TSA Boarding Pass Confusion Explained

Yesterday I posted on the seeming randomness of TSA's boarding-pass demands. Then I dispatched Goldblog Homeland Security Correspondent Tali Yahalom to sniff out the actual rules governing what you need -- and what you don't need -- to traverse the most dangerous places in America, the unprotected, tightly-packed security lines at airports. She spoke with a TSA flack, Sterling Payne, who had this to say about the policy:

Because identity matters, TSA took over the travel document checking process to ensure passengers boarding pass and identification are authentic and the person is who they say they are.  Earlier this year, in an attempt to streamline the security screening process and to create efficiencies, TSA gave local airports the option to no longer request to see passenger boarding passes at the walk through metal detector.  While most airports have adopted this streamlined process, some airports may continue to request boarding passes be shown a second time at their discretion.

So it is true that TSA is now letting each airport make up its own rules. I'm all for empowering government bureaucrats, but this decision just breeds confusion and maybe even a little bit of contempt -- either it's important to show your boarding pass twice at security, or it's not. The confusion prompts letters like this one, from an angry Goldblog reader, that I received this morning:

I read your posting about the TSA's boarding pass issue, and I thought I would tell you about this recent event that happened when I was traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago. At LAX I kept my boarding pass out, and showed it to the guard at the X-ray machine. He looked at me like I was stupid and said, "You must not fly very much." In fact, I do, and said so. "We don't need the boarding passes anymore." A week later, I was at LAX again at the same terminal, and I kept the boarding pass in my purse. The guard at the X-ray machine said, "Boarding pass," and I said I left it in my purse. He made me go back and get it, and put my things through the machine again. It was unbelievable. Does anyone tell those guys anything?