Security

Want TSA PreCheck? Go buy some paper.

Summer is coming and checkpoint security lines at airports around the country are going to get longer.

So if you haven’t signed up for TSA’s PreCheck program yet, now would be a good time.

Don’t want to take an extra trip to the airport to do that? You may not have to if you’ve got a Staples office supply story nearby.

Staples office supply company and Idemia, the company that has the TSA contract to enroll people in the PreCheck program, have teamed up to set up IdentoGO enrollment centers in 50 Staples stores.

The cost of enrollment in the TSA PreCheck program is $85 and is good for five years at $17 per year.

Need to get new passport photo or a certified birth certificate?  Those IdentoGO Centers at Staples will help with those too.

 And if Staples isn’t in your community, check this site for another place to sign-up for TSA PreCheck.

TSA found a record number of firearms at airport checkpoints in 2017

We knew it was coming, but now it is official:

According to the Transportation Security Administration, a record setting 3,957 firearms were found in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country during 2017.

That’s a 16.7 percent increase (556 more) over the 3,391 firearms found in 2016, an average of 76.1 firearms per week and an average of 10. 8 firearms each day.

Of the firearms found during 2017, 84 percent (3,324) were loaded and 34.8 percent (1,378) had a round chambered.

Firearms were found at 239 airports, with the most in any one month (31) discovered in August at Hartsfield-Jackson Altanta International Airport.

Top 10 Airports For Firearm Discoveries In 2017:

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL): 245 (222 Loaded)

Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW): 211 (165 Loaded)

George Bush Intercontinental Airport – Houston (IAH): 142 (124 Loaded)

Denver International (DEN): 118 (102 Loaded)

Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX): 115 (109 Loaded)

Tampa International (TPA): 97 (90 Loaded)

Orlando International Airport (MCO): 94 (82 Loaded)

Dallas Love Field (DAL): 93 (81 Loaded)

Nashville International (BNA): 89 (71 Loaded)

Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (SEA): 75 (60 Loaded)

 

Fliers love Orlando Int’l Airport – and other new rankings

This year Orlando International Airport (MCO) gets top ranking for satisfaction among the “mega” airports in J.D. Power’s 2017 North America Airport Satisfaction Study.

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) came in second and McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas ranked third, with scores of 778, 767 and 765,  respectively, out of a possible score of 1000.

Among large airports, John Wayne Airport in Orange County topped the list with a score of 796, followed by Tampa International Airport (795) and Dallas Love Field (790).

Sacramento International Airport got the highest marks among the medium airports (810), followed by Indianapolis International Airport (807), and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (806).

The study, one of several ‘biggies’ that come out each year, ranks traveler satisfaction with mega, large, and medium North American airports by weighin six factors (in order of importance): terminal facilities; airport accessibility; security check; baggage claim; check-in/baggage check; food, beverage and retail.

J.D. Power notes that ratings are up 18 points overall compared to last year’s all-time high, due to a 25-point increase in satisfaction with security checks (thanks to a drop in TSA staffing issues) and more satisfaction with check-in/baggage check (+19 points) and food, beverage, and retail (+15 points).  Self-service bag-check kiosks and other bag-tagging technologies got credit for raising satisfaction with the baggage check process.

Here are the Top 10 airports in each category:

“Mega” airports:

  1. Orlando International Airport
  2. Detroit Metroplitan International Airport
  3. McCarran International Airport
  4. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
  5. Denver International Airport
  6. Charlotte Douglas International Airport
  7. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
  8. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport
  9. San Francisco Internaitonal Airport
  10. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Large Airports

  1. John Wayne Airport
  2. Tampa International Airport
  3. Dallas Love Field
  4. Nashville International Airport
  5. Portland International Airport
  6. Willliam P. Hobby Airport (Houston)
  7. San Diego International Airport
  8. Reagan National Airport
  9. Salt Lake City International Airport
  10. Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport

Medium Airports

  1. Sacramento International Airport
  2. Indianpolis International Airport
  3. Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport
  4. Jacksonville International Airport
  5. Palm Beach International Airport
  6. Southwest Florida International Airport
  7. Pittsburgh International Airport
  8. Raleigh-Durham International Airport
  9. Buffalo Niagara International Airport
  10. Ontario International Airport

You can see the full lists and the scoring here.

Pittsburgh Int’l Airport invites non-flyers past security

 

You may remember the ‘old day’s’ of flying, when friends and family could go with you to the airport – and to the gate – to send you off, and when they were there at the gate with hugs and kisses when you got home.

9/11 changed all that, but now Pittsburgh International Airport is bringing that airport amenity back.

The airport has worked with the Transportation Security Administration to get approval for a program that gives the non-flying public to access gates, shops and restaurants beyond the security checkpoint.  No plane ticket and, they emphasize, no reduction in security, will be necessary.

The ‘myPITpass” program starts at 9 a.m. on September 5  and will issue same-day passes from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Here’s how it works:

  1. Check in on 3rd Floor Ticketing Level (across from Allegiant)
  2. Show a valid photo ID (Driver’s License or Passport)
  3. Have your name vetted and get a stamped myPITpass
  4. Go through security checkpoint observing the same rules as passengers boarding flights.

The program builds on PIT’s successful Holiday Open House program and the Airside access for guests program offered by the airport Hyatt hotel.

In addition to giving non-flyers access to the gates for sending off loved ones and welcoming them home, the program gives the public access to the great artwork at PIT Airport.

Andy Warhol Wallpaper at PIT

Expanded laptop ban? Airlines, airports getting ready

Among the many aviation-related issues being discussed this week by airline CEOs and others at the International Air Transport Association meeting in Cancun, Mexico is the current ban on laptops and other large personal electronic devices in the cabins of airplanes flying to the UK and the United State from some airports in the Middle East and Africa.

“There was no consultation with industry and little time to implement. The action caught everybody by surprise,”  Alexandre de Juniac, the IATA CEO told meeting attendees, “And it was a big challenge for airlines to comply, and a huge inconvenience to our customers. It should not be that way.”

“Airlines will never compromise on security,” said de Juniac, “It is also a fact that taking electronic devices from passengers has real cost to them. In the ban’s current scope we estimate $180 million in lost productivity. And that could surge to $1.2 billion if the ban is expanded to flights from Europe to the US .”

“We need to get security right,” he added, “There is a clear duty to make sure that the measures are logical, effective and efficient. That is not the case with the current ban. And it must change.”

How?

“First, we must find alternatives to the ban,” said de Juniac. “In the short-term, these include more intense screening at the gate and skills training. In the medium-term more advanced and faster explosive detection technology is the solution to evolving bomb threats. But painfully slow certification processes must be accelerated so that we can actually use it.”

For now, airlines – and airports – all over the world are preparing for the possibility that the laptop ban will be expanded.

Airports are making plans for how re-arrange check-in areas to accommodate all the ‘carry-on only’ passengers who may now need to check a bag with electronics devices.

“Some of our (airline) clients are investing in having a sizable number of tablets on hand to be available to customers should the ban come into effect, ” Bryan Terry, Managing Director, Aviation, for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

They’re doing it not because they really know the ban is coming.  “But just as a natural course of risk management activities, ” said Terry, “They don’t want to be at a disadvantage if any of their peers are doing the same.”