Airport security

Travelers leave TSA hefty tips

 

How much do you love the Transportation Security Administration?

Enough to leave a tip every time you go through security at the airport?

I didn’t think so.

But in their rush to get through airport checkpoints, passengers leave a hefty amount of ‘tips’ for the TSA every year.

For its fiscal year 2016, the Transportation Security Administration reports that passengers left behind more than $867, 812.39 in coins and currency in the plastic bowls and bins at airport checkpoints.

That’s about $102,000 more than was left behind in 2015 and more than $484,000 than was left behind in 2008.

Over the years, the amount of change left behind by travelers at airports has been climbing, jumping from about $489,000 in 2011 to almost $675,000 in 2014 and to almost $766,000 in 2015.

Last year, passengers at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport were the most forgetful (or generous…) travelers, leaving behind $70,615 in unintentional ‘tips’ for TSA.

Also on the top ten list for fiscal year 2016: Los Angeles International Airport, where travelers left behind almost $45,000, and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, where more than $42,000 in cash and currency was left in checkpoint bins.

What happens to all that money?

Back in 2005, Congress passed a law saying TSA gets to keep that unclaimed cash and spend it on any sort of civil aviation security efforts it deems fit.

In at least two previous years’ reports, TSA stated that the unclaimed money collected from airports would be used to support the expansion of the TSA Precheck program, which gives travelers expedited screening privileges, allowing them to keep shoes and lights jacks on and their laptops and quart-sized bag of liquids and gels inside their carry-ons.

When it filed its report on the almost $868,000 in unclaimed money collected from airports in fiscal year 2016, however, TSA said it had not yet determined how it would spend those funds.

Don’t want to leave a tip?

At some airport checkpoints, passengers can also empty loose change from their pockets directly into donation bins for local charities before moving through the line.

During 2016, travelers passing through Denver International Airport donated $87,106.91 to Denver’s Road Home, a non-profit that works with service providers for the region’s homeless community. And last year passengers at Phoenix Sky Harbor International contributed more than $11,000 to help support the USO operations at the airport.

 

TSA Year in Review – another record for firearms

Sea-Tac security line

You’d think air travelers would have gotten the message by now. But evidently not.

The TSA has done its 2016 tally and found that another record has been broken for the number of  firearms found in carry-on bags and on passengers at airport checkpoints.

According to TSA’s Year in Review report 3,391 firearms were found during 2016.

That’s 28 percent more than the 2,653 firearms found in 2015.

According to TSA’s report, of the 3,391 firearms found during 2016, 83 percent were loaded and the most firearms – 198 – were found at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Top 10 airports for firearms discoveries:

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL):198
Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW): 192
George Bush Intercontinental Airport – Houston (IAH):128
Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX):101
Denver International (DEN): 98
Orlando International Airport (MCO):86
Nashville International (BNA):80
Tampa International (TPA):79
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS):78
Salt Lake City International (SLC):75

Beyond firearms, TSA finds lots of other odd things in travelers’ bags.

 

Soon that bag of liquids may stay in your bag

amsterdam-liquids

We can send a rocket ship into space – and get it back – but we still have to limit the amount of liquids we take through airport security checkpoints and pack our no-more-than 3.4 ounce containers in one 1 quart-sized baggie.

And unless you’ve got TSA PreCheck, you need to fish that baggie of liquids and gels out of your carry-on every time you go through the security checkpoint.

But, thanks to a test going on at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, that may change.

At two security lanes at Schiphol, security officers are using scanning devices and software that allows them to not only see inside a bag, but to turn it 360 degrees and view it from all sides.

At the test lanes, all travelers are being allowed to leave their baggies filled with liquids and gels inside their carry-ons.

If the test works out, Schiphol plans to install the new baggage scanning devices at all 67 of its security lanes by the end of 2017 to speed up everyone’s checkpoint journey.

And if it works there, it’s a good bet other airports will get the modern scanning devices too.

amsterdam-liquids2

Another record number of firearms found at airport checkpoints

TSA guns august 18

There’s got to be something wrong with the fact that, on the heels of the havoc caused by false reports of gunfire at JFK Airport, and after so many years of being reminded that it is prohibited to take firearms through airport security checkpoints, the TSA reports yet another record breaking week for discovering firearms in carry-on bags at the nation’s airport security checkpoints.

According to the TSA’s blog, between August 12 and August 18, TSA officers found 81 (!!) firearms in passengers’ carry-on bags. Of those 81 firearms, 70 were loaded and 30 had a round chambered.

80 firearms founds beats the record of 78 firearms found, a record set just week.

 

 

A monkey, a missed meal and guns

Some of the guns found at airport checkpoints Aug 5-11

I’m on fill-in duty this week on the Today in the Sky blog over at USA TODAY and having fun working up a variety of both serious and off-beat stories relating to airports and airlines.

Monday’s line-up:

An update on the “monkey on a plane” story that was all over the news last week;

A story about British Airways replacing a second meal service with tiny chocolate bars and other small snacks on some longhaul flights between London and the east coast;

And a look at the new record set by TSA for most firearms found at airport checkpoints in one week.