Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Talk To TSA - Secure Flight: November 1st Marks End of Grace Period for Airlines

Talk to TSA Logo
November 1st is right around the corner and with that date comes cooler weather, fall foliage and the seemingly never ending battle between rake and leaf. It also marks the end of the year-long grace period for airlines to clear their systems of old reservations made before TSA's Secure Flight requirements took effect last year.

This means that Secure Flight will not approve the issuance of a boarding pass if the required information is not provided. Required information being your name, date of birth, and gender as it appears on your recognized government ID.

Secure Flight is a behind the scenes watch list matching program that fulfills a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission by assuming responsibility of watch list matching from individual airlines. By establishing a consistent watch list matching system, Secure Flight enhances aviation security and more effectively facilitates air travel for passengers.

Secure Flight watch list matching takes a matter of seconds to complete, and providing this data enables passengers to print their boarding passes at home and or at an airline kiosk and greatly reduces the likelihood of watch list misidentification. 

Blogger Bob has talked about Secure Flight here many times in the past and you can view all of those posts here on our TSA Blog, or you can visit our Secure Flight webpage. Here are answers to Secure Flight questions we’ve received through Talk to TSA:

What does the November 1 airline compliance date mean for passengers? The November 1 date requires passengers to provide complete Secure Flight passenger data when booking reservations so TSA can conduct watch list matching and approve airlines to issue a boarding pass. To avoid unnecessary delays and prevent misidentifications, passengers should provide complete Secure Flight data when booking airline travel, whether they have booked directly with the airline, a travel agent or an online booking site.

Will passengers still be able to book a ticket last-minute within 72 hours of a flight? Yes. TSA’s Secure Flight program can conduct watch list matching for passengers up until the time of the flight. Passengers will be prompted to provide Secure Flight information when booking travel. For reservations booked on short notice, or within 72 hours of the scheduled flight departure time, airlines must submit the required passenger information as soon as the reservation is made.

What happens if a passenger has an existing reservation for travel after November 1, 2010 and did not provide complete Secure Flight data when booking his or her flight? TSA advises passengers to contact their airlines or booking sources prior to arriving at the airport to ensure they have provided their full name, date of birth, gender, and Redress number (if applicable) as part of their reservations. While TSA’s watch list matching takes a matter of seconds and can be completed up until the time of departure, passengers should be aware that a boarding pass will not be issued until the airline submits complete passenger data to Secure Flight.

What if a passenger’s boarding pass and ID do not match exactly? Secure Flight and travel document checking are both critical security functions, yet they serve different purposes at different points in the security process. Secure Flight is a behind-the-scenes watch list matching process that takes place before checkpoint screening. Secure Flight asks that passengers enter their name as it appears on their government ID and passengers should strive to stay consistent between the name on their ID and the information they provide when booking their reservation. Once a passenger receives their boarding pass, the Secure Flight process is already complete.

At the security checkpoint, TSA strives to ensure your identification and boarding pass are authentic and validate you are who you say you are. Small differences in the name on the boarding pass and ID, like middle initials, should not impact your travel. It is not uncommon for the information printed on boarding passes to differ slightly from the information on IDs, depending on the boarding pass printing practices of individual airlines. Information requirements are explained in greater detail on Secure Flight’s web page.

John S. Pistole
TSA Administrator

Talk to TSA Logo
As part of the "Talk to TSA" initiative TSA reviews the questions and comments that come in and we plan to use the TSA blog to address some of the more common themes we are seeing - both the favorable and not so favorable. Security is a shared responsibility and we are always looking to hear from you.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Security is Not Optional

TSA’s job is to help keep the skies safe. Members of flight crews in or out of uniform whether dead-heading, commuting, or working are not exempt from security. It has always been this way. If procedures call for them to go through TSA checkpoint screening and there's an AIT machine present, they can opt out of AIT screening just like any other passenger, but they’ll also receive a thorough pat-down, just like any other passenger who opts out. Opting out of a pat-down and AIT screening would be the same as opting out of screening altogether, and that just can’t be done. The same even goes for TSA employees who are traveling. I go through screening every time I fly, as well as everybody from Officers all the way up to the Administrator.

Advanced imaging technology safely screens passengers for metallic and nonmetallic threats including weapons, explosives and other objects concealed under layers of clothing without physical contact to help TSA keep the traveling public safe. Feel free to check out our AIT page at TSA.gov or read some of the blog posts we’ve written on the subject.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Monday, October 18, 2010

MagViz: Dual use technology? Time will tell…

You may have heard about the MagViz recently. If not, you're probably asking “MagWhat???” Is it the latest infomercial gadget that slices and dices? Will it hook to your trailer hitch? Does it not only weigh the fish, but scale it too? Not quite, but it's just as neato as any infomercial gadget you’ve ever seen.

MagViz was originally being developed for medical screening purposes and during testing, it was later determined that it can detect and differentiate liquid explosives from a sports drink. (See Video)

So the big question is “When will this be available at airports?” Well, as for all technology used by the government, it will take time. It has to be tested and then a schedule has to be created for procurement and deployment to airports. None of this has been done yet, but rest assured, TSA is working with DHS’s S&T as well as the industry to develop technologies that meet our strict detection standards.

In the meantime, the 3-1-1 rules for liquids, gels and aerosols remain in effect. All liquids, except those that are medically exempted must be in 3oz or less containers, in a one quart zip-top bag, one bag per traveler. Speaking of medically exempt liquids and technology, we’re currently using Bottled Liquids Scanners (BLS) to screen sealed containers for a wide range of explosive liquids. The technology is used primarily to test medically exempt liquids brought through checkpoints in quantities larger than three ounces.

You can learn more about the MagViz by reading this post from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science & Technology Directorate "Snapshots" newsletter.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Friday, October 8, 2010

Strengthening International Aviation Security

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Seal
Today, the international community took a significant step forward on aviation security – the adoption of an international declaration to enhance global aviation security.  TSA does not conduct screening overseas; however, the U.S. works with over 190 countries as part of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to collaboratively enhance and strengthen aviation security standards worldwide.  I was pleased to join DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and DOT Secretary Ray LaHood last week at the ICAO’s Triennial Assembly in Montreal, Canada where we joined representative countries around the world to build an unprecedented consensus on strengthening international aviation security measures.

The attempted terrorist attack on Northwest Flight 253 on Dec. 25, 2009, in which Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried and failed to detonate concealed explosives, drove home the importance of aviation security to people around the world. Flight 253 originated overseas and by working with the ICAO, we are strengthening international aviation security and better protecting U.S.-bound flights.

Secretary Napolitano has taken part in major, ICAO-coordinated international summits with partners in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Western Hemisphere. These meetings all resulted in joint declarations on aviation security, setting the stage for the ICAO Assembly.

The adoption today of the Declaration on Aviation Security is an important step. In the coming weeks, DHS and TSA will continue to build on this momentum through joining our international partners to collaborate on identifying new and emerging threats, further enhancing ICAO standards and recommended practices, increasing information collection and sharing, improving and deploying more detection technology to defeat terrorists and prevent them from boarding commercial aircraft.

John S. Pistole
TSA Administrator

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Flying Can Be A Hair Curling Experience: Traveling With Curling/Straightening Irons

Curly hair. Hair. Some want it curly and some want it straight. Some even prefer no hair (this post won’t apply to them). In my case, I would like more hair, but such is life.

Back to the matter at hand – curling and straightening irons are common travel items we see every day at both the checkpoint and in checked bags. But believe it or not, we get a lot of search hits on our web page from folks trying to figure out if these are permitted on an aircraft. I am happy to report that these items, with the exception of the type that requires a butane cartridge (see below), are permitted in your carry-on and checked baggage.

The only kind of curling and straightening irons you have to be concerned with are the types that take a butane cartridge. These are only allowed in your checked baggage, as long as you only have one and a safety cover must be over the heating element. No spare cartridges are allowed. This type of iron is not permitted in your carry-on luggage. 

Remember, you can always use our new “Can I Bring” tool on the web, or you can download the My TSA app. “Can I Bring" allows you to type in an item and see if it’s permitted or not. If the item is not listed, you can suggest that we add it. 

Blogger Bob 
TSA Blog Team