TSA

Fliers “tipped” TSA $765,000 in loose change

pan am coin purse

In 2015, passengers in a rush to gather their belongings after going through airport checkpoints left behind more than three-quarters of a million dollars in the plastic buckets and bins at airport security checkpoints.

That $765,759.15 was mostly in the form of loose change. And thanks to a law passed by Congress in 2005, after collecting and tallying the cash, the TSA gets to keep it.

Here’s how much passengers left behind in the past:

2014: $674,841.06
2013: $638,142.64
2012: $531,395.22
2011: $487,869.50
2010: $409,085.56
2009: $432,790.62
2008: $383,413.79

Not interested in tipping the TSA? Then don’t dump the contents of your pockets in the bins. Instead, keep your change in a small change purse and put that into your larger carry-on.

1_Hello Kitty Original Coin Purse

TSA & the things they bring

TSA GUNS

The TSA publishes a report each week on the number of firearms and other prohibited items people try to take with them through security checkpoints at airports.

Last week, March 11-17, 2016, for example, 62 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at airport checkpoints around the country. 50 of those firearms were loaded and 14 had a round chambered.

Passengers don’t just try to guns with them onto planes. They take inert grenades, really big knives and one person tried to take this with them onto a plane at JFK International Airport in New York:

TSA JFK suspicious can 3-16-16

Looks like something that might explode, right?

According to the TSA Blog, the “organic mass and protruding wires… “ended up being what the traveler described as abstract art.”

TSA’s 2015 gun tally

For the Runway Girl Network, I put together a year-end review of the guns, weapons and assorted odd items discovered by TSA at airport checkpoints during 2015.

TSA GUN

In 2014, the TSA reported that it had discovered 2,122 firearms in the carry-on bags of passengers. That was an average of six firearms per day and was a 22 percent increase over the number of firearms (1,813) found in 2013.

TSA’s official 2015 Year in Review is due out any minute, but my unofficial tally taken from the weekly reports on the TSA Blog adds up to 2,495 firearms found at airport checkpoints this past year – which is yet another new record.

Of course, prohibited items found by Transportation Security Officers in carry-on bags and on passengers passing through security checkpoints aren’t limited to firearms.

Last year TSA found, 40 pounds of marijuana in one man’s bag at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, a meat slicer at Southwest Florida International Airport and a knife concealed inside a souvenir replica of the Eiffel Tower, found at Oakland International Airport.

Meat Slicer found in a carry-on bag at Southwest Florida International Airiport_edited

And, in the same week in March that the TSA found 55 firearms (51 loaded; 13 with a round chambered) and 13 stun guns, a Chihuahua was discovered inside a checked bag at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

How did that happen?

“Apparently, the dog climbed in while its owner was packing her suitcase. TSA worked with the airline to identify the owner, and the two were happily reunited,” the TSA reported.

Knife concealed in an Eiffel Tower replica - found at Oakland Airport_edited

Chihauhua found in carry-on bag at LaGuardia Airport_edited

Stop worrying: TSA will accept your driver’s license

Sea-Tac security line

Rumors – and plenty of misinformation – have been flying around about the REAL ID Act – passed by Congress in attempt to prevent the fraudulent issuance and use of driver’s licenses and identification cards – and whether or not the TSA would soon stop accepting driver’s licenses as an acceptable form of identification at airports.

Part of the problem was that the Department of Homelands Security was dragging its heels about setting up a definite timetable for implementing the air travel part of the act.

But the agency finally issued a statement with some set dates.

On its website DHS now says that driver’s licenses issued by all states will be accepted as valid forms of ID until January 22, 2018.

So relax. You – and the states where driver’s licenses don’t yet comply with the national standards – have two years to work this out.

After January 22, 2018, DHS says:

Passengers with a driver’s license issued by a state that is still not compliant with the REAL ID Act (and has not been granted an extension) will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel to board their flight.

Passengers with driver’s licenses issued by a state that is compliant with REAL ID (or a state that has been issued an extension) will still be able to use their driver’s licenses or identification cards.

And, starting October 1, 2020, every air traveler will need a REAL ID-compliant license, or another acceptable form of identification, for domestic air travel.

“Right now, no individual needs to adjust travel plans, or rush out to get a new driver’s license or a passport for domestic air travel,” said secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson in announcing the timetable.

What will the new TSA chief change at airports?

TSA PRECHECK - COURTESY TSA

What is the new head of the Transportation Security Administration going to do now that he’s been on the job for four weeks?

Withing 60 days he’s going to make sure all airport screeners are retrained so they can better detect explosives and spot weapons. And he’s going to try to get more passengers to enroll in the agency’s expedited security checkpoint program, called pre-check.

He’d also like to get rid of boarding passes and someday replace them with biometric technology.

Peter Neffenger, the new TSA administrator, went before the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday and said it was a “huge concern” that the agency’s officers failed to identify bombs, weapons and other security threats 96 percent of the time during recent undercover testing.

“It greatly disturbs me to know that we had that failure rate at the checkpoint,” he said, and to fix that, the agency will “train out those failures.”

Neffenger also told the panel he wants to increase the use of explosive-detection dogs for passenger screening, expand enrollments in the Pre-check program and phase out “managed inclusion.”

TSA PreCheck Enrollment Center at IND Airport - courtesy TSA

Neffenger said that likes the idea that biometrics – individual characteristics such as fingerprints or facial characteristics for personal identification – might someday mean that “you are your boarding pass.”