Friday, December 30, 2011

TSA Week In Review: Non Metallic Martial Arts Weapon Found with Body Scanner

An artfully concealed non-metallic martial arts weapon called a “Tactical Spike” was found in the sock of a passenger at Pensacola (PNS) after being screened by a body scanner.






An artfully concealed non-metallic martial arts weapon called a “Tactical Spike” was found in the sock of a passenger at Pensacola (PNS) after being screened by a body scanner.

In one carry-on bag at Wichita (ICT), TSA Officers discovered a tree saw with a 13-inch blade, a pocketknife with a 3-inch blade, two throwing knives with 8-inch blades, eleven individual 30-06 rifle rounds, one 12-gauge shotgun slug, five count of buckshot, and five boxes, each containing 25 rounds of 12-gauge shotgun shells and a partridge in a pear tree.

Throwing Knives
In two separate incidents at Los Angeles (LAX) and San Diego (SAN), two sets of three throwing knives were found in carry-on bags.

A total of three inert grenades were found in checked baggage at Salt Lake City (SLT) and Tucson (TUS). They were gifts…

In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our Officers also found stun guns, a realistic replica firearm, brass knuckles, a butterfly knife, a gravity assist knife, a collapsible baton, ammunition, firearm components, daggers, throwing knives, a brass knuckle knife, a switchblade, a torch lighter containing a spring loaded knife, a butcher knife, a throwing star, and a cat eye.
Cat Eye, Knife, Inert Grenades










On the other hand, there are artfully concealed items...  Artfully concealed means that the prohibited item was intentionally concealed with the intention of sneaking it through security:

- A 14” cane sword was discovered at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW).
- A 3” double edged knife was found concealed as a belt buckle at Los Angeles (LAX).
Our officers found 10 loaded firearms and 3 unloaded firearms in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday. Here’s a rundown of the 13 firearms our officers kept off of airplanes this week: 

Loaded Gun
12/24: PNS – Loaded .380 w/ round in chamber – LIT – Unloaded .22 – MIA – Loaded 9mm
12/25: ATL – Loaded .32
12/26: SBN – Loaded .380
12/27: DEN – Loaded .380 w/ round in chamber
12/28: GEG – Unloaded 9mm – DFW – Loaded .32 w/ round in chamber – MCI – Loaded 9mm w/ 22 rounds and a round in chamber – DFW – Loaded .22
12/29: DEN – Unloaded .22 – IAH – Loaded .22 – IND – Loaded .32 – DFW – Loaded .380 w/ round in chamber
You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline. You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms. We also look for explosives and bomb components as well, but thankfully those are extremely rare and we're happy to keep it that way. 

Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. Sure, it’s great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the throughput is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home. Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items in their bag. That’s why it’s important to double check your luggage before you get to the airport. 
Including checkpoint and checked baggage screening, TSA has 20 layers of security both visible and invisible to the public. Each one of these layers alone is capable of stopping a terrorist attack. In combination their security value is multiplied, creating a much stronger, formidable system. A terrorist who has to overcome multiple security layers in order to carry out an attack is more likely to be pre-empted, deterred, or to fail during the attempt. 
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.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays From TSA

From all of us at TSA, Happy Holidays and have a wonderful new year! Please enjoy this video from the TSALos Angeles (LAX) Choir.

LAX TSA Choir













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.

Friday, December 23, 2011

TSA Week In Review: Holy Flare Guns, Batman!

Batman Knife
Holy Prohibited Items List Batman, why didn’t you put this in your checked baggage with your grappling gun? This knife was found  at San Antonio (SAT).
Flares & Flaregun
A FLARE GUN with SEVEN FLARES was found in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Norfolk (ORF). Haven’t they listened to the lyrics of Smoke On The Water? Strangely enough, another flare gun was found in a passenger’s carry-on bag later in the week at Knoxville (TYS).
2 MK-19 inert grenades were found in a carry-on bag at Manchester (MHT). The passenger stated they were “stocking stuffers.” More inert grenades were found at Kansas City (MCI), Montgomery (MGM), and Savannah (SAV). Read here and here why even inert grenades at the airport are a problem even though they can’t explode.
A passenger at Phoenix (PHX) noticed their laptop was missing and reported it to TSA supervisor. The supervisor reviewed the CCTV video footage and identified the passenger who took it. After reporting it to airport police, the passenger was arrested and the laptop was returned to its rightful owner.
In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our officers also found stun guns, throwing stars, realistic replica firearms, firearm components, butterfly knives, switchblades, an asp, an expandable baton, brass knuckles, ammunition a 6 ½” combat knife, a 7” butcher knife, cat eyes, and various other knives of different lengths larger than 3”.
Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. Sure, it’s great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the throughput is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home.

Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items in their bag. That’s why it’s important to double check your luggage before you get to the airport. 
On the other hand, there are artfully concealed items...  Artfully concealed means that the prohibited item was intentionally concealed with the intention of sneaking it through security:
A 4” knife was found concealed in a walking cane at San Diego (SAN). The passenger was extremely shocked it was there!
A box cutter was found hidden in the lining of a passenger’s bag at Miami (MIA)
A .380 magazine with six rounds was found concealed in the lining of a passenger’s carry-on bag at Gulfport (GPT). If they read my blog posts, they would know that the lining of the bag is not X-ray proof.
A 15” sword cane was discovered at Northwest Florida Beaches (VPS) again… The passenger was shocked.
We posted on this one earlier in the week, but two 6 1/2” throwing knives were found in a hollowed out book at Washington National (DCA).
A knife was found taped to the bottom of the handle of a passenger’s carry-on bag at Indianapolis (IND).
A small knife was found concealed an empty CD Rom drive at Peoria (PIA).
Our officers found 21 loaded firearms and 5 unloaded firearms in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday. Here’s a rundown of the 26 firearms our officers kept off of airplanes this week: 
  • 12/16: SDF – Loaded .380 w/ Round Chambered – RSW – Unloaded .380 – MCO – Unloaded .25
  • 12/17: DTW – Loaded .40
  • 12/18: CMH – Loaded .357 – JAX – Loaded .380 w/ Round Chambered – COS – Unloaded .40 – DFW – Loaded .380 – ATL – Loaded .38
  • 12/19: MCO – Loaded pistol w/ Round Chambered
  • 12/20: TUL – Loaded .380 w/ Round Chambered – SEA – Unloaded .22 – PDX – Loaded .32 – RSW – Loaded .380 – DFW – Loaded .380 w/Round Chambered
  • 12/21: PHL – Loaded .25 w/ Round Chambered – TYS – Loaded 9mm – ATL – Loaded .380 w/ Round Chambered – AUS – Loaded 9mm – SAT – Unloaded .380
  • 12/22: ELP – Loaded .32 – AUS – Loaded .357 – RSW – Loaded .380 – FLL – Loaded 9mm w/ Round Chambered – LIT – Loaded .380 – IAH – Loaded .40 w/ Round Chambered
You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline. You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms. 

We also look for explosives and bomb components as well, but thankfully those are extremely rare and we're happy to keep it that way.

 Including checkpoint and checked baggage screening, TSA has 20 layers of security both visible and invisible to the public. Each one of these layers alone is capable of stopping a terrorist attack. In combination their security value is multiplied, creating a much stronger, formidable system. A terrorist who has to overcome multiple security layers in order to carry out an attack is more likely to be pre-empted, deterred, or to fail during the attempt. 
 
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.
Grenade 



Knife
Knife
Grenade
Cane Sword
Knives concealed in book. KnifeKnife

Thursday, December 22, 2011

TSA Cares Helpline Starting Today

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced the launch of TSA Cares today, a new helpline number designed to assist  passengers with disabilities and medical conditions to call before they fly.  Starting today, travelers can call the toll free helpline number for TSA Cares before traveling if they have questions about screening policies, procedures or what to expect when they arrive at the airport security checkpoint. This line is available not only to passengers with disabilities and medical conditions, but also to their family members and travel companions who can speak to a knowledgeable representative from the TSA Cares helpline to answer questions about airport security prior to travel.

In most cases, the TSA Cares representative can provide information that will be specific to the passenger’s disability or medical condition. If a caller’s concerns cannot be easily addressed, the passenger may be referred to disability experts at TSA. TSA recommends that passengers call approximately 72 hours ahead of travel so that TSA Cares has the opportunity to coordinate checkpoint support with a TSA Customer Service Manager located at the airport when necessary.

Already, we have been able to assist one family with a child who has autism and other disabilities. The parents contacted the TSA Cares helpline because they were concerned that their child might have challenges with the screening process and may need additional support.  TSA Cares representatives worked with disability experts at TSA to connect them with the Customer Support Manager at their airport.  Local TSA airport staff contacted the family and arranged to have TSA personnel meet them to facilitate their checkpoint screening.

Since our inception, TSA has provided information to all travelers through its TSA Contact Center and Customer Service Managers in airports nationwide. TSA Cares will serve as an additional, dedicated resource for passengers with disabilities, medical conditions or other circumstances or their loved ones who want to prepare for the screening process prior to flying.

TSA established this new helpline because we are committed to treating each passenger the way they deserve to be treated - with dignity and respect.

TSA works regularly with a broad coalition of disability and medical condition advocacy groups to help understand their needs and adapt screening procedures accordingly. We hold quarterly meetings with this coalition to inform them about current training and screening procedures used in airports. We also recently hosted a teleconference with members of these groups to announce the long-standing plans to implement TSA Cares for travelers and inform them of the upcoming launch.

TSA Cares Helpline: 1-855-787-2227: The line is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. EST, excluding federal holidays. After hours, travelers can find information about traveling with disabilities and medical needs on TSA’s website. To learn more click here.

All travelers can contact TSA using Talk To TSA, a web-based tool that allows passengers to reach out to an airport Customer Support Manager directly, and the TSA Contact Center, 1-866-289-9673 or TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov, where travelers can ask questions, provide suggestions and file complaints. All travelers may ask to speak to a TSA supervisor if they have questions about security procedures during the screening process. 




If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our OffTopic 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.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Not Even Ninjas Can Evade Airport Security

A book concealing two throwing knives.












They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but in this case, it’s a book titled: Ninja:The Shadow Warrior. This is exactly what I’d expect to find in a book with that title. I couldn’t resist with the title of this blog post, but we didn’t catch an actual Ninja of course. What we did catch was a passenger who claimed they forgot this stealthy Ninja book was in their bag. Hmmm....

The good old days of hollowing out books to conceal items such as knives, guns and explosives are long gone. Well, at least at airports… While this concealment method might work in other venues, we screen all accessible property and we routinely find everyday items that have been altered to conceal weapons. That’s why we take a closer look at everything.

The passenger, who was ticketed to fly to Chicago, voluntarily surrendered the knives and book. TSA has the authority to levy a civil penalty against passengers who bring deadly weapons into the airport checkpoint.  So be sure to leave all of your Ninja tools at home when you travel.

You couldn’t pull this off with an e-reader… 

Blogger Bob Burns

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.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

TSA Holiday Travel Tips Rehash

Holiday Travel Banner






You may have read our Thanksgiving Travel Tips last month. Well, this is the holiday travel version. If you didn’t read all of our travel tips last month, no worries… Here’s the link: Good Gravy, Let’s Talk Turkey!: TSA Holiday Travel Tips

Here are a few tips that focus on the upcoming holiday travel.
Wrapped gifts are allowed, but not encouraged: Nothing new this year. Wrapped gifts are allowed, but we recommend waiting until you land. If there’s something in the gift that needs to be inspected, we may 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. We’d rather unwrap the gifts that are under our trees.
Eggnog can be an alternate to fuel depending on who’s mixing it. Sometimes there’s a fine line between a beverage and hazmat. Just sayin’…Remember the 3-1-1 liquids rule at the checkpoint. Unless it’s in small container (3.4 oz or less), this tasty liquid treat is not allowed.
Snow Globes: Call us what you will (Grinch, Scrooge, Heat Miser), but snow globes are still not permitted in your carry-on luggage. They are sealed containers full of liquid that would have to be opened 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.
Fruit Cake
Photo Courtesy of Brent
Fruitcakes get a bad rap. I personally love fruitcakes and my holiday wouldn’t be the same without them. As I said in last year’s post, contrary to popular belief, fruitcake is a delicious edible and permitted cake, not a WMD. 
Christmas Sweaters: If you have one of those Christmas sweaters with blinking lights, you might get a little more attention. However, we won’t hold it against you if you’re simply wearing an ugly sweater. As I said in last year’s post, While some Christmas sweaters can have a nauseating effect on passengers, they are currently permitted through TSA checkpoints.
Family Lanes are 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.
Message To Mom: I know I’ve complained in the past, but t-shirts and socks would be an awesome gift this year!
Kids 12 & Under can keep their shoes on now!
Legend: Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings? But what I’d like to know is if they’re spicy or mild? Buffalo or BBQ?
Christmas Crackers: Not the kind you eat, but the kind that “cracks” when you pull it apart. They’re really cool and a part of a lot of people’s Christmas traditions, but they’re prohibited on aircraft.
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.
Santa Claus: No prohibited items in your beard this year.
Foods: Cakes, pies, bread, donuts, turkeys, etc. are all permitted. 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 liquid or gel food items (salsa, jams and salad dressings), gravy (mmm gravy), jams, jellies, maple syrup, oils and vinegars, sauces, soups, wine, liquor and beer.
Yule Logs should be placed in your checked baggage. Preferably unlit
Follow us on Twitter @tsablogteam for travel tips, blog post announcements, and other useful information. Printout 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.


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.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

TSA Week In Review: Flash! Bang!

Fruit Cake
Live Flash Bang Grenade Found at ELP
Hand grenades again… This time it was a LIVE flash bang grenade in a carry-on bag at El Paso (ELP) and it caused a shutdown of the checkpoint resulting in a 30 minute delay affecting 150 passengers.

Non Metallic Knife (BUF)
Non Metallic Knife (BUF)
A passenger opted out of the body scanner at Buffalo (BUF) and during the pat-down, a 9” nonmetallic serrated knife was found in his pants pocket. The passenger stated later that he opted out of the body scanner because he was trying to get the knife through security. At least he didn’t simply say he forgot it was there…
 A 2’ machete was discovered in  a passenger’s carry-on bag. The passenger stated they were going to the jungle and forgot it was there.
Firearm Found Strapped To Passenger's Ankle (DTW)
Firearm Found Strapped To Passenger's Ankle (DTW)
Notable News: Earlier this week, we blogged about a 76-year-old man who tried to come through the checkpoint with a loaded .380 strapped to his ankle. Just more proof the technology works… Read more here. - TSA Pre™ rolled out in Vegas this week! If you’re interested in expedited screening, check it out! – TSA Administrator John S. Pistole responded to a White House We The People petition. Take a look at the response
Not counting all of the usual items our officers find, this week they also found stun guns, firearm components, ammunition, replica firearms, brass knuckles, nunchucks, switchblades, butterfly knives, collapsible batons, and several knives with blades up to 8”. 
Knives Found at (JFK)
Knives Found at (JFK)
Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. Sure, it’s great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the throughput is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home.

Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items in their bag. That’s why it’s important to double check your luggage before you get to the airport. 
On the other hand, there are artfully concealed items...  Artfully concealed means that the prohibited item was intentionally concealed with the intention of sneaking it through security:
SFO – Passenger wrapped an unloaded .380 pistol in aluminum foil and placed it in an X-ray proof bag inside his checked bag. Yeah, with the X-ray proof bag, we can’t see what’s in it, but we can see the bag which means we have to look in it.
SLC – Razor blade taped to bottom of laptop.
RAP – Razor blade concealed in shoe sole.
PSE – Three Lite-Brite’s found in checked baggage with marijuana stuffed in them. Not looking for drugs, but an organic substance stuffed in with electronics is alarming.
Our officers found 13 loaded firearms and 6 unloaded firearms in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday. Here’s a rundown of the 19 firearms our officers kept off of airplanes this week:
12/9:  BHM – Unloaded .40 – FLL – Loaded .22
12/10: TUS – 9mm Loaded w/ Round Chambered – DTW – Loaded .380 w/ Round Chambered
12/11: MSY – Loaded .380 - SGF – Unloaded .380 – ATL - Loaded .22  w/ Round Chambered
12/12:  IAH – Unloaded 9mm – ELM – Loaded .380 – SGA - Unloaded 9mm
12/13: ECP – Loaded .38 – BHM – Loaded .380 – DAL – Loaded .380 w/ Round Chambered – BUR – Loaded .22
12/14: IND – Unloaded .380 – BOS – Loaded .22 – BHM – Unloaded .45
12/15: SLC – Loaded 9mm – MIA – Loaded 9mm
You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline. You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms. 

We also look for explosives and bomb components as well, but thankfully those are extremely rare and we're happy to keep it that way.

Including checkpoint and checked baggage screening, TSA has 20 layers of security both visible and invisible to the public. Each one of these layers alone is capable of stopping a terrorist attack. In combination their security value is multiplied, creating a much stronger, formidable system. A terrorist who has to overcome multiple security layers in order to carry out an attack is more likely to be pre-empted, deterred, or to fail during the attempt.  


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.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Response Posted to White House We the People Petition

We the People banner. If you’re not familiar with We the People, it’s a new web platform created by the White House that gives all Americans a way to create and sign petitions on a range of different issues.

A petition was created asking for TSA to be abolished, and TSA Administrator John S. Pistole has just responded.

Take a look at the response and feel free to leave a comment here on the TSA Blog.  

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.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

TSA Pre✓™ Rolling Out In Vegas Today

TSA Precheck sign. They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but I think folks will be glad that we’re breaking protocol and letting this news slip.

The TSA Pre✓™ pilot has expanded to the Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport and will begin today for frequent fliers traveling domestically out of Las Vegas via American and Delta airlines. Specifically, it will be at D Gates First Class screening lane.

So what are our next steps after that? In early 2012, we’ll be expanding the pilot to Minneapolis St. Paul (MSP) for Delta passengers and Los Angeles (LAX) for American Airline passengers. 

If that’s not enough good news… (Drumroll please) - US Airways will be the next airline to offer TSA Pre✓™ to eligible passengers.

Last week, we announced that United Airlines would also participate in TSA Pre✓™. Stay tuned and keep checking your inbox because  both US Airways and United will begin notifying their eligible frequent fliers soon, and their participation is expected to begin in early 2012.  Details, including an exact start date and participating airports will be determined and announced as soon as possible. 

For those who might not be familiar with TSA Pre✓™, it includes U.S. citizens who are members of existing U.S. Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler programs including Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI programs as well as eligible airline frequent flyers. You can read more about it here on our blog or at TSA.gov.

Approximately 140,000 passengers have been screened through TSA Pre✓™ since it rolled out and the feedback has been extremely positive. 


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.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Loaded .380 Found Strapped To Passenger’s Ankle at DTW With Body Scanner

Loaded FirearmSaturday at DTW, a loaded .380 pistol was found strapped to the ankle of a 76-year-old man. We’ve found over 1,100 firearms this year, but what makes this one stand out from the rest is that it wasn’t found in a bag, it was found strapped to a passenger’s ankle with one of our body scanners. It’s just more proof that this technology can and will find dangerous items.

After reading comments around the web this morning, I noticed some comments stating that walk through metal detectors would have found this pistol and that they’re far less expensive than body scanners.  While that’s a true statement, the walk through metal detectors cannot detect non metallic items like explosives, which are the greatest threat to aviation today. Body scanners are far more versatile and can find both metallic and non metallic concealed dangerous items. Hundreds of dangerous, prohibited, and illegal items have been found with the scanners since January 2010. 

You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline. You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms. 

Great job DTW! 

Blogger Bob Burns
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.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Clarification on Screening of Three Senior Citizens at JFK

Since we blogged last weekend about a passenger's screening experience at JFK International Airport, some additional concerns have been raised. We want to clarify a few things but first and foremost, we wanted to ensure our readers understand this:
TSA does not, and has never, conducted strip searches and no strip searches occurred in any of these incidents. 
We truly regret these passengers feel they had a bad screening experience. Our goal is to provide the highest level of security while ensuring that all passengers are treated with dignity and respect. We work regularly with a coalition of advocacy groups that represent those with disabilities and medical conditions to help TSA understand their conditions and adapt screening procedures accordingly.

Last week, TSA senior leadership convened a call with these groups to share information about our policies and procedures. TSA informed them that we're in the process of establishing an 800 number dedicated to travelers with disabilities, medical conditions, or those who may require assistance during screening. Passengers will be able to call this number prior to flying to get guidance and information about screening, based on their needs. Additionally, TSA regularly trains its workforce on how to screen travelers with disabilities or medical conditions and has customer service managers on hand at airports to answer questions and assist passengers.

We’ve had some questions since we posted on Ms. Zimmerman’s complaint last weekend. People wanted to know why we had her remove her back brace when our web page clearly states that our officers will not ask for braces to be removed. To be honest, I was asking myself the same question. Here’s what happened: There was a bit of a miscommunication and our officers were told that the passenger was wearing a money belt. Unlike medical braces and supports, money belts must be removed since they’re not providing any type of medical benefit. After the passenger removed the item, it was then determined to be a Velcro fastened support brace and not a money belt. Since the item had already been removed, our officers had it X-rayed and returned it to the passenger who was then clear to travel.

JKF officers are receiving refresher training to include scenario-based exercises on how to respectfully and safely screen passengers with disabilities or medical conditions to ensure all the proper procedures are followed. Our goal every day is provide the highest level of security, in the most respectful and efficient way possible.

We recommend that all passengers familiarize themselves with security protocols and inform officers prior to screening if they have medical devices that require special screening. It makes things easier for everybody if all parties know in advance what to expect.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind. You can find many more tips for traveling with disabilities here at our web page
TSA officers do not ask passengers to remove clothing to expose a sensitive area or to remove a medical device or brace. We have special procedures that allow us to safely screen passengers with disabilities.
Notification cards, are a great way for passengers to discreetly let us know about a medical condition or disability. Passengers may present these cards at the checkpoint to our officers.
Passengers should always be in view of their belongings. If you can’t see your belongings during secondary screening, please request that an officer bring them to you.
Passengers who know they may need additional screening ahead of time may contact a TSA customer support manager at their departure airport ahead of travel to ensure their needs are met. If private screening is needed, passengers are free to have a family member or travel companion join them in the private screening room.
Here are some resources for more information and ways to contact TSA in both the field and at Headquarters.  
Traveling With Disabilities – A wealth of information for passenger with disabilities traveling through TSA checkpoints.
Talk To TSA- Contact a TSA Customer Support Manager at the airport you are traveling through.
TSA Contact CenterA place to find contact information for specific offices or to just ask a general question.
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.

Friday, December 9, 2011

TSA Week In Review: 5 Grenades “Grenading”

5 Grenades Grenading (EWR)
5 Grenades Grenading (EWR)
5 grenades “grenading” and a partridge in a pear tree! Not one, but 5 inert grenades were discovered in a passenger’s checked luggage at Newark (EWR). Read here and here why even inert grenades at the airport are a problem even though they can’t explode. In a somewhat related incident at LAX, an expended smoke grenade was found in a passenger’s carry-on bag.
I’m sure you’ve heard the “What’s In Your Wallet” commercials…Well, a frustrated passenger at Boston (BOS) stated he had a bomb in his wallet. The police ended up citing the passenger, so while there was no actual bomb in his wallet, there is now less cash…
Not counting all of the usual items our officers find, this week they also found stun guns, firearm components, ammunition, replica firearms, brass knuckles, a belt buckle knife, a brass kubotan containing a 2½-inch double-edged knife, switchblades, butterfly knives and batons. 
Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. Sure, it’s great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the throughput is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home.

Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items in their bag. That’s why it’s important to double check your luggage before you get to the airport. 

On the other hand, there are artfully concealed items...  Artfully concealed means that the prohibited item was intentionally concealed with the intention of sneaking it through security:

Sword Cane (COS)
Sword Cane (COS)
A 20” sword cane was discovered during X-ray screening at Colorado Springs (COS). The passenger said the cane was purchased for him by a relative and he wasn’t aware of the sword.

One could say a passenger was “foiled” after his knife was found in his carry-on bag inside a box wrapped in tinfoil at Columbus (CMH). The passenger actually admitted he was trying to conceal it from us. 
Aluminum foil may protect you from aliens and mind rays, but it’s not going to hide anything from us in the X-ray.

Foiled Knife (DEN)
Foiled Knife (DEN)
We’re looking for dangerous items and not booze, but miniature bottles of liquor were discovered in a passenger’s socks during screening with the body scanner at Denver (DEN). Hint – most miniature bottles of liquor are under 3.4 oz. and can be brought in your carry-on baggage as long as it’s in a baggy. No need to smuggle them…

Belt Buckle knife at Newark (EWR). It's a belt buckle. It's a knife. It's a belt buckle, it's a knife. and so on...


It's a knife. It's a Belt Buckle. (EWR)
It's a knife. It's a Belt Buckle. (EWR)
Our officers found 25 loaded firearms and 4 unloaded firearms in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday. Here’s a rundown of the 29 firearms our officers kept off of airplanes this week: 
  • 12/2: BTR – Loaded .40 - BNA- Loaded .40 w/ One Round Chambered - LAX - Loaded .40 w/ One Round Chambered - BZN – Loaded .380 - SJC – Loaded .38 - IND - Loaded .40 w/ One Round Chambered - RSW - Loaded .38 - CLE – Unloaded .38 - DFW – Loaded 9mm w/ One Round Chambered - MIA - Loaded 9mm w/ One Round Chambered 
  • 12/3: DEN – Loaded 9mm 
  • 12/4: DEN - Loaded 9mm - BNA – Unloaded .25 - MCO - Loaded .380 - MEM - Unloaded .38 
  • 12/5: No Firearms Found! 
  • 12/6: PDX – Loaded .380 - IND – Loaded .22 - AUS – Loaded .380 - DAL – Loaded .22 w/ One Round Chambered- FLL – Loaded 9mm 
  • 12/7: MCO – Loaded .22 - MDW – Loaded .357 - JAN – Loaded .40 - LIT – Loaded .380 w/ One Round Chambered 
  • 12/8: BNA - Loaded .380 w/ One Round Chambered - PDX – Loaded .22 - LAX – Unloaded .45 - TPA – Loaded .38 - TPA – Loaded .45
You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline. You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms. 

We also look for explosives and bomb components as well, but thankfully those are extremely rare and we're happy to keep it that way. 

Including checkpoint and checked baggage screening, TSA has 20 layers of security both visible and invisible to the public. Each one of these layers alone is capable of stopping a terrorist attack. In combination their security value is multiplied, creating a much stronger, formidable system. A terrorist who has to overcome multiple security layers in order to carry out an attack is more likely to be pre-empted, deterred, or to fail during the attempt. 

Blogger Bob Burns
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.