The Transportation Security Administration is taking even more steps to garner feedback and answer questions. From partnering with American Airlines to connecting on Twitter, the beleaguered TSA knows it needs to be receptive and responsive to questions, as well as complaints about such inconveniences as long waits in security lines. So in an effort to cut down on potential confusion around what you can and can’t bring on a plane — or what you do and don’t need to take off as you go through security — the TSA started taking questions by way of Facebook Messenger on Thursday morning.
The TSA is the first federal agency to introduce a customer service platform on the social media site. The Messenger platform will supplement the administration’s existing @AskTSA customer service account on Twitter.
“We continue to work on improving the traveler experience and security effectiveness with innovative tools such as Twitter and now Facebook Messenger,” TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said in a statement to Today in the Sky. “By using social media to enhance the service that we provide, TSA is better positioned to assist travelers in real time while keeping transportation security our top priority.”
TSA’s social media presence certainly has not gone unnoticed, as the agency has logged 40,000 inquiries on Twitter alone. And given Facebook’s huge user numbers, it’s likely that the agency will be inundated by even more questions.
“With Facebook Messenger, we really want to be able to reach a larger audience,” TSA spokeswoman Jennifer Plozai said. “This fits in well with the way we interact with passengers now on Twitter,” where the agency responds to about a third of the questions it receives via that platform’s direct message function.
The agency is receptive to customer complaints, and hopes that the availability of platforms like Facebook and Twitter will make the TSA all the more approachable and useful.
“Our goal is to be there to help somebody if they’re frustrated,” Plozai said. “If they have a comment that’s not so flattering about TSA, we want to know what happened. We want to be able to try and clarify why our policies and procedures are in place. And to change somebody’s viewpoint, if we can, by helping them to understand our policies.”
You can reach the TSA via Messenger from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays.