Friday, February 10, 2012

TSA Week in Review: Fantasy Knives and More Cannonballs

Cannonballs, grenade launcher, knives, throwing star, inert grenades.
More Cannonballs: Two cannonballs and an antique firearm were discovered at Kahului (OGG). Now this song is stuck in my head.

Fantasy Knives: Two knives (see photo) were discovered at John F Kennedy (JFK). These knives come in handy when slaying various mythological creatures, but these creatures don’t exist on planes or elsewhere for that matter. 

No Good Knives In Cancun?: A 7” kitchen knife was discovered in a bag at Denver (DEN). The passenger stated they brought the knife because there are “no good knives in Cancun.”

Kukri Knife: Also known as the “Gurkha Blade,” this Nepalese knife is used as both a tool and a weapon. While it has been approved for the battlefield, it’s not permitted to travel in your carry-on baggage. This particular knife was found at Washington – Reagan (DCA).

Grenades: Two inert grenades were found this week at Colorado Springs (COS) and my old workplace, Cincinnati (CVG). Read here and here  for more information on why inert grenades cause problems at checkpoints.

Grenade Launcher: Yes, you read correctly, a grenade launcher was discovered during a search in checked baggage at Seattle Tacoma (SEA). It’s not as ominous as it sounds though. There were no grenades with the item. It’s not every day you come across a grenade launcher, so I just had to mention it. 

Miscellaneous Prohibited Items: In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our officers also found stun guns, brass knuckles, realistic replica firearms, knives, knives, and more knives, firearm components, ammunition, and expandable batons and blackjacks.

8 loaded guns.
Firearms: Our officers found 14 loaded firearms and 9 unloaded firearms in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday. Here’s a rundown of the 23 firearms our officers kept off of airplanes this week: 

2/3: LFT – Loaded .45 w/ round chambered – ABQ – Loaded .380 w/ round chambered – SLC – Loaded .380
2/4: MCO – Loaded .380 – FLO – Loaded .38 – GNV – Unloaded .38
2/5: ATL – Unloaded .380 – ABQ – Loaded .40 w/ round chambered
2/6: HSV – Loaded .380 w/ round chambered – PIT – Unloaded .22 – PHX – Unloaded .380 – MCI – Loaded .380
2/7: DEN – Loaded .22 – LAS – Loaded .40 – AUS – Loaded .380 – ATL – Loaded .380 w/ round chambered
2/8: OGG – Antique firearm – DAL – Unloaded .38 – IAH – Unloaded .38
2/9: IND – Loaded firearm w/ round chambered – TPA – Unloaded .22 – DFW – Unloaded 9mm – RDU – Loaded .38
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, 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.  

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.
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The Importance of Getting to the Gate Early


You may have read in the news today about a woman who missed her flight because there weren’t any female officers to screen her. As in most cases, there is more to this story. Read on…

In TSA’s smaller airports, we work closely with the airlines and airport to keep the security checkpoints open to make certain that all passengers are screened appropriately. Once TSA is informed by the airline that our screening services are no longer needed, the security checkpoint is closed.   

Recently, a passenger attempted to access the checkpoint after it had closed. The airline had already made final boarding announcements and notified TSA that no additional passengers would be accepted. A TSA officer made two additional public announcements asking for any remaining passengers to report to the security checkpoint for screening. After both the flight and checkpoint were closed, a female passenger requested screening. Even though the checkpoint was already closed, our officer told the passenger he would attempt to recall a female officer to screen her, but was informed by the airline that she would not be able to board.

Yes, it is standard procedure for us to provide same-gender pat-downs when needed; however, in this instance, the airline had made final boarding announcements and notified TSA that no additional passengers would be accepted. This is why it is so important to arrive early, at least an hour before your departure when possible at smaller airports and two at larger ones to ensure you make your flight.
When possible, TSA makes every effort to accommodate a passenger’s request. 

 
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.