Saturday, November 27, 2010

Moderation of the Blog, the TSA Delete-O-Meter, and Fake Twitter Accounts

Delete O Meter Screen Shot
The TSA Blog has been receiving quite a bit of attention this past month and I wanted to clarify a few things that have been popping up. It’s being falsely reported that I froze comments on the TSA Blog.

Comments were never frozen. Over 4,ooo comments were posted to  the blog in a very short period of time and we had to moderate them all prior to approving. When moderating, we work from oldest to newest comments. So, after posting several posts in a row, the newest post had zero comments for an extended period of time. In my dream world, I would have a command center with a moderation team. But the reality is that while TSA does have some folks who are able to assist; at times I am the only one moderating the blog, so your patience is greatly appreciated. 

We're not new to criticism here at TSA and we’re definitely not shy about posting negative comments as long as they’re not offensive or overly disrespectful and adhere to our comment policy. All you need to do is read what's been approved in the past 3 years and you’ll see that we’re pretty good at taking punches.

As far as the Delete-O-Meter, we created it to show that we’re not really deleting that many comments. Currently, the number is at 5,488. That might seem like a high number, but let’s do the math. Since January of 2008, we have received a total of 41,389 comments. So we’ve deleted a little over 10% and that number includes spam, double or multiple postings, and violations of our comment policy. The Delete-O-Meter is updated manually and is not a live counter.

We welcome your comments on postings at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) "Evolution of Security" blog. Comments submitted to the TSA blog will be reviewed before posting. This is a moderated blog, and TSA retains the discretion to determine which comments it will post and which it will not. We expect all contributors to be respectful. We will not post comments that contain personal attacks of any kind; refer to Federal Civil Service employees by name; contain offensive terms that target specific ethnic or racial groups, or vulgar language. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly off topic or that promote services or products.

You can read our full comment policy here.

We are also aware of several fake Twitter accounts out there that appear to be actual TSA twitter accounts. Please be aware that @tsablogteam is the only verified TSA Twitter account. All others do not represent TSA.


TSA Twitter Screen ShotWe recieved nearly a million visits this month and thousands of comments have come in. Thanks for you patience and most of all, thanks for reading our blog.
Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Opt Out Turns Into Opt In

Children with thank you sign for TSA. What some protesters threatened as an opt out day has turned into a TSA appreciation day.


As reports continue to come with normal or below-normal wait times, this will be our final update of this post today.

Though volume was around expected levels, our preparations for today kept wait times at such a minimum that some airports are closing screening lanes due to a lack of passenger throughput.

In addition to our operational updates from the field, we’ve rounded up news coverage from across the country about today’s airport travel experience:

The Dallas Morning News: TSA "outrage": There's no "there" there








Philadelphia Inquirer: Smooth traveling at airport






















Atlanta Journal-Constitution: No crowds, protests at Hartsfield



Additional Recent Clips, Op-Eds and Editorials

The Daily Beast: The Media's Pat-Down Frenzy






Operational Updates as of 5 p.m. EST:

Dallas/Fort Worth: One Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) opt-out today, and wait times consistently under 12 minutes.

Dallas Love Field: Wait times under 3 minutes.

Salt Lake City: Wait times no more than 5 minutes at both checkpoints one and two; when open, checkpoint 3 has a 2-minute wait time. Across the airport, we have all lanes open and 6 AITs in operation.

Atlanta: 39 total AIT opt outs today (again, out of 47,000 fliers). All were screened and continued to their flights.

Newark: Average wait times today by terminal were 6 minutes for A and C, 11 minutes for B.

New Orleans: The longest reported wait time was approximately 13 minutes. Six passengers opted out of AIT screening. All were screened and continued to their flights.

Iowa and Kansas: No disruptions, no wait times greater than 10 minutes. According to federal security director, lots of passenger compliments.

Denver: Current wait times are 3-4 minutes per checkpoint.

Colorado Springs: 5-minute average wait time, and no AIT opt-outs.

Minneapolis: Wait times are currently 5-10 mins. No incidents.

Detroit: No wait time over 20 minutes all day.

Green Bay: Wait time is 3 minutes.

Indianapolis: 24-minute peak this morning at 6 a.m. Nothing near since.

Louisville: 5-10 minute wait times.

Los Angeles: Los Angeles: 113 AIT opt outs across LAX’s 8 terminals, which is less than 1 percent of the approximately 50,000 travelers screened at LAX today. All AIT opt-outs were screened and continued to their flights.

Charlotte: 18,000 passengers screened so far today, and estimated 24,000 will be screened by end of day. 1 AIT opt out today.

Cincinnati: The peak wait time was 10 minutes, and average is 5 minutes.

Chicago O’Hare: The longest wait was 15 minutes at one checkpoint, and has been under 10 minutes airport-wide for the most part.

Cleveland: Under 20 minutes for wait times all day, with a 10-minute average. Current wait times are less than 5 minutes. 0.66 percent opt out rate today.

Boston: Approximately 56,000 passengers screened with 300 AIT opt outs, which is less than 1 percent of all travelers and less than a normal day at the airport’s 17 AITs. All were screened and continued to their flights. The longest wait time all day was 12 minutes in terminal A in very early morning, and it was very short lived given all lanes were open.

Detroit: 25,000 passengers screened today, and 57 AIT opt-outs. All were screened and continued to their flights.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Airport Travel Time Status Updates for 11/24/2010

Children with thank you sign for TSA.
Stay tuned as this post will be updated throughout the day. We hope you find the information useful.

This picture was taken earlier today at CVG.

Operational Updates as of 5 p.m. EST: (Final Report)

Dallas/Fort Worth: One Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) opt-out today, and wait times consistently under 12 minutes.

Dallas Love Field: Wait times under 3 minutes.

Salt Lake City: Wait times no more than 5 minutes at both checkpoints one and two; when open, checkpoint 3 has a 2-minute wait time. Across the airport, we have all lanes open and 6 AITs in operation.

Atlanta: 39 total AIT opt outs today (again, out of 47,000 fliers). All were screened and continued to their flights.

Newark: Average wait times today by terminal were 6 minutes for A and C, 11 minutes for B.

New Orleans: The longest reported wait time was approximately 13 minutes. Six passengers opted out of AIT screening. All were screened and continued to their flights.

Iowa and Kansas: No disruptions, no wait times greater than 10 minutes. According to federal security director, lots of passenger compliments.

Denver: Current wait times are 3-4 minutes per checkpoint.

Colorado Springs: 5-minute average wait time, and no AIT opt-outs.

Minneapolis: Wait times are currently 5-10 mins. No incidents.

Detroit: No wait time over 20 minutes all day.

Green Bay: Wait time is 3 minutes.

Indianapolis: 24-minute peak this morning at 6 a.m. Nothing near since.

Louisville: 5-10 minute wait times.

Los Angeles: Los Angeles: 113 AIT opt outs across LAX’s 8 terminals, which is less than 1 percent of the approximately 50,000 travelers screened at LAX today. All AIT opt-outs were screened and continued to their flights.

Charlotte: 18,000 passengers screened so far today, and estimated 24,000 will be screened by end of day. 1 AIT opt out today.

Cincinnati: The peak wait time was 10 minutes, and average is 5 minutes.

Chicago O’Hare: The longest wait was 15 minutes at one checkpoint, and has been under 10 minutes airport-wide for the most part.

Cleveland: Under 20 minutes for wait times all day, with a 10-minute average. Current wait times are less than 5 minutes. 0.66 percent opt out rate today.

Boston: Approximately 56,000 passengers screened with 300 AIT opt outs, which is less than 1 percent of all travelers and less than a normal day at the airport’s 17 AITs. All were screened and continued to their flights. The longest wait time all day was 12 minutes in terminal A in very early morning, and it was very short lived given all lanes were open.

Detroit: 25,000 passengers screened today, and 57 AIT opt-outs. All were screened and continued to their flights.

As of 3 p.m. EST:

We’re receiving reports of minimal wait times across the entire country – from Honolulu to Myrtle Beach and everywhere in between – and no disruptions.

Cincinnati: Nearly 5,500 passengers had been screened as of 12:30, 15 of whom opted out of AIT. All were screened and continued to their flights.

Denver: Walk-up service (virtually no wait times).

St. Louis: Wait times are less than 10 minutes, and seven passengers have opted for pat-down instead of AIT over the course of the day. All were screened and continued to their flights.

Miami: Some checkpoints have no lines at all.

Memphis: Wait times of 5 minutes or less, and five AIT opt-outs.

As of 12:30 EST:


Atlanta: Current wait time is 5 minutes, and AIT opt outs total 26 for the day so far, out of an estimated 47,000 passengers to be screened today (not including incoming international).


Seattle: Wait times below normal levels.

Wait times at all airports in the northwest and Rocky Mountain regions remain at or below normal levels.

Burbank, CA: We measured the wait times at one of our checkpoints vs. the coffee shop just inside the terminal past the checkpoint…the coffee shop took longer than the checkpoint. 

As of 10:30 a.m. EST:

Miami: No AIT opt outs.

Burlington, VT: Following a pat-down, one passenger commented, “That’s it? That’s all there is to it?  Why is the media making such a big deal?   I’ve received more invasive pat downs just going to a rock concert.”

As of 10 a.m. EST:

Boston: Highest wait time was 12 minutes, and that was short-lived.  Many, many compliments and few AIT opt outs.

Buffalo: No significant wait times. The longest wait time might have been 10 minutes this morning.

Bradley: Minimal wait times and no AIT opt outs

Phoenix, LAX and San Diego remain normal.

As of 9:30 a.m. EST:

Minneapolis/St. Paul: No problems, lots of passenger compliments, waits around 10 minutes.

Newark: No problems at EWR. More TSOs than passengers right now. Wait times minimal. There was a 25-minute wait time at B1 at 0430 right when the checkpoint opened, but whittled it down quickly.

LaGuardia: Very few AIT opt outs. No passengers opting out of a pat down. Wait times are very low. During the morning rush we had wait times of 15 minutes at two checkpoints.

Manchester, NH: No waits. Very positive passenger feedback. Here since 0500 with no issues.

San Francisco: No issues.

Albany: less than 30 minutes at all ALB lanes, no disruptions.

Portland, Maine: less than 15-minute waits, no issues.

Harrisburg, PA: Wait time is about 5 minutes, no long lines and passengers have been very supportive. 

No problems and minimal wait times at Kansas City (MCI), Wichita (ICT), Des Moines (DSM) and Omaha (OMA).

Phoenix: Normal operations.

Live shots on local TV at SLC show no lines at checkpoint.

Richmond: Wait times are under 10 minutes, no AIT opt outs, lots of thank yous.

Norfolk: Wait times under 7 minutes.

Reagan (DCA): Wait times are basically 0.

BWI: No waits, only 4 AIT opt outs.

LAX: Less than 5-minute waits.

Denver: Had 39-minute waits at 5 am, but now we're under 20 minutes. No protests yet; no one has opted out of AIT.

From Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma: Busiest checkpoint is less than 10 minutes' wait, rest are 3-5 minutes. 

Tampa: All wait times have remained under 20 minutes. No disruptions.

St. Louis: Highest wait time was 17 minutes early on for short period, but now about 5 minutes.




Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Administrator Pistole Reaches Out to Passenger for Pat-down Mishap at DTW

*** Update 1/27/2011 Readout of Special Counselor Kimberly Walton’s Participation in a Meeting with Thomas Sawyer and Advocacy Organizations ***

Administrator Pistole has reached out to the gentleman whose urostomy bag leaked during secondary screening at DTW. The Administrator promised to look into the incident. We’re reviewing the training that’s already being provided to our officers to see if needs to be updated. When our officers are hired, they are given extensive training on screening passengers with disabilities and they continue to receive recurring training throughout their career. TSA has established a coalition of over 70 disability-related groups and organizations to help us understand the concerns of persons with disabilities and medical conditions. These groups have assisted TSA with integrating the unique needs of persons with disabilities into our airport operations.

Also, keep in mind that passengers with disabilities can contact one of our Customer Support Managers to coordinate their screening. This way, they can have a chance to speak with an expert and explain the best possible way to be screened prior to arriving at the airport.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Monday, November 22, 2010

Check out Our Holiday Travel Tips


If you’re getting ready to travel for the holidays and need to brush up on airport security, you’re in the right place!

Travel Advice for Domesticated Turkeys: Stay away from humans.

The MyTSA App: Our new MyTSA App (Available as an iPhone App or Mobile Web App) amongst other great features has a “Can I Bring My…” tool. You can type in the name of the item you’re curious about and it will tell you if the item is permitted or not. If it’s not included in the list, you have the option of submitting it to us for addition. We even added “tatting shuttle.” Yep, we had to Google it too and they are permitted)

Wait Times: A wait time feature is available in our MyTSA application. It relies on crowd sourcing which means the more people who use this, the better. Spread the word!

Pat-downs: A very small percentage of passengers will need to receive a pat-down. To reduce the need for a pat-down, the most important thing you can do is take everything out of your pockets before you go through screening. You can put these items in your carry-on bag. Don't wear clothes with a high metal content, and put heavy jewelry on after you go through security. You will also receive a pat-down if you choose to opt out of our Advanced Imaging Technology. (Body Scanners) Check out this post to read some myths and facts about the pat-down.

The 4-1-1 on 3-1-1 (Liquids, Gels & Aerosols): Let me start by saying this. If you’re checking a bag, make it easy on yourself and just put your liquids in your checked luggage. That way, you don’t have to worry about 3-1-1. I know that suggestion doesn’t work for everybody. Some liquids are essential and some of you understandably would not like to pay to check your luggage. If you’d rather take liquids in your carry-on, please continue reading…

3-1-1 is the name for our liquid policy. You can read
here for more details, but here is the gist of 3-1-1… Each passenger is allowed to take one clear quart-sized sealable bag and fill it with as many liquids in 3.4 oz or less sized containers that will fit, while still being able to seal the bag. Basically, don’t stuff it to the point where it won’t close.

Make sure you take the bag out of your carry-on prior to sending it through the X-ray, or our officers may have to search your bag.

If you have liquids, aerosols, or gels that are used for medical purposes, they do not need to adhere to our 3-1-1 policies and do not have to be placed in a bag. You may be asked to go through a TSA Family Lane (see below) so we can expedite the screening process. The liquids, gels and aerosols will need to be removed from your bags.

Answers to common questions: Stick deodorant is not limited to 3.4 oz or less, but gel or spray deodorant is. Also, any liquid makeup such as eyeliner should be placed in the baggie. That goes for perfume as well. Powder makeup is fine.

Family Lanes: Frequent flyers hate it when they’re in line behind a family, and guess what… families hate it when the frequent flyer is behind them tapping their foot and sighing. That’s why we created
Family Lanes. They’re designed to let families take their time and ask questions without feeling rushed by the experienced frequent flyers who can zip through a checkpoint in no time. Also, as stated earlier, anybody carrying medically necessary liquids, aerosols and gels in excess of 3.4 oz may be directed to a Family Lane.

Foods: Pies are permitted, but they are subject to additional screening if our officers see any anomalies. (Additional screening of pies does not include our officers tasting the pie, no matter what they tell you…) Cakes, bread, donuts, turkeys, etc. are all permitted. If it’s a live turkey, you might want to have a word with the airline.
Here is a list of items that should be placed in your checked bags or shipped: cranberry sauce, creamy dips and spreads (cheeses, peanut butter, etc.), gift baskets with food items (salsa, jams and salad dressings), gravy (mmm gravy), jams, jellies, maple syrup, oils and vinegars, sauces, soups, wine, liquor and beer.

Travel Advice for Meleagris Gallopavo: Stay away from humans.

Gifts:
Wrapped gifts may need to be unwrapped. If there’s something in the gift that needs to be inspected, we have to open it. Our officers try their best not to mangle the gift wrap, but it’s not a guarantee and it also slows down the line for everybody else when we have to do this. It is suggested that you wrap the presents when you arrive at your destination. You also have the option of shipping the items as well.

Snow Globes: We are not in cahoots with the
Heat Miser, but snow globes are not permitted in your carry-on luggage. They are sealed containers full of liquid that would have to be opened and destroyed to test. We’re not in the business of busting snow globes, so we suggest you place them in your checked baggage or mail them ahead of time.

ID & Boarding Pass Checking & Secure Flight: As you approach a TSA checkpoint, you will see an officer checking IDs and boarding passes. Please have your
acceptable ID and boarding pass out and ready to present to our officer. If your ID is in a plastic sheath or other type of holder, it will need to be removed so our officers can properly inspect them. By having your ID and boarding pass out and ready, you’ll help move the line along faster. The several seconds it takes to get your ID and boarding pass out might not seem like much time, but it really adds up when you’ve got people in line behind you.

Also, folks have had questions about the
Secure Flight program and whether the name on your ticket has to match the name on your ID. The Secure Flight watch-list matching process occurs before a passenger even gets to the airport so if you get a boarding pass, the Secure Flight watch-list matching process is done. In other words, you are clear once you get that pass.

If you have lost or forgotten your ID, you will still be permitted to fly as long as you help us verify you are who you say you are by answering a few questions for us.

Travel Advice for Tofu Turkeys: You are not real.

Inconsistencies: You may notice your screening experience at one airport doesn’t match the experience of another airport. We realize this happens, and some of it is intentional. While it can be a little confusing for our passengers, it also makes things unpredictable for those who might wish to do us harm. Our officers also can use their discretion in different scenarios that allows them to use common sense and not abide by a checklist mentality that can be studied and defeated by those who wish to do us harm.

Shoes on Belt: We recommend you place your shoes on the X-ray belt as opposed to placing them in a bin. Why? It keeps the bins from getting too cluttered and allows our officers to get a better look at items to ensure prohibited items do not get on the plane. It also speeds things up when they get a better view and don't have to stop the X-ray belt for searches.

Travel Advice for Pilgrims: Leave your muskets at home and refrain from wearing clothing with large buckles.
And last but not least, please remember to remove your coats and outer garments.
Print out this handy dandy checklist (PDF) so you don’t forget anything and don’t forget to check out TSA.gov for a wealth of information on traveling through TSA checkpoints.

Also, we’re going to be Tweeting a TSA Holiday Travel Tips every day, so follow us on Twitter @tsablogteam for travel tips, blog post announcements, and other useful information.


Here is a video from our administrator, John S. Pistole with some important messages for holiday travelers.



Gobble, Gobble
Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team