Monday, July 26, 2010

TSA Goes Mobile

Whether you fly twice a month or a few times a year, if you get injured on vacation, lose your ID, or pick up a special souvenir on a trip, you might need information to help you get through the security checkpoint. We know that sometimes those questions come late at night, on a weekend, or right before you leave for your trip, so you don’t have a lot of time to get the answer.
Screen shot of My TSA app on smart phone.
So to help travelers get the information they might need quickly and easily, we launched the MyTSA mobile web app and iPhone app to put the information you need right at your fingertips.

To get the iPhone app, you can download MyTSA on iTunes for free, or look for it on the Apps gallery. You can find MyTSA on your smart phone at

On the iPhone app, you can choose to enable the GPS function, which will automatically pull up information from the nearest large airport. If you'd rather not enable GPS, the GPS doesn’t pull up the airport nearest you, or you want to search for a specific airport, you can decline and enter an airport manually. On the mobile web app, you just enter your airport manually.

The “Airport Status” function provides general airport conditions and delays for U.S. airports, courtesy of the Federal Aviation Administration. On the iPhone, you’ll see a map with red, yellow and green dots to note airport statuses and when you click on the dot, you’ll get delay information. On the mobile web version, you’ll get a list of airports with delays, or you can search by specific airport.

The “Can I Bring” tool was designed to answer the most commonly asked questions to TSA’s Contact Center about items passengers want to bring onto a plane. These questions make up about 70% of the calls and e-mails to the Contact Center, so by pushing this information out and making it available 24/7, we hope to reduce the time and energy for people to get the information they need, and save some TSA resources while we’re at it. Just enter the item you want to pack, and the tool will tell you if it’s permitted and which bag you should put it in.

Here are some tips to get the most out of the tool:
  • Just type the item, for example, “baseball bat” – don’t include “my,” “a.”
  • Only enter one item at a time.
  • Make sure you’ve spelled the item correctly.
  • Enter “deodorant” instead of “Old Spice Deodorant.” In most cases, avoid brand names.
  • Instead of typing a general item like “food,” be more specific and type “apple,” “sandwich,” or “yogurt.”
If you type an item and it’s not in the database, you can submit it to TSA for consideration. We update the database regularly.

The “TSA Guide” includes information on TSA’s liquids rules, information on IDs, and tips for military travelers, travelers with children and those with special needs.

Lastly, the app enables travelers to see wait time information posted by other travelers, and return the favor by posting their wait time. Calculate your wait time by noting how long it takes from when you get in line to when you get your travel documents checked.

We’re looking at feedback to continually improve it so that it meets travelers’ needs, and will keep you posted on improvements here on the blog.

TSA Blog Team

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

TSA Posts on DoD Live: Some Things Just Shouldn't Be Taken on a Plane

DOD Live BannerAs part of a blog series at DoD Live, I have written my second post titled: Some Things Just Shouldn’t Be Taken on a Plane. Especially Grenades. The image you see below shows items from just one year at one airport. Read more about it over at DoD Live.

Inert Exploisves
You can also read our first post of the series here: Figthing Terrorism With Technology

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Friday, July 16, 2010

Talk to TSA: I Want To Hear From You

Talk to TSA BannerWhat better way to start my first blog post than to let you know I am very interested in what the public has to say. My top priorities include improving TSA's counterterrorism focus through intelligence and cutting edge technology, supporting the workforce, and strengthening our relationships with stakeholders and the traveling public.

I've seen firsthand that strong counterterrorism efforts include an engaged and informed public and it’s imperative that we listen.

Talk to TSA StickerBecause I think the public’s voice is so important, I am launching “Talk to TSA.” It works the same as “Got Feedback?” did. You go to the web page and you can leave detailed feedback for a specific airport’s Customer Support Manager. The new and improved part of this process is that I will also be regularly reviewing your input along with the comments that are made here on the blog.

I commit to you that I will utilize “Talk to TSA” to address some of the more commonly asked questions and themes. I’ll be addressing those concerns right here on the blog. So send us your ideas, suggestions, and feedback. I’m listening.

John S. Pistole
TSA Administrator

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TSA Blog to Write Several Posts as Part of a DoD Live Blog Series

Armed With Science Banner
I've agreed to write a series of blog posts aimed at members of our armed forces over at DoD Live. Now that I think of it, maybe “aim” wasn’t the best choice of words when talking about soldiers. I’m a vet, so maybe they’ll cut me some slack.

Anyways, I’ll be writing several posts for DoD live and the first one was just posted on their “Armed With Science” blog for the Tech Tuesday series. Armed with Science highlights the importance of science and technology to military operations and celebrates those involved in cutting-edge research, development, and education.

The post talks about the various types of technology we use at our checkpoints. Future posts will address things that members of our military might have an interest in reading. As a former soldier, it gives me great pleasure to be able to write some blog posts directed at a military audience. Maybe I’ll reconnect with some old Army buddies?

Fighting Terrorism with Technology is the first post of the series. I’ll announce future posts here as they go live. Make sure to check out the other great posts at DoD Live.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Response to "TSA to Block Controversial Opinion on the Web"

Our IT department recently sent out an internal memo about TSA's efforts to improve our information security and prevent violations to TSA's acceptable use policy for personal use of government computers. The memo made its way to members of the media and now many are asking why TSA blocks "controversial opinion?" Well, just as many other government entities and corporations, TSA uses a security technology that limits access to certain categories of websites that are known to pose an increased security risk or violate the acceptable use policy for government computers. "Controversial opinion" is one of many of those categories. This category is an IT software catch-all phrase used to describe sites that may pose a security risk or violate the acceptable use policy, such as sites that promote destructive behavior to one's self or others. After taking a closer look, TSA determined this category may contain some sites that do not violate our acceptable use policy. This category is no longer being considered for implementation. However, employees will still need to avoid those sites that do violate TSA's acceptable use policy while using government computers. TSA employees can access any websites required for purposes of performing their job functions, and if they lose access to something they need, the access can be restored by contacting TSA's Help Desk.

TSA does not block access to critical commentary about the organization. Take a look at the comments on this blog and you'll clearly see that we allow critical commentary. This isn't a case of TSA blocking controversial opinions. Our intent is not, and never has been, to limit our employees' ability to access controversial opinions.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fireworks and Planes Don’t Mix

American FlagsIt's time again for the annual reminder about how fireworks and air travel are a bad combo.

So, in case you were planning on packing a bag of cherry bombs, fireworks on a plane are a no-no in your carry-on and checked luggage. And yes, people still try to bring them. Including sneaky children who put them in their bags without their parents knowing...

TSA Fireworks SignageWhile fireworks are prohibited on aircraft, they may not be prohibited in your back yard depending on local laws. If you plan on lighting some fuses this year, please consider the following guidance from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or this could be you.

Have a great 4th of July! Enjoy all of your annual traditions and stay safe! I know I’ll be partaking in a burger, baked beans, corn on the cob, and last but not least, apple pie! Mmmm...

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Please Post Off Topic Comments Here

I have long allowed off topic comments. However, after many complaints from folks who would understandably like to stay on the subject, I am providing this post as a place to comment things that are way off topic with the current post.

I’ve added a link to this post on our sidebar so people will know to post off topic comments here.

You now have the option of subscribing to posts, so you’ll be able to keep up with the comments here if you so choose. So it’s not as if your comment is being exiled to the land of forgotten comments. We’ll be paying attention, and you can stay up to date with an RSS feed.

As much as we’d like to hear about your synchronized swimming club, I ask that all comments posted here remain TSA focused and adhere to TSA’s comment policy.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Thursday, July 1, 2010

TSA Administrator John S. Pistole Is On the Job: See Something, Say Something Launch

TSA Administrator John S. Pistole Being Sworn In
Last week, former Deputy FBI Director John S. Pistole was confirmed unanimously by the Senate as TSA's new Administrator. Today is an exciting day for TSA as it marks Administrator Pistole's first official day on the job.

As part of his first day, Pistole was ceremonially sworn in by Secretary Napolitano at New York City's Penn Station where he joined her in a "See Something, Say Something" campaign kick-off event. He'll be riding the rails with the Secretary as a part of a whistle stop train tour through New York City, Philadelphia and Washington DC for the launch of the public awareness campaign that encourages passengers to report suspicious activity.

See something say something poster.The program is being launched in partnership with Amtrak just months after two alert street vendors reported smoke coming from a car in Times Square. They saw something, said something, and helped thwart a terrorist attack. This just proves what we've known all along. The public plays a very critical role in keeping our nation safe.

We look forward to hosting Administrator Pistole on the TSA blog in the future. Until then, please take the time to read his bio.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team