Security

TSA officer dance-off with tiny traveler

Check out this fun dance-off between a young traver and a TSA officer at Newark Liberty International Airport. Thev video was posted on the TSA’s Instagram account and has gone viral.

Take a look.

This isn’t the first time a TSA officer with a sense of fun was caught on tape.

Here’s a video posted a while back of an officer matching the moves of a young traveler at Orlando International Airport.

TSA’s Instagram account is surprisingly well-followed, sometimes alarming and often entertaining ( if corny) feed. Here are few examples:

Did you know that sawblades are prohibited in carry-on bags. Yep. This one was discovered in a carry-on bag at the Atlanta airport. … Speaking of saw blades, we think we “saw” a pussycat. Probably because it’s #InternationalCatDay! Sorry about that horrible segue, but we had to cut to the chase somehow. … Have you always wanted to travel with your cat, but you’ve been afraid to ask how? Has your cat got your tongue? Even if you’re too much of a scaredy-cat to ask, we’re going to give you the rundown right meow. … Checkpoint Screening: … Check with your airline first to inquire about any fees and policies. … Your cat will need to be screened via checkpoint screening if it’s traveling with you in the cabin of the plane. … We do not X-ray cats or any other pets. However, there have been many occasions where passengers have assumed their cat needed to go through the X-ray. You can imagine the surprise of the X-ray operator when they saw Felix’s skeleton roll across their monitor. It is not an unusual occurrence. In this case, it’s not frowned upon to let the cat out of the bag. Your cat will need to come out of its carrier, so it’s a good idea to know how your cat will react. Many a cat has gone into a feline frenzy after being removed from its carrier. An angry cat is never a good thing. Especially when you’re in a confined area where there isn’t enough room to swing a cat. … The checkpoint is a noisy environment that can cause your cat to flee at its first opportunity. This happens with humans occasionally as well. Your cat can be carried through the walk through metal detector or walked through on leash if your cat isn’t too stubborn to do that. If your cat triggers an alarm, one of our officers will have to take a closer look. Cats are not screened with the body scanners, in case you were wondering. … Checked Baggage: … If your cat is traveling in a kennel, your airline will arrange for a TSA Officer to screen the kennel. Officers will need to inspect your kennel/carrier for prohibited items with you present. Sometimes this can be done visually, but occasionally, the TSA officer will ask you to remove your pet from the carrier.

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Sometimes, air travel can make you a little crabby. … #ThrowbackThursday to July 27, 2017 at the Boston Logan International Airport (BOS). … There’s no sidestepping it. This crusty critter was in a pinch. Nothing is known as to how or why he was there, but there he was. Alone. In a bowl. In Boston. He had been scuttled by his human. There is no “rest of the story” here. We don’t have any records of the event other than this photo. … Now we imagine you’re wondering if you can travel with crabs. You can! Crabs are allowed in carry-on and checked bags. We’ll screen them, but it’s strongly recommended that you contact your airline for any specific guidelines or packaging requirements. … #RandomFact – Abandoned crabs can end up in hot water.

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That ‘unauthorized’ Horizon Air flight: now what?

That “unauthorized” Horizon Air flight at Seattle Tacoma International Airport: now what?

Courtesy Alaska AIrlines

You’ve no doubt heard about the Horizon Air grounds crew employee who took a turboprop airplane – a Q400 – for an unauthorized flight out of Seattle Tacoma International Airport on Friday night. The man, identified later as Richard Russell, flew the plane around the region for about an hour before crashing into a small island.

With military jets trailing, and local media and eyewitnesses reporting what was in process, Russell did some acrobatic stunts with the plane and talked with an incredibly calm-sounding air traffic controller at SEA  airport:

Horizon Air is a subsidiary of Seattle-based Alaska Airlines and on Saturday officials from the airlines along with officials from agencies involved in the investigation held a press conference to discuss what they knew at that point -and what would happen next:

Human remains – presumably Russell’s – and the aircraft’s black box have been  located in the wreckage of the plane and now the discussions will focus on how this happened – and how to keep it from happening again.

On his site, security aviation expert Jeff Price writes that this incident – which he says will be filed as an ‘insider threat’ –  “Is not a failure of the airport security system. Airports are responsible for access to the ramp; airlines are responsible for access to the airplane.” He goes on to explore some of the solutions that will explored.

James Fallows has a good recap in The Atlantic – linking to many of the initial reporting that helped us figure out what was happening as the event unfolded.

On his “Ask the Pilot” blog, Patrick Smith, discusses the incident, saying that while an insider threat does exist, “This particular kind of threat, however — the idea of random employees getting hold of planes — shouldn’t be overplayed.” Some other “Now what?” thoughts can be found here. 

But the incident does raise serious question about airport and airline security and, as this story in the Seattle Times notes, “The answers to these questions could eventually alter security procedures not only at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport but at other airports around the country.”

What do you think might – and should – change at airports as a result of this incident?

Airport police host National Night Out events

Police departments – including airport police departments – join with their neighborhoods each August 7  to hold National Night Out events to encourage neighbors to get to know each other and to create safer places to live.

The street I used to live on held a picnic each year during Natoinal Night Out and one neighbor rented a bouncy house for the kids. Each year we shared phone numbers and emails. We introduced ourselves around and chose a street captain.

And when there was a serious issue on our block – or if someone just noticed that someone else had left their car lights on – we knew how to get in touch with our neighbors.

So if your street is hosting an event, I strongly encourage you to out there and say hi.

If you’re flying somewhere, stop and chat with airport police and others looking out for your safety.  National Night Out events planned for Washington Dulles International AirportWashington’s Reagan National Airport  and Los Angeles International Airport.

And don’t be shy about approaching those airport officers. As we’re learning from their entertaining entries in the viral police lip sync challenge, many airport police teams have a great sense of humor.

Know of another airport hosting a National Night Out event? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

 

Wild animals at airports

I’m having a great time learning about the wide variety of wild animals that airports around the country have encountered and the creative ways they have come up with to keep them away from airplanes.

My research and all the photos airports have been sending along will end up in my At the Airport column on USA Today  later this month but sharing a few snaps with you today.

Above – a Great Horned Owl that was caught in a trap meant for smaller birds at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and below, a nine-foot alligator wrangled by the USDA at a military base in Georgia.

TSA’s travel tips for getting souvenirs home from Comic-Con

TSA’s blog has some helpful information for anyone heading home through San Diego International Airport after attending Comic-Con International this week – and for those traveling with collectibles and souvenirs from this or any other special event.

TSA suggests that if you’re traveling with a collectible item that has an original seal on it that you don’t want broken, that you ship it home instead of taking the chance that the seal will broken during a TSA search.

Getting dressed up in a costume to attend an event? TSA reminds travelers that neither replica weapons nor real weapons should be placed in carry-on bags and that while both replica weapons and real weapons can be packed in checked bags, actual firearms must meet packing guidelines and be declared.

And, TSA s suggests that if you’re traveling with a lot of brochures, comic books or other books that you put them in your carry-on bag and then place them in a bin prior before sending them through the x-ray machines.

Those items can show up as dense blocks and “Packing these items in checked bags may cause alarms leading to bag searches that can cause a significant slowdown in the screening process leading to delays and bags possibly missing their flights,” says TSA.