a swinging d*ck manner. If you can’t see it…I can’t help you and you deserve the tyranny that’s to come from this all.

  • da96103 says:

    Me thinks this has something to do with Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation where a weapon is disguised as a bass flute, because this kind of solo head joint scanning just happened this year.

    Come on TSA, that was a movie and this instrument is not a base flute.

    • V.Lind says:

      That’s probably the most useful contribution on this thread. Though expecting the agents to “know” anything gives them powers well beyond their demonstrated abilities.

  • Tim says:

    We have the names of the agents involved and they are being reported to the responsible authorities.

    …and nothing will come of that. The only thing you can do is constantly remind them that the terrorists have indeed won. I make a habit of uttering that statement every time I go through TSA checkpoints. The looks on their faces makes it worth it.

    • Mike says:

      I bet you’re also the same guy who will say “they didn’t do enough” when something happens. If only they could adjust the level of protection to suit every individual opinion.

  • Jessica Schmitz says:

    Hi there- Jessica, the flutist in question, here. I’d like to thank you all for reading this story and sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate it. I have many thoughts of my own, but would like to address ANON2 first.

    I ask of you, Sir or Madam, that if you’re going to attack me personally, have the courage to reveal your own personal identity. It’s easy to throw baseless accusations behind the anonymity of the Internet. But if you believe in the validity of your opinions, stand up and claim them as your own. That you hide behind a curtain suggests that on some level you’re aware of how inaccurate and mean-spirited your views are.

    Now onto your specific arguments. I find it deeply disturbing you bring up my gender and physical appearance as justification for unfair treatment. Regardless of if I am or am not a “good looking young woman,” no airport official is legally entitled to take physical appearance or gender into account when deciding how to enforce what should be national TSA policy. Heidi Klum could walk through security dressed as a Victoria’s Secret Angel carrying a flute and under the law she would deserve the exact same treatment as an individual who is societally considered unattractive. And that you, anonymous friend, appear to think a male TSA employee’s attempt to “take me down a notch” is natural and acceptable? That is some incredibly extreme, outdated, and offensive patriarchal sexist thinking.

    As to your “reading between the lines” on what happened, please allow me to state that the proverbial saying on assuming could not be more at play here. To put it directly, you are entirely mistaken. The TSA agent in question made it quite clear he had some point to prove on his own authority before I even looked him directly in the eyes. His treatment of my property at the screening table before I had a chance to politely request otherwise showed he had already decided he was going to make it difficult, regardless of anything I did or didn’t do.

    At this point did I get defensive? Of course I did, silly! It was clear my very expensive and fragile instrument was going to be damaged, and at that point I had to defend my property. You say this was “not a good time to assert my rights.” When in fact the BEST time to assert one’s rights is when they are being violated. Being quiet and “obedient” in the face of abuse of power is, simply put, Draconian logic.

    And please note my behavior had nothing to do with going to an “important gig,” nor was I acting like a “diva.” The only sense of entitlement I brought to the situation was demanding my rights as an individual be respected. As should anyone- male, female, gender-neutral, or transgender- in my situation do.

    So here’s the lesson for you, Anonymous 4: you “aren’t behaving too well yourself.” Next time before anonymously venting online about situations you know little, if anything, about, question if you’re treating others with the respect you’re so quick to [anonymously] demand. And, with all due respect, I ask that you please don’t treat this “girl, or anyone else, with such horrifying disrespect in the future.

    • Nobody of Import says:

      I’m sorry that these jokers piled abuse onto a musician of your caliber. It wasn’t rated.

      I’m even more sorry that you endured this at the hands of the TSA. It’s not an unfamiliar experience. We get similar ridiculous experiences each and every time we fly because my wife has Lymphedema, artificial knees due to the degenerative arthritis from the Lupus she also has.

      It’s disturbing when they can’t figure out things off in the Stradivarius level of quality- and that it’s got to be handled differently, even if you’re not being serious about security (THEY aren’t. It’s all a joke, a cruel farce perpetrated on the formerly most free nation in the world…).

      It’s more disturbing when they pull what they pull when they get called on their misuse of their authority. I’m glad it ended at least slightly better than it could for you, milady- and it’s my fervent hope that you never encounter this again.

  • Pudin Tane says:

    Use the form in this link to file complaints with the DHS Office of Inspector General concerning mistreatment at the hands of the TSA:

    Always get names, times, lane numbers, etc. and if you use the linked form keep a copy of your narrative.

    • Nobody of Import says:

      Heh… If you think it’s going to get acted upon, you’re gravely mistaken.

      The TSA just needs to be dismantled and something more akin to sane security measures than the Kabuki we’re getting instituted.

  • Alan Gelman says:

    The TSA is full of little people trying to feel like big people. I was on a flight to St. Louis from Montana with a stop over I’m Minn. Passengers continuing on to SL were told that belongings could be left on board. As I sat outside the gate I had just walked thru our plane was exchanged for another with NO announcement being made over the loud speaker. When I found out the items I had left behind were literally gone with the wind, I raised hell, called a liar and then found myself in the company of the airport police. I was told my belongings would (hopefully) be returned in a weeks time. I, on the other hand was put on the next flight back to Montana without out the ability to notify the OLD friend I was going to visit. A friend I hadn’t seen it over 15 years. It’s time these wanna be cops were either dismissed or properly trained, assuming these people(I use the term loosely) are even trainable.

    • Stephen Owades says:

      Sounds like your (understandable) beef is with the airline, not TSA.

    • Joe says:

      Sorry. You can’t train a moron. The only thing you can do is fire the thugs in tight costumes with 25 things on their belts. looking like Robo-cops with attitudes. Hope you eventually got to see your old friend.

  • Daisiemae says:

    “We have the names of the agents involved and they are being reported to the responsible authorities.”

    Publish their names. Bullies and criminals who take the law into their own hands must be identified for the safety of the public.

    Especially bullies and criminals who wear a uniform and are paid by the taxpayers.

    No matter what heinous or egregious acts TSA employees perpetrate, the American citizen has absolutely no recourse against these thugs. So it’s time for a good old fashioned public shaming. That’s the only defense we have left.

  • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

    As always: even a flute is considered a deadly weapon. Meanwhile The Gun continues to reign supreme, with mass shootings as a regular event in Armed America.

    I highly recommend frequently traveling artists apply for a TSA Pre-Ceck Known Traveler Number. Application and brief formal interview come at the cost of $ 85, for a KTN valid for 5 years, renewable for another fee. Internationally frequently travelling US citizens and Permanent Residents can sign up for Global Entry, which also includes a KTN with which TSA Pre-Check can be enjoyed.

    It may mitigate some of the ugliest harassment, but it is worth the expense.

    My other rule: always practice submission behavior and remain friendly. I learned this to my advantage during many border crossings from West to East Germany and back on my regular visits with friends in the communist GDR in the 1980s. It continues to serve me well vis a vis TSA and other US agencies, as their behavior is not much different at all from the GDR agencies.

  • Carolyn says:

    Beware of Newark, too. I travel for a living and have had the “Resolution Pat Down” twice by over-zealous TSA. For those who do not travel as frequently – the “Resolution Pat Down” includes being placed in a room, in isolation – sometimes locked in until two TSA agents of the same gender (female if you are female) – one of whom should be a supervisor literally feel your most private body parts.
    I have TSA-Pre, Global Entry (the government has all my fingerprints and a retina scan to confirm I am “safe” to enter via expedited Global Entry) — but that never stops TSA agents who are on a power trip (and being paid equivalent wages to a McDonalds employee).

    Once while traveling home with my 5 week old infant son from Germany via Philly I actually had a TSA agent who signaled a National Guard standing by to point his weapon at me and my baby. A POINTED WEAPON AT MY 5 WEEK OLD INFANT because I explained he could not walk through the scanner on his own. (I was not permitted to carry him, asleep in his cotton, non-metallicbaby sling.) This was in the check point where you’ve just gotten off an international flight (where you cleared security) and are merely walking through a metal detector to go to your connecting domestic flight.

    If you don’t travel as frequently as Jessica don’t dare to tell her this was anything she did wrong. These are over-zealous TSA agents terrorizing passengers.

    • Joe says:

      Yes. Newark. I just left there a few days ago (it’s now 3/2019) and the TSA there are the epitome of Totally Stupid Ass—–s. See my other posts. I know it’s probably too late, but I hope you filed a lawsuit against the morons who pointed a weapon at your infant.

  • Alvaro says:

    AND SHE IS WHITE…..Imagine if its a Minority flutist or musician…..

    • Mandoman says:

      How do you know what race the TSA staff were? Maybe they were not white? Your unwarranted assumptions might say something about your own intolerance.

      • Stephen Owades says:

        Alvaro was not making any assumptions about the race or ethnicity of the TSA agents involved. Sadly, there’s plenty of evidence that police officers are more suspicious and quick to escalate the situation when dealing with minority suspects than white ones—whether the police officer is white or minority.

    • Ann says:

      I was there. The TSA agent in question was an african american female.

  • Seth says:

    Please publish the names of the Security Theater Assholes involved. They do not deserve any sort of confidentiality.

    • Ruth Ann says:

      I’m with you. Let’s publish their home addresses so someone can go to their homes and break THEIR expensive things! Maybe someone might even harm their family members! No kids though.

      • Robert says:

        “Harm their family members”??!! Listen to you. What a horrible thing to say under any circumstances. You and a no. of others here are of of the rabid pack mentality. Rah rah kill TSA. Harm their family members. You are idiots, worse than the agents in question here.

        You don’t want to even consider the other side, like the lady, Ann, who’s written here in her point of view as a fellow traveler that day.

  • Kevin says:

    This pretty much sums up the TSA, it’s worth a watch.

  • Porterflute says:

    So sad what Jessica, Rachel Barton Pine and others with losses to expensive $$$$$$ bows, head joints and instruments have had to endure. And it seems more and more like musician’s are bearing the brunt of hyper-alert-superiority-egos in the airport. We are people with “extra baggage” for a reason and it’s a big part of our entire life. Yes, to a TSA-nonmusical-onlyseenoneonTV-whatsmusicanyway-isthatafluteorviolin-federally-approved-agent, a gold head joint looks like a bomb, plain and simple.
    On a different “note”, They ususally ask me to play them a tune.
    That’s how idiotic it is.

  • Robert says:

    You guys need to come back to the real world. Last time I checked Australia and the US were the closest of allies. We even sent forces into the 1st Gulf war with the US. But Australians visiting the US have to have all 10 fingers and both irises scanned. Pretty sure US citizens entering Australia don’t have to go through this.

  • Ruth Ann says:

    I commend her for slamming her flute case shut on the TSA agent! They have no right to threaten her with arrest for bringing a flute on board! If someone has a prized possession such as an expensive flute, it should NOT have to be examined by those stupid TSA agents! You go Jessica!

  • Ann says:

    Anyone reading this who actually thinks Ms. Schmitz was threatened with arrest for merely flying with a flute is an idiot. There’s a reason this incident involved 3 TSA supervisors and the response of the Chicago Police Department. I witnessed the whole event first hand. Ms. Schmitz was a prima donna who refused to allow her property out of her hands for examination. “This flute costs more than you make in a year!” she said to the second TSA agent who asked her to take the instrument out. She slammed the flute case shut and demanded special treatment. By the time she finally got through, there were about twenty members of the TSA involved and I was almost late for my flight home. Everyone trying to get through screening thought she was out of line. Thank god we were not on the same plane! I’m beyond disgusted. She should be ashamed of herself. Since she has a public voice behind her, I feel the little guy needs to be heard.

    • Kevin says:

      I was there as well and Ann’s account couldn’t be further from the truth! The African American female wasn’t the problem- it was the two male agents- who were at first fighting with each other on how to handle it that caused the trouble. They didn’t know how to do their job, and Ms. Schmitz was simply protecting her extremely fragile instrument in the face of untrained stupidity on part of the TSA. You should be ashamed of *yourself*, Ann!

      • Kevin says:

        She also gladly passed the flute along to security once they offered a reasonable solution to screen it without damaging it.

    • bigapple says:

      The flute probably costs more than she makes in a year too 🙂 Which is why it needed to be protected to extreme.

  • Observer says:

    Bravo, Ann. So glad you spoke up. People need to know this side of the story.

  • Tara says:

    I, like Ann, witnessed this event. There must be more than one side to this woman if anyone is capable of describing her as “sweet as pie”.

    The way she spoke to the agent, who was attempting to do his job, was truly horrifying. I am all for sticking up for the rights of civilians in situations such as this, but she was extremely aggressive and demeaning. If she had simply responded more respectfully, the whole thing could have been avoided and they could have come up with a workable solution much easier.

    After seeing her disturbing emotional outburst, I am not surprised she contacted the press and ensured she made headlines as a blameless victim.

    • Kevin says:

      They were threatening her livelihood- you’re clearly not a musician who understands that an instrument is exceptionally important. Without it, or with a damaged one, we can’t make a living. The agents were the ones who began the behavior- not her.

      • Kevin says:

        And did she in turn get upset? Of course she did. Anyone would when matched with such ignorant controlling people who backed her into a corner when so much was at jeopardy.

      • Timbuktu says:

        Kevin, professional musicians with valuable instruments travel all the time and this doesn’t happen to us. Our valuable instruments don’t give us an entitlement to aggressive behavior or inconveniencing other travellers. As much as we’d like to think it, we are not special. Especially in a TSA screening line. Someone, another pro musician, I believe, called it right early in this thread when they said a lot of how we are treated by TSA depends on how we treat them. The sooner you accept that, the easier your life and travels will be.

        For her to have said to a TSA agent “this flute is worth more than your salary for one year” as one witness commented, is in bad taste. So yeah, OK, she’s got a flute worth maybe a max of $40,000. For string players or even bassoonists that’s a joke, a drop in the bucket of what their instruments are worth. And yet somehow THEY are all getting thru TSA without the Chicago Police being called in.

        Please don’t demean the observations of people who were witnessess to the event because they are not musicians. We, as prof. musicians, are not in some privileged catagory where we have a right to disrupt TSA lines or our fellow travellers.

        Lastly, it is very easy to see from Jessica’s written comment here how she might have reacted under duress.

        • Kevin says:

          If people’s possession like are needlessly threatened, they have every right to defend them. This was highly unusual for her too- follow her other public posts. She was in like 8 or 9 other airports that week. If she was hands down rude all the time, without any provocation, this would happen to her every time too. And yet it never did.

          Jessica’s comments in this thread were in response to one person’s sexist thoughts, calling her “girl” and bringing her looks into it. That was out of line and whatever fool posted that deserved it, as so many others in the thread have observed.

          • Timbuktu says:

            Yes, but HOW to defend your possessions is the key here. It’s exactly what you and Jessica are missing. You can be right by the law from here to the end of time but if you
            can’t summon a little diplomacy in a situation like this you need to reexamine your career
            choice as a prof. musician who is required to travel.

            And everyone, absolutely EVERYONE is saying why not TSA pre-check? Stop trying to be right, pay the $85 dollars for pre-check and get back to playing the flute.

            Great flute players are a dime a dozen. We go thru all sorts of crap to make a living. Diplomacy is practically part of our job description. Being rightious is not.

            If I were Jessica, I would not want people remembering me for some stupid conflict with an uneducated TSA agent. And that is exactly what is going to happen here.

          • Joe says:

            If TSA wants diplomacy, then THEY need to give diplomacy first. Why? Because THEY are the ones imposing the constraints. Not Jessica. The TSA, in this case, had certainly lost all common sense. But, even that would have been forgivable if they had only compensated with a little diplomacy and worked the problem together with her. This was proven when TSA agreed to let her use paper towels to protect the instrument. Problem solved. And, by the way, TSA-Pre_Check does NOT prevent this kind of abusive treatment. They can single you out, any time they want, for a supposedly “random” check and threat. This is now 3/14/2019. TSA stupidity persists, as I found out last week when they tried to make someone with a pacemaker go through the body scanner.

        • Kevin says:

          Timbuktu- in your comment you referred to the TSA supervision as an “uneducated TSA agent.” Well isn’t that a perfect example of some “bad taste” right there! You don’t know their education level or IQ, and you just made a public poor judgement call and elitist assumption exactly like the type you’re accusing Jess of.

          • Jessica Schmitz says:

            Although a TSA pre-check is certainly the first logical assumption to go to, the TSA official with whom I spoke at great length said it wouldn’t guarantee anything regarding pre-clearing my instruments – or anyone’s instruments. TSA pre checks, just like regular security points, are subject to many constantly changing factors. As much as a quick $85 fix would be great, unfortunately there’s no silver (or gold) bullet.

  • Ann says:

    TSA employees may be low-paid working class, mostly minorities, but they’re trying ensure our safety. Do some passengers have the right to CHOOSE which of their carry-ons are put through the X-ray machine? Placing metal objects in the bin is not a new concept. Though she almost made me late for my flight home, I didn’t have the option of having MY carry-on X-rayed. I may not be a musician, but are my belongings less important?

  • bigapple says:

    I’m not a musician + don’t have any real bad airport experience to share. And I don’t even really know Jessica, but we met about two weeks ago when her landlord hired my company to clean her building. She let me in, and was just one of the nicest customers I’ve ever had. She offered me drinks, chocolate, even dinner, and talked to me for over an hour about nothing in particular. And when I was running out of time at the end of the night, she put on a pair of gloves and cleaned the bathroom with me. People always say you can tell the quality of a person by the way they treat “the help” and she could not have been more polite and kind, without any real reason to be. And the 25% tip was nice, too.

  • Just another flutist says:

    As a point of interest, this situation is under discussion on the Flute List, generally considered to be the “go to” internet group for all things flute. The international readership is is in the 10’s of thousands, all prof. and amateiur flutists or flute lovers.

    The attitude there is markedly different attitude there from what’s coming up here, with these rabid pack mentality comments about harming family members of TSA (??) etc.

    Flutists are recommending solutions, based on past experience and knowledge which have little to do with how Ms. Schmitz has been handling this. Someone has just quoted legendary flutist Robert Dick, also based in NY, who travels regularly with not one, but MANY valuable flutes. He advocates, above all, remaining calm, and respectfully asking for a superior in situations of conflict.

    Other pro flutists are weighing in with advice, suggestions, which all have to do with how WE behave going thru TSA, nothing about seeking revenge on TSA. These same flutists are expressing concern for not wanting to inconvience fellow travellers.

    In short, I’m afraid to say it, but Ms. Jessica Schmitz, while she has a quite a strong following in this particular thread, does not represent all pro travelling flutists very well.

    We support her, but we would never behave as she did in that situation. One by one, other flutists are coming forward to make this clear.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Apart from anonymously attacking readers of Slipped Disc and promoting some other site, what exactly is your point?

      • Just another flutist says:

        Mr. Lebrecht, with all due respect and gratitude for your help publicizing the difficulties of travelling musicians, when the inflamed pack mentality of comments following an article suggest harming family members of TSA agents (“Ruth Ann” Oct. 8 “Let’s publish their home addresses so someone can go to their homes and break THEIR expensive things! Maybe someone might even harm their family members!” it’s gone too far, IMHO

        • Kevin says:

          Jess said nothing about “harming families” and I’m sure she wouldn’t condone such ridiculousness. She could haVe easily released the names of the agents but didn’t. Don’t hold her responsible for other people’s extremism. And did you read second post? She said there was a calm respectful follow up and she’s urging people to see the common ground solutions. You people are just set to be on attack mode.

    • Jessica Schmitz says:

      HI fellow flutist-

      Although a TSA pre-check is certainly the first logical assumption to go to, the TSA official with whom I spoke at great length said it wouldn’t guarantee this not happening in the future. TSA pre checks, just like regular security points, are subject to many constantly changing factors, and ultimately, the personal discretion of the officers handling a specific item.

      Please do read my follow up (posted with photos on Facebook at and copied below) regarding the odd nature of my flute that causes unusual alarms. I’m not on flute email lists you mention, so if you’d like to share this update please do feel at liberty to do so. Or don’t- your call!

      Also to everyone reading and posting, please do focus on the fact that multiple levels of TSA leadership are working together and with me with great mutual respect and kindness on possible solutions moving forward.

      Thank you for being a part of the positive outcomes that will result from this experience!

      “Over the past 14 years, I’ve worked with several different flute makers to customize the instrument for ergonomic playing. When I was still in college, I was diagnosed with a type of arthritis that, because of the intense muscular overuse that goes with the life of a conservatory student, resulted in surgery on my left hand.

      Although my piccolo & alto are unmodified and comfy, my C flute is the only one in the world (I’ve found thus far, at least) that I can comfortably play.

      So that’s the scoop! 🙂

      • Just another flutist says:

        Hi, Jessica.Thank you for explaining about the modification. It would be interesting to know the specs on your head as well if you don’t mind sharing. Is it all of one metal – gold, I’m assuming – or is there a a riser or crown or lipplate of another material involved? Thanks!

        • Jessica Schmitz says:

          Hi there flute buddy.

          My pleasure! I feel the more we can all learn from this the better.

          Aside from being housed in its own case (made of plastic, leather, and velvet, I believe) there’s nothing unusual about the headjoint. It’s an unmodified Powell 14k Philharmonic cut that I purchased around ’99. Although the TSA manager has been very receptive of my questions about what made it alarm not only once (going through the initial X-ray) but twice (after the manual swab and inspection), he can’t disclose further information, citing aviation security protocol.

          So what actually happened, as well as why a third screening via X-ray on a metal that’s too dense for an X-ray to even penetrate, will (I’m afraid) remain a mystery to myself and the public. What I hope can come of this, however, is a standard protocol around the confusion last week of how to handle these situations should they arise in the future. For example, does an instrument really need to be removed from the case? If so, can it be wrapped in something for protection? If so, what? And who provides said item? And most importantly, will all agents universally follow such protocol?

          There are many questions… And hopefully soon some answers!

          If you (or any flutists for that matter) would like to discuss more shop stuff in private please feel free to email me via my website contact info.


  • Jessica Schmitz says:

    Hi everyone. Please read this follow up that came from many talks with a delightful TSA official. Both TSA and I ask that we all focus on the good that has come from this difficult situation and work together moving forward on finding solutions.

  • Mike says:

    I keep re-reading Schmitz story and there are so many levels of elistist hypocrisy it makes my head spin. She writes: When given such unchecked power the TSA are threatening not only citizens’ personal safety and civil rights…” Please explain to me where YOUR safety was threatened and since when it is a civil right to take a FLUTE on a plan and bypass X-ray? There are many witness statements here to assure me Jessica was expecting special treatment and when she didn’t get it, she used her public forum to belittle the working class trying to keep her and the rest of us safe. Irony, I love. Hypocrisy, not so much. Her flute playing better be damn good or this is what she’ll be known for.

    • Kevin says:

      The flute didn’t bypass X-ray, nor was she asking it to. It went through once, then was swabbed. Then went through a second time. What she wasn’t okay with is that on the *third* examination, the agents wanted it “loose in a bin.” She wasn’t offered any potential protection for the loose headjoint- that’s where the problem came in. All it took to be resolved is one lady saying: “we can wrap it in towels so its not scratched.” Jessica immediately complied, and profusely thanked that agent for being so logical.

      • Mike says:

        According to Jessica, the flute piece going through the X-Ray was “absolutely not an option” and she closed the case. This sounds to me like a refusal. Also, your narrative jumps to Jessica “immediately complying.” When was it the Chicago Police Department was dispatched?

  • Kevin says:

    also note that “TSA officials have not only apologized to her for their agents’ behavior but are also working in upper management to handle it.” They clearly think their people were out of line.

  • MahTuba says:

    How come nobody is questioning why it was necessary to call the Chicago police? This woman reportedly hit a TSA worker! She can deny it all she likes, but it is extremely unlikely that a Federal worker would fabricate such a story in front of hundreds of witnesses. That would put THEIR livelihood in jeopardy. I hate one sided journalism, and this is a text book example of exactly that.
    Furthermore, you all should be ashamed of your disrespectful treatment of TSA workers on this forum. Calling into question their individual intelligence and integrity is cyber-bullying, plain and simple.

    • Jessica Schmitz says:

      Dear Sir or Madam,

      Please do note that multiple levels of TSA leadership are working together, with their agents, with other musicians, and with me with great mutual respect and kindness on possible solutions moving forward.

      There is more on this train of thought here:

      Thank you for being a part of the positive outcomes that will result from this experience.


    • Jessica Schmitz says:

      Also please note the TSA manager with whom I’ve been speaking all week has informed me that it’s protocol that when an item cannot be cleared at security and the passenger is not allowed to proceed to the terminal, the police are called to remove the individual and the item from the airport. Even though in my case it was just a flute, if it had been something extremely dangerous officials don’t want it loose in the airport.

      • Mike says:

        Your account sure sounds a lot different now than when you first posted it: “…and when I insisted that this was not, in fact, ‘standard procedure’ and closed the case so they wouldn’t damage it, they called the Chicago Police department to have me removed from the airport.” Telling them what is or is not their own “standard procedure” is as patronizing as them telling you how to play the flute. Also, shutting the case on them is, in essence, refusing to have your belongings examined. Are you sure your behavior didn’t lead to the police being called?

  • Mary says:

    I just sent a complaint to TSA on behalf of this incident. I’ve been lucky so far with my instruments, but had a book destroyed by them going thru checked baggage in Toronto last year and not even knowing how to repack flat items. Don’t know if anyone even reads these complaints, but I urged for new standards in security measures for musical instruments, allowing musicians themselves to open cases and handle their own instruments for screening.

    • Jessica Schmitz says:

      Thanks very much, Mary! I think the concept that musicians should be able to handle their own instruments is a superb one, and I’ve passed it along directly to the manager with whom I’ve been speaking. Your thoughts and time are very much appreciated.

  • VV says:

    I was there!! I almost missed my flight to Dallas because of this self-righteous brat. Not only was she rude to security, she was possessed! I thought the TSA was pretty patient given her childish and demeaning behavior. I agree that the flute should be handled delicately, but this had far more to do with her precious ego.
    She may be a great flute player, but I wouldn’t hire her to play at my 6 year olds birthday.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      At least one other commenter who claims to have been there was – in the recollection of TSA agents – not. We stand by Jessica’s version.

      • Kevin says:

        There’s also that TSA officials have apologized and are taking appropriate action against the agents across many levels of upper management. They thought their own ppl were out of line too!

      • Ann says:


        There were DOZENS of witnesses. Those lines are very long and many more watched from the other side of the checkpoint. According to this post, you conferred with TSA agents to determine which of us were present? And those TSA agents were able to identify who was or wasn’t there? I find this very hard to believe.

    • Pat says:

      If she was rude to these people making ridiculous demands, more power to her! I’m a flutist and I would have been so furious w/ their treatment of my flute, a whole squad of cops would have to be called!

      • Kevin says:

        I agree! I’d rather another 9/11 than have to deal with RUDE TSA agents! Jessica, however, was nothing but polite and friendly to all involved — yet she was still threatened with arrest by the Chicago Police.

        • Sam says:

          Given the circumstances, I’m sure she wasn’t “polite and friendly”- I doubt anyone would have been. I sure as heck wouldn’t be! You go girl- fight the man.

          But seriously- “another 9/11”? That’s not cool. Don’t say sh** like that.

  • NancyM says:

    Any time a female- let alone a tall attractive female- acts anything less than 100% subservient to male authority in this country she is attacked on a personal level. Women’s rights press should pick this story up.

  • Ks. Christopher Robson says:

    Crumbs! That was a hell of a read!!! Thanks Norman! 🙂

  • AS42 says:

    I’m a musician who was on the tour with Jess- traveling with her for the past month- and could not be more thankful for her decision to stand up to the illogical behavior TSA displays frequently. Airport security has permanently damaged SO many instruments- ones costing much more than flutes. Mistreatment & disrespect to our profession while traveling has been going on long enough- it’s about time someone got the issue the attention it deserves. Miseducation, Napoleon complexes, and abuses of authority need to stop now.

    • Ann says:

      To label TSA employees as abusive, miseducated, and Napoleonic is a bit narrow-minded. They may be low-paid working class, mostly minorities, but they’re trying ensure our safety. Ms. Schmidt lecturing them on what is standard procedure is not much different than them telling her how to play the flute. Respect goes both ways.

      • Joe says:

        Wrong. The agents (TSA) have simply found their Nirvana which allows them to bully people with impunity. Inferiority complexes abound. Facilitating safety does not include being rude, smart mouthing, and disrespecting the people who have to put up with them. They just need to shut their mouths and smile while you try to quench their paranoia with a bit of common sense.

  • MikeNY911 says:

    There’s so much talk about how the TSA needs to become better trained to meet the needs of musicians with valuable instruments. By this same logic, you’re asking the TSA to understand the specific needs of EVERY profession. How about we acknowledge THEIR profession? Here are a few tips on how musicians can better understand security screenings at airports: TSA agents are trained to look for cylindrical metal objects as they are often used to make a bomb, a/k/a a pipe bomb. Allowing it to pass through unnoticed could raise just as many concerns and this blog could well have been about their failure to act. As a cop, I too, get labeled as an uneducated thug who represents “the man.” Often, based on my skin color, I am accused of being racist — ironic, huh? If you got to know me you’d learn I am also a musician, I own a Martin guitar worth more than my car, I have a BFA degree with a music minor, I was a 9/11 first-responder, and my father was also a cop who was shot and killed in the line of duty. You demand that law enforcement doesn’t profile, isn’t it only fair that you don’t label us?

    • Joe says:

      Idiot. You can talk, make excuses, and vomit English all you want. FACT: If the morons at TSA behave like thugs, then they ARE thugs, hiding behind their costumes (colors). Last week, a little TSA jerk with “small man” syndrome picks me for a “random” cell phone check. When I simply told my wife that I needed my cellphone out of the bucket because I had been, “selected for a random cell phone check”, apparently he didn’t even like that statement, and said, and I quote, “how would you like me to put you in the scanner?”. I told him, “I don’t care”, while at the same time thinking, “How far would you like me to shove my cell phone down your throat?”. He then used his little sani-wipe machine, found no threatening anti-matter on it, and said to have a nice day. I just snatched the phone back out of his hand and walked off with the knowledge that increasing numbers of TSA agents are getting cancer from sitting next to the scanners all day. Maybe some day, some “small man” will make you take your Martin apart at the airport, and then threaten you with the scanner and police when you look sad about it.

  • Richard says:

    I think you guys just want to hate on the TSA. Probably she was being a little bit diva-ish because it’s not that hard of a fucking solution to realize oh well I’ll put a piece of clothing down in the bin there, wrap it up, and gently send it through..I mean damn it’s a flute, i’m sure it gets bumped or banged sometimes. if you want to fight about it then yea it can become a problem. But these shit, people r just doing their jobs. Having to deal with all you stressed out haters must suck. Probably you’d be just as douchey if you had their job, lol.

    • Jay flowwrs says:

      Your an idiot. Half of the tea agents are too fucking stupid to do anything else. Tsa agents and mall cops come from the same ilk Weak minded little fuckers who have no ambition but want to feel powerful

  • S G Yahn says:

    Jessica, I think what happened to you, as described by you, amounts to assault, perhaps even sexual assault,… It’s sickening that a persons genital area can be groped by authority without probable cause,… Quite simply, if that were a requirement to fly then I wouldn’t fly… It feels with the police being called, and there bein threatening, a great amount of your liberty was taken, I’m sorry this happened, and am ready to stand with victims to end the violations going on right now…ad nauseum…