It has also been a busy seven months beyond the checkpoint for TSA. Teams of experts have been working hard to expand the rollout of risk-based security initiatives that are aimed at enhancing security while improving the passenger experience. In that short amount of time we have changed the travel experience for all passengers 12 and younger, all passengers 75 and older, flight crews, military members and the millions of passengers who have opt into the TSA Pre✓™ expedited screening program.
TSA Pre✓™ has expanded to 5 airlines and 20 airports, and has processed more than 2 million passengers. By the end of year we plan to have TSA Pre✓™ available at 35 of the busiest U.S. airports.
Out of the 375,432,402 passengers who have traveled through our checkpoints so far this year, 30,204 have submitted a complaint. While that might sound like a lot on the surface, that equates to 0.008% of the total number of passengers. By the way, did you see the latest Gallup poll that American’s views of TSA are more positive than negative? Check it out!
We have also taken steps to expand the availability of our award winning My TSA mobile application. As of last month it is now available at the Google play store. It’s also available on iTunes and the mobile web. The My TSA App provides passengers with 24/7 access to the most commonly requested TSA information.
We kicked off the year on the blog talking about cupcakes, and moved on to other things like otters, getting to the gate early, the Federal Air Marshal Service’s 50th Anniversary, traveling with wedding dresses, traveling with scuba gear, why laptops have to be removed from bags, and many, many more posts you can find in our archives at blog.tsa.gov.
There were several high profile stories about alleged checkpoint experiences that turned out to be false. Yes, nail clipper confiscation was one of them. Also, there were claims that our Officers mistreated a passenger who was deaf and also mistreated a passenger with a feeding tube. There were other claims such as a woman who said there were no female Officers to screen her, parents who said we accused her four year old child of having a firearm, a woman who claimed she was screened because of her looks, and lastly, a parent accused TSA of having their child on the no fly list when in fact it was an airline travel glitch that caused the problem. If you read our TSA Week in Review posts, you are no stranger to some of the frightening items our officers have found this year. Some travelers may forget a small knife in their bag, but others bring some rather shocking items with them to the airport.
From January to July, there have been 821 firearms discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country. That’s almost four firearms per day! Of those, 691 were loaded, and 210 were locked and loaded with a round chambered. The most popular caliber so far has been the compact .380 with 197 found this year. Firearms have been found at a total of 160 airports with Atlanta (ATL) TSO’s finding the most firearms – 56 found so far this year. A couple of the more notable incidents this year were when a Portland passenger put a pistol in potted plant in an effort to sneak it past us, and also when another passenger had a disassembled gun and ammo concealed in three stuffed animals. Follow the links to read more about these incidents, and you can check out our TSA Week in Review posts to see pictures and spreadsheets of firearms found.
If the number of firearms we’ve discovered so far this year didn’t shock you, these examples might: a live 40mm high explosive grenade; a bottle wrapped in black electrical tape and filled with flash powder, and three M-80 fireworks; a black powder flask filled with 5oz. of black powder; even an explosively-viable cannonball; and last but not least, a live blasting cap.
In addition to the live explosives items mentioned above, we also find a lot of inert items that look like the real deal. The problem with these types of items is that we don’t know if they are the real deal until we call out the bomb experts, and sometimes even they have a hard time figuring it out. Inert items can lead to closed terminals and checkpoints, which usually result in canceled or delayed flights. Here are some of the more interesting inert items we’ve found so far this year: simulated detonating cord with simulated sheet explosives, M147 firing device with blasting cap taped to it, inert detonator, simulated Semtex-H, training claymore mines, IED training aids, two replica Claymore mines, warheads, 60mm mortar round, a bazooka round, and more grenades than we’ve seen in years past.
If you’re new to the blog and want to see more of the things we’ve caught this year, check out all of our TSA Week in Review posts. There you can review photos of the items and read about all of the other items we’ve found such as: bear mace in a sock, a knife mounted on a walker, a spear gun, a gun in a hollowed out book, eels, dead venomous snakes, a gassed up chainsaw, a grenade launcher, a chastity belt, and much more!
We hope you have a great remainder of 2012. For more TSA news and info, be sure to read blog.tsa.gov and tsa.gov!