Tag: Airline Security

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TSA Now Using Cartoon Dogs to Explain Airport Security to Kids

December 20, 2013 at 6:23 PM | by | Comments (0)

Is there any chance that TSA is just trolling us now? Earlier this week there was the thing with the sock monkey, and him having a gun, and his gun getting taken away at security. We theorized at the time that it might be because the screeners were just fucking idiots, but now we're not so sure. Maybe they're just very, very clever about doing ostentatiously stupid things.

Before we go on, let's remember that TSA is an airport security agency that coalesced in the aftermath of the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks. There is something of a debate over whether it needs to exist, but one way or another it's the result of terrorism. Justified or not, the fact that TSA had to be invented kind of sucks. The way that security officials have to go about their business - what with the whole patting down Americans like criminals routine - also sucks.

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TSA Confiscates Toy Gun from Sock Monkey Cowboy

December 17, 2013 at 9:50 AM | by | Comments (0)

There are times when we try to defend TSA for mindlessly enforcing its rules rather than following 'common sense.' Yes it's absurd to pat down grandma after she triggers a scanner, for instance, but once an alarm goes off TSA agents are obligated to go through a very specific procedure. Do you really want them making their own decisions on when it's OK to believe the machines? Keep in mind how we recruit some of them.

But this is just fucking idiotic. The story reads like something we'd invent if we were trying to imagine a really stupid instance of TSA security theater. Seriously. We can actually imagine ourselves saying something like "next thing you know, they'll start taking away toy guns from hand-woven stuffed animals." And yet here we are.

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Researcher Builds Deadly Weapons from Things You Can Easily Buy in the Terminal

November 29, 2013 at 10:04 AM | by | Comments (0)

We know that some of you will ignore our advice and spend today and tomorrow traveling long distances. You'll go to airports, wait in security, and get filmed by news crews with grumpy looks on your faces. There's not much we can do about that.

If it makes you feel any better though, you should know that a lot of the security that's holding you up is totally useless. So at least there's that. Last week we covered how and why the TSA's behavior screening program - which brings security to you in line, rather than waiting for you to come to security - is statistically useless. This week comes news that all of the x-rays and scans people go through might be kind of silly, since it's possible to build an array of deadly weapons with products you buy past the terminal.

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How to Experience TSA PreCheck with Nine US Airlines

November 25, 2013 at 12:39 PM | by | Comment (1)

Even if you only fly every once in a while you’re probably somewhat familiar with TSA PreCheck. It’s the program that allows for speedy screening, and you can even leave your shoes on, laptop in the bag, and keep your belt around your waist.

It’s an option for those who are on the list for existing Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Trusted Traveler programs like Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI programs. However, not so fancy flyers are also eligible—and often just by opting-in through their frequent flyer number. Here’s the scoop on the nine domestic carriers that are doing the TSA PreCheck—assuming you’re at an eligible airport:

· Alaska Airlines
The information from Alaska Airlines seems a little outdated, as they still reference the whole TSA PreCheck thing as a “pilot.” It seems like eligible frequent flyers would have received an email inviting them to opt-in, but if not head into the My Account section of your profile on alaskaair.com. Once there—assuming you’re eligible—you will you will see a link across the top of the page inviting you to opt-in for shoes on screening.

· Allegiant Air
Nope—if you’re flying with Allegiant you’re going to need to do the security screening thing the old fashioned way

· American Airlines
Like most carriers you need to be a member of the airline’s frequent flyer program, so go ahead and sign up if you haven’t done so already. Next head over to aa.com, and make your way into the My Account section of the site. Check your personal information and password, and then go ahead and check the box to opt-in to participate in the TSA expedited screening program. When you check-in you’ll see whether you made the cut or not right on your boarding pass.

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Holy Cow, Does TSA's Behavioral Screening Program Have Issues

November 18, 2013 at 4:11 PM | by | Comments (0)

Stories in travel journalism - in any kind of journalism, really - begin as news, then migrate over to commentary, and then eventually become meta-commentary. Sufficiently vicious and prominent meta-commentary gets treated as news, and thus does the circle of life turn.

So for instance, coverage of the recently published report on TSA's behavior profiling program began as news. More specifically, it began as news that the program spectacularly sucks. You'll remember this as the system that sought to supplement pat-downs with "chat-downs" in which screeners would ask you really specific questions and then guess - based on your reactions - if you were doing something suspicious. TSA called it Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques - SPOT - and they spent roughly one billion dollars on it. A recent report by the Government Accountability Office indicated that it works only "slightly better than chance." Opps.

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Southwest Adds TSA PreCheck Just in Time for Busy Holiday Travel

November 18, 2013 at 8:38 AM | by | Comments (0)

Good news for frequent flyers, as another carrier has joined in on the TSA PreCheck fun. In case you’re not familiar with the system, basically you consent for the airlines and TSA to know a little bit more about you through your frequent flyer number. Then at the airport—if selected—you can go through an expedited screening line. Here you usually get to leave your shoes on and keep your laptop in its bag, so it’s win-win for frequent travelers.

Now things are a go for the flyers over at Southwest Airlines, as the carrier is the latest to adopt the TSA PreCheck procedures. This is kind of big news, as Southwest is the country’s biggest domestic carrier. All those travelers should go along well with the system, as TSA PreCheck has made its way to around 100 airports. Those lucky enough to get the go ahead for the better security line will get confirmation within their boarding pass, as the text "TSA PRE" will appear in the upper left corner the paperwork.

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Europe On Track to End Air Travel Liquids Restrictions, While USA Shuffles Feet

November 11, 2013 at 4:35 PM | by | Comments (0)

In 2010, the TSA was actually putting up signs at security checkpoints promising that "future advances" in x-ray technology would let them play around with the restrictions on the amount of liquid travelers can carry on board planes.

Fast forward to 2013 and we still have liquids restrictions on U.S. flights. Meanwhile the EU regulations which were set to expire in 2013 are - wait for it - actually expiring. We don't know if the decision is deliberate or the result of laziness, but either way European airports will now let you carry shampoos onboard airplanes. Small victories, ladies and gentlemen, small victories.

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TSA Workers Busted for Giving Themselves Raises for No Reason

November 1, 2013 at 4:32 PM | by | Comments (0)

It's becoming a very complicated end of the week for travel politics surrounding TSA. Today's shooting at LAX is going to trigger a bunch of investigations and questions, and we're probably going to have to revisit the old debate over whether long security lines make travelers safer or more vulnerable.

While all that's going on, the airline security agency is also facing questions over corruption and efficiency. The Washington Times yesterday published the results of a Homeland Security inspector general report on how TSA employees managed to secure "premium pay and other costly benefits" without being entitled to those perks. Apparently the trick wasn't particularly complicated: they just promoted themselves, except without doing anything else. The final extra cost to taxpayers was estimated at $17.5 million.

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The Newest TSA Rumor Sweeping the Internet

October 28, 2013 at 5:43 PM | by | Comments (0)

Long-time Jaunted readers will remember a somewhat contentious comment thread from a year and a half ago, in which we wrote about a video made by anti-TSA blogger Jonathan Corbett showing how to defeat an old kind of full-body scanner. It started off as a more or less routine post: we criticize both TSA security theater and full-body scanners when they need criticizing, and that was one of the times they needed criticizing.

Except there were many people - not a few of them from the conspiracy fringe where people imagine that TSA is a United Nations plot to bad touch grandma until she gets PTSD and starts drinking fluoride - who got grumpy because we noted that Corbett's trick probably wouldn't work on TSA's new gingerbread man scanners. Those people wanted to believe that a blogger had just defeated all of TSA's scanners, because that would absolutely prove that the government was screening people for no reason, and so that's what they believed. Never mind that it simply wasn't true.

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Police Arrest Second Idiot Involved in LAX Dry Ice Bombs

October 21, 2013 at 5:29 PM | by | Comments (0)

Authorities have added a second arrest in their investigation of those three dry ice bombs planted last week at Los Angeles International airport. We're going to get to the details down below, but first let's dispense with some necessary unpleasantries: when NPR wrote that the "prank bombs... caused paranoia" at LAX, that was staggeringly moronic.

Dry ice bombs of any kind can be filled with shrapnel and metal fragments, and ice bombs made out of glass bottles can - quote unquote - require "major operative intervention," to say nothing of taking lives. These things are bad news and shutting down an airport as they're exploding is not paranoia. The geniuses who set them off - employees of Serviceair, which does baggage handling and cleaning at LAX - are very rightly in a world of legal hurt. Just building dry ice bombs is a felony in Los Angeles, let alone exploding them in an airport.

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TSA Tries to Explain How 9-Year-Old Got on Plane, Predictably Fails

October 7, 2013 at 4:26 PM | by | Comments (0)

If there is one overarching problem with TSA - and we've said this more than once - it's that the agency tries to prevent yesterday's attack tomorrow, and so obnoxiously inconveniences travelers to stop plots that have already happened. That doesn't have anything to do with this post. It's just something we like to repeat.

But if there's another deep-seated institutional problem with the TSA, it's that when the agency is in trouble, which is often, its officials will do damage control by just making things up. Take the fallout from the PDF idiocy, or the controversy over back-scatter machine limitations, or the entire debate over unionization, or the Detroit racial profiling case. All of these are places where the TSA tried to sell the public on explanations that were either false, contradictory, incoherent - and in most cases some combination of the three.

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TSA Just Disciplined 20 Percent of Workers at Pittsburgh Airport. Why?

September 23, 2013 at 9:10 AM | by | Comments (0)

Something is not quite right with this story, about the dozens and dozens of TSA employees who were disciplined for participating in what the agency describes as a gambling ring at Pittsburgh International Airport. Five people are set to be fired, 47 people might get suspended, and another 10 got reprimand letters. Some quick back-of-the-napkin calculations indicate that about 20% of TSA employees at PIT are caught up in this mess.

And that's where things begin get muddy.

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