Monday, July 7, 2008

The evolution of the Bag: Going "Checkpoint Friendly"

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the evolution of the security checkpoint here during the past seven months. Some ideas like the Diamond Lanes and our screening of the MacBook Air have been tremendously well received while other topics like the science behind 3-1-1 and our recent ID requirement have generated lots of, let’s just call them spirited debates… In all cases, we’re working to create a system that is not only better for security but easier for passengers to navigate. We do this not because of a need to be loved, but because we increase security through a calmer checkpoint (think bad guys sticking out of the crowd more in a relaxed environment).

One project we’re currently working on that has been widely discussed on the Internet and several blogs is a “checkpoint friendly” laptop bag. This bag would allow our officers a clear, unobstructed view of the laptop and allow passengers to keep the laptop in the bag during screening.

Why do we keep calling it a “checkpoint friendly” bag you may ask? Because the simple truth is that if we were to “certify” bags or “TSA approve” bags, we’d be here for months and maybe years and not weeks developing an approved government standard for laptop bags. By not certifying or approving, we leave it to industry to develop bags that work and get out of their way. We expect these bags to hit the market in the Fall, in plenty of time for holiday shopping this year.

To support private industry’s foray into this new and exciting field, we have opened up our operations to bag manufacturers for a look see. The TSA screening operations at Ontario, California, Austin, Texas and Washington-Dulles have invited manufacturers in to see how their prototypes appear on our x-ray machines, both AT and standard. Officers working these checkpoints are providing valuable feedback on which bags work and which ones need more work. After all, the ultimate authority on whether a laptop will have to be removed from a bag will rest with the officer working the x-ray machine.

Once manufacturers think that their bags are indeed “checkpoint friendly,” then we expect them to produce bags for the market. Some things to look for in your “checkpoint friendly” bag, once they’re on the market, include:

o No metal snaps or zippers underneath or on-top of where the laptop would be X-rayed
o Plastic works much better than anything metal
o No pockets either underneath or on-top of where the laptop would be X-rayed
o Bags with thick dividers may cause officers to pull the bags for secondary screening and do not provide clear images
o No emblems or seals that are thick and placed on top of or underneath where the laptop would be
o Bags greater than 30 inches in length when unfolded often do not fit on a single image, requiring the TSA officer to view the contents of the bag as multiple images, which takes longer. It is faster to keep the fully opened bag to an opened length of 30 inches or less (although not critical for image clarity).
o If the bag does not present a clear image to the officer, he or she should be able to have easy access to the laptop computer for secondary screening to speed the process.



The key is a clear image of the laptop inside the bag. If wires, batteries or cords are on top of or under the laptop, it’s going to have to come out; which will slow security and anger a passenger that just bought this new “checkpoint friendly” bag.

So, all this talk about laptops may leave you asking, “Why do laptops have to come out of the bag today?” The reason is so we can get a good, clear look at them. It’s easy to hide items inside of or underneath laptops. By removing the laptop from the bag and placing it in a bin, the officer can quickly make the determination that the laptop hasn’t been altered or is hiding anything.

Christopher
EOS Blog Team

115 comments:

Jim Huggins said...

Christopher ...

While I appreciate that TSA is trying to make things easier with this initiative, I wonder if this initiative will just have the opposite effect.

If I understand your posting correctly, TSA is not going to officially certify laptop-bags as scanner-friendly, although it will encourage manufacturers to produce scanner-friendly bags in time for the holiday shopping season.

This means that next January, you'll have passengers arriving at checkpoints declining to take their laptops out of their bags. This will lead to mass confusion:

* Many passengers won't know the difference between a scanner-friendly and scanner-unfriendly bag, and will start putting scanner-unfriendly bags through the scanner, causing further delays.

* Many passengers will have bought bags labeled "scanner-friendly" but which aren't. They will become agitated when a TSO informs them that their "scanner-friendly" bag is causing x-ray delays ... thereby increasing stress at checkpoints.

* We have seen, regrettably, that not all TSOs know TSA's own rules well. I can see inconsistent procedures arising again, as under the old shoe-rule; some TSOs will insist on laptop-bag removal, regardless of the rule that says that it's ok "sometimes".

The current laptop-bag rule is inconvenient, to be sure, but at least it's consistent and simple to enforce. I fear this rule will lead to situations like happened with shoes in the old days ... when I approached a checkpoint never knowing whether my shoes would set off an alarm or not.

With respect, I think if TSA wants to encourage scanner-friendly bags, it's going to have to produce an easily-visible TSA seal-of-approval for such bags.

Tracy said...

Would it be up to us to insist that we were using a checkpoint friendly bag, or do you expect that they'll be easily recognizable? I fear the checkpoints where the officers would get tired of rescreening laptops that were not in checkpoint friendly bags and just issued a blanket statement that all laptops had to be removed, regardless of how much money I'd spent on my new, theoretically okay bag...

Anonymous said...

Nice try, but we're still talking about IDs.

And I'd rather keep taking my laptop out of my bag and be able to keep my current laptop bag that's served me well for years rather than buy one that, from the sound of things, is going to be made from inferior materials and not last nearly as long.

Anonymous said...

Dear Christopher,

The inner sleeve of my current laptop bag fits in with that full description - no zippers, no pockets, etc, etc. Since the TSA is a reasonable organization (or so you want to convince us), this means I can now put my laptop through the X-ray in its protective sleeve, right?

Somehow I have the feeling that I am going to get a no as an answer - and a message that I will have to purchase a new version with a special seal, when it becomes available...

Anonymous said...

So the TSA has now found out that X-rays can see through fabric? Brilliant!

When will you figure out:

That it is not the quantity, but the kind of liquids that matter. Limiting quantities and not using trace scanners makes no sense.

That persons that pass metal detectors and trace scanners without setting anything off should not have to take shoes off?

That checking ID makes no sense, since you are not checking against the no-fly list.

That the no-fly and watch list are way off the bat.

That full body scans are only OK if the person being scanned can see the person seeing the scan, and is clearly told it is a choice.

And plenty other unsound, unscientific policies...

Anonymous said...

Chritopher, this is news from last March.

?!?!?

Prototypes were supposed to be done by May.

Is the program not going well?

,>)

Brandon said...

Isn't this old news? Wasn't this mentioned last year? Are those plastic zippers causing problems?

These bags don't sound very realistic. I can't imagine a laptop bag with "No pockets either underneath or on-top of where the laptop would be X-rayed." I mean, I am literally scratching my head. Where do you out your cables, spare batteries, flash drives, discs, cell phone, mp3 player, external mouse, etc....

Also, any comment on the 10,000+ laptops that go missing (read: stolen) every week at airports? Will everyone having identical plastic laptop bags really be a good idea? Is the TSA working with local airport security to find solutions to the thefts? Maybe instead of quoting stats as your previous posts do (.0004% of travelers...) you could find solutions to these problems. 10,000 a week, regardless of what point-oh-oh-oh percentage of travelers that is, is still a big number.

CBGB said...

Why did you change the title of the Kipster's post if it was the 'final word' as we're seeing here?

Gunner said...

What if your laptop has nipple rings?

Anonymous said...

"Also, any comment on the 10,000+ laptops that go missing (read: stolen) every week at airports?"

BBEEEEEP! BS dectector going off!!!

Do you have any sources or links on this number?

Shamino said...

Of course, if there can't be any pockets or items above or below the laptop, that really means there can't be anything else in the bag.

Given these restrictions, the entire concept of a checkpoint-friendly bag is silly. My laptop bag always contains an Ethernet cable, a video cable, an audio cable, a mouse, a braided steel security cable, a mouse pad, a power brick and several blank CDs. When I'm traveling, it will also contain a wallet of DVDs.

To design a bag that can keep this much stuff completely clear of the computer, it would have to be twice the size of the computer. This would be impossible (violating airline carry-on regulations) for a large laptop. It could work for a subnotebook, but people buy those computers specifically to avoid having to carry large bags when they travel.

I think the concept of a checkpoint friendly bag may be a noble effort, but it is doomed to failure.

dieman said...

Can passengers use existing bags that appear to fit this policy? I have a fairly boring maccase sleeve (no zippers, just velcro) -- when can I just start putting the laptop on the belt with the sleeve?

Trollkiller said...

Brandon said...
Isn't this old news? Wasn't this mentioned last year? Are those plastic zippers causing problems?

These bags don't sound very realistic. I can't imagine a laptop bag with "No pockets either underneath or on-top of where the laptop would be X-rayed." I mean, I am literally scratching my head. Where do you out your cables, spare batteries, flash drives, discs, cell phone, mp3 player, external mouse, etc....


You would place them in a one quart plastic ziptop baggie. But remember you can only have cables that are less than 3 inches long and you can only have 1 baggie.

Anonymous said...

"other topics like the science behind 3-1-1 and our recent ID requirement have generated lots of, let’s just call them spirited debates"

It's not a debate when one side (TSA) is lying, and the other side (citizens) is speaking the truth in the face of your arrogance and intransigence and incompetence.

Anonymous said...

What makes someone who declines to show ID, but is willing to cooperate with your invasive interrogations, too dangerous to fly?

What is the difference between someone who declines to show ID and someone who lost their ID, if both are willing to cooperate with your invasive interrogations?

If you cannot answer these questions, how can you claim with a straight face that you are not, contrary to your attempts to say otherwise, targeting anyone who declines to show ID?

Why are 10 people a day who decline to show ID such a threat that they cannot be permitted to fly?

How much money does the new regime of invasive interrogations cost the taxpayer, compared to the previous policy of giving those who cannot or decline to show ID a pat-down and bag-check?

Why have you repeatedly refused to answer these questions? What are you afraid of?

Anonymous said...

Got to educate/train the screeners at the gate that in some cases the laptop doesn't need removal from the case. I see issues where a frequent flier gets into a screaming match with a TSO who didn't get the message/was asleep when the training movie was shown/just wants to project a show of absolute power over the passenger. What then? Cite the passenger for 'disrupting the security screening process'? Perhaps have the passenger arrested, laptop confiscated, destroyed as being a possible bomb?

Sorry, but I do not trust TSA to universally do the right thing. Your track record speaks volumes.

Mark said...

Wow, Jim Huggins read my mind. I travel weekly so rather than repeat myself, please re-read Jim's comment.

Mark

Anonymous said...

Really is this so important that it needs a post? I say just make everyone take the laptop out, we’ve gotten use to it already. When you think about it that’s the problem, if the traveling public gets acclimated to the process then for safety sake it most be changed. Side note, TSA makes such a big deal about calling it employees “officers” yet their own spokesmen calls the screeners. You would think if you guys were trying to get the whole officer thing to catch on you would let you PR lackeys know.

Anonymous said...

These bags don't sound very realistic. I can't imagine a laptop bag with "No pockets either underneath or on-top of where the laptop would be X-rayed."

I suppose it means that the bag can be spreaded (opened) so that the compartment holding the laptop will be unobstructed from x-rays (without spilling the rest of the package).

Anonymous said...

Bravo, gentlemen. Bravo. There must be a special award somewhere that you can give yourselves for your acting ability.

At least the TSOs on the lines have a clue what security actual is even if their managers don't.

Chris Boyce said...

Christopher,

Nice try at deflection and changing the topic. Rest assured that We, The People, are not going to let you trivialize the rape of the Constitution that you have committed every time a citizen or a foreign guest dares to buy a plane ticket.

I'm still waiting for your Privacy Impact Assessment.

We, The People, are going to stay right in your face and will continue to be your worst nightmare.

We demand our Constitution back. Give it back to us before we take it back.

yangj08 said...

Er... How would you make a practical laptop case that fits those specs? That would require placing all accessories in a separate bag, missing most of the point.

And the whole TSO discretion issue too- nobody has time to formally file complaints against "problem" TSOs with supervisors and such these days; to do so is certainly risking missing a flight/connection and retribution (you say it doesn't happen, but as long as things stay as they are...).

Anonymous said...

It sounds a little the "TSA" locks a few years back. We could lock our stuff and someone had a master lock. After the 3rd lock was cut off my checked luggage, I gave up on the TSA locks. Will the bags be the same thing? Spend a few hundred for a new bag and 2 months down the road I can't use it anymore. The TSA may have an unlimited budget, I do not.

Anonymous said...

"When you think about it that’s the problem, if the traveling public gets acclimated to the process then for safety sake it most be changed."

No, the problem is that nothing TSA does improves flight safety one bit, that TSA can't decide what its policies are or why it has them, and that the policies that are in place are by and large pointless and utterly unsupported in fact.

Anonymous said...

When TSOs can't recognize a laptop (Macbook Air) that any $8-an-hour Best Buy employee could, it's hard to take this seriously.

Really. If your guys don't get technology, how can you honestly or accurately expect them to screen it?

Dunstan said...

If the TSA can entice bag makers to produce a product that will go through their scanners, they could probably entice drink packaging companies to produce a sealing system that would pass their "security" issues.

Dunstan said...

Trollkiller said...

"You would place them in a one quart plastic ziptop baggie. But remember you can only have cables that are less than 3 inches long and you can only have 1 baggie."

And, if they are 1/8 of an inch too long, the nice TSO will cut off the plug so that it meets their criteria.

Anonymous said...

Unrelated to this post, but around the blogs and news lately I've been seeing reports about a stun gun like shock bracelet DHS considered for air passengers. Now, from what I can tell TSA rejected their use (rightfully so) and it was actually DHS that looked at the technology, not TSA. Still, since you're getting the blame, this would be a good time for this blog to practice a little rumor control. Just a suggestion. Letting this simmer is not a good idea.

Colby said...

OK, first of all it seems to me as though the laptop bags are designed as more of a means of preventing your expensive laptop from getting damaged while going through the scanners than a actual carry case. It would seem more practical that these cases are designed to fit inside your standard laptop bag rather than replace your laptop bag.

Second, how exactly do you suppose TSO's on the checkpoint are stealing laptops? Wouldn't it be a bit obvious to see a TSO walking off from one of the tables with someones laptop especially given the crowds at the checkpoints? TSO's are not master thieves and do not have the magic skills of Houdini.

Third, Nobody is saying you MUST buy one of the new checkpoint friendly bags. If you like the laptop bag you have and you don't want to change then by all means do so and keep taking your laptop out of the case when going through the X-Ray.

And finally, just because there's a blog on a topic other than what you want to discuss dosen't mean the blogger team is ignoring you, it just means there are a variety of topics to discuss and they want to try and diversify a bit.

Bartlett said...

I'm with Jim Huggins and Shamino on this one - I can't imagine a bag that would work for me. I'm the true road warrior right now - two laptops, a bag that is packed to within millimiters every time, and of course there are two power supplies, two mice, a 15-foot Ethernet cable, and the rest of it.

In order to get this stuff flattened out enough to pass muster at the scanner (nothing next to either side of either laptop) the bag would have to unfold like a garment bag. And, critically, it would have to do so while still (a) remaining small enough when folded to fit under the airline seat and (b) look good enough to pass muster at a contentious business meeting.

Oh, and it needs to cost little enough that it makes sense relative to the time it saves me (not much - ten seconds on each side of the machine does it for me).

I remain skeptical. And I do think that the moment you allow some (but not all) laptops to go through in their bags, you open Pandora's box for misinterpretation of the rules by passengers AND screening personnel.

Anonymous said...

The key is a clear image of the laptop inside the bag. If wires, batteries or cords are on top of or under the laptop, it’s going to have to come out; which will slow security and anger a passenger that just bought this new “checkpoint friendly” bag.

You're serious? Anger? I guess that means you should start a fourth lane designation, those passengers with "checkpoint friendly" bags.

Wintermute said...

Anonymous said...

"Also, any comment on the 10,000+ laptops that go missing (read: stolen) every week at airports?"

BBEEEEEP! BS dectector (sic) going off!!!

Do you have any sources or links on this number?


Your BS detector is broken. Though I don't have a link handy, and I'm too lazy to look it up, I've read similar numbers. Though I'd guess that many are misplaced, not stolen. Regardless, the issue remains: is there anything being done to prevent this, or will the "checkpoint friendly" bags make it worse?

Anonymous said...

Are the people that post here stupid or just proffesional complainers. If you took the time to read the post, (and the original information from back in February/March) then actually watch the video and see that what they are talking about and showing you is a computer bag that is bi-fold (meaning two (2) sides) with the laptop one one side and nothing else like zippers, buttons, buckles etc. and all of the numerous (and often unused) accessories like the power cables, spare battery, zip drive, ethernet cable, wireless card etc..... all in the other side (which you would unfold prior to placing it on the xray belt)this would not overlay the laptop, which in turn would provide a nice uncluttered view of just the laptop. As a frequent flyer and business man who travels everywhere with my laptop I welcome this as a much needed time saver. Thanks and I hope this works but Please do a better job of educating your officers about this prior to it being rolled out, and one more thing, tell us when we can do this.

Anonymous said...

"Are the people that post here stupid or just proffesional complainers."

Neither, we are patriots, unlike the TSA.

Anonymous said...

it sounds to me that most of you guys dont understand why TSA has you remove your laptops from your bags... let me explain. A laptop computer is not some magical device that contains fairy dust, unicorn shavings, four leaf covers and other socerery components... laptops contains hardware like hard drives, processors, graphics cards, motherboard, etc etc... All that with the massive battery pack makes anything else laying above or beneath the laptop OPAQUE... meaning the tso cannot see through the object. would you feel good about traveling if the tso couldnt see through a large object in a bag and just cleared it? i hope not. i hope this clears everything up for you all but i really doubt it will...

Anonymous said...

"Are the people that post here stupid or just proffesional complainers."

Neither, we are patriots, unlike the TSA.


No, most of you are hypocrites who demand security, but don't want that security to cost too much, or be too inconvienant. Oh, some of you are honest in that you say you'd accept a rather high level of insecurity, and accept any attacks as the price of doing business. I don't agree with that, but at least that's consistent. The rest? Crybabies.

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

"Also, any comment on the 10,000+ laptops that go missing (read: stolen) every week at airports?"

BBEEEEEP! BS dectector going off!!!

Do you have any sources or links on this number?


How come your BS detector only goes off when you are wrong?

Dell study: more than 12,000 laptops lost in U.S. airports each week

Try Google it is a wonderful tool.

Anonymous said...

"Are the people that post here stupid or just proffesional complainers."

Neither, we are patriots, unlike the TSA.

No, most of you are hypocrites who demand security, but don't want that security to cost too much, or be too inconvienant. Oh, some of you are honest in that you say you'd accept a rather high level of insecurity, and accept any attacks as the price of doing business. I don't agree with that, but at least that's consistent. The rest? Crybabies.


I'm saying that TSA's ineffective policies do not perform as advertised. The armored cockpit doors and the post 9/11-morning (remember flight 93?) policy of fighting against hijackers do more to prevent 9/11-style events than any of the TSAs procedures.

If TSA was truly serious about saving lives in the transportation sector, they would focus on reducing the 40,000 people who die on the roads every year, rather than waste 2,000,000 million person-hours per day looking for exploding drinks.

It is pure security theater, and the hawkers pushing TSA-approved laptop bags are just one more carny scam. How do you make money on 2,000,000 people-hours per day? The airlines do it by making TSA check boarding passes so passengers can't sell tickets. The luggage folks do it by selling TSA-approved bags. X-ray companies sell more snow-globe-detecting machines. And the airport services folks do it by making people arrive 2 hours early and divesting them of anything squishy. Your "security plan" is driven by salesmen, and paid for by others.

Heck, the airlines don't even trust you to use the misbegotten do-not-fly list on their customers.

Meanwhile, millions of passengers choose more risky forms of travel and some die.

TSA: No thank you for making us less safe.

Anonymous said...

"most of you are hypocrites who demand security,"

Which ones of us are 'demanding' security?

Anonymous said...

"No, most of you are hypocrites who demand security, but don't want that security to cost too much, or be too inconvienant."

A typical lie. The fact of the matter is that ID checks do nothing to enhance security, 3.4-1-1 does nothing to enhance security, and mandatory shoe removal does nothing to enhance security. No one here is objecting to things that ACTUALLY MAKE FLYING SAFER, like X-raying luggage and walking through a metal detector or hardening cockpit doors (the one and only chance since 9/11 that makes another 9/11 unlikely). What we object to is invasive measures that do not make anyone safer.

TSO Tom said...

I totally disagree with this idea. I think its ludicrous at best, and a security risk at worst. Here is why I say this, as a TSO who works the checkpoint, I see tons of laptops everyday....there currently is a Xray friendly bag, it has no pockets, no zippers where the laptop would be etc. Its basically a thin shell that clearly shows the laptop inside the bag. This is the ONLY bag that should be permitted through the xray. Please note, current procedures have not changed as a result of this bag so don't come to the checkpoint refusing to remove your laptop from this bag. But I believe that marketing a checkpoint friendly bag is a security risk because every manufacturer will have different standards for their bags. It will create confusion, and chaos. Bad idea, leave the procedure the way it is. The problem that I have is every time Joe Public complains, TSA changes something to the detriment of true security to appease Joe Public. We have to stop being so damned cry babyish and start thinking outside the box. If we cave to every whim of the public, soon there will be NO SECURITY at the airports and more planes will fly into tall buildings. Remember 9/11/01 guys? I DO! As it stands, laptops must be removed from the bag before being x-rayed. I believe this gives officers like myself a better chance to see the laptop as it comes out of the x-ray tunnel. I'll give you an example of a laptop that was "tampered" if you will. A laptop came through the x-ray, with shoes on top of it, I went to re-run the laptop and noticed a rather large hole in the lid. On top of that, the hinge was messed up to the point where the laptop would not open completely, the hole was filled with epoxy glue. Now this was a legit laptop and not a threat, but the appearence that it gave OUTSIDE the bag, would not have been noticed if it were left IN the bag. On top of that, TSA will now be expecting me to know the difference between a checkpoint friendly bag and regular laptop bag, and this is something I don't want to get into! Bad idea, big security risk. Leave it alone please.

fighter jock said...

I think that by the end of the year there will be enough forms of a checkpoint friendly bag out there that it will become routine. The motivation to make this works runs on both sides of the scanning belt. The passenger wants to get through the process quickly and the TSO wants the passenger to move through quickly. This is one of the few scenarios that doesn't have to be confrontational. It works for both everyone.

It will be easy to identify checkpoint friendly laptop bags because they will isolate the laptop from the other stuff. It will either come apart, fold open, or have no pockets at all. Yes, I believe a simple sleeve can be classified as checkpoint friendly. Since, the manufacturers will be self-certifying I would think that some products such as pocket-less sleeves can be grandfathered.

The real question is whether industry can keep up with the demand!

-Ben

yangj08 said...

No, most of you are hypocrites who demand security, but don't want that security to cost too much, or be too inconvienant.
This isn't inconvenience we're talking about. It's getting to the point where the fundamental rights of individuals that the existence of this country is based on are being violated.

@ the other anonymous- And this wasn't a problem before the TSA's existence why? The "laptops out of case" rule seems to only have come around after the TSA came into being. All you're doing with this rule is annoying people.

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

No, most of you are hypocrites who demand security, but don't want that security to cost too much, or be too inconvienant. Oh, some of you are honest in that you say you'd accept a rather high level of insecurity, and accept any attacks as the price of doing business. I don't agree with that, but at least that's consistent. The rest? Crybabies.


I will agree some cry because the security screenings are inconvenient, but they don't last long on this blog. They are what I call the bitch and go folks.

The rest of us "professional complainers" are here day after day because we demand a proper change.

Do you think I hang out here because I just have nothing better to do than to jack with the TSA and see how many monosyllabic TSOs I can irritate? (Dean and other intelligent TSOs take no offense I am not talking about you)

No, I am here because there needs to be a change to REAL security, not this pretend security we have now. I am here because it offends the hell out of me that an agency of MY government would act in a willfully illegal manner.

I am not talking about the greater constitutional question, I am talking about the simple statutory legalities of Title 49 Part 1540.

I am here because when asked about their illegal activity we are told "trust us" or "the lawyers said it was ok" but they are unable to back it.

Do you as a citizen not wish to hold the government accountable for their misdeeds? Are you comfortable with the ends justifying the means?

I am not.

I am so uncomfortable with the ends justifying the means I have taken action, one of them is posting on this blog another is filing a complaint with the OIG (complaint # DHS080708-36).

We can have REAL security with a minimal impact on liberty. That is all we want. I firmly believe that it is better to die on your feet than live on your knees.

Wintermute said...

Anonymous said...

No, most of you are hypocrites who demand security, but don't want that security to cost too much, or be too inconvienant. Oh, some of you are honest in that you say you'd accept a rather high level of insecurity, and accept any attacks as the price of doing business. I don't agree with that, but at least that's consistent. The rest? Crybabies.

Why are the TSA apologists the ones who typically resort to name calling? I'm not saying there haven't been a couple of anonymous trolls on both sides, but it's unnecessary.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

I guess we, as a nation, do not deserve safety, because we have squandered our liberties away.

For the record, I do not begrudge the TSA for attempting to do their jobs. But when our liberties are squandered on security theater, I have to say something.

Anonymous said...

Google:airport+laptop+stolen" result #2: "Survey: More than 10,000 laptops lost each week at airports". PC world said:Close to 10,278 laptops are reported lost every week at 36 of the largest U.S. airports, and 65 percent of those laptops are not reclaimed, the survey said. Around 2,000 laptops are recorded lost at the medium-sized airports, and 69 percent are not reclaimed."

From the study: "The rate of loss may be exacerbated by checkpoint security procedures..." and that LAX is the worst with 1200 lost laptops per week.

Stick that in your BS detector and smoke it.

Dunstan said...

"No, most of you are hypocrites who demand security, but don't want that security to cost too much, or be too inconvienant. Oh, some of you are honest in that you say you'd accept a rather high level of insecurity, and accept any attacks as the price of doing business. I don't agree with that, but at least that's consistent. The rest? Crybabies."

First of all, you get no points for childish name calling. If you were at all creative, your point of view might be considered.

Lumping all of your opponents in one loosely defined group has no merit either. I'm willing to bet there are nearly as many viewpoints and backgrounds as there are posters.

Finally, you or I or Kip for that matter can fly anywhere in the US in private planes without the TSA security hoopla, and just as safely. Maybe you would feel safer if you had to show ID to exit your home, personally, I don't think that was what the founding fathers risked their lives for.

Anonymous said...

Are there any statistics on passengers who take the wrong lap tops? Are there any numbers on passengers who just walk away and leave their lap tops and other things? Where are all of the passengers who had their items returned?

Anonymous said...

Trollkiller said...
Anonymous said...

"Also, any comment on the 10,000+ laptops that go missing (read: stolen) every week at airports?"
BBEEEEEP! BS dectector going off!!!
Do you have any sources or links on this number?
How come your BS detector only goes off when you are wrong?


Dell study: more than 12,000 laptops lost in U.S. airports each week
Try Google it is a wonderful tool.


An article in Computerworld tells a much different story.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Are there any statistics on passengers who take the wrong lap tops? Are there any numbers on passengers who just walk away and leave their lap tops and other things? Where are all of the passengers who had their items returned?

July 8, 2008 4:43 PM

Answer: It happens daily, dozens of times. People walk off the checkpoint, leaving behind such items as:
laptops
cell phones
carry on bags
keys
all kinds of other stuff, including CASH. The first thing they do is say "someone stole my...." Often times, the "stolen" item is found either in the person's pocket, their bag or something else. Instances of someone walking off with someone else's laptop, this happens often enough too, as alot of laptops look alike. I've actually watched two passengers argue over which laptop was which. All of this can be avoided by somehow affixing your name to your property, whether its a business card, sticky label or some other means. One more thing, don't be so quick to judge someone and say that something was "stolen" when most times its jut YOU who misplaced it.

Anonymous said...

"Remember 9/11/01 guys? I DO!"

Shame on you for hiding behind 3,000 dead Americans.

If TSA remembers 9/11, why does it keep implementing indefensible policies that would have done nothing to prevent 9/11 in the first place?

Anonymous said...

"The problem that I have is every time Joe Public complains, TSA changes something to the detriment of true security to appease Joe Public."

Can you please provide examples?

kthxbi

Lynn said...

In response to Anonymous:

The inner sleeve of my current laptop bag fits in with that full description - no zippers, no pockets, etc, etc. Since the TSA is a reasonable organization (or so you want to convince us), this means I can now put my laptop through the X-ray in its protective sleeve, right?

Somehow I have the feeling that I am going to get a no as an answer - and a message that I will have to purchase a new version with a special seal, when it becomes available...


No need to go out and buy a new bag just yet... If you think your existing bag meets all the requirements (it's possible it does), please do give it a try once the rule changes. Just be sure to make sure nothing - cords, pens or anything else - obscures the full view of your laptop. The other thing you'll need to know depending on the type of bag you have is how to put it through the x-ray machine properly. The video shows how to put the bag through - and we'll be sure to put information on our website and here on the blog before the rule changes.

Thanks for writing!

Lynn
EoS Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Lynn says: "If you think your existing bag meets all the requirements (it's possible it does), please do give it a try once the rule changes."

When will the rule change? Why not immediately?

Dan S. said...

o No metal snaps or zippers underneath or on-top of where the laptop would be X-rayed
o Plastic works much better than anything metal
o No pockets either underneath or on-top of where the laptop would be X-rayed
o Bags with thick dividers may cause officers to pull the bags for secondary screening and do not provide clear images
o No emblems or seals that are thick and placed on top of or underneath where the laptop would be


So, explain to me why my laptop sleeve, which has:
o A single velcro closure,
o No pockets
o A clear window
o No emblems or seals
o A snug fit around a 15" widescreen laptop
o Fabric and clear pvc construction

has never been cleared through without me removing my laptop from my sleeve (which itself was removed from my bag)?

Is there suddenly some new technology that allows you to see through rip-stop ballistic nylon? Perhaps a magical machine that can view the contents of a bag, even when it's closed...?

This policy is just as asinine as the one that says a single small bottle of shampoo or a single tube of toothpaste is verboten unless it's in a ZipLoc™ brand quart-size baggie (no gallon bags -- they're verboten, too).

And please, spare me the press release soundbites -- I spent 10 years working with federal, local and international counter-terror organizations, so the theater doesn't impress me.

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

An article in Computerworld tells a much different story.


It may, but I am not going to debate reported numbers vs. survey numbers. The validity of the study is not a concern of mine, Mr(s). BS Detector wanted a link so I gave them one.

Joseph said...

How about some shoes that don't have to come off next? That would actually be worth something. This is just a cheap positive PR piece.

fighter jock said...

Dan S. wrote, "Is there suddenly some new technology that allows you to see through rip-stop ballistic nylon? Perhaps a magical machine that can view the contents of a bag, even when it's closed...?"

Dan S., There is no new technology. Physics is physics. It's a new policy and change in the standard operating procedures.

I've cleared my Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Bag through a TSA checkpoint in May, long before TSA announced the "results" of their testing and before they setup the rules. The TSOs didn't require training or explanation. They'd heard that there was an initiative and were ready because they want to streamline the process. The way they work is obvious by it's construction.

The process is so simple, efficient and logical that it defies description. You separate the compartments and place it on the belt, flat. You go through the metal detector and grab the bag by the handle or shoulder strap and go. There is no unpacking, repacking, snapping, unsnapping or fumbling with the bag. The bag is designed to stay inside the 30" aperture of the scanner and all the construction materials in the bag are X-ray permeable so that even if you lay the shoulder strap over the laptop compartment it's not going to perturb the image. They are purpose built to disclose the contents to X-ray scanners while keeping the laptop enclosed in padding. Even the leather version's operation is indistinguishable from the ballistic nylon version.

If you've been into counter terrorism since you were 19 you've got to understand how easy it is to slip something dangerous into a laptop enclosure and also how difficult it is to sort through a 2-dimensional X-ray image of a very 3-dimensional pile of stuff in your laptop bag.

A Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Bag will be the standard for all the OEMs if they are smart. It's pointless to make a bag from here on out that isn't Checkpoint Friendly.

Anonymous said...

Trollkiller said...

Anonymous said...

An article in Computerworld tells a much different story.

It may, but I am not going to debate reported numbers vs. survey numbers. The validity of the study is not a concern of mine, Mr(s). BS Detector wanted a link so I gave them one.


And I simply provided a link to an article that raised questions what appear to be legitimate questions about the study's methodology.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"The problem that I have is every time Joe Public complains, TSA changes something to the detriment of true security to appease Joe Public."

Can you please provide examples?

kthxbi

Anonymous said...
"Remember 9/11/01 guys? I DO!"

Shame on you for hiding behind 3,000 dead Americans.

If TSA remembers 9/11, why does it keep implementing indefensible policies that would have done nothing to prevent 9/11 in the first place?

July 8, 2008 5:28 PM


Typical response, you say TSA is "hiding behind 3000 dead Americans" yet you complain about security, you complain about taking off your shoes, taking your laptop out of the bag, showing your id, I've come to the conclusion that 90 percent of this blog is whiners, 5 percent is frustrated TSO's, and the other 5 percent is TSA admin trying to appease "Joe Public". Stop complaining, crying and whining, and face the fact that our world has changed our way of living has changed, and with it comes sacrifices. Stop quoting Ben Franklin, he isn't here to see what we see, and you have no clue what he'd say today! Come to the airport, show your id, take off your shoes, take out your laptop, get through security, on your plane, and call me when you land safely! If TSA won't tell you where it is, I will you're all a bunch of cry babies!

Anonymous said...

Examples are in the most recent changes themselves. As many passes through the metal detector as it takes to clear....the theory being reduction in hand wanding. Problems lie within that can not be discussed here, but they do exist. Example two: The elimination of part of a pat down for certain types of individuals who alarm the metal detector, certainly not a good security measure. Example 3: The changes in the liquids rule, not because it makes sense, but because the public complained in this forum. Example 4: TSO's being told NOT to make announcements on the metal detector because passengers complained they were being yelled at. I could go on. None of these things have anything to do with real security, and they make the TSO's job MORE difficult not less difficult. Go ahead and tear my examples apart, it is what you do best anyway.

Anonymous said...

There have been some really good points about laptop bag design and I'll have to see what the end results are once they are sold in stores.

Did anyone else notice something odd about the article on this subject. It was concise, to the point, and professionally written....by Christopher???!!! Compared to his last article this is like night and day. Someone at the TSA brought in a ghost writer for our comedic genius given the comments on his last article.

Anonymous said...

"you complain about taking off your shoes, taking your laptop out of the bag, showing your id, "

Yes, because none of those things make anyone safer, nor does the 3.4-1-1 policy. Do pay attention in the future.

CBGB said...

@statistically challenged anonymous

this post 2/62 posts by blog team member as I write this, and I included the original post. Thats 3.2%

last post 2/104 (sorry but hsvtso dean doesn't count even if hes more helpful) thats 1.9%

Its there blog they should participate.

And saying that about Ben Franklin is really kind of amazing. When Ben franklin lived, we were actually INVADED by another country. There was a minimal permanent security reaction to Oklahoma city or the first world trade center bombing. Why was Ben Franklin right then and wrong now?

Anonymous said...

The passenger wants to get through the process quickly and the TSO wants the passenger to move through quickly.
**********************************
I beg to differ, the passenger does want to get through quickly, but the TSO's primary goal is to get the passenger through SAFELY not quickly.

Dunstan said...

" Anonymous said...

Examples are in the most recent changes themselves. As many passes through the metal detector as it takes to clear....the theory being reduction in hand wanding. Problems lie within that can not be discussed here, but they do exist. Example two: The elimination of part of a pat down for certain types of individuals who alarm the metal detector, certainly not a good security measure. Example 3: The changes in the liquids rule, not because it makes sense, but because the public complained in this forum. Example 4: TSO's being told NOT to make announcements on the metal detector because passengers complained they were being yelled at. I could go on. None of these things have anything to do with real security, and they make the TSO's job MORE difficult not less difficult. Go ahead and tear my examples apart, it is what you do best anyway.

July 8, 2008 9:01 PM"

Example 1: TSA should be all about clearing all of the innocent passengers with as little hassle as possible. On an average day that is about all but a dozen people at most, out of two million. And, out of the dozen that present some security concerns most of them are harmless as well. It is about time TSA stopped suspecting everyone, and focused on the truly suspicious people.

Example 2: Well, patting down toddlers and other people who do not fit the terrorist demographic is invasive, and a waste of time.

Example 3: Tossing out harmless items for the sake of security never has made sense to the average traveler. If you don't have the means to tell the difference between sugar water and high explosives, maybe you shouldn't be in the security business. At least work with the packaging industry to develop tamper proof, approved containers.

Example 4: Yelling has never increased security. It just makes the person doing the yelling look like a fool. Speaking calmly has both the effect of getting attention, and getting respect.

Dunstan said...

"Typical response, you say TSA is "hiding behind 3000 dead Americans" yet you complain about security, you complain about taking off your shoes, taking your laptop out of the bag, showing your id, I've come to the conclusion that 90 percent of this blog is whiners, 5 percent is frustrated TSO's, and the other 5 percent is TSA admin trying to appease "Joe Public". Stop complaining, crying and whining, and face the fact that our world has changed our way of living has changed, and with it comes sacrifices. Stop quoting Ben Franklin, he isn't here to see what we see, and you have no clue what he'd say today! Come to the airport, show your id, take off your shoes, take out your laptop, get through security, on your plane, and call me when you land safely! If TSA won't tell you where it is, I will you're all a bunch of cry babies!"

If this were about effective security, their would be far less "complaining". Your post is basically complaining, too, and you are overly focused on 9/11, as if it was ever the center of the universe. The world did not begin or end on 9/11, as tragic as that day certainly was.
Follow your own advice, this blog was started to engage the public, and while TSA didn't quite expect the range of responses, it has become a place where most dialog is acceptable. To many Americans,
(65% in a recent poll) 9/11 seems more like an isolated event, tied to the intelligence community, administration, and security system at the time. Paranoia does not assure security. The world hasn't changed much since 9/11, it was hardly the first historical event- There have been many more events before and after which were just as tragic.

Wintermute said...

Anonymous, it's important to remember our forefathers in times like these. Yes, times are different. But some of us have served our country to protect the liberties which are being stripped away by the current administration, sometimes via the TSA. So I'll continue to quote Ben Franklin until you quit name-calling. The readers can decide for themselves which is more relevant to recent discussions.

yangj08 said...

"The changes in the liquids rule, not because it makes sense, but because the public complained in this forum."

Do tell. What changes? I think I'd have noticed if 3-1-1 went away. Speaking of that, Chinese security is a lot better about exemptions for "medically necessary" liquids than pretty much any TSO I've met. In the States, my mother's medication usually can't go on the plane in her carryon because to the TSO, it looks like coffee and we have no prescription for it (how do you get a prescription for a bunch of medicinal herbs anyway?)

"Typical response, you say TSA is "hiding behind 3000 dead Americans" yet you complain about security, you complain about taking off your shoes, taking your laptop out of the bag, showing your id"
That's exactly why people are complaining about everything you mention.

"Stop quoting Ben Franklin, he isn't here to see what we see, and you have no clue what he'd say today"
From what I remember of history class, he saw worse. And still thought freedom was more important. So do I.

Anonymous said...

I think it's laudable that the TSA is aiming to make the screening process more "relaxing", but for me, the simple truth is I'm not going to be relaxed as long as I could randomly be subjected to a virtual strip search as part of the screening.

Dan S. said...

@ fighter jock:

Well, I'm certainly glad that you can subtract 10 from 29, but I was 18 when I started at the national security policy think-tank that I left early last year. (I got sick of dealing with irrational, politically-motivated, blind-to-reality politicians, their wonkish flunkies and their NewSpeak. Not to say that I don't still have friends, acquaintances and former colleagues inside the EOP, DHS, TSA, DoD, etc -- we just don't talk shop.)

I guess you don't get sarcasm -- so, here is it in plain english: the TSA, like much of the Bush Administration, doesn't get that marketing techniques shouldn't be driving security policies and procedures. No matter how much lipstick you slap on the pig, it doesn't look any prettier and it doesn't make the public any safer. Furthermore, theatrical restrictions and unnecessary hoops only aggravate and frustrate the public, even more so when the restrictions are lifted without any material change in the facts; i.e. my laptop sleeve was just as safe last Tuesday as it is today, but suddenly it's deemed "cleared." Just like how my tube of toothpaste is safe to fly in Germany, but not in the U.S., unless it's in a clear baggie.

I'm well aware of what a lump of PETN, PBX, TATP, etc could do to fuselage, hidden inside of a laptop battery case, portable radio, etc, but there's plenty of detection technology (which isn't in use, regardless) which would not necessitate removing items from luggage, would speed up the screening process, would potentially be more effective than a visual scan and would not cause the privacy concerns posed by some methods employed by the TSA.

Furthermore, I'm not convinced that the minimal effort at training TSO's and the overwrought marketing of the security 'threats' are the best way to ensure the safety of the traveling public (whose numbers are dwindling due to economic policies and hyperbolic security pronouncements.)

Oh, and nice plug for your company's "Checkpoint Friendly Bag"... very subtle.

HSVTSO Dean said...

Anonymous wrote:
When TSOs can't recognize a laptop (Macbook Air) that any $8-an-hour Best Buy employee could, it's hard to take this seriously.

The problem was not that they couldn't recognize the laptop computer as being a Macbook Air. The problem was with what the image appeared on x-ray as.

Bob didn't get into it beyond "Yeah, I can see why some people would have an issue with this..." because of SSI concerns.

After having seen a Macbook Air's x-ray image, I'm right in there with Bob on this one. My problem is the same problem Bob has - I can't say why the x-ray image is cause for concern because of SSI issues.

If you don't want to take "just trust us" as an answer, then maybe you might want to look into hiring on as a screener at your local airport so you can see it for yourself.

Anonymous said...

I have no plans to buy such a bag. Although digging my laptop out, my 3-1-1 Kippie bag out, my saline solution out, and my shoes off is a pain; I find that I am still much faster than most in the checkpoint lane because I have all of that stuff organised.

I recently flew through Denver, where you tout your Black Diamond Lanes. Actually a good idea, but like so many things TSA, poorly executed. There were signs saying they were available, but little to point people in the right direction, and nobody suggesting the appropriate lanes to passengers. (But there sure were a lot of id checkers. I feel soooo safe.)

So I find a Black Diamond Lane and end up waiting behind clueless people. It was no faster, and perhaps slower, than airports without the Black Diamond Lanes.

So again, poor execution on the TSA's part. Why should I expect a new laptop bag to help?

And I want to say something to the TSA apologists that claim everybody on here are crybabies. I don't think so. I think there's a big groundswell developing amongst the traveling public. Even occassional flyers are getting tired of nonsensical, inconsistent rules and being treated poorly.

I originally had big hopes for this blog. And there are 1-2 TSA bloggers who I think are great. But overall, good ideas just don't seem to be listened to. And it seems like its become just another TSA PR exercise.

Anonymous said...

"Once the new rules go into effect..." -- Lynn

"I've cleared my Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Bag through a TSA checkpoint in May, long before TSA announced the "results" of their testing and before they setup the rules. The TSOs didn't require training or explanation. They'd heard that there was an initiative and were ready because they want to streamline the process. The way they work is obvious by it's construction." - Fighter Jock


Sounds like another case of TSA's right hand not knowing what its left hand is doing. It's too bad the rules aren't clear. (Did Christopher's clear post clarify whether a sleeve should work? Today?)

fas said...

Its not such a good idea to have a specific laptop bag. Also such bags wont be cheap. However the intiative is good and i feel it should work.

Anton said...

That it is not the quantity, but the kind of liquids that matter. Limiting quantities and not using trace scanners makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

Several people have proposed that some of TSA's actions are not about security, or even security theater, as much as they are about controlling people.

Who knows about the game 'TSA says Freeze!'?

http://tinyurl.com/22fbq6

Has anyone in the audience been invited to play?

,>)

HSVTSO Dean said...

CBGB wrote:
Its there blog they should participate.

For real. EoS Team, where are you guys at? :(

Phil said...

HSVTO Dean wrote:

"The problem was not that they couldn't recognize the laptop computer as being a Macbook Air. The problem was with what the image appeared on x-ray as.

"Bob didn't get into it beyond "Yeah, I can see why some people would have an issue with this..." because of SSI concerns.

"After having seen a Macbook Air's x-ray image, I'm right in there with Bob on this one. My problem is the same problem Bob has - I can't say why the x-ray image is cause for concern because of SSI issues."


I stand by my previous statement:

"The issue at hand is that Bob stated in his video that as a matter of course he could not show us the x-ray image. After I wrote that I didn't "think it's a matter of course that you cannot discuss what some laptop computer looks like when viewed by an x-ray machine -- that's hardly classified information," Chance informed us that x-ray images are considered by TSA to be Sensitive Security Information (SSI) and attempted to refer us to information supporting his claim. In response to more questions from me, Bob, wrote, "it is common knowledge among the workforce that x-ray images are SSI," and "We're going to find an SSI expert to answer your questions." (Two weeks later, we have yet to see those answers.) [and three months later, I've still seen no followup from Bob]

"As I and others have pointed out that if our national security hinges on people not getting x-ray images of a laptop, then we're in big trouble. TSA should assume that anyone who could do anything bad with such an image will get one. Not showing it to us will slow that criminal down about as much as putting an extra stop light on the road to the airport."

CBGB said...

Blogger Bob posted a 'aviation news of the wierd' article yesterday, so they are around just not replying. They likely aren't replying here so as to not look like they are avoiding the more important issue. This truely is one of convienience not of basic rights.

Dean I really applaud you. People like you are the heart of the government by actually giving a damn about the people you serve. While I disagree with you sometimes, you are going out of your way and above and beyond to do your duty as a civil servant. I am curious, have other policies you have seen differed between SOP and what is said either here or in the media? On this blog alone we have seen two major disagreements in a row.

Travel_Medic said...

Wow the PR spin has gone to ludicrous speed.

Why is that TSA is the only ones that require laptops out when no other countries airports in the world i have traveled to since 9/11(Including LHR, CDG, FRA, SIN, HKG, MNL, NRT, MEL, BNE, SYD, AKL, TKK,etc) require it and still can identify items (fully loaded) in the bag without having me strip my bag down like TSA does. Some of these airports use the same equipment as TSA and still dont require the bag to be stripped. So please explain this, is this a training issue, a laziness issue on TSAs part, or just another way to make travel even more painful and take even longer due to the failures of TSA to provide any real security?

As for the SSI issue on X-rays, if there SSI then how come we saw backscatter images of peoples private parts??????? I will never go through one of those until you post a OSHA and JCAHO certified report on the x-ray doses these machines put out, and that the reports are certifiable via third parties following standard research protocols for verifying data validity. I dont know why it is but because the manufacture wont post this info i have a feeling these machines are nothing but a human microwave and im not gonna go through one until its proven other wise (like having every TSO including management be scanned 100 times a day while there employed by TSA to prove its safe, and as long as there willing to have there images posted on the net in full resolution without the blur filter)


Furthermore if you think im gonna get one of these bags; TSA can go smoke some water and other stolen items that they think is such a bio-hazardous explosive. Yet these items sit out in the open just waiting to explode and kill innocent people near checkpoints or be given away to the homeless.

Stay the Curse only a little over 4 months till the change is coming

Miller said...

"As I and others have pointed out that if our national security hinges on people not getting x-ray images of a laptop, then we're in big trouble. TSA should assume that anyone who could do anything bad with such an image will get one. Not showing it to us will slow that criminal down about as much as putting an extra stop light on the road to the airport."

I once was in a position to see the screen and suspect that the image itself isn't SSI, but instead the performance characteristics of the software to help identify suspicious items is SSI. That is understandable.

I expect TSA to look for actual weapons (i.e. guns), explosives, incendiary devices, and other items listed in TSA's charter. Given that the detection rates for simulated and actual material tests hovers around 50% success rate makes me question the efficacy of the organization tasked with air travel security. TSA, how many terrorists have you discovered and turned over to law enforcement? It isn't your job to detect terrorists. It is your job to disarm, by detection, those who would carry on weapons, no more no less.

The war on bottled water, shoes, liquids, semi-liquids, etc does little to instill confidence that TSA does much to provide for a safe traveling experience.

Disinterested, frequent fliers, see more than you can imagine. We see trends at certain airports such as which security check points to avoid because the personnel staffing those check points are unpleasant/slow. I can tell you, for instance where you can go at MPLS for a speedy, pleasant screening process. I can also tell you where you can go at O'hare for a very unpleasant screening process. ORD does have professionals working at some of the upper levels of management within TSA (i.e. the gentleman in charge of the baggage screening folks is responsive to complaints).

I expect professional behavior on the part of TSA (from the newest TSO to Kip Hawley). I expect TSA to use common sense when dealing with people (set up a wall of rules and regulations and someone will figure out a way to bypass those same rules and regulations). Go to the TSA's website and you see things like lack of consistency (i.e. 3-1-1) from one part of the document to the other. That says that TSA threw together a document without doing much proofreading. This makes the traveling public suspect that the SOPs show lack of attention to detail in an organization that should focus on details.

HSVTSO Dean said...

Phil wrote:
[a whole bunch of stuff regarding the x-ray/laptop thing]

It's... a delicate situation. Yes, technically, any image on any screen on any piece of TSA equipment is categorized as SSI - I couldn't let you look at the screen on an ETD for example, and even here in Huntsville, where the x-ray on one lane is visible from the exit lane over a partition wall, if anybody actually does more than just takes a passing glance (i.e.; stops to look) we have to tell them to move along.

Yes, technically, that's true. What you were told in that regard is accurate. And, for most people, that would be enough.

But... there's more to it than that.

What I saw, frankly, was frightening. I'm not going to outline it, not only because it's SSI anyway, but because I do not want to potentially give a potent weapon to any adversary that might wish us or our interests at home or abroad harm by reading what I write. You might disagree with me on that, but I'm not going to do it. I refuse to even possibly do it.

My not going into it might qualify as just another red light on the way to the airport, but I'm not going to build a road directly to the place with no stop lights at all, as well as give them a map on how to find it.

CBGB wrote:
I am curious, have other policies you have seen differed between SOP and what is said either here or in the media?

Thank you for your kind sentiments, by the way. They're very appreciated.

As for answering that question... I'm going to have to get back to you on that one. Not because I have to look stuff up (well, not only that) but because my wife is starting to look at me cross-eyed. We're supposed to be playing Diablo 2 together right now, and here I am on the Blog again. :D

I'll make another post about that question soon. There's been a couple of things - though nothing that's hugely impacting, if you know what I mean. Most of it goes by without ever being noticed or cared about, really.

Anyway, I'll be back tomorrow sometime.

Anonymous said...

The answer to this is easy. Forget the bag and allow people to keep their laptops in neoprene sleeves. This would provide the laptop some protection and would be easy to take in and out of a larger bag.

Arizona Web Design said...

I agree with what Jim Huggins said. This is just going to add to more confusion.

Anonymous said...

What makes someone who declines to show ID, but is willing to cooperate with your invasive interrogations, too dangerous to fly?

What is the difference between someone who declines to show ID and someone who lost their ID, if both are willing to cooperate with your invasive interrogations?

If you cannot answer these questions, how can you claim with a straight face that you are not, contrary to your attempts to say otherwise, targeting anyone who declines to show ID?

Why are 10 people a day who decline to show ID such a threat that they cannot be permitted to fly?

How much money does the new regime of invasive interrogations cost the taxpayer, compared to the previous policy of giving those who cannot or decline to show ID a pat-down and bag-check?

Why have you repeatedly refused to answer these questions? What are you afraid of?

Anonymous said...

Oh where, oh where have our comments gone? Oh where, oh where can they be?

Anonymous said...

So, when the evolution happens, can I embroider "Checkpoint Friendly" on my laptop sleeve and just flow through like liquor on Bourbon Street?

Or is this post just some vaporware program y'all dug up to push the ID farce down the page?

Anonymous said...

"That says that TSA threw together a document without doing much proofreading."

Why should TSA put together documents with any more care than they put together their policies?

Anonymous said...

@: "...the officer can quickly make the determination that the laptop hasn’t been altered or is hiding anything."

So you are saying it is important to trust the X-ray screeners to tell if images like this look altered?

No wonder you get ~50% detection rates.

TSA is pretending it can accomplish an impossible task.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand this post. Are we, or are we not, allowed to put our laptops in their protective sleeves to go through the X-ray? These sleeves of course fit the description of the scanner friendly bags perfectly. If we are allowed to, fine, but it seems we are not. If we are not, what is the point of this post?? Why come up with a possibility for the future instead of changing things fr the better, now??

D said...

I wouldn't mind taking my laptop out of its bag, but one time, when I was going through an airport checkpoint, after the laptop exited the X-ray machine, the TSA worker handling the gray bin it was in accidentally shoved it off the conveyor belt so that the laptop fell onto the (hard) airport terminal floor. When it became apparent that I was concerned for my laptop, the TSA worker manning the X-ray machine informed me that this was a risk of sending my laptop through the security checkpoint. I don't think this was an appropriate comment, but that's not my main point.
I approached the supervisor, and she filled out a slip of paper with her name and information on the checkpoint location so I could file a claim if necessary. I was concerned, though, that if my laptop was damaged, it would have been my word against yours that you had damaged the laptop. I know you leave notes when you search checked bags, but is there a procedure for situations where a passenger believes that TSA has (potentially) caused damage to his or her laptop (or other item) during screening? If not, I think there should be, and I think there should also be a form to fill out, so that there is some written record.

yangj08 said...

"What I saw, frankly, was frightening. I'm not going to outline it, not only because it's SSI anyway, but because I do not want to potentially give a potent weapon to any adversary that might wish us or our interests at home or abroad harm by reading what I write. You might disagree with me on that, but I'm not going to do it. I refuse to even possibly do it."

If not us, shouldn't you, at the very least, be telling your superiors or getting something done about this? If you see a door that shouldn't be open, you (as part of the TSA's front-line) have an obligation to close it (or try to as much as you can), right? TSA should be spending less time controlling and annoying people and spending more time actually improving security.

HSVTSO Dean said...

Yangj08 wrote:
If not us, shouldn't you, at the very least, be telling your superiors or getting something done about this? If you see a door that shouldn't be open, you (as part of the TSA's front-line) have an obligation to close it (or try to as much as you can), right? TSA should be spending less time controlling and annoying people and spending more time actually improving security.

Oh, yes. Let's ban Macbook Air laptops from coming through the security checkpoints.

That'd go over real swell.

Other people much farther up the chain of command believe in our superhuman deadeye x-ray precision, though, so the best we (and especially I, as a bottom-ranked TSO) can do is try to live up to those expectations - we don't make policy, we very seldom even get to make input on policy. It doesn't make it less frightening, though. It's less a door that can be closed, I think, and more of a door that we just hope nobody notices is there.

And, just to keep this on-topic - whether it's in a checkpoint-friendly bag or by itself in the bin with nothing else on top of it makes absolutely no difference at all.

yangj08 said...

"Oh, yes. Let's ban Macbook Air laptops from coming through the security checkpoints.

That'd go over real swell."

Why ban it? Go follow the example of some other countries- if an item looks suspicious, manually inspect it. Test for explosives, then test the computer to see if it functions as one.

HSVTSO Dean said...

Yangj08 wrote:
...test the computer to see if it functions as one.

That's not exactly a definitive way of testing things, since many items such as that still function the way they're supposed to when used to emulate something (i.e.; a cell phone stun gun that can still make phone calls as well as zap someone. A watch that still tells time even though the push of a button releases a dose of mace from the top of the face.).

But since that's not here nor there at the moment -- what exactly are you trying to get at, dude? TSA isn't banning the Macbook Air from checkpoints, and they've put out the internal spotlight bulletins that describe how and why they can be superbly dangerous, as well as the countermeasures detailed to the TSOs themselves on screening for this particular threat. I'm not raising a shout about TSA not doing their job on being on top of this. I was pointing out to someone else that the problem wasn't related to just identifying the Macbook Air as being a laptop computer.

None of that changes the fact that what I saw and know about them, as a direct result of things that I can't talk about, is, frankly, chilling in terms of the kind of damage it could cause, and not only to aviation.

Why ban it?
Because, in my personal opinion, given the things that I know, that'd be the wisest thing to do in this particular, very specific situation.

Talk about a PR nightmare, though!

Anonymous said...

re: the danger created by the Macbook Air's appearance during scans.

What about all the new standard and UMP devices that are using SSDs?

There are going to be a flock of those coming through the checkpoints.

Do they present the same problems?

HSVTSO Dean said...

Anonymous wrote:
What about all the new standard and UMP devices that are using SSDs?

There are going to be a flock of those coming through the checkpoints.

Do they present the same problems?


I haven't seen any of those particular devices' x-ray images, but since the SSD in the MacBook Air is, indeed, where the problem arises from, then the answer is "most likely."

Ultimately, if I ever see any of those in an x-ray, I'll let you know.

Anonymous said...

As a TSO that sees laptops and other electronics on x ray every day I'd say the Macbook air although looking different than any other laptop does not look any more threatening than other large electronics and is actually easier for me to clear then some of the thicker devices out there. Yes they looked different at first but not threatening at least to me.

I'm not sure that HSVTSO Dean is looking at the same or similar images as I am. I've never had a problem clearing a Macbook air because they are so thin.

MSO Tso

kim said...

I can understand how so many laptops are stolen. I stopped carrying mine, first because I did not like the rough handling it got out of its' bag, and second, because mine was almost stolen due to the fact it was put through before I got through (line back up), and when my computer came through, the TSA person WALKED AWAY and left it sitting on the counter. I got to it just as someone was ready to grab it.

I contacted TSA and the airport where it happened, and not one response. Not even a "Sorry".

This scaner friendly bag sounds "scammer friendly" to me. Someone will be making money off of this little piece of bogus marketing.

HSVTSO Dean said...

Anonymous wrote:
I've never had a problem clearing a Macbook air because they are so thin.

Recognizing them as a laptop computer or being able to see through them is not the problem that I have with them.

I'd point you in the direction of what you need to look for, but apparently that particular TIS (You may have seen it anyway; it was the one with the two images side-by-side) was taken off the OLC, as I spent about twenty minutes looking for it yesterday morning.

Lacking the capability of doing that... well. You know as well as I that I'm not going to discuss what it is, here.

Regardless, I stand by what I said.

Anonymous said...

Dean I know what images you are talking about on the olc and agree with you on that. But frankly those type images could just as easily have been in a regular laptop, or even one of those old ones. Talking about this with out violation SSI rules is downright difficult, I'd agree.

I'll leave this at the x ray operator has a lot of responsibility with clearing bags in a very short amount of time. At our small airport we re-run a lot of bags for this reason. I hope other x ray operators and airports are as thorough. (I'm sure you have the same thoughts) Pulling large electronic items out of bags makes clearing them and ensuring that they are safe to fly possible. All the complaints that say: they don't make me pull them out in Europe would not comfort me in the least about flying in Europe.

MSO Tso

Aikido Teknikleri said...

maybe soon, they may ban to carry to laptop, who knows

Anonymous said...

Quite a bit of good additional information at checkthrough.com as well. It's a commercial site, so there is product info too, but the objective checkpoint-friendly program information is pretty detailed.

GSOLTSO said...

Brandon, with two minutes and a number 2 pencil, I designed a bag that fits the protocols outlined in this post. Not really hard when you think for a few minutes, now I am off to patent said design. Wow, nice to see anon has produced their thesaurus... Intransigent? I haven't seen that in... well a number of years. As for the idea of a x-ray friendly bag, it is great, it would allow someone to present their items without having to remove the actual item. It would create less confusion for x-ray operators which translates to ... anyone? anyone at all? Less bag checks! There will be problems with communications on this (any time you try to let 45000 people know how to do something new, there will be a modicum of chaos to start with), and we as an organization need to work with each other, the people coming through. I hope this can help the average business traveller (and college students) as they are the most travelled laptop users on average. It has promise if we all give it a chance.

Anonymous said...

I have been a business traveler for several years using John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana (SNA). Last week they implemented the Self Select lanes. It was the worse experience in business travel. The efficient lane where you were required to show your frequent flyer premium card or first class ticket is now of the past. The line used to be quick and efficient with other business travelers. Now, travelers select what they think they are. The sad thing is everyone thinks they are expert travelers. There is no validation of this expertise until they get up to the check point and are an absolute mess. This is the absolute worse idea TSA could have ever come up with. I hope Self Select Lanes will be eliminated and changed back to the more efficient process.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I have been a business traveler for several years using John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana (SNA). Last week they implemented the Self Select lanes. It was the worse experience in business travel. The efficient lane where you were required to show your frequent flyer premium card or first class ticket is now of the past. The line used to be quick and efficient with other business travelers. Now, travelers select what they think they are. The sad thing is everyone thinks they are expert travelers. There is no validation of this expertise until they get up to the check point and are an absolute mess. This is the absolute worse idea TSA could have ever come up with. I hope Self Select Lanes will be eliminated and changed back to the more efficient process.

July 31, 2008 11:36 PM



As a TSO @ SNA I would have to agree with you and that everyone thinks they are an expert traveler. There should only be 2 lanes, one for the "Business Traveler" and one for "Family's with SMALL children" and the rest should be open to anyone.

Ross said...

Hello Christopher,
I am more of a social traveler, but my father does a lot of business traveling and was incredibly excited about getting TSA friendly bag that was certified and everything. He brought it to the scanner at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta and with the bag open that said it was "check point friendly" he was asked by a TSA agent to remove his computer from the bag. He explained that it was checkpoint friendly and the TSA agent stared at my father like he was from outer space or something. The computer bag went through the x-ray machine without a hitch after it was explained. I think that the TSA can do great things for this nation, but I think at this point, something like this proves the lack of proper training of what is supposed to be our safety between here and there for getting on a plane. I hate to say it, but it seems like more of a farce to me than anything legitimate the way that the TSA operates. I have met very few TSA agents who seemed properly trained. Most operated trying to put fear into passengers and seemed to lack much real motivation to do their jobs.

Anonymous said...

Personally I am THRILLED to finally have access to a screening friendly bag. I travel with a disabled husband and trying to get his laptop out of his briefcase then out of its neopreen case, then keeping track of it and repacking it at the end ... as well as the same for process for myself is almost enough to bring me to tears sometimes. Several times the laptop has ended up being accidentally dropped. I would have paid the price of 20 bags to avoid that alone. With his new bag, he just unzips it and lays it flat, then rezips it at the end. BRILLIANT. It has totally changed my flying experience. I do agree that TSA should certify the bags that comply to eliminate the problem with the rogue TSO as well as give customers a clear choice.

web design said...

I reckon it's not a great idea to have a specific laptop bag. Also such bags wont be that cheap. However the intiative is good and i feel it should work.

roofers in leeds said...

I can understand how so many laptops are stolen. I stopped carrying mine, first because I did not like the rough handling it got out of its' bag, and second, because mine was almost stolen due to the fact it was put through before I got through (line back up), and when my computer came through, the TSA person WALKED AWAY and left it sitting on the counter. I got to it just as someone was ready to grab it.

John said...

I am always in when it comes to my security but If the rules are out of place and instead making it easy for you, then I guess I am out.

Dulceria Turco said...

airport rules, always makes me tired

Pattierson said...

it is a very unique idea though sounds bit annoying but i think as well as something is good for my security than i will go for that

Anonymous said...

It would be nice to have a scanner friendly bag. At least I don't have to open my bag or take out the laptop or my gadgets. This can also prevent bad people from placing unwanted things on my bag that can hold me at the airport.

cell phone purse with shoulder strap