Friday, April 13, 2012

TSA Week in Review: Knife Zip-Tied to Handle of Bag

Knives, stun pen, loaded gun, inert grenade.
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Concealed Knife – A knife was found zip-tied to the inner workings of a bag handle at Cedar Rapids (CID). Clever, but no match for our officers and technology. (See photo)

Chicken Soup for Your Pants? – Officers found a can of soup in a Las Vegas passenger’s carry-on bag. When told that it couldn’t go through because of the liquids rule (it was more than 3.4 ounces), the passenger said they would put the soup in their checked baggage. But when the passenger returned to the checkpoint, officers saw that the passenger had tried to hide the soup in their pants.  No soup for them.  

Derringer in a Dopp Kit – A Derringer was found amongst everyday toiletry items in a dopp kit at San Diego (SAN). I don’t think you could trim your nails, but I bet you could knick yourself if you shaved with it. (See photo)

Stun Pen – I’ve often heard that the pen can be mightier than the sword. Well, in this case that statement is pretty close to being true. A stun-pen was found on a passenger at Chicago Midway (MDW).

Bad Kitty – Known as a black cat, or cat eyes, this seemingly harmless kitty cat (see photo) becomes a punching weapon when your fingers are inserted in its eyes. It’s cute little pointy cat ears are designed to puncture and rip flesh.

Belt Buckle Knife – A belt buckle knife was found was found on a passenger during screening at Akron (CAK). Holy utility belt, Batman, good thing you didn’t bring your batarang and grappling gun.

More Grenades – An inert grenade was found this week in a checked bag at Salt Lake City (SLC). Another was found in a carry-on bag at San Diego (SAN) and it had a 1” knife concealed inside it.

People Say the Darndest Things: Here is an example of what not to say at the airport. Statements like this not only delayed the people who said them, they can also inconvenience lots of other passengers if the checkpoint has to be evacuated:

·     An officer at Minneapolis (MSP) was searching a bag for liquids when the passenger stated: “Those are my 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 agglomeration of knives, ammunition, and batons.

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

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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 in their bag. That’s why it’s important to double check your luggage before you get to the airport.
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

The Scoop on TSA Pre✓™

TSA Pre✓™ logoHello out there in the blogosphere, I am Jonella. I work with Bob at TSA and in particular I work on a lot of the TSA Pre communications. Since the launch of TSA Pre✓™ last October, more than 750,000 travelers have received expedited screening and we’ve received lots of positive feedback and a few reoccurring questions or themes that  I want to address and what better place than here on the TSA Blog! 

“Why is TSA Pre™ only open to a small, select group of passengers?” 

TSA Pre™, as with our other risk-based initiatives, is based on the premise that most passengers do not pose a risk to security. Acting on that premise, we looked for pre-existing traveler databases we could utilize to test our ability to identify low-risk passengers. U.S. airlines and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have populations of travelers who have already provided details about themselves and both were willing to partner with TSA to offer TSA Pre™ benefits to their populations as part of our initial test of the expedited screening concept. 

We are actively looking for ways to include more populations in some of the risk-based screening initiatives. For example, we recently added active duty U.S. service members to the TSA Pre™ population. We are starting their eligibility for those traveling out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport with plans of  expanding this particular initiative to other airports in the future through our partnership with the Department of Defense. 

Frequent flyers contacted by aircraft operators do not incur a fee to participate in TSA Pre™. Currently, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines are participating in TSA Pre™ and operating out of 12 airports and both continue to offer eligible passengers the opportunity to opt in. US Airways, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines, which will join TSA Pre™ in the coming months, are also contacting eligible passengers to invite them to opt in. JetBlue is expected to join later this year. So, if you are a frequent flyer with any one of these airlines, check your email and be sure to opt in so you can participate.

Another option for passengers is to join one of CBP’s Trusted Traveler programs. TSA’s partnership with CBP automatically qualifies U.S. citizens who are members of Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS for participation in TSA Pre™ - at no additional cost. People who are not current members of those programs can apply anytime to get the dual benefit of Global Entry for international travel and TSA Pre™ for domestic travel. Global Entry charges $100, and membership is good for five years. The cost to join NEXUS is about half as much and also applies for five years.

“I opted into TSA Pre™ but I rarely, if ever, get expedited screening.”

Random and unpredictable security measures are a part of everything we do. This is to ensure that terrorists and anyone with bad intentions will have a hard time gaming the system. To that end, no one who opts in should expect to get expedited screening every time they fly through a TSA Pre™ airport. That said, some passengers say they have opted in but seldom receive expedited screening and there could be a few reasons for this.  

First, it is important to remember that TSA Pre™ is currently only available for U.S. citizens traveling domestically on a participating airline, out of a participating airport. Click here for the most updated list.
Secondly, if you are a member of a CBP Trusted Traveler program, be sure you’re including your PASS ID – found in the top-left corner on the back of your membership card – in the ‘Known Traveler’ field every time you book a flight. If you’re not sure it’s in there, especially if you’re not booking it yourself, you can always call your airline to confirm that your number is on the reservation before you fly. 

“I can’t remember if I opted in with my airline. How can I find out?”

The airlines capture your TSA Pre™ opt-in status and transmit that information to TSA along with your TSA Secure Flight passenger data. If you’re unsure whether you have already opted in, I would encourage you to check your airline member profile. Some airlines have the ability to add your TSA Pre™ opt-in status to your frequent flyer account information online. And remember, if you’re already a member of one of the CBP Trusted Traveler programs you can enter your PASS ID when booking your own travel or saving it in your frequent flyer profile – that signals your opt-in status and that info will be transmitted to TSA when the airline sends your other data.

We are excited about the initiative’s success and look forward to its continued expansion. Stay tuned on the blog and for future announcements for TSA Pre™. 

I'll be blogging more in the future. See you next time!

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.