Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Risk Based Security For Passengers 12 and Under

Shoe signage for kids. We’ve been talking about risk based security a lot lately and it’s also been all over the news. Well, here’s more news! We’re going to start rolling out revised screening procedures for children 12 and under. The changes give Officers more options to resolve any alarms that may occur during the screening process for these passengers. It is simpler to screen children and they will be able to keep their shoes on as well.

These changes will allow our officers to stay focused on passengers who are more likely to pose a risk to transportation.

Let’s be clear. This will not eliminate the need for all pat-downs on children, and there will still be times that shoes might have to come off. 

In case you were wondering, this screening will take place with the parents present as we never separate children from their parents. Also, our officers will use their best discretion based on how old the child appears. They’ll be courteous though, and keep their guesstimates about the parent’s age to themselves.

The new procedures will begin in some airports this week with full implementation expected by the end of the month. You may have already seen these new procedures in action. We piloted the program this summer at Boston Logan International, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Miami International, Orlando International, Houston (IAH) and Denver International. 

Please understand that this isn’t a free pass. TSA will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures and nobody is guaranteed  expedited screening. 

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team 

 If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

PR concerns and security techniques don't mix well. Why are you publicizing this anyway?

TSM said...

So as long as the explosives in the shoes aren't metal, they can stay on and not be detected, right?
Because we know that no terrorist would ever use a child to smuggle explosives or anything else.
Keep up the good work, TSA!

Brian Wohlgemuth said...

as my eight year old would say......CREEPY!

Anonymous said...

The TSA delayed and lame attempts to alter distasteful policies are "too little too late" to alter negative perceptions which many American taxpayers now associate with your bureaucratic and unresposive organization.

Ellen said...

last time I flew, the TSA insisted on making me take off my flipflops so they could be Xrayed, but never checked my pockets. Intelligent people.

Anonymous said...

As a parent of two young kids who travels fairly frequently with them, thank you for not only taking a risk based (sensical) approach, but also for communicating with us passengers about the change. What you do isn't easy and it's thankless. I've been through countless airports in the US and I'm still amazed at how some screeners can still smile at the travelling public.

And generally, having four less items to track in the bins while going through security - WIN!

Anonymous said...

"Let’s be clear. This will not eliminate the need for all pat-downs on children, and there will still be times that shoes might have to come off. "
...
"Please understand that this isn’t a free pass. TSA will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures and nobody is guaranteed expedited screening."


In other words, you are just saying you're changing how kids are screened, but not actually changing anything.

Saul said...

Bob, how do you respond to these observations?

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2011/09/14/2011-09-14_tsa_rolling_out_new_screening_procedures_to_avoid_child_pat_downs_kids_under_13_.html

«In some cases, young children will still be asked to remove their shoes and may be physically searched.

"Unfortunately we know that terrorists around the world have used children as suicide bombers," TSA chief John Pistole told CNN.»

We also know that no passenger who has boarded a flight from the US has ever tried to detonate his shoes. And that no passenger who has boarded a flight from the US has ever tried to detonate his underwear. Yet we are continually forced to remove our shoes, and undergo the body scanner or a pat-down.

So how does your boss reconcile a general relaxing of procedures for children, while also acknowledging that children have been used by terrorists in the past? Why not also relax the shoe removal, remove the liquid restrictions, and eliminate the body scanner or patdown as a primary screening tool?

Is it because little of what your agency does actually is adding to aviation security, and to relax all these restrictions would be to admit that your organization has been wrong?

John Reimer said...

One approach to consider with the blog is to use it as an opportunity to elaborate on the 'whys' behind TSA activities, particularly with publicly-announced changes like this. Now obviously there is a limit to that :) but, for example, it doesn't take a rocket scientist (nor terrorist) to realize that kids' shoes are small, and that there is far less risk associated than with a man's size 10 because there's just far less space to begin with. Suspicious acting Little League teams of course being a different risk level. :) I think most people have problems with TSA because they don't understand the 'why', and there's some open space this blog can cover without compromising operational secrecy. Just something to at least think about...

Shellee said...

I say screen me and everyone else who gets on the plane. I get on in one peice and I would like to get off in one peice and arrive at my destination safely. I have seen many people walk away from car accidents.......but how many people do you normally see walk away from plane crashes??? If a plane goes down, I do not want to be on it and neither do most people, but they complain about the system. It is what it is deal with it.

Anonymous said...

Why not allow everyone to keep their shoes on, unless they alarm, as is done in the rest of the World (including for flights going to and over US airspace)?

S said...

Pilot program this past summer in Atlanta and Denver - sorry but I don't believe it! My 7 year old son and I flew from Atlanta to Denver and back at the end of July and he did have to remove his shoes!

Anonymous said...

Bob, why don't you just admit that shoes present no threat to anyone, anywhere, and end the farcical shoe carnival once and for all? We don't even need you to admit you've been lying about shoes for years and years. Just end the stupid policy, along with dumping the liquids nonsense, BDO nonsense, and porno scanners.

Anonymous said...

So you are still touching children when you know that a metal detector and trace detection machine would find any metals or explosives without touching... Brilliant PR.

Saul said...

Shellee, how many car crashes have you seen over the past 20 years? Now tell me, how many airplanes leaving from US airports have been blown up over the past 25 years? How many? That's right, none. (September 11, 2001 was successful because of the standard protocol at the time to not fight hijackers. No explosives detonated on any of the four flights. And it's explosives that has the TSA in a tizzy.) And the shoe and underwear bombers were rank amateurs, easily subdued by their fellow passengers.

So maybe, just maybe, if you're that worried about blowing up in mid-air, you should just drive, and leave flying to those of us who prefer to retain their dignity and liberties from unwarranted searches.

As you readily admit, driving is so much safer anyway: just think of all the crashes from which drivers have walked away.

Saul said...

Plus, Shellee, after going through the TSA you often are not 100% intact: you have lost a little part of you, namely your dignity and your ability to control who touches your body and who pries into your belongings. Are not one's dignity and liberties as worth fighting for and standing up for as the safety of one's physical body?

Anonymous said...

If children don't have to remove shoes now, why does everybody else still have to? I don't see why my shoes are more of a threat than a child's. I've travelled internationally and no other country has required me to remove my shoes and air travel was just as safe.

I have a suggestion and that is to stop the shoe removal for everyone. While your at it, get rid of the liquid restrictions too. If liquids are so potentially dangerous, why are they simply thrown into a normal trash can at the checkpoint? It's ridiculous what I've even seen at this blog. Ice is ok, but water is not for example.

Anonymous said...

“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.” - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Al Ames said...

TSM: "So as long as the explosives in the shoes aren't metal, they can stay on and not be detected, right?
Because we know that no terrorist would ever use a child to smuggle explosives or anything else.
Keep up the good work, TSA!"

Yes, TSM, because in countries where shoes aren't inspected, planes are falling out of the sky on a regular basis.

Get real, TSM. Shoes aren't the threat TSA makes them out to be. The rest of the world proves that on a daily basis.

Al

Earl Pitts said...

@John: "One approach to consider with the blog is to use it as an opportunity to elaborate on the 'whys' behind TSA activities, particularly with publicly-announced changes like this. Now obviously there is a limit to that :) but, for example, it doesn't take a rocket scientist (nor terrorist) to realize that kids' shoes are small, and that there is far less risk associated than with a man's size 10 because there's just far less space to begin with. Suspicious acting Little League teams of course being a different risk level. :) I think most people have problems with TSA because they don't understand the 'why', and there's some open space this blog can cover without compromising operational secrecy. Just something to at least think about..."

John, that answer is easy for TSA. The "why" is "Because we say so. End of story."

They can't produce any peer reviewed or independent evidence saying that their methods actually work, so they have nothing else to fall back on.

Earl

Anonymous said...

Quoted:
" Saul said...
Plus, Shellee, after going through the TSA you often are not 100% intact: you have lost a little part of you, namely your dignity and your ability to control who touches your body and who pries into your belongings. Are not one's dignity and liberties as worth fighting for and standing up for as the safety of one's physical body?

September 15, 2011 11:42 AM

--------------------------
No, YOU do not feel 100% intact. Many of us do not feel that way. I for one couldn't care less about the 30 seconds to 1 minute of my life that the entire screening process takes. If getting patted down and having my luggage looked into is what it takes to be safer, then big friggin deal.
I DO have the ability to control who touches me. I freely accept that that will happen when I ELECT to get on a plane.
Get over it, get on with your life.

Anonymous said...

It is sickening to see the attitudes of so many Americans who could not care less about their liberties as they cower in fear of the unknown terrorists that the TSA and its parent agency DHS tell us are lurking in every dark shadow.

"If getting patted down and having my luggage looked into is what it takes to be safer, then big friggin deal."

Except there is little evidence (beyond the TSA's words, and they're hardly a disinterested observer) that it is keeping you safe. There is little evidence that the airport security of today is any more effective than that that of ten years ago.

"I for one couldn't care less about the 30 seconds to 1 minute of my life that the entire screening process takes."

You miss the point entirely. I don't care if it takes 30 seconds. If during those 30 seconds a government agent is putting his hands on my body without any suspicion that I have committed a crime, then I feel violated.

And it is a damn shame that so many Americans these days are so scared of terrorism that they cannot even understand this most basic point.

Anonymous said...

Al Ames,

I am confused by your quote as you appear to be arguing in favor of the TSA's procedures yet your coment taken by itself reads like a parody of TSA procedures.

"Yes, TSM, because in countries where shoes aren't inspected, planes are falling out of the sky on a regular basis.

Get real, TSM. Shoes aren't the threat TSA makes them out to be. The rest of the world proves that on a daily basis.

Al"

With some minor editing:

Yes, TSM, because in countries where ENHANCED PATDOWN ARE NOT USED, planes are falling out of the sky on a regular basis.

Get real, TSM. UNDERWEAR BOMBS aren't the threat TSA makes them out to be. The rest of the world proves that on a daily basis.

Not Scared of Terrorists

Anonymous said...

So, riddle me this, you TSA bashers:

How many planes would be flying in this country (or anyhwere in the world) today if there was no security?

Do you think for even one moment that the bad guys aren't looking for ways, for the crack in the armor of US security to get their explosives onto airplanes around the world.

How many planes would have been brought down by those folks you obviously aren't aware of that are in our country today, are under surveillance today, are in our airports planning, today, are just looking for a way to get to the planes that are full of Americans, today.

So far, they haven't succeeded. Do you think that is because they aren't trying?
Do you think they would leave the airlines alone out of their goodwill?
These are TERRORISTS!! Their function is to impose their political, religious beliefs on the world and disrupt the peaceful way of life that most of the world enjoys. They will use terrorist methods to secure their victory.

Perhaps they have already won!
By taking away some of what many believe are our personal freedoms, by costing world governments (taxpayers) money that could be better spent (but not at this moment) on peaceful pursuits; by dividing our citzens over the issues that obviously are important enough to be debated here, the terrorists can sit back, watch the evening news and realize that they don't even have to take out a plane or a building or a grade school any more. All they have to do is be visible and the worlds governments will bankrupt themselves with plans to protect its citizens.

In spite of the downside of American (and world) security policies, I still would rather live in the US and fly out of a US airport than any other in the world.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"No, YOU do not feel 100% intact. Many of us do not feel that way. I for one couldn't care less about the 30 seconds to 1 minute of my life that the entire screening process takes. If getting patted down and having my luggage looked into is what it takes to be safer, then big friggin deal."

So where exactly do you draw the line between acceptable and not-acceptable? If the TSA is left to do whatever it want the security check will continue to get more invasive. Once you give up your rights it's hard to get them back and they will keep taking more and more.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"I DO have the ability to control who touches me. I freely accept that that will happen when I ELECT to get on a plane."

Well that's nice for you, but it's not so simple for people who are required to fly as part of their job. For them, not flying would cost their jobs. They have to make a choice between being molested or being unemployed and unable to pay their bills. Not much of a choice.

Al Ames said...

Anon, it was intended to be a sarcastic post. I don't favor the shoe carnival in any way.

My point was to show how many planes are falling out of the sky in countries that don't use the shoe carnival (zero).

This board needs a sarcasm tag. :)

Al

Ayn R. Key said...

Forgive me for saying this, but we've heard this song before.

When you have to promise to molest children anymore, you've got far bigger problems than mere policy and security issues. One of them, apparently, being recidivism.

Earl Pitts said...

@Anonymous TSA worker: "So, riddle me this, you TSA bashers:

How many planes would be flying in this country (or anyhwere in the world) today if there was no security?"

False choice and straw man argument. No one is saying hey don't want security. We're saying we don't want TSA's security because it's not effective. We want effective security. Try again.

"Do you think for even one moment that the bad guys aren't looking for ways, for the crack in the armor of US security to get their explosives onto airplanes around the world."

They don't have to. Given the abysmal failure rate of TSA, there's a 2:1 chance they'll get something by. Unless it's shampoo or water.

"How many planes would have been brought down by those folks you obviously aren't aware of that are in our country today, are under surveillance today, are in our airports planning, today, are just looking for a way to get to the planes that are full of Americans, today."

And that part doesn't fall under TSA's mission. That's LE and Intelligence's role. Thanks for trying to make it look like TSA's though.

"So far, they haven't succeeded. Do you think that is because they aren't trying?"

Given TSA's failure rate, that's a pretty safe assumption.

"Do you think they would leave the airlines alone out of their goodwill?
These are TERRORISTS!! Their function is to impose their political, religious beliefs on the world and disrupt the peaceful way of life that most of the world enjoys. They will use terrorist methods to secure their victory."

Take religion out of that, and you have a pretty accurate statement of what TSA and DHS are doing right now.

"Perhaps they have already won!
By taking away some of what many believe are our personal freedoms, by costing world governments (taxpayers) money that could be better spent (but not at this moment) on peaceful pursuits; by dividing our citzens over the issues that obviously are important enough to be debated here, the terrorists can sit back, watch the evening news and realize that they don't even have to take out a plane or a building or a grade school any more. All they have to do is be visible and the worlds governments will bankrupt themselves with plans to protect its citizens."

If you think a handful of people in a cave in Afghanistan can bring down the US by themselves, I have a bridge to sell you. All they have to do is send some clown in with a half baked scheme and we do the rest ourselves.

Abe Lincoln knew that nearly 150 years ago. He said: "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."

How does it feel to be part of what's imploding this country?

"In spite of the downside of American (and world) security policies, I still would rather live in the US and fly out of a US airport than any other in the world."

You clearly haven't traveled outside the US then. Try it some time. Even if you decide to stay here, it will open your eyes to see that many in the world have it just as good, if not better than us in some cases.

I love my country. I don't like what it's become over the last 10 years. I'm going to speak up about that, especially about TSA's hand in that.

Earl

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"So, riddle me this, you TSA bashers:
How many planes would be flying in this country (or anyhwere in the world) today if there was no security?"

Exactly the same as there are now.

Anonymous said...

Al,

Thank you for the clarification. I kind of assumed you were being sarcastic, which is why I stated your coment taken by itself was a parody of the TSA.

My main confusion came because your comment was a response to TSM's post which in itself is blatent sarcasm. I Hope.

All in all, have a good day.

Not Scared of Terrorists

P.S. Blogger Bob, The title of this article "Risk Based Security for Passengers 12 and under" implies that security for those 13 and older is not risk based.

Ayn R. Key said...

Meant to say "when you have to promise to NOT molest children anymore".

SciMjr2 said...

Okay ... it only took 10 years for the TSA to do something REMOTELY smart and sensible!

My question to Blogger Bob ... why can't this be implemented for everyone?

If the TSA is REALLY doing some sort of Risk-Based analysis for children why can't it be expanded to adults?

Honestly, isn't it time to stop stripping Granny, stop making people take off their colostomy bags, and stop taking away pregnant women's insulin and focus on finding the Glocks, stun guns, and passengers who have no ID or boarding pass that seem to make it through WAY TOO often!

Isotec said...

I think John Reimer makes a couple really good points--the size of the shoe being one (it's like the small size containers for liquids and gels), and perhaps a general lack of understanding creates anger. I think we can all agree that we'd rather be searched than be subject to a terrorist attack. The goal, then, is to make technology more effective but less invasive.

Anonymous said...

Isotec said...
"I think we can all agree that we'd rather be searched than be subject to a terrorist attack."

No, we can't all agree. Searching for terrorists is a useless idea that can never work. No amount of searching with any kind of technology will ever make us safer. It just doesn't work.

There are three possibilities.

1) A terrorist brings a weapon and gets it past security. People on th airplane die.

2) A terrorist brings a weapon and it gets spotted by the scanner. When they ask the terrorist to please step aside for a hand check the terrorist knows they have been caught and attacks at the security check point. People in the airport die.

3) A terrorist decides that airplanes are too hard to get at and attacks somewhere else. People somewhere else die.

You can only save lives by catching terrorists *before* they strike. Once they are armed it's too late.

The only thing the TSA is protecting is the airplanes, not the people.

Anonymous said...

so we all complain and complain about the tsa and then when they make changes in a positive sense, we complain and complain that either it is too late or not enough or .... god bless America - the land of entitlement!

anon said
"We also know that no passenger who has boarded a flight from the US has ever tried to detonate his shoes. And that no passenger who has boarded a flight from the US has ever tried to detonate his underwear. Yet we are continually forced to remove our shoes, and undergo the body scanner or a pat-down."

check out this story for setting shoes on fire on a plane

http://www.cafemom.com/group/99198/forums/read/11166798/Breaking_News_Passenger_tries_to_light_shoes_on_fire_on_flight_to_Denver_Airport

true he wasnt trying to 'detonate' explosives but this was determined AFTER an investigation was performed and he said he had a shoe bomb

Anonymous said...

please define this phrase; 'TSA will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures and nobody is guaranteed expedited screening.' i would like some sort of reasonable assurance that my children under 12 will not be subjected to an unreasonable search (ie enhanced pat down). until such assurance can be given i will respectfully not teach my children that groping is acceptable.

kimm said...

Anonymous said...
Anonymous said...
"So, riddle me this, you TSA bashers:
How many planes would be flying in this country (or anyhwere in the world) today if there was no security?"

Exactly the same as there are now.

September 21, 2011 3:32 PM

Actually.....there would probably be more.

However, who is saying NO security. No one. Just no security theatre and using scare tactics to chip away at freedoms and dignity.

Metal detectors and dogs would be all that is needed, but TSA and Hmeland Insecurity chooses to treat us all like garbage in the name of being PC instead.

operaloveruk said...

One sentence about this issue that really bothers me is
"...based on how old the child appears."

Now, we all know that size and therefore age estimate in children can vary greatly, and since all the travellers will have their passports, would it not be a better idea to verify the childs age (if in doubt) before making the decision on how to deal with any screening necessary? It is not as if the passport isn't accessible and thus guesswork on the side of the officer is left out of the decision.

Too often we have seen decisions made based on guesswork where the end result was anything but satisfying, so actually saying the officer will "guess" the age of the child is rather telling!!

Anonymous said...

According to your web site:"Q. Will children still go through Advanced Imaging Technology?
A. Advanced Imaging Technology remains optional for all passengers. As part of this screening change, TSA will permit multiple attempts by passengers 12 and under to capture a clear image during advanced imaging technology screening to further reduce the need for pat-downs to resolve any alarms."
If I opt out my kids - will they get a pat down?

LarrytheDefenseGuy said...

So let me get this straight: people will complain when the TSA doesn't catch people attempting to terrorize us. But when they do, the same people complain that the TSA is being too intrusive and demeaning? Oh, you people can't make up your minds. Just don't bring an explosive on an airplane and you're good to go! Duh!

Anonymous said...

In ALL the rest of the world, you don't need to take your shoes off. Why can't America catch up with the rest of the world and figure out how to make the scanners reach our feet? Come on TSA, you could ask the Japanese, the Germans, the Indians how they do it!
Making us take our shoes off is just harassment and time-consuming waste.

Kids said...

Reminder: September 11, 2001 changed everything for Americans. Thank you TSA for working to keep us all safe when flying. Not checking kids shoes should be okay with the majority of the adult population since 12 year old's (and those under 12) would be flying with a parent or guardian. It is the parent or guardian that gets the most attention anyways. Our safety officials know what to look for, trust me!

having a baby at 40 said...

As a parent of two young kids who travels fairly frequently with them, thank you for not only taking a risk based (sensical) approach, but also for communicating with us passengers about the change. What you do isn't easy and it's thankless. I've been through countless airports in the US and I'm still amazed at how some screeners can still smile at the travelling public.