Tuesday, October 29, 2013

TSA Travel Tips Tuesday – What Causes Shoes to Alarm Metal Detectors?



Photo Courtesy of qa.shpnc.nc.gov
Photo Courtesy of qa.shpnc.nc.gov
Some travelers, by policy, are not required to remove their shoes, but if their shoes alarm during the screening process, or if they require secondary screening for another reason, they might be asked to remove them.  So let’s take a look at what can cause shoes to set off a metal detector:

  • Shoe Shanks – Many shoes have what’s known as a shank, which is embedded between the insole and outsole. It’s there for support, and can be made of steel, Kevlar, or fiberglass. If it’s steel, there is a chance it could cause your shoes to alarm. Here are some pictures of shoe shanks if you’re wondering what they look like. 
  • Nails – Cowboy boots and a variety of shoes have nails in the heal.  
  • Zippers, Buckles, Eyelets, D-rings, and Hooks – Some shoes and boots have large metallic zippers, buckles, eyelets, D-rings, and hooks. 
  • Steel Toes – Steel toes in shoes and boots.  
  • Roller Shoes – If you’ve ever seen someone suddenly begin to skate in their tennis shoes, you’ve seen roller shoes. A wheel pops out of the heel and allows the shoes to double as roller skates. The wheel mechanism can cause the shoes to alarm. 
  • Light Up Shoes Light up shoes have wires and a battery that can cause an alarm.


So, now that you know what can cause shoes to alarm, let’s discuss some alternatives:

  • Airport Friendly Shoes - Some brands offer “airport friendly” shoes that are manufactured without metal. If you have trouble finding a pair, a quick internet search should do the trick.
  • Slippers & Flip Flops – If you have a pair of shoes that you know will alarm, you can pack them in your carry-on bag and wear slippers or flip flops through the walk through metal detector. After security, you can put your favorite shoes on.

The following groups may not be required to remove their shoes during screening:










See you next Tuesday with more travel tips!

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If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.

Travelers Are Enjoying TSA Pre✓™ - Read What They’re Saying




We appreciate your tweets and your calls letting us know that you’re enjoying the many benefits of TSA Pre™. As the TSA Pre™ program expands, we are committed to providing the same quality of expedited screening nationwide.

If you haven’t heard of TSA Pre™, it’s an expedited screening program that allows pre-approved airline travelers to leave their shoes, light outerwear, and belt on. TSA Pre™ travelers can also keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry-on.

We’ve heard your requests for more TSA Pre™ locations and we are happy to announce more locations coming soon. To date we have rolled out TSA Pre™ at 97 airports. You can see the complete list by clicking here.

It’s also expanded to seven more air carriers (Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America). But, we’re not stopping at seven—we know there are other carriers that would benefit from TSA Pre™ and we’re looking for more opportunities to expand.

What’s next for TSA Pre™ you ask? We will be launching a TSA Pre™ application/enrollment process by the end of the year. If you want to apply, all you need to do is fill out the application online and visit an enrollment center. Check back on our website for more details to come. In the meantime, you can be eligible to receive TSA Pre™  benefits by applying for CBP’s Global Entry program, or through an invitation from your airline’s frequent flier program.

But don’t just take our word for it. Read about what the locals are saying about TSA Pre™:





Fast screening now available at TIA – Arizona Daily Star


To date more than 18 million passengers have enjoyed expedited screening as a result of the TSA Pre™ program. Click here to learn more about the program.

The passenger experience is important to us. We encourage you to continue to share your feedback about your TSA Pre™ experience on Twitter using the hashtag #TSAprecheck.



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If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

TSA Week in Review – 39 Firearms Discovered This Week (32 Loaded)



Loaded Pistol Discovered in Carry-on Bag (TYS)
Loaded Pistol Discovered in Carry-on Bag (TYS)
39 Firearms Discovered This Week – Of the 39 firearms, 32 were loaded and seven had rounds chambered. See a complete list and more photos at the bottom of this post.



(Top to Bottom) Knife Taped to Disposable Razor (MSP), Razorblade Concealed Between Two Healthcare Cards (PHL), Belt Buckle Knife (DEN)
(Top to Bottom) Knife Taped to Disposable Razor (MSP), Razorblade Concealed Between Two Healthcare Cards (PHL), Belt Buckle Knife (DEN)
Artfully Concealed Prohibited Items – It’s important to examine your bags prior to traveling to ensure no prohibited items are inside. If a prohibited item is discovered in your bag or on your body, you could be cited and quite possibly arrested by local law enforcement. Here are a few examples from this week where prohibited items were found by our officers in strange places.

  • A belt buckle knife was discovered at Denver (DEN).
  • A multi-tool was found concealed in a shirt, wrapped in a towel, and placed in a book at Mobile (MOB).
  • A razorblade was detected in the wallet between two medical insurance cards that were taped together at Philadelphia (PHL).
  • A  Swiss Army knife was found attached to a disposable razor in an attempt to sneak it through the checkpoint at Minneapolis St. Paul (MSP).

Stun Guns – Nine stun guns were discovered this week in carry-on bags around the nation. Three were discovered at San Francisco (SFO), and the others were detected at Denver (DEN), Tupelo (TUP), Las Vegas (LAS), Minneapolis (MSP), Nashville (BNA), and Phoenix (PHX).



Miscellaneous Prohibited Items - In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our officers also regularly find firearm components, realistic replica firearms, bb and pellet guns, Airsoft guns, brass knuckles, ammunition, batons, and a lot of sharp pointy things…

(Top to Bottom, Left to Right) Kukri Knife (IAH), Springloaded Knife (SLC), Throwing Star (ALB)
(Top to Bottom, Left to Right) Kukri Knife (IAH), Spring-loaded Knife (SLC), Throwing Star (ALB)
An assortment of knives.
All of these knives were discovered in a carry-on bag at JFK
An assortment of knives.
Knives discovered this week in carry-on bags at ROC
Inert Ordnance and Grenades etc. - We continue to find inert hand grenades and other weaponry on a weekly basis. Please keep in mind that if an item looks like a realistic bomb, grenade, mine, etc., it is prohibited - real or not. When these items are found at a checkpoint or in checked baggage, they can cause significant delays in checkpoint screening. While they may be novelty items, you cannot bring them on a plane. Read here on why inert items cause problems.

  • Two novelty grenades were discovered this week in two separate incidents at Phoenix (PHX).



Ammunition – When packed properly, ammunition can be transported in your checked luggage, but it is never permissible to pack ammo in your carry-on bag.

  • Twenty-two rounds of 20-gauge shotgun shells were discovered in a carry-on bag at Sacramento (SMF).


Shotgun Shells in Carry-on Bag (SMF)
Shotgun Shells in Carry-on Bag (SMF)
Firearms Discovered This Week in Carry-On Bags 

Loaded guns.
Guns Discovered at (Left to Right, Top to Bottom) JAX, PGD, MCO, IAH, PIT, MCO
Loaded guns.
Guns Discovered at (Top to Bottom, Left to Right) HOU, MCO, JAX, MTJ, CLT
Guns Discovered at (Left to Right, Top to Bottom) MAF, PDX, ATL, FLL, FAI, GCC, MCO, ANC
Guns Discovered at (Left to Right, Top to Bottom) MAF, PDX, ATL, FLL, FAI, GCC, MCO, ANC
39 Firearms Discovered This Week – Of the 39 firearms, 32 were loaded and seven had rounds chambered.
*In order to provide a timely weekly update, I compile my data from a preliminary report. The year-end numbers will vary slightly (increase) from what I report in the weekly updates. However, any monthly, midyear, or end-of-year numbers TSA provides on this blog or elsewhere will not be estimates.


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. The passenger can face a penalty as high as $7,500.00. 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 haven’t seen it yet, make sure you check out our post highlighting the dangerous, scary, and downright unusual items our officers found in 2012. The 2011 list can be found here.



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If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.