Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer Travel Tips & News!





Summer travel tips banner. Summer’s almost here! I know this not because of my calendar, but because my daughters keep reminding me about the pool… With summer often comes travel, so if you’re traveling by commercial airliner, you’ll likely find some of the news and tips in this post helpful.

There are a few new things to talk about this summer. The TSA Contact Center has extended their hours, and we’ve modified screening procedures for low-risk passengers.  Also, TSA Pre✓™ continues to grow with more airports and airlines coming on board. Read on to learn more about what’s new with TSA and also pick up a few travel tips along the way.

How to Avoid Additional Screening:  The most important tip to help you avoid a pat-down is to take everything out of your pockets before screening and put 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.  If you have a hidden medical device (insulin pump, ostomy bag, brace, etc.), please let the officer know.

Screenshot of summer travel tips checklist. TSA Pre Expedited Screening: TSA Pre✓™  continues to grow, providing expedited screening to eligible passengers at 15 airports, with plans to expand to more airports and airlines throughout 2012. If you’ve been contacted by your participating airline or if you’re a current member of one of CBP’s Trusted Traveler programs (Global Entry, NEXUS or SENTRI), be sure to opt in.  If you would like to participate, click here and follow the simple directions to apply to become eligible for expedited screening.  Click here to learn more about where TSA Pre✓™ is and where it’s coming to.

Other Risk Based Security Initiatives:  Since last fall, TSA has implemented modified screening procedures for passengers 12 and younger. Passengers 12 and younger can now leave their shoes on during security screening. These new screening procedures also include permitting an additional pass through advanced imaging technology to clear any alarms, as well as greater use of explosives trace detection. 
Additionally, TSA recently concluded a modified screening pilot program for passengers ages 75 and older. As the program proceeds toward full implementation, passengers 75 and older will undergo similar modified screening procedures to those 12 and under and will be able to leave on a light jacket or outwear when passing through security. Passengers 75 and older may see these procedures in place as they travel this summer.
TSA Contact Center: The Contact Center hours were recently extended and a representative is now available Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. Eastern time; weekends and federal holidays, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Eastern time. The TCC can be reached at 866-289-9673. Passengers can also reach out to the TSA Contact Center (TCC) with questions about TSA procedures, upcoming travel or to provide feedback or voice concerns.

TSA Cares Helpline: Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll free 855-787-2227, 72 hours prior to traveling with any questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint. A TSA Cares helpline representative is available during all TSA Contact Center hours.

The MyTSA App: Want TSA information anywhere, anytime?  Use the MyTSA app.  Among the great features, there’s a “Can I Bring My…” tool. Type in the name of the item you’re curious about and it tells you if the item is permitted or not, along with packing tips. Wondering if you can take your bug repellant on the plane? Check the app to find out. A wait time feature is also available. It relies on crowd sourcing which means the more people who use it, the better.

The 4-1-1 on 3-1-1 (Liquids, Gels & Aerosols): If you’re checking a bag, make things simple by packing liquids in your checked luggage. That way, you don’t have to worry about the 3-1-1 liquids rules.  (If you’re concerned about them leaking, do what I do and put them in a zip-top bag.)  But I know that doesn’t work for everyone; either your trip is a short one or you’re only bringing a carry-on bag.  If you have to take liquids in your carry-on, please continue reading… 3-1-1 is a quick way to remember how our liquids policy works. You can read here for more details, but here is the gist: each passenger is allowed to take as many 3.4 ounce or less sized containers that will fit in one sealed clear quart-sized zip-top bag – and one bag per person.   Make sure you take the zip-top bag out of your carry-on prior to sending it through the X-ray.

Here is some information on frequently asked liquid, aerosol and gel items:

  • Suntan & Sun Block Lotion: Lotions fall under the 3-1-1 procedures that I mentioned above. So do the aerosol spray lotions. Sun block sticks do not fall under this rule.
  • 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.
  • Beverages: Wine, liquor, beer, and all of your favorite beverages are permitted in your checked baggage. You can also  bring beverages packaged in 3.4 oz or less bottles in your carry-on bags in the 3-1-1 baggie.
Sporting Goods: Golf clubs, baseball bats (including the mini slugger bats), cricket bats, bows and arrows, hockey sticks, scuba knives, spear guns, etc. are all prohibited from being carried onto the plane. However, you can have put them in your checked bag.

Destination Weddings: Getting married soon? We’ve been asked about it a lot lately on our MyTSA app, so we wrote a post on it. Be sure to check it out for some great tips.

Camping, Hunting, or Fishing?: If you’re heading to the great outdoors, be sure to check out this post for tips on traveling with camping, hunting, and fishing gear.

Double Check Your Bag for Guns: Seriously!!! It sounds silly, but if you read our Week in Review posts, you’ll see that our officers find at least two guns every day at checkpoints in the U.S.  A good percentage of those were loaded. The most common excuse is that the passenger didn’t know it was there or forgot it was in the bag. Save yourself the hassle of a bag check, a police interview and a potential arrest by making sure you leave your gun at home.

Shaving Razors: You can get more info from our blog post on this subject where the pictures will answer all of your questions.

Lost or Forgotten IDs:  We’ve gotten many calls from people who’ve had a wallet stolen or lost on a trip and have no ID for their return trip.  Don’t worry, if this happens to you, you’ll still be permitted to fly as long as you help us verify you are who you say you are by answering a few questions.  It’s wise to get to the airport a little earlier just to be safe.


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.

TSA Week in Review: Never Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth


Fireworks, Screwdriver shaped like grenade, concealed drugs, knives.
Gift Horse?: A passenger at Helena (HLN) thought that fireworks were allowed on planes and apparently prefers to store their fireworks in a ceramic horse. Whether it was a gift or not, we don’t really know…

Screwy Grenade: Speaking of grenades, check out the photo of the screwy grenade our officers found at Newark (EWR). It opens up to reveal screwdriver bits.

Fantasy Knife
Bat'leth?: I don’t know what the knife is actually called, but I have to admit that it looks like a compact version of a Klingon Bat'leth. Do you think Klingons travel through LaGuardia (LGA)?

In a Jam: A passenger at Florence (FLO) concealed a bag a marijuana inside a jar of raspberry jam. As I’ve often said, we’re not looking for drugs, but an organic substance stuffed in a jar of jelly looks odd. Also, a jar of jelly over 3.4 ounces is prohibited and likely to bring our officer’s attention to it.

False Top Soda Can: A bag of marijuana was discovered stuffed in a cola can with a false top at LaGuardia (LGA). As with the jam I mentioned above, this looks odd and we’re going to look.

Smoking is Still Prohibited: An MK-13 projectile smoke grenade was discovered in a check bag at Newport News (PHF).

Knives in Odd Places: A small pocketknife was discovered wrapped in a cloth and hidden at the bottom of a stick of deodorant at Detroit (DTW). Another knife was found inside the lining of a bag and taped to the bag handle at Grand Rapids (GRR). And yet another knife was discovered taped to the frame of the bag under the lining at Bradley (BDL). And if that wasn’t enough, a man had a knife in his shoe at New York Kennedy (JFK).

Miscellaneous Prohibited Items - In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our Officers also found firearm components, realistic replica firearms, stun guns, brass knuckles, a bazillion knives, ammunition, and batons.

6 loaded firearms.
6 loaded firearms.
5 loaded firearms and an antique firearm.
25 firearms discovered. 21 were loaded.
Firearms - Here are the firearms our Officers found in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday.

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. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure

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.


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

2012 National Hurricane Preparedness Week, We Pledge to Prepare


Picture of hurricane.
Hurricane season started May 15th in the Eastern Pacific and  starts on June 1st in the Atlantic, and we were more than happy to have Michael Widomski from FEMA Public Affairs as a guest blogger here to talk about hurricane preparedness. Hurricanes can put a damper on everything. Including air travel of course… So TSA will be tweeting hurricane updates from our brand new regional twitter accounts this year: @TSANortheast, @TSAMidAtlantic, @TSACentral, @TSASoutheast, @TSAMidWest, and @TSAWestern. Be sure to follow one of the accounts for TSA tweets related to your region.

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2012 NATIONAL HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS WEEK, WE PLEDGE TO PREPARE
                                                      
TSA is joining thousands around the country who are pledging to be a “Force of Nature” and taking action to prepare for the potential negative impacts of hurricanes and tropical storms. Hurricane season begins June 1 and extends through November 30, and as we saw last year with Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, severe tropical weather can impact coastal and inland areas alike. 

Hurricanes and tropical storms are known for the unforgettable visuals we see on the news every year –trees bending due to high winds and heavy rains rendering TV cameras useless as they look over an abandoned beach. But in addition to these obvious effects, hurricanes and tropical storms can often disrupt life for those in coastal and inland areas through evacuations, prolonged power outages, and flooding.

With these risks in mind, we ask that you join in pledging to be prepared for hurricane season by: 
  • Knowing your risk: The first step to Being a Force of Nature is to understand how hurricanes and tropical storms can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. Check the weather forecast regularly and sign up for local alerts from emergency management officials and obtain a NOAA Weather Radio.
  • Taking action: Actions can be small, simple, and quick. You can pledge to develop an emergency plan based on your local hurricane, severe storm, and flooding hazard, and practice how and where you will evacuate if instructed by your emergency management officials.  Post your plan in your home where visitors can see it. Learn how to strengthen your home and business against hurricanes.  Download FEMA’s mobile app so you can access important safety tips on what to do before, during and after a hurricane.  Understand the National Hurricane Center warning and alerts
  • Being an example: Once you have taken action and pledged (or if you already have), share your story with your family and friends. Create a YouTube video, post your story on Facebook, comment on a blog, or send a tweet. Or you can even post the Be a Force of Nature widget on your social media profiles.

TSA Guest Blogger Michael Widomski, FEMA Public Affairs

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, May 18, 2012

TSA Week in Review: 30 Loaded Guns Found This Week in Carry-on Bags


Loaded firearm, signal flares and flare gun, smoke grenade, fireworks, knives.
Six 12-Gauge Flares: You know they have little buttons above your seat for when you need a flight attendant, right? I doubt you need signal flares to get their attention. These six flares were found by our Officers at Milwaukee (MKE).

Body Scanner Discoveries This Week – There were seven incidents this week where drugs were found on passengers using imaging technology. Items were found everywhere from pockets to the groin area at LAX, ELM, SMF, OGG, PGD, CHS and TPA. We’re not looking for drugs, but finding these nonmetallic items in areas where explosives could also be hidden is a testament that the technology works. In addition to these discoveries, there was also a passenger at Anchorage who attempted to sneak in a tube of toothpaste by placing it in her groin area. This was an attempt to get it through after we had already caught it in her bag earlier. If you’re not familiar with why toothpaste is prohibited, you can read about our liquid policies here.

No Smoking: Smoking has been banned on flights for quite some time now, so please leave your smoke grenades at home. A live M-18 smoke grenade was discovered in checked baggage at Las Vegas (LAS).

Officers in Wilmington (ILM) found two knives a passenger tried to conceal in their suitcase:  a pocket knife wrapped in a computer cable and a kitchen knife hidden inside the lining of the bag near the pull handle support.
Concealed Knives: It’s one thing to forget that you had a knife in your bag, but when you intentionally conceal it, it raises eyebrows.  Officers in Wilmington (ILM) found two knives a passenger tried to conceal in their suitcase:  a pocket knife wrapped in a computer cable and a kitchen knife hidden inside the lining of the bag near the pull handle support.
People Say the Darndest Things - Here are examples of what not to say at the airport. Statements like these not only delay the people who said them but can also inconvenience lots of other passengers if the checkpoint has to be evacuated:

When asked if he had any prohibited items in his bag, a passenger at New York Kennedy (JFK) replied: “Yes, I have a bomb.”
Miscellaneous Prohibited Items - In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our Officers also found firearm components, realistic replica firearms, stun guns, brass knuckles, an extraordinary amount of knives, ammunition, and batons.

8 loaded firearms.
6 loaded firearms.
Firearms - Here are the firearms our Officers found in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday.

32 firearms discovered last week. 30 were loaded.
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. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure

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.

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


It’s Time to go Scuba Diving - Travel Tips for Divers


Scuba Diving GearKeith Jeffries, the Assistant Federal Security Director from Orlando International Airport (MCO), will be speaking today on the CCR Travel Panel at the Rebreather Forum 3  in Orlando. This forum brings together the foremost minds in rebreather technology from all over the world. 

In conjunction with this speaking event, we wanted publish a post on traveling with scuba gear, so we looked within TSA to see if we had any diving experts. That’s when we found Charlie Foreman, a Customer Support Manager in Mississippi. He’s been diving since the early 80’s and instructing since 1985. He began instructing the instructors in 1990 to teach open water diving as well as underwater photography. He’s got over 5,500 dives under his belt and was inducted into Platinum Pro Instructor Foundation as well as the Platinum Pro Diver Foundation. 

Enjoy this very informative post! ~ Bob

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Before you get on that plane that takes you to an exciting destination, you must first think about how you should pack your dive gear for the flight. Here are some suggestions to make sure your expensive equipment arrives safely to your paradise adventure.

Always pack your expensive dive equipment and accessories in your carry-on luggage.

Always pack any prescription masks with you in carry-on luggage. If you lose this item it could ruin your whole trip.

Always pack your dive computers and regulators in carry-on luggage because these items are sensitive and do not need to be tossed around under the plane by baggage handlers.

Carry any prescriptions with you in your carry-on bag so they will not be lost.

Now that you have your carry-on bag packed, you can pay attention to packing your dive equipment that goes into the baggage area of the plane.

Pack your dive jacket( B.C, Stab Jacket, Buoyancy Compensators) in your dive bag first and place them in the middle of the bag.

Surround the jacket with your fins to protect it during the flight.

If you choose not to carry your mask with you on the plane make sure it is in a protective mask box and it is wrapped with dive skins or your wetsuit to protect it from getting broken. Always carry a spare mask in your bag. Masks are very expensive if you have to replace one on your vacation. Make sure you place your dive knife in your checked baggage and not your carry-on. This item is prohibited on board an aircraft.

Be sure to pack extra fin straps and repair items you might need as well as motion sickness medicines just in case. It is not necessary to carry weights and tanks with you since all resorts provide tanks and weights with the dive packages.

If you do chose to carry you own personal small emergency air source make sure the valve is out of the cylinder and it can be inspected at your time of departure.

Do not forget the most important item!  Make sure you lock your baggage with a TSA approved lock. This will prevent anyone from removing items out of  your dive bags.    

Now…Lets Go Diving…

Guest Blogger - Charlie Foreman
TSA Stakeholder-Customer Support Manager

Friday, May 11, 2012

TSA Week in Review: Disassembled Gun and Ammo Found in Three Stuffed Animals


Officers (LEOs) were called to the checkpoint and after searching the bag, they discovered a disassembled weapon hidden in three of the child’s stuffed animals. The main frame of a .40 caliber firearm was in one animal. A magazine loaded with two .40 caliber rounds and firing pin was inside another. The slide was inside third stuffed animal. All of the necessary components to assemble a fully functional loaded firearm were artfully concealed in the three stuffed animals.
Disassembled Gun and Ammo Found in Three Stuffed Animals - TSA Officers at Providence TF Green Airport (PVD) noticed what appeared to be a disassembled firearm on the X-ray screen of baggage belonging to a father and his small child. Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) were called to the checkpoint and after searching the bag, they discovered a disassembled weapon hidden in three of the child’s stuffed animals. The main frame of a .40 caliber firearm was in one animal. A magazine loaded with two .40 caliber rounds and firing pin was inside another. The slide was inside third stuffed animal. All of the necessary components to assemble a fully functional loaded firearm were artfully concealed in the three stuffed animals. This is just another example that threats can appear anywhere and this is why our Officers take a closer look at everything. It’s also an example that shows that even though we’ve made changes to how we screen children 12 & under, the security process is still just as effective. Congratulations to our Officers at TF Green Airport for a great find!

Simulated semtex-h, pepper spray gun, ammunition, throwing stars, knives.
Simulated Semtex-H – Once again, an explosives training aid was discovered at a TSA checkpoint. This time it was at Fort Walton Beach (VPS) and it involved a block of simulated Semtex-H explosive. We had no way of knowing it was simulated until after we had gone through all of the motions.

Hollowed Out Book – A hollowed out book containing narcotics and drug paraphernalia was discovered at Denver (DEN). As I’ve said many times before, we’re not looking for drugs, but when we find them, we have to report them. So… please don’t bring them. It’s yet another example of how a normal everyday item can be used to conceal items.
Hollowed Out Book – A hollowed out book containing narcotics and drug paraphernalia was discovered at Denver (DEN). As I’ve said many times before, we’re not looking for drugs, but when we find them, we have to report them. So… please don’t bring them. It’s yet another example of how a normal everyday item can be used to conceal items.

Mace Gun – It looks kind of like a 1950’s era sci-fi ray gun, but officers at Newark (EWR) discovered a mace/pepper gun.

Ammo in Pocket Found With Body Scanner – TSA Officers at Baltimore (BWI) discovered 13 rounds of ammunition in the front pocket of a passenger who went through a body scanner.

People Say the Darndest Things - Here are examples of what not to say at the airport. Statements like these not only delay the people who said them but can also inconvenience lots of other passengers if the checkpoint has to be evacuated:  
  • A passenger at Amarillo (AMA) stated “I have a bomb on my body” twice. As if once wasn’t enough?
  • While having his bag searched at Tucson (TUS) due to an explosive trace detection alarm, a passenger stated “Watch out for the explosives.”
Miscellaneous Prohibited Items - In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our Officers also found firearm components, realistic replica firearms, stun guns, brass knuckles, a ginormous amount of knives, ammunition, and batons.

7 loaded firearms.
8 loaded firearms.
30 firearms discovered. 29 were loaded.
Firearms - Here are the firearms our Officers found in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday.

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. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure

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.

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

Individuals on The No Fly List Are Not Issued Boarding Passes

There is a good chance you've probably heard about an incident where a toddler and her parents were removed from a flight because it was believed that the child was on the No Fly List. It turned out an airline computer glitch is what caused the confusion.

With that said, I wanted to take a few moments to explain the No Fly List. The No Fly list is maintained by the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center (TSC). Here is some information from a post I wrote a few years ago.

The No Fly List is a list of individuals who are prohibited from boarding an aircraft. Another list – the "Selectee" list - is a list of individuals who must undergo additional security screening before being permitted to board an aircraft. After 9/11 the TSC was created through a Presidential Directive to be administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, in cooperation with the departments of Homeland Security, Defense, State, and Treasury, as well as the Central Intelligence Agency. The purpose for the TSC is to consolidate terrorism based watch lists in one central database, the Terrorist Screening Center Database (TSDB), and make that data available for use in screening. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies nominate individuals to be put on the watch list based on established criteria, with the list maintained by the TSC. The No Fly and Selectee lists are subsets of the TSDB and are maintained by the TSC.

The terror watch lists keep legitimate terror threats off of airplanes every day, all over the world. According to the GAO, terror watch lists have "helped combat terrorism" and "enhanced U.S. counterterrorism efforts."

This is a good opportunity for me to segue into Secure Flight. Secure Flight is a behind-the-scenes program that streamlines the watch list matching process. It improves the travel experience for all passengers, including those who have been misidentified in the past.

As far as how someone gets on the No Fly list, the TSC has to add them to the TSDB, and they can't do that unless the person is known, or appropriately suspected to be, or have been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism, before they are included in the TSDB per the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6. (HSPD-6.)

If you have been told or suspect you are on the No Fly List, let me ask you these questions: Have you obtained a boarding pass? If so, you are not on the No Fly List. Have you flown? You would not be allowed on a flight if you were on the No Fly List. 


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, May 4, 2012

TSA Week in Review: Plastic Dagger Found With Body Scanner


Plastic dagger, spear gun, inert grenades, axe, knives, infectious substance.
Plastic Dagger Found With Body Scanner – A passenger at DTW had a plastic dagger hidden in the hemline of her shirt. This is an example of the body scanner showing its strength by finding non-metallic weapons.

Knife Mounted on Walker
Knife Mounted on Walker: Yes, the kind of walker that assists one with walking... Usually, the only attachments you see on walkers are tennis balls, but this one had a knife mounted on the front. Just another example of why we take a closer look at even the most common of items. Great job to the Officers at New York's JFK.

Tomahawk – Denver (DEN) Officers discovered a tomahawk in a carry-on bag. Not a Tomahawk missile, but a bladed projectile.

Replica Grenades and Mines –It’s been another busy week for grenades and mines. Inert grenades were discovered by Officers at Tampa (TPA) and Savannah (SAV). Training Claymore mines complete with shrapnel were discovered at Newark (EWR). You would think that these items would be a rare find, but apparently that’s not the case. I know I’ve said it over and over, but for anybody who may be new to reading this post, we realize that replicas are totally harmless, however, we don’t know that until we’ve gone through all of the motions. Read here and here for more information on why inert items cause problems at checkpoints.

Biohazard – You can imagine the look on the Officer’s face in Austin (AUS) when they discovered a label on a package that read “Class 6 Biohazard.” After Police and Austin Fire responded, they learned the item was a water and borax solution.

Spearguns are Prohibited – I remember when I used to train TSOs. They would laugh when I mentioned Spearguns while going over prohibited items. They couldn’t believe that anybody would actually try to bring one on a plane. Well…in addition to all of the other ones we’ve found, the latest was discovered at Raleigh-Durham (RDU).

Officers at Salt Lake City (SLC) and LaGuardia (LGA) found a total of three throwing stars.
Throwing Stars – Your Kung Fu is no match for our Officers. With a few acrobatic moves and defensive measures, Officers at Salt Lake City (SLC) and LaGuardia (LGA) found a total of three throwing stars. Good job, grasshoppers.
People Say the Darndest Things - Here are examples of what not to say at the airport. Statements like these not only delay the people who said them but can also inconvenience lots of other passengers if the checkpoint has to be evacuated:  

  • While waiting in line to be screened at St. Louis (STL) a passenger nodded to another unidentified passenger, and stated to a TSO, “You better check this guy good, he has explosives.” 
  • A passenger within earshot of our Behavior Detection Officers at Tucson (TUS) stated: “I did not want you to notice the bomb in my shoe.”
Miscellaneous Prohibited Items - In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our Officers also found firearm components, realistic replica firearms, stun guns, brass knuckles, pepper spray, quite the assortment of knives, ammunition, and batons.

8 loaded firearms.
4 loaded firearms.
9 loaded firearms.
Firearms - Here are the firearms our Officers found in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday.
23 firearms discovered. 22 were loaded.

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. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure

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.

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, May 3, 2012

More Than 1 Million Passengers Screened by TSA Pre✓™


TSA Pre✓™ logo.
There was no confetti or sirens, but the one millionth passenger was screened by TSA Pre✓™  today. Not only are the TSA Pre✓™ participants growing in number, but the locations are also growing. United Airlines, Jet Blue and US Airways as well as some additional airport locations around the nation will begin operations this year.

Currently, TSA Pre✓™ is operating with American Airlines at airports in Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Las Vegas, New York (JFK), Minneapolis and Los Angeles, with Delta Air Lines at airports in Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York (LGA), Orlando, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis and Washington, DC and Alaska Airlines in Seattle.

In case you’re wondering what TSA Pre✓™ is, you can go here to read all about it. Long story short, it’s an initiative that allows passengers to expedite their screening experience if they opt in. How do you opt in to TSA Pre✓™? Funny you should ask… Just go here.

TSA Pre✓™ is only one of our risk based security initiatives. Be sure to read about our other initiatives:
Keep an eye on our TSA Pre✓™ page for future announcements.

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, May 2, 2012

TSA’s Civil Rights and Liberties Program


When something doesn’t go right at a security checkpoint, TSA wants to know about it. Getting feedback from passengers is one of the best ways we can improve the security experience for everyone and address any problems that could be occurring in the security system. 

With a workforce of more than 50,000 people all over the country, our workforce reflects the diversity of the American people we serve.  Our employees come from just about all of the ethnic and religious backgrounds as the travelers who pass through our checkpoints, and our workforce is trained regularly about religious and cultural issues that could arise during the screening process. 
   
In our mission to protect all people when they travel, our workforce is committed to treating each person with dignity and respect throughout the screening process. TSA does not profile passengers on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion. As a former field employee who wore many hats, I can say firsthand that TSA does not and has never trained or condoned racial profiling. We continually engage with a wide variety of stakeholder groups to help us understand unique passenger concerns, and we appreciate their support in sharing passenger feedback about the screening process.

We encourage any traveler who believes they have been treated differently or unlawfully discriminated against by a Transportation Security Administration employee to file a civil rights or civil liberties complaint with TSA’s Disability and Multicultural Division by going to the Office of Civil Rights and Liberties’ web page. All claims are investigated, and again, information provided to us helps us continuously improve our security system.

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.