Tag: Airport Security

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TSA Has Huge Loophole to Allow Profiling in Airports

December 18, 2014 at 2:17 PM | by | Comments (0)

Here's a feel-good story to ease you into the holidays.

The Obama administration is preparing to issue a new set of guidelines that will for the first time ban national security agencies from conducting profiling based on race, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation. There are already rules going back to 2003 banning racial profiling by most parts of the federal government, but those rules don't apply to national security agencies and don't encompass religion, national origin, or sexual orientation. These new guidelines are aimed at shoring up those oversights.

All well and good, unless you're the TSA, and part of your job is to apply extra scrutiny to people originating in places like Syria and Yemen just in case they're terrorists. In that case you'd be kind of screwed, unless you could get an exemption from the new restrictions. Want to guess how this story ends?

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Is the TSA Considering a Total Carry-On Luggage Ban for the Holidays?

December 5, 2014 at 10:13 AM | by | Comments (0)

You thought the TSA was going to lighten up for the holidays. You read on Jaunted that the agency was letting passengers bring ice skates and even pies on board planes. Elsewhere you may have heard that top TSA officials were looking to loosen existing restrictions on some liquids for some travelers. Overall it seemed as if limitations on carry-on baggage were moving in the right direction.

How about instead of that, the TSA just goes ahead and bans all carry-on luggage over the holiday season? No exceptions. How would that suit you?

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TSA Asks Holiday Travelers to Please Leave the Chainsaws at Home

November 20, 2014 at 5:02 PM | by | Comments (0)

The TSA is making its annual "please don't make holiday travel more miserable than it already is" push, in which the agency begs travelers not to bring obviously prohibited items into checkpoints for at least the next few months. TSA officials try something like this every year, and it usually more or less completely fails. The problem isn't with the airport security organization, for once. The kind of person who tries to bring chemical-soaked sparklers on board an airplane - real example - just isn't the sort of person who reads TSA-related press releases. Or any press releases, really.

And yet here we are. This year the agency tried to get attention by throwing together a press event at just a single airport, gathering reporters for a show-and-tell at JFK. That's not a terrible idea as far as PR goes, because local reporters always need stories and this way things are easy for them. You give them a press kit, you issue a statement, and everyone is done in time for happy hour. We're not sure it'll actually make a difference, in the sense that we're pretty sure it won't make a difference. But it was a mildly entertaining show, and so you might as well know it happened.

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Local News Panics After Discovering Old, Defunct TSA Program

November 13, 2014 at 2:11 PM | by | Comments (0)

Time for another edition of "People are Idiots, and That's Why We Can't Fix TSA." True story.

Many years ago DHS received a Congressional mandate to secure the nation's airports, which the department duly implemented by putting up TSA checkpoints everywhere. Critics of the agency almost immediately began to complain about its uselessness - "security theater" was a popular catchphrases - and some went so far as to accuse TSA of actively conspiring to destroy America.

After a while TSA responded with: "Listen, we can't just shut down inspections because Congress won't let us. How about instead we establish this new PreCheck system, where for only $85 you can pass a background check and breeze through security?"

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US Limits Potential Ebola Travel to Just Five Airports

October 23, 2014 at 4:40 PM | by | Comments (0)

We've made a sustained effort to calm you down over Ebola. As the Internet will be more than happy to explain, more Americans have been married to Kim Kardashian than have died of Ebola. So as we move forward in this post, let's keep eventhing in perspective.

Have you heard, though, that all of the TSA stations in Cleveland International had to be disinfected inch by inch because an Ebola patient passed through just one of them on the way to Texas? It was simply a precaution of course - the literal actual quote from the agency's spokesman was that "it's nothing official" but rather just "something that our folks wanted to do" - but it happened and it brings up a good point. Ebola is spreading beyond West Africa partly because of air travel, and even the suggestion of Ebola is enough to bring anything its associated with to a grinding halt. So isn't Ebola eventually going to grind air travel to a halt?

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US Airports Begin Extra Health Checks for Ebola

October 8, 2014 at 5:56 PM | by | Comments (0)

Whether you realize it or not, international airports are screening for health issues of incoming passengers. Typically it's just trained officials eyeballing the stream of arriving passengers, sometimes with the help of temperature sensors, looking for any telling signs of deteriorating health before an unwell person passes through customs and out into the public.

Owing to the recent threat of Ebola, however, those checks are about to become more obvious, and more specialized, at least temporarily.

According to the NYT, five US airports will begin screening passengers arriving from West Africa with new procedures, including a contactless thermometer to test for fever, and a questionnaire to determine a person's risk.

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Why Rapper Too $hort Snuck Out of Burbank Airport in His Socks

October 7, 2014 at 2:42 PM | by | Comments (0)

Last Wednesday TSA agents at Burbank detected a loaded gun in the carry-on of rapper Todd Anthony Shaw, known as Too Short or Too $hort depending on how stuffy you are. This kind of thing happens quite a lot. Almost always, the travelers are immediately cited, and often they're even allowed to proceed to the plane.

In this case Mr. Short walked slowly out of the airport in his socks, recovered his valet-parked car, and returned two days later with his lawyer. At that point he received a misdemeanor citation for possession of a loaded handgun in a public place. This entire incident, with all due respect, is batshit crazy.

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What's the Trick to Being Fastest Through Airport Security?

September 16, 2014 at 12:33 PM | by | Comments (2)

In the 2009 movie “Up in the Air,” George Clooney plays an ultra-frequent flyer experiencing a crisis of self as he nears the 10-million-mile mark. Towards the beginning, when his travels are still very much upbeat, there’s a memorable scene as he passes through airport security and leaves in his dust the discombobulated casual travelers around him. The key to that slickness is his polished routine of ultimate efficiency in the security line.

Shoes, belt, jacket, carry-on—not a hair is out of place on Clooney despite the best efforts of the TSA. He comes across as truly the master of frequent flying.

But does his routine actually work?

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New Law Would Ban TSA from Accepting IDs That Aren't IDs

September 11, 2014 at 4:51 PM | by | Comments (0)

What a strange little story. Over the summer news began to emerge that TSA was letting people confirm their identities, and then to board planes, using only Notice to Appear letters and paperwork. Those documents don't have photos or really any kind of security information - so that would have been problematic, which was one problem. But the story was actually much more about travel politics than about airline security, because it was wrapped up in the immigration debate. In any case it eventually made international headlines.

TSA for its part promptly denied that it was doing something as stupid as just letting people show random letters they could have printed at home. Agency spokespeople actually got kind of pissy about it - "completely wrong... never contacted us for a statement" - and made sure to let people know. Snopes.com rated the story flat out false.

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The TSA Has Your iPhone

August 29, 2014 at 12:00 PM | by | Comments (0)

According to Consumer Reports, 2013 saw some 4.5 million smartphones reported lost or stolen. 2014's numbers are expected to be even higher, especially with the debut of a new iPhone this autumn.

If you've long thought your phone had gone to the great charging cable in the sky, consider that perhaps it's just at the bottom of a pile of crusty lost-and-found electronics at an airport somewhere. The Transportation Safety Administration yesterday posted an Instagram showing a tiny sample of the forgotten gadgets they end up tossing into a box at LAX alone, and it's pretty alarming.

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TSA Machines are Vulnerable to Very Stupid Hacking Tricks

August 7, 2014 at 5:23 PM | by | Comments (0)

You've probably heard about the Internet of Things: the idea that everything you own is going to be online. Your fridge will be able to talk to your car will be able to talk to your pacemaker.

You also may have heard that it's going to be a total cyber-security disaster. Today's hackers are able to get into your laptop or desktop. Tomorrow's hackers will be able - by definition - to get into everything. Right now they're able to damage your data. In the future they'll be able to damage actually existing things in the real world. Unless you're very, very, very careful, putting any device online could get you very easily hacked.

Now, knowing what you know, how likely do you think it is that TSA is using machines that are easily hacked?

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Airlines Suing TSA for Cheating on Controversial New Security Fees

August 1, 2014 at 8:30 AM | by | Comments (0)

As you know because you've been following along, the new TSA fees that we've been trashing since 2010 went into effect earlier this month. They had been jammed up for years by airlines - more on that below - but the administration finally managed to get them passed. The old caps, which had been set at $2.50 per flight segment with a $10 roof for a four-flight round trip, were abolished.

Would you believe that TSA may have taken advantage of the new situation to collect fees even higher than what Congress allowed? That's the argument being made by airlines, who are now suing the security agency. Game on.

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