carry-on bags

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

Upcycled carry-on bags from United banners

united recycled bags

The airline industry uses a lot of ‘stuff’ and some of that stuff gets recycled and re-used and made into new things that you may want to buy.

The newest “upcycled” aviation items are a set of 100 carry-on bags made from 20 United Airlines “Fly the Friendly Skies” banners.

The airline worked with the Columbia College Chicago Department of Fashion Studies and the Re:new Project and asked them to come up with a carry-on bag that would look good and be durable, be economical to make and fit under an airplane seat.

The results look appealing and are available for purchase at the United Shop .

Even better: the proceeds from sales of the upcycled banners will benefit Re:new and the Alto Mayo Forest Carbon Project in Northern Peru.

Take my bag, please! Delta’s Early Valet program

Delta early valet agent

Perhaps you remember a bit of news a while back that about Delta Air Lines’ test program of pre-loading some carry-on bags for passengers before flights.

The airline said the complimentary service was designed to speed up the boarding process, while some said the early gate valet program might just be testing a new optional paid service.

I had forgotten all about that trial program, so was surprised when the young man pictured above approached me at the gate at JFK airport on Saturday while I was waiting for my Seattle flight. He offered to take my bag and put it above my seat before the plane began loading.

I remembered writing a story about the program, so of course said yes – and then proceeded to pepper the young man with questions about how the trial was going.

He said while plenty of passengers loved the idea, there were some that were wary and didn’t want to be separated, even for a short while, from their bags. And sure enough, just moments after tagging my bag, giving me a valet receipt and moving on, another passenger ran up to the gate agents to report that someone was trying to scam passengers out of their bags.

“Not a scam, sir,” the agents told him. “Well, this is New York. You never know,” said the passenger, who then gave the bag valet his bag.

I also asked the gate valet how many bags per flight he pre-loaded and how he chose which passengers to offer the service to.

He said he offered the service first to elderly passengers, then to families traveling with children and then chose randomly from the passengers in the gate area.

I didn’t have any kids with me, so hoped I fell in to the “assorted” not “elderly” category.

Although not ten minutes after I gave the valet my bag, I had a brief “where’s my bag!” moment as I was collecting my things as the plane was getting ready to start loading.

When I got on the plane, there was my bag above my seat. Just as promised.

And the early gate valet service would have indeed shaved a few seconds off my seating process – had I not stopped in the aisle to take a photo.

Delta bag over seat

Would you use this? Carry-on bags & training bands.

I’m a “if it doesn’t fit in a carry-on, I’m not taking it” kind of gal, and so was paying attention to all the small bags at the Travel Goods show last May in Las Vegas.

One of the interesting carry-on bag twists introduced there was the Genius Pack -a carry-on bag bag with a variety of built-in and add-on features such as integrated mobile chargers and speakers, an easy-to-access compact umbrella compartment, a coat hook and a separate compartment for laundry that compresses air – saving space and keeping your dirty togs away from your still-clean items.

If you look closely in the lower left side of the bag in the picture below, you’ll see some writing. That’s a built-in packing list, which seems helpful for last-minute packers.

Genius Pack 22- Upright

I’ve got one of these bags at my house right now, just begging me to fill it up and take it out on the road.

One of the items already in the bag is a small sack of Rexist 360 Training Bands and instructions for a 20 minute hotel workout that promises toning “in all the right places.”

I’ll let you know if this new carry-on ends up replacing the smaller shoulder bag I’ve been using and if the training bands replaces the single pink resistance band I’ve been toting around the world.

But in the meantime… just wondering: would you use these?

Carry-on only? Board early on American Airlines

TRAVEL SUITCASES

After running a test of the program in several cities, American Airlines has decided to make is official:

Passengers traveling with just one small carry-on that will fit under the seat in front of them will now be allowed to board earlier than other customers – before Group 2.

The program was tested in Austin, Baltimore, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Kansas City, Mo.,Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Washington-Dulles and the airline expects this new policy to speed up average boarding times.

No doubt it also expects to hear some whining from customers in Group 2 who will now  have to board a bit later in the process.