Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Law Enforcement Officers Flying Armed

(Photo courtesy of Paul Keleher)

As of July 15, 2009, TSA implemented security enhancements to the process that allows state, local, territorial, and tribal Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) to fly armed.

When LEOs need to fly armed, they will now obtain a unique identifier code from the TSA via a secure law enforcement network. This new system is replacing the old method of clearance via written authorization from the officer's police department.

The beautiful thing about the security enhancements is that they use an existing infrastructure, so no additional costs are incurred while security is strengthened.

So now, in order to fly armed, a LEO will need to present their credentials along with their unique identifier code when traveling through a TSA checkpoint.

Why are we updating security procedures? As you can imagine, allowing somebody in the aircraft cabin with a weapon has to involve the most secure of check-in process. These enhancements to the process allow us to ensure that only properly credentialed LEOs with a need are flying armed.

Law enforcement officers flying armed serve as a deterrent aboard commercial aircraft. To date, due to support from our law enforcement partners, the rollout has been extremely smooth.

Law Enforcement Officers who meet the requirements can go here to get more info.

No additional costs + enhanced check in process + added security for passengers = WIN!

Blogger Bob

TSA Blog Team

Friday, September 25, 2009

Combining Security & Convenience: A Balancing Act

Media reports and security “experts” routinely ask if TSA really makes air travelers safer or if we are simply trying to make things more inconvenient in the name of security.

Safety and convenience can be a bit like oil and water at times, but TSA is always trying to balance the two. It’s not always easy, and we know passengers aren’t always thrilled to take off their shoes or put their liquids in a baggie. But you don’t take your shoes off because of Richard Reid and the liquid explosive threat isn’t over because the UK plot was foiled. Everything TSA does is rooted in intelligence, and every security measure is done to mitigate a threat.

Sometimes security measures come after a plot is busted, such as the August 10 liquids plot. In August 2006, existing technology could not root out the peroxide-based explosives from all the other liquids that come through the checkpoint. The threat was very real, and continues to be real, as all the news on terrorism this week shows. Three men involved in the UK plot have since been convicted for trying to blow up commercial airliners with liquid bombs. Watch this video to see the capabilities of liquid explosives to do catastrophic damage to a commercial airliner.

So we first enacted a total ban along with the UK and other countries. Then after national labs here and overseas studied the intel, we worked with international partners to come up with the policy of packing 3.4 ounce or smaller containers in the one quart baggie so passengers could take necessary liquids in their carry-on bags.

Other times, we proactively enact measures to mitigate a threat, like when we announced that remote control toys could receive additional screening last year, and again this month, when we deployed test kits to give added scrutiny to certain powders that could be used to make explosives. Both items can be used to create an IED, but instead of banning them, we use existing technology to mitigate the threat with very little impact on most travelers.

There are some other examples of balancing security with convenience to improve your travel experience:

Laptop Friendly Bags: Officers continue to this day to find gun parts and other prohibited items hidden in laptops, as well as tampered laptops. While it’s an extra step to take your laptop out of its bag, that extra step helps officers make sure they get a clear view without other items in your laptop bag getting in the way. So we worked with industry to come up with Laptop Friendly Bags that allow you to keep your laptop in your bag and give officers the clear view of the laptop that they need to keep you safe.

AT X-rays: Advanced Technology X-rays give officers a better and multidimensional view of your bag which in turn leads to fewer bag searches and reruns. AT X-rays can also be upgraded to address evolving threats.

Black Diamond Self Select and Family Lanes: Self Select and Family Lanes are based on feedback from frequent fliers and passengers with children or special needs. This enhancement allows passengers to travel through checkpoints at their own skill level and pace. TSA has also positioned technology to screen medically necessary liquids at the Family/Liquids lanes.

Imaging Technology: Not only has the use of Millimeter Wave and Backscatter made things safer for the flying public by detecting both metallic and non-metallic threat items that could be hidden on a body, it has allowed us to take a more hands-off approach when screening certain passengers. It has been a long time coming for passengers with metal implants who always have to undergo a pat down.

Alternative Screening Procedures: Good security requires giving the same level of screening to all passengers. While we must treat those with disabilities and other special needs with respect, over the years, we have seen many people try to get prohibited items through the checkpoint using wheelchairs, casts – even in prosthetics. If people think there’s a loophole, they will try to use it. That’s why TSA has created many alternate screening procedures for passengers with special needs such as disabilities, children, small infants , soldiers and wounded warriors.

Secure Flight: It’s critical to keep known terrorists off planes. But it’s unfortunate when people whose names are similar to those who are really on a watch list are unable to print a boarding pass at home or at a kiosk. It’s worse when someone in an airport tells a mom or dad that their child is on the No Fly List – because no child is. Secure Flight brought watch list matching back inside the government, so we could ensure a high level of security and reduce the hassle factor. Providing your name as it appears on your government-issued ID as well as your gender and date-of-birth reduces the chance of misidentification by more than 99% to make travel safer and easier.

Paperless Boarding Pass: The paperless boarding pass puts a 2D barcode encrypted boarding pass directly onto a passenger’s PDA or cell phone. It mitigates the threat of fraudulent boarding passes and it’s a customer service improvement for airlines and passengers.

TSA is not only concerned about balancing security and convenience – the equation isn’t complete without talking about privacy. Privacy considerations have been built into Secure Flight, imaging technology and other screening functions.

TSA’s layered approach to aviation security incorporates elements long before the airport all the way to the plane. You will never see or be affected by many of those elements. And while engaged passengers and hardened cockpit doors have gone a long way to preventing another 9-11 style attack, we also have to focus on preventing future attacks. As current media reports show, terrorists continue to look at IEDs, including peroxide-based explosives. Preventing an IED from getting on a plane involves intel-sharing, technology, highly trained officers and random, unpredictable screening procedures.

Kristin Lee

Assistant Administrator for Strategic Communications and Public Affairs

Quadrennial Homeland Security Review Phase III

On July 31, I blogged about the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) and mentioned its 3 phases. The first phase and second phases have included more than 26,000 unique participants. The third and final phase is right around the corner and will be September 28 – October 4.
The third and final National Dialogue session is focused on receiving feedback on the final proposals concerning:

-Counterterrorism and Domestic Security Management
-Securing Our Borders
-Smart and Tough Enforcement of Immigration Laws
-Preparing for, Responding to, and Recovering from Disasters
-Homeland Security National Risk Assessment
-Homeland Security Planning and Capabilities

The QHSR is a congressionally mandated review of the nation’s homeland security policies and priorities that will guide homeland security for the next four years.
Some of the discussion will be web-based and we invite you to participate.
For all you need to know about the QHSR including a video message from Secretary Napolitano, you can go to the QHSR Homeland Security Dialogue page.
Thanks,
Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

TSA Paperless Boarding Pass at 4 More Airports

That’s right, the paperless boarding pass pilot is at 34 airports now! It was brought to my attention after my blog post last week that 4 airports were not included in my list. Here is the complete up-to-date list:

Airports:

--Atlanta Hartsfield International (ATL) – Delta/Northwest
--Austin-Bergstrom International (AUS) - Continental
--Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) - Continental
--Boston Logan International (BOS) – Continental
--Charlotte Douglas International (CLT) – Continental
--Chicago Midway (MDW) – Delta/Northwest
--Chicago O-Hare International (ORD) – Continental, American
--Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International (CVG) – Delta/Northwest
--Cleveland Hopkins (CLE) - Continental
--Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County (DTW) – Delta/Northwest
--Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International (FLL) - Continental
--George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) - Continental
--Indianapolis International (IND) – Delta/Northwest
--John Wayne, Orange County, CA (SNA) – American, Delta/Northwest
--Las Vegas McCarren (LAS) – Continental, Delta/Northwest, American
--Los Angeles International (LAX) – Continental, American
--Memphis International (MEM) – Delta/Northwest
--Miami International Airport (MIA) - Continental
--Minneapolis-St. Paul International (MSP) – Delta/Northwest
--New Orleans International (MSY) - Continental
--New York LaGuardia (LGA) – Continental, Delta/Northwest
--Newark International (EWR) - Continental
--Orlando International (MCO) – Continental, Delta/Northwest
--Philadelphia International (PHL) - Continental
--Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX) – Continental
--Portland International (PDX) - Continental
--Raleigh-Durham International (RDU) - Continental
--Ronald Reagan Washington National (DCA) – Continental
--Salt Lake City International (SLC) – Delta/Northwest
--San Antonio International (SAT) - Continental
--San Diego International (SAN) - Continental
--San Francisco International (SFO) - Continental
--Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA) - Alaska

--Tampa International (TPA) - ContinentalAirlines:

Airlines:

Alaska: SEA

American: LAS, LAX, ORD, SNA

Continental: AUS, BOS, BWI, CLE, CLT, DCA, EWR, FLL, IAH, LAS, LAX, LGA, MCO, MIA, MSY, ORD,PDX, PHL, PHX, RDU, SAN, SAT, SFO, TPA

Delta/Northwest: ATL, CVG, DTW, IND, LAS, LGA, MCO, MDW, MEM, MSP, SLC, SNA


Also, while I’ve got your attention, the question keeps coming up as to how people will travel if they don’t own a PDA or cell phone. No worries... There are still people who don’t own computers, so we’re well aware that many passengers do not an will not ever own a cell phone or PDA.

TSA is working with airlines to roll out bar codes and scanning capabilities to paper boarding passes as well. We have begun preliminary testing at SEA, ORD, LAX, and SNA. Also, it’s important to realize this is still in the pilot phase and while it is expanding, it’s only in 34 airports right now.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob

TSA Blog Team

Monday, September 21, 2009

What happens to your prohibited items?

Guns and knives.
CNN ran a story today titled: From carry-on to eBay: The journey of airport security booty. It talks about what happens to items that passengers have to surrender at checkpoints.

It’s been a pretty popular piece so far, so I thought I would open it up for discussion on our blog.

Our officers would really rather not have you lose the trusty pocket knife your grandfather gave you. They would really prefer you didn’t have to surrender the knife you used to cut your wedding cake. When prohibited items come through the checkpoint, passengers are given options: 

1) Take the item to the ticket counter and check it in your baggage or a box provided by the airport.
2) Many airports have a US Postal Service or other shipping services area where boxes, stamps and envelopes can be bought so you can ship your items home.
3) If there is somebody seeing you off, you can hand the prohibited item to them.
4) If your car is parked outside, you can take the item to your car. 


If you’re not given these options, you should ask to speak with a supervisor or manager. 

We understand passengers aren’t always able to use these options due to the chance of missing flights, etc.

So, what happens to these items if passengers can’t use one of the options? Many folks are under the wrong impression that our officers get to keep the items. It just doesn’t happen. If somebody is caught pocketing the surrendered items, they are terminated. There is zero tolerance for theft at TSA. I know of somebody who was fired for stealing .69 cents.

Nico wrote a really informative blog post on this last year. For your convenience, I’ll just copy and paste it: 

So What Exactly Happens To All Of That Stuff? 5.05.2008

As every passenger and visitor to this blog probably knows, hundreds of thousands of items are identified each year by our security officers that are prohibited from being carried onto an aircraft. Of course, occasionally, items get through, but that’s a whole different post.

There are two classifications of items, prohibited and illegal. The prohibited category includes things like knives, scissors (larger than 4 inches), some tools, chain saws, swords, boulders, replica guns, bottled water, soda, toothpaste, hair gel, snow globes and on and on.

Illegal items are obviously guns, brass knuckles, switch blades. When discovered at the checkpoint, we contact law enforcement and they do what they need to do, maybe arrest, maybe a citation,…. it really depends on each jurisdiction.

We often refer to prohibited items internally as Voluntary Abandoned Property. Passengers call them confiscated…, either way; these items become possessions of the federal government, and are deemed excess government property.

While it may seem like we enjoy taking this stuff, the fact is passengers have choices. A passenger can go back to the airline and place the item in his/her checked bag. Some airports have mailing facilities or mail back programs so travelers can mail the item home. The item can be given to a loved one seeing you off at the airport or, if you drove yourself to the airport, you can go place the items in your car. Or for that matter, a passenger can go throw the items away in a nearby trash can. If they decide to do none of these and "surrender" the prohibited item to a security officer, they are considered excess government property.

Now before you go and post a comment about the options, I’m not saying they are good or bad options, I’m just pointing out that there are options. I know if someone is late for a flight, the last thing they are going to do is go back to their car, and wait in line again. Can we just agree these are options? Of course, the best option is to know what is in your bag and not bring a prohibited item to the checkpoint to begin with, but that’s not the point of this post.

Of interesting note, of all the items I have seen, most, almost all, could have made it from Point A to Point B, had the passenger simply taken the time to place it in a checked bag.

Depending on the size of the airport, each day, week or month, the items are picked up. Because the items are excess government property, we must follow General Services Administration guidelines for the disposition of the material. Many airports use a TSA-provided contractor who collects the “stuff” and disposes of it….. quite literally, throws it away. Or, as some airports do, we donate items to approved, non-profit organizations in accordance w/GSA regulations.

We have heard of local schools receiving the scissors. We have heard of local police departments training with the mace. Some VA hospitals sell some of the items to help make ends meet. Some non-profits, including several state surplus property divisions, sell the material on the auction web site eBay, and put the profits in THEIR coffers. TSA does not sell or profit in any way from the selling of this voluntarily abandoned property.

There have been references to this practice on this very blog, but the fact is, those news reports are plain wrong. Again, we are required to follow GSA guidelines for the disposition of this property and we do.

Now liquids are another story. As you can imagine we have voluminous amounts of liquid items surrendered daily and from airport to airport the disposition is different. Some airports have the local janitorial staff pick up the trashcans. Some are collected and picked up by our contractor and in some airports, both can happen, depending if a passenger throws the item away prior to screening or in the security checkpoint. Either way, it’s disposed of … that goes for liquor, water, lotions and everything in between.

Early on, there was a move to donate the liquid items to local homeless shelters but we were forced to suspend that practice after the determination was made that there is a liability risk. We couldn’t continue to donate items and not know if the if the water was truly water or if the shampoo was truly shampoo. While unfortunate, the litigious world in which we live forced the abandonment (pun intended) of that process. So now, those items are tossed out.

It is important to note, that currently there is a California state senator-sponsored bill that would require all California airports to donate these liquid items to homeless shelters. While it is unclear exactly how that would work, an effort to actually put these items to use is in the works; at least in one state.

A question raised many times on this blog is how can we justify throwing all of these liquids away in a trash can near the checkpoint if they are such a danger. While a fair question, the answer has been available in many different threads though not directly answered, so here it goes.

We have said since the institution of the liquid ban that the fear or threat is the combination of items, including liquid explosives while in flight to create an improvised explosive device. That combination means explosives, detonator and other components to have a fully assembled bomb. Take one component away and you have a collection of harmless items. Of course we don't want liquid explosives anywhere near us but without the other components, they're not causing catastrophic damage.

That’s why it is safe for us to store the items together in a trash can near the checkpoint and that's what we do with prohibited items. ~ Nico

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Friday, September 18, 2009

Paperless Boarding Pass Now at 30 Airports

You know, everywhere I go, people say: “Hey Blogger Bob, I hear the paperless boarding pass is available in more airports now. If you could blog about it, that would be awesome.”

So here goes…We’ve been trying out this paperless boarding pass thingamabob since 2007 and it’s been working pretty swell so far. Any cell phone or PDA that can receive and open attachments can be used. A 2-D bar code is sent to your cell phone/PDA, you open the attachment, scan it, and presto, you’re on the way through the checkpoint and to your gate.

Check out this blog post for more information on the pilot.

It’s now being piloted in 30 airports with 5 airlines participating. Here is the updated list:

George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), Ronald Reagan Washington National (DCA), Newark International (EWR), Boston Logan International (BOS), Austin-Bergstrom International (AUS), San Antonio International (SAT), Cleveland Hopkins (CLE), New York LaGuardia (LGA), Indianapolis International (IND), Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County (DTW), Minneapolis-St. Paul International (MSP), Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA), Chicago O’Hare International (ORD), John Wayne, Orange County, CA (SNA), Los Angeles International (LAX), Las Vegas McCarran (LAS), Memphis (MEM), Atlanta Hartsfield International (ATL), Salt Lake City International (SLC), Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International (CVG), San Francisco International (SFO), San Diego International (SAN), Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International (FLL), Tampa International (TPA), Portland International (PDX), Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX), Charlotte Douglas International (CLT), New Orleans International (MSY), Raleigh-Durham International (RDU), Orlando International (MCO)

Airlines:

Continental: IAH, DCA, EWR, BOS, AUS, SAT, CLE, LGA, LAS, SFO, ORD, LAX, SAN, FLL, TPA, PDX, PHX, CLT, MSY, RDU, MCO

Delta/Northwest: ATL, LAS, MEM, MSP, DET, SLC, CVG

Delta only: LGA


Northwest only: IND

Alaska: SEAAmerican: ORD, SNA, LAX

Thanks,

Blogger Bob

TSA Blog Team

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9-11

When you go through security checkpoints, your mind is on making sure you got the metal out of your pockets and the liquids out of your carry-on bag and what gate you need to head to afterward. Your goal is to get through and get through quickly, which means no chit chat. No time to pay attention to people. Before I worked at TSA, it was the same for me.

Two years ago, TSA employees were given the chance to share their memories of 9-11 as part of a historical archive and a way to share our experiences as an organization. I read all of the stories that were submitted, and it was a humbling experience.

One of the men who works in my building was working in the Pentagon, in the innermost circle where the plane went in. When the smoke got to his area, he used the skills he learned in the Marines, got his gas mask, and joined his colleagues in rescuing others. There were a few stories of others from the Pentagon who came to TSA as well.

If you fly through Las Vegas, you might be screened by a woman who worked on the in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. She was in the office that morning, but left the building to run an errand, and just as she was returning, the first plane hit. She tried to get back in to help her boss and colleagues, but the firemen wouldn’t let her in. She came to TSA and has committed her service to her colleagues who died and the firemen who saved her life.

A member of the military lost a colleague in the World Trade Center and another one in the Pentagon. After he retired from active duty, he wanted to continue to serve his country, so he joined TSA as a bomb appraisal officer. He’s one of the guys who comes to resolve alarms and teaches officers about explosives detection techniques.

A law enforcement officer who lost family members on the plane that hit the Pentagon joined the Federal Air Marshal Service so he could work more actively to prevent another attack.

A Transportation Security Officer in Hawaii carries a picture of an usher at her niece’s wedding with her to work every day. Shortly after the wedding, he was on one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center.

There were stories of people who lived near the crash sites who witnessed the events of the day. Some were near the buildings who had to scramble to get out, and some whose lives were spared when the Towers came down because someone helped them. A wife of a NYC fireman joined TSA to do her part. People who were high school students on 9-11 shared their stories.

Most of the stories were from people who didn’t know anyone on the planes or in the buildings, but felt a call to action. Over and over, they talked about wanting to do something , wrote “Not on my watch” and pledged their service to protect their country in memory of those who died.
We know you’re in a hurry when you’re going through security, but we wanted you to know that you might be screened or helped by someone like the people who shared their stories with us.
Today, we honor the victims of 9-11 and the heroes who gave their lives while trying to save others. Around the country, TSA’s officers, inspectors, supervisors and FAMs will rededicate themselves to the mission. We will never forget.

Thanks for all you do to help TSA keep the aviation system safe. And if you’d like, share your 9-11 story in the comments section.

Lynn

TSA Blog Team Member

Thursday, September 10, 2009

TSA Blog: 1,000,000 Hits!

I just wanted to make a quick mention that as I checked the hit-o-meter (delete-o-meter's arch-nemesis) this morning I was surprised to see that the TSA Blog had passed its one millionth hit. Some folks were sure we wouldn’t last more than a month after the launch, but one and a half years and a million hits later, we’re still kicking. One million hits! That’s almost as cool as Jerry Reed costarring on Scooby Doo. Almost…

We launched the blog in January of 2008 and have since published 188 posts (this is 189) discussing everything from exploding chickens to the most recent post on the screening of powders.

The blog has been a great way for us to explain the why’s of security while also addressing current TSA related events and busting myths. Make sure you check out our archives for a complete chronological list of our posts.

Thanks to all of our readers for helping us reach this milestone and we look forward to the two millionth hit!

Blogger Bob

TSA Blog Team

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New Procedures for Traveling with Powders

TSA is enhancing its ability to test powder at checkpoints across the nation. We haven’t received any specific threats that led us to this new procedure but certain types of powders can be used in improvised explosive devices (IED) so it just makes sense. 

Q: How will you test my powder?
A: Our officers will be using explosives detection tools including X-ray machines and mobile test kits. 


Q: How much powder can I bring?
A: As much as you like as long as it’s not one of the prohibited powders such as black powder or other hazmat. 


Q: Is this new procedure going to slow down the screening process?
A: No. Based on the frequency of the inspections during the pilot phase, you stand a very small chance of having your powder inspected. However, some items will alarm which TSA may not be able to clear. 


Q: What should passengers do if they are carrying powders?
A: Nothing different. Just be aware that some powders may require further screening. The majority of most commonly carried powders such as baby formula and makeup are unlikely to require any additional screening. 


Q: Will my powdered baby formula need to be inspected?
A: Probably not. During the pilot phase, we found that powdered baby formula did not cause any problems, but there is always the chance that it could happen. 


Q: Is this new?
A: No. We’ve been looking at various ways to screen powders since late 2008 at several airports: LAX, JFK, DCA, DTW. Also, we’ve been screening powders all along, but now we have a new tool we can use when we need to take a closer look. 


Q: Does this timing of this have anything to do with 9-11?
A: No. We’re starting this procedure now because the kits we tested in 2008 are ready to be deployed nationally. What we’ve learned from 9-11 and the UK liquids plot is that those who wish to do us harm are looking to use items that aren’t prohibited, and in the case of August 2006, items that seem harmless, to do damage to planes. This kit allows powders to come through checkpoints without inconveniencing the vast majority of passengers. 


Q: Is this an effort to find narcotics?
A: No. 


Q: What types of powders can be used as explosives?
A: Certain types of explosives, mixtures of fuels and oxidizers, can come in a powdered form and could be used as components of an improvised explosive device. 


Q: Will TSA require passengers to open urns with human remains to test the contents?
A: No. We have procedures in place to screen urns in a very respectful manner without opening them. But there might be a need for an officer to swab the exterior of the urn and run a test using this same kit. 


Q: What will officers do if they find a threatening powder?
A: They will follow the same procedures that are in place now. Bomb Appraisal Officers will be summoned to the checkpoint, and possibly law enforcement officers if necessary. 


Key Takeaways:

  • There is no ban on powder;
  • Inspections of powder are few and far between.

  • On the lighter side of things… 

    Q: Am I allowed to powder my nose?
    A: Yes. 


    Q: Can I wear a powdered wig through the checkpoint?
    A: Only if you’re a barrister or a member of the UK Parliament. 


    Q: Have you seen the movie “Powder?”
    A: Yes and it really creeped me out. 


    Blogger Bob
    TSA Blog Team

    Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    Traveling in the Key of Security: Musical Instruments & TSA

    Accordian
    I’m a former "professional" musician - now it’s just a hobby - and I can understand the fears of musicians who are traveling with their precious gear. 

    Trust me... musicians aren’t just being picky. Each instrument has its own feel and tone and sometimes it takes years for a musician to find their perfect implement of noise and expression. Instruments can also cost a pretty penny and most musicians aren't exactly living high on the hog.

    You've probably seen the old movie cliché where somebody doesn’t like their car touched, let alone looked at? Well… some musicians are exactly the same way about their instruments. 

    Every type of musician travels with their “axe.” Our officers see every type of instrument imaginable and successfully screen them daily. Pan Flutes, Sitars, Dulcimers, Theramins, you name it... 

    So here’s the guidelines and some tips on how to travel with your musical instruments: 

    • First off, you can’t bring a grand piano through the checkpoint. 
    • Instruments can be checked or carried on the plane. Check with your airline about stowing your instrument in the cabin (Especially if it is a larger instrument such as a cello) prior to travel so you can fully understand their policies. 
    • If you have a fragile instrument such as a stringed instrument, it is suggested you carry it on the aircraft. Brass instruments are safe to check as luggage as long as you have the proper case. 
    • Our officers need to either X-ray, or physically inspect your musical instrument. You’ll be involved in the process as much as possible. Basically, you can advise the officer the best way to handle the instrument, but you won’t be able to touch it until the inspection is complete. 
    • Your instrument may need to undergo an explosives trace detection test which involves running a soft cotton or paper swab across the case and instrument. 
    • It is not uncommon to check instruments as checked luggage and there are manufacturers that make road worthy and tough travel cases that will prevent damage. So basically, it wouldn’t be wise to put your guitar in a soft sided case and check it as luggage. 
    • If your instrument is a collector’s item and you are uncomfortable with others seeing what you have, you can request a private screening. 
    • When checking your instrument as checked baggage, include short written instructions, where an officer will notice them, for handling and repacking your instrument. Make sure these instructions are very clear and understandable to someone with no musical background. 
    • If you check your instrument as luggage, be sure it is either unlocked, or that you are using a TSA recognized lock. If your case is locked with a lock we can’t open, we may have to remove the lock if the instrument needs to be inspected. 
    There are many great tips and advice on the web for traveling musicians: League of American Orchestras’ Tips for Traveling Musicians (PDF) And many more… 

    And now, I'll exit with some of my favorite extra corny jokes about instruments:
    Q: Why did the man eat the Oboe? A: He had a strange taste in music.


    Q: What is the difference between an Oboe and a Bassoon? A: You can hit a baseball further with a Bassoon.


    Q: How do you fix a broken Tuba? A: With a tuba glue.


    Q: What do you do when a drummer knocks on your door? A: Pay them for the pizza.


    Two musicians are walking down the street, and one says to the other, "Who was that piccolo I saw you with last night?" The other replies, "That was no piccolo, that was my fife."



    I play the harmonica. The only way I can play is if I get my car going really fast, and stick it out the window. ~ Steven Wright

    Thanks,

    Blogger Bob
    TSA Blog Team