Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Good Gravy, Let’s Talk Turkey!: TSA Holiday Travel Tips

Holiday QR code sign.
Holiday Checkpoint Signage
If you’re getting ready to travel for the holidays and need to brush up on airport security, you’re in the right place! Here is a cornucopia of travel info, tips and linkage that will help you get to where you’re going safely. You’ll be as good as gravy, and in my book, gravy is about as good as it gets. Next to turducken

New Security Improvements for Holiday Travel
TSA Pre✓™ Expedited Screening Pilot: This pilot program prescreens individuals traveling on Delta Air Lines at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County airports and on American Airlines at Miami International and Dallas/Fort Worth International airports - who volunteer information about themselves prior to flying in order to potentially expedite the screening experience. TSA plans to expand this program to Las Vegas McCarran International, Minneapolis St. Paul International and Los Angeles International airports in the coming months.   During this pilot, certain frequent fliers from Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, as well as certain members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Trusted Traveler programs, including Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS who are also flying on Delta or American are eligible. Currently, this is only open to American citizens. 

Kids 12 & Under Can Keep Their Shoes On: As part of our move towards a risk-based security approach, we rolled out revised screening procedures for passengers 12 and under. While most will be able to keep their shoes on, there may be instances when shoes may have to come off. Click here to learn more about the revisions. 

New Privacy Protection Software on All Millimeter Wave Machines: TSA has upgraded all millimeter wave body scanner units nationwide with new software to further enhance privacy protections by eliminating the image of an actual passenger and replacing it with a generic outline of a person. You step into the Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machine and the new software will auto-detect potential threats and show their location. The image is on a monitor that is attached to the AIT unit in public view so that passengers can see what the officer sees. Because this eliminates privacy concerns, we no longer have to place an officer in a separate room to view the images. 

Known Crew Member: TSA has a new program  for crew members to expedite screening for airline pilots through positive identification verification, which is currently being tested at Seattle-Tacoma International, Minneapolis-St. Paul International, Chicago O’Hare International, Miami International and Washington Dulles International airports.

Expanded Behavior Detection Pilot: At Boston Logan International and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County airports, Behavior Detection Officers have casual conversations with travelers to determine if the traveler should be referred for additional screening at the checkpoint.
Tips, Linkage, and More!
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 anybody carrying medically necessary liquids, aerosols and gels in excess of 3.4 oz may be directed to a Family Lane. Unfortunately, gravy is not medically necessary.
Travel Advice for Domesticated Turkeys: While you can fly on a plane, you can’t really fly.
Double Check Your Bag For Guns And Knives: It sounds silly, but so far this year, our officers have found more than 1,000 guns in passenger’s bags. A good percentage of those were loaded. The most common excuse is that the passenger didn’t know it was in the bag.
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.
The MyTSA App: Our MyTSA App (available as an iPhone 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 tells you if the item is permitted or not. Wondering if you can take your cranberry sauce on a plane?  Check the app to find out. A wait time feature is also available on our MyTSA application. It relies on crowd sourcing which means the more people who use it, the better. Spread the word, just like butter over a dinner roll.
Pat-downs & Body Scanners: A very small percentage of passengers receive pat-downs. To reduce the need for a pat-down, the most important thing you can do is take everything out of your pockets before 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, it is my dream that gravy will one day come in a container similar to a whipped cream spray can. Now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest,  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 do not like 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.
Turkey Facts: Turkeys take offense to the phrase “laugh your head off.”
Makeup: Any liquid makeup cosmetics such as eyeliner, nail polish, liquid foundation, etc. should be placed in the baggie. That goes for perfume as well. Powder makeup is fine. Powdered mashed potatoes are a crime against humanity, but fine to travel with.
Deep Turkey Thoughts: When deceased turkeys are offended, do they roll over in their gravy?
Shaving Razors: You can get more info from our blog post on this subject where the pictures will answer all of your questions.
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.
Turkey Humor: Unlike people who join the Navy, most turkeys are destined to join the gravy.
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.
Forgotten or Lost IDs: 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.
What If The Name On Your ID Doesn’t Match Your Boarding Pass?: 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.
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. 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.
Turkey Trivia: Contrary to popular belief, turkeys prefer to travel on the “Gravy Train,” rather than the “Gravy Boat.”
Follow us on Twitter @tsablogteam for travel tips, blog post announcements, and other useful information. 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.

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.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Funny: #TSA adds snarky humor to the annual (and tired) list of Thanksgiving travel tips bit.ly/u688T4 #Travel

Anonymous said...

Can you opt out of having a conversation with one of your screeners?

I have nothing to tell them that is not already on my boarding pass and passport.

Anonymous said...

Great information posted in a fun way. Great job.

Anonymous said...

Blogger Bob,

Encounters with TSA personnel are at the other end of the spectrum of holiday cheer for most Americans, especially those of us who travel frequently. Your post paints a picture of infrequent unintrusive searches and pleasant interactions with the TSA which couldn't be further from the truth. I will be thankful for the day when dignity and respect are restored at American airports.

Anonymous said...

I thought you were going on vacation Bob (according to a prior post) but since your signature is on the bottom of your post I guess you are still at work. However, great turkey and pie humor -- maybe you should try stand-up comedy at a comedy club if you ever get that vacation you mentioned taking. Also, try having an actual live turkey at each checkpoint on the day before Thanksgiving. Then when a TSA officer is accused of being one (which is due to happen as every other naughty name in the book regarding TSA officers has been used many times already) he can then point to the actual turkey and ask the person if he can see the difference between the two. Turkeys also make great petting zoo material to calm down the kids walking through the scanners. :)

Anonymous said...

I love this! Tyranny is hilarious!

Anonymous said...

good job bob on all the turkey facts. now im hungry... thanks

Kat said...

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.

Except that you are still announcing at the airports and most TSOs still think that it is not 100 milliliters or 3.4 ounces, but a mere 3.0 ounces, and giving travelers difficulty over this.

If you can put up new signs with those stupid smartphone user only codes on them, you can change the signs AND the announcements to have the correct amount.

Which reminds me: you told us that by 2009, the liquids ban would be phased out, but it's still there. Why? And TSOs haven't learned how to handle medically required food, nor can they tell the difference between turkey salad and a liquid.

Anonymous said...

So if we can't bring a snow globe because you would have to break it open to test it, how exactly did terrorists get explosives into it?

Chris Boyce said...

National Opt-out Day 2 is in the works. You never know where we will strike. This year, we will be armed with video cameras.

Ana said...

I had never heard of a turducken...interesting.

Nice article Bob--you are definitely a very patient man and I commend you on your professionalism. I wish you and your family a happy holiday season.

Anonymous said...

Why do you continue to use invasive strip-search scanners that have never detected a single dangerous item?

Why do you continue to use your chat-down nonsense that's been conclusively shown to be based on nothing but unscientific snake oil?

Why do you continue to make the US the only country with a mandatory shoe-removal carnival?

Why do you persist in the 3.4-1-1 policy that has no scientific basis?

It's like having security handled exclusively by witch doctors and phrenologists. It would be funny if it weren't so pathetic.

VLCM said...

I like your humor. Thanks for the tips and be sure to travel safe.

Adrian said...

There's a typo in the very first character on that poster image. It should be an apostrophe, not a left single quotation mark.

Anonymous said...

Quoted: " Chris Boyce said...
National Opt-out Day 2 is in the works. You never know where we will strike. This year, we will be armed with video cameras.

November 16, 2011 8:53 AM
---------------------------
All Right! Because if it's as successfull as the first one was I could really use the good laugh!

You know, the one that was broacast all over the nation, on the internet, on the news. Oh that's right, I think 3 people showed up.

RB said...

Anonymous said...
Quoted: " Chris Boyce said...
National Opt-out Day 2 is in the works. You never know where we will strike. This year, we will be armed with video cameras.

November 16, 2011 8:53 AM
---------------------------
All Right! Because if it's as successfull as the first one was I could really use the good laugh!

You know, the one that was broacast all over the nation, on the internet, on the news. Oh that's right, I think 3 people showed up.

November 18, 2011 6:43 PM
...............
What actually happened was that TSA roped off the Strip Search Machines and used the WTMD on National Opt Out Day.

TSA blinked!

Anonymous said...

If it was "such a bust", why are they still talking about is a year later?
NOOD2 will be fun - I'll be there!

HIFU said...

Nice post to diffuse the stressful Thanksgiving travel period for many travellers. I noticed there are family lanes now "where families can take their time", I don't know about your families, but mine wants to get through this maze and to the boarding area asap. Perhaps this is more for younger toddlers with strollers, but once the kids have a mind of their own, the last thing they want to be is stuck in any slow moving lane... my 2c

Anonymous said...

RB said...
Anonymous said...
Quoted: " Chris Boyce said...
National Opt-out Day 2 is in the works. You never know where we will strike. This year, we will be armed with video cameras.

November 16, 2011 8:53 AM
---------------------------
All Right! Because if it's as successfull as the first one was I could really use the good laugh!

You know, the one that was broacast all over the nation, on the internet, on the news. Oh that's right, I think 3 people showed up.

November 18, 2011 6:43 PM
...............
What actually happened was that TSA roped off the Strip Search Machines and used the WTMD on National Opt Out Day.

TSA blinked!

November 18, 2011 9:04 PM

---------------------------
Actually, TSA WINKED!

Did an end run around those protesters for one whole day, showed how dumb the opt out was, then it was business as usual.

TSM said...

Um, Did "Opt Out Day" happen yet?
Hmmm... Must have missed it since I haven't heard ANYTHING about it. I mean since it was so successful last year and all.....

Anonymous said...

"Actually, TSA WINKED!

Did an end run around those protesters for one whole day, showed how dumb the opt out was, then it was business as usual."

I'll say. The TSA showed us that when security theater that uses the scanning machine gets slow, it will simply not use them.

So which is it: Did the TSA endanger passengers by not using the machines or are the machines not necessary?

Anonymous said...

BRAWWWW TSA has a sense of humor! Who knew? This stuff is pretty funny. I work for an airline and you wouldn't believe the stupid comments I hear about TSA.

Anonymous said...

"I work for an airline and you wouldn't believe the stupid comments I hear about TSA."

Funny - I fly alot and you wouldn't believe the stupid things I see the TSA do.

Proud TSO said...

So Blogger Bob- I'm reading through this humorous listing, and come across something I disagree with. I'm a TSA TSO, and if the ID and boarding pass don't match, I send the passenger back to the counter for a new boarding pass. Just because someone enters a name on a pass while checking in online doesn't mean they are using the correct name. If I have a boarding pass in the name of Bob Smith, and the ID says John Jones, they will not come through the checkpoint. You make it sound as though they have already been vetted before they get to the airport, making the ID check redundant. Do I misunderstand what you are trying to say?

John said...

I loved the Turkey Humor.. It makes me hungry though..

Good Info and I couldn't stop laughing at times.. Thank You!!

Ted Champagne said...

I do fly a lot, and although I am a security professional and have quite strong thoughts on many of the rules (like no liquids), but TSA is doing increasing a great job of portraying accurately that they are just of bunch of people doing the best they can in a tough situation, instead of a faceless bureaucratic organization. Simply things like this blog, and TSA employees smiling, make the biggest difference in this regard!

Anonymous said...

"but TSA is doing increasing a great job of portraying accurately that they are just of bunch of people doing the best they can "

Ted, you claim to be a "security professional".

If what the TSA is doing is 'the best they can' for security then the TSA needs a major overhaul.

They have wasted a fortune on nonsense just to give an impression that they are doing something.

Anonymous said...

Good Information I like reading your article. thanks.

jaffa said...

Great work.

BA said...

This is a pretty useful guide for me with some useful tips and I travel by air about once a month. The perspective from the TSA's point of view helps to understand where they are coming from. The humor thrown in makes it easier, and a little fun, to read.

Jason Asfe said...

Very informative, I never personally had any issues with the TSA. As long as you got nothing to hide you should move right through.

Barkey said...

It is so amazing that there are still idiots out there that do not consider their safety and the safety of the traveling public. Most people just want to arrive alive.

Linkon Khan said...

Hello Bob it is very adventure to travel . So i think you post very essential tips of travel.I want to go travel in holiday.I think you are a great traveler .So you post another travel tips.

MPLS

Silver Coaster said...

Thanks for the info with a bit of humor

Anonymous said...

Menudo cachondeo ...

Digital Surveillance said...

Bob Thanks for this detailed post

Mr. Gulet said...

Haha. Came to read about holiday tips for people who are going to Turkey (the country) and got this instead. Well it was a pleasant read. :)