TSA

TSA adds 9 airlines to PreCheck program

The Transportation Security Administration has added nine new domestic and international carriers to the pre-check expedited screening program.

New airlines joining the program are: Air India, Asiana Airlines, China Airlines, Eastern Airlines, Elite Airways, EVA Airways, Japan Airlines, TAP Air Portugal and Volaris.

This brings the total number of airlines participating in TSA Precheck program to 65 domestic and international carriers. (The full list of participating airlines is below.)

Whether you’re enrolled in TSA Precheck or not, it’s helpful to know how long you’ll be waiting in line.

That’s now easier at John F. Kennedy International (JFK), Newark Liberty International (EWR), LaGuardia (LGA), and New York Stewart International (SWF) airports, where the respective websites now show up-to-date TSA wait times, as well as taxi wait times. The wait times are also shown on monitors inside the terminals.

According to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the real-time tracking information is part of the agency’s “aggressive efforts to deliver an enhanced customer experience” for passengers using its airports.

Here are all the airlines currently participating in TSA’s PreCheck program:

Aeromexico

Air Canada

Air France

Air India

Air Serbia

Alaska Airlines

All Nippon Airways

Allegiant Air

American Airlines

Aruba Airlines

Asiana Airlines

Avianca

Boutique Airlines

British Airways

Brussels Airlines

Cape Air

Cathay Pacific Airways

China Airlines

Condor Airlines

Contour Aviation

Copa Airlines

Delta Air Lines

Eastern Airlines

Elite Airways

Emirates

Etihad Airways

EVA Air

Finnair

Flycana

Frontier Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines

Icelandair

InterCaribbean Airways

Japan Airlines

JetBlue Airways

Key Lime Air

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Korean Air

Lufthansa

Miami Air International

Norwegian Air

Philippine Airlines

Porter Airlines

Scandinavian Airlines

Seaborne Airlines

Silver Airways

Singapore Airlines

Southern Airways Express

Southwest Airlines

Spirit Airlines

Sun Country Airlines

Sunwing Airlines

Swift Air

Swiss International Air Lines

TAP Air Portugal

Thomas Cook Airlines (Scan.)

Thomas Cook Airlines (UK)

Turkish Airlines

United Airlines

ViaAir

Virgin Atlantic

Volaris

WestJet

World Atlantic

Xtra Airways

TSA: 2018 was record-breaking year for guns found at airports

TSA’s Year in Review came out today with the (still somewhat unofficial) final stats on the number of guns TSA officers found in carry-on bags at airport checkpoints last year.

The total for 2018 is a record-setting 4,239 firearms found in carry-on bags at 249 of the more than 400 TSA-controlled airport checkpoints around the country.

That’s up more than 7 percent from the 3,957 firearms TSA officers found in carry-on bags in 2017.

And that averages out to 81.6 firearms a week and 11.6 firearms a day.

The break-down gets more alarming when we look at the stats on the number of guns found to be loaded.

Of the 4,239 firearms found last year, more than 86% (3,656) were loaded (another record) and almost 34% (1,432) of the firearms found had a round chambered.

Why do so many passengers show up at airports with guns?

“I think the biggest reason is that people go buy these things and then completely forget they have them, which is dangerous in its own right,” said aviation security expert Jeff Price, the owner of Leading Edge Strategies, “I imagine when they get the gun, at first they are always aware of it because they feel safer. Then, after a period of time, it works its way to the bottom of the bag and next thing that happens is its discovered at a screening checkpoint.”

Price also suspects that because more people are carrying guns these days and carry those guns in purses and laptops, they are aware they have the guns, “But in the hustle and confusion of preparing for a trip, they forget to take the gun out. “

TSA’s Year in Review also lists the top 10 airports for firearm discoveries in 2018.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) the Top 10 list with 298 firearms found. (253 loaded.) That’s an increase of 53 compared to 2017.

ATL also set the record for the airport with the most firearms discovered in one month: In August 2018, 32 firearms were found at ATL checkpoints.

Here’s the rest of TSA’s Top 10 list of airports for firearms discoveries in 2018:

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW): 219 (193 loaded)

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX): 129 (120 loaded)

Denver International Airport (DEN): 126 (95 loaded)

Orlando International Airport (MCO): 123 (112 loaded)

George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH): 117 (115 loaded). Some good news here: this is a decrease of 25 compared to 2017.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL): 96 (80 loaded)

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS): 93 (76 loaded)

Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL): 89 (83 loaded)    

Nashville International Airport (BNA): 86 (80 loaded)

In a year when TSA also screened a record number of travelers (813.8 million; a 5.5 percent increase over 2017), the agency’s officers also found a wide variety of prohibited items and ‘artfully concealed’ objects other than firearms in carry-on bags, including inert grenades, a bottle of lighter fluid, fireworks and knife combs.

TSA’s week in review also notes the loss in 2018 of Curtis “Blogger Bob” Burns, the charmingly corny TSA employee who chronicled the agency’s odd finds on the TSA blog, on Twitter and on Instagram. Burns is featured in quirky videos highlighting TSA Top 10 Most Unusual Finds in 2016 and in 2017.

TSA’s Year in Review promises that a video highlighting 2018’s most unusual finds will be released soon.

More love for unpaid airport workers

Trend? Another airport invites non-travelers past security

They do it at Pittsburgh International Airport. Now Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has a program to allow non-travelers past the security checkpoint to say goodbye to loved ones at the gate, have a meal or shop.

The new SEA Visitor Pass is a pilot program will run through December 14. But it if works out, non-ticketed airport visitors will be allowed to enter the post-security side of the terminal year-round.

Here’s how the program works:

  •  Entrance to the post-security side of the terminal is allowed from Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m and will be limited to 50 visitors each day.
  • Applications will be taken Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  Non-ticketed visitors will need to  apply online before 1:30 p.m. the day before they want to enter.
  • TSA will review your application and notify you by midnight the day before if you are approved for entry.
  • Approved visitors will go through the standard security checkpoints, so all security requirements for any traveler will be in place for visitors as well.
  • Meeting travelers at their gate will be restricted to domestic arrivals.

“It’s been 17 years since anyone without a ticket has been able to enjoy areas of the airport beyond security,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins, “Yet some of the airport’s best features are there. Great restaurants, local musicians performing in the concourses, and some of the best views of the planes coming and going against the backdrop of Mt. Rainier and the Olympics.”

SEA is my home base airport and I can confirm that there are plenty of great reasons to want to hang out at this airport even if you’re not flying.  In addition to the art collection that includes work by Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Nevelson and others, SEA has a robust live music program and some great shops and restaurants. There’s also the newly-launched series of holiday celebrations planned throughout the year, including events to honor Native Heritage Month (November) and of course the upcoming December Season of Light.

Saying farewell to TSA’s social media star, “Blogger Bob” Burns

 

 

Courtesy TSA

Readers of the StuckatTheAirport.com blog know that I often cite the TSA’s blog and Instagram accounts, which catalog the firearms and often  outrageous items that passengers try to take with them onto planes.

The creative and really funny TSA employee who has been responsible for these social media outlets died recently and I wrote a quick turn post for USA TODAY:

Curtis Robert Burns, the Transportation Security Administration’s surprise social media star, passed away on Friday, October 19 at the age of 48 after a sudden illness.

Known as “Blogger Bob” to followers of the TSA blog and to the more than 950,000 subscribers of TSA’s Instagram account, Burns used what he called his corny, “dad humor” to educate the public about the work of the TSA and the rules regarding what passengers may and may not take with them onto airplanes.

View this post on Instagram

These can fly! Well… they can fly on the plane as a carry-on item, but they can’t actually fly anymore. Those days have clearly passed for this swarm. They’ve been pinned down for quite a while on a project. I’m guessing your husband made you ask because he didn’t want to be a pest and bug us, right? … This is a screenshot of a tweet sent to the AskTSA account on Twitter. … Have you ever wondered whether or not you can pack a certain item? If you're a regular follower of this account, I'm sure you can think of many situations where it would have behooved somebody to send us a picture first. Well, fret no more! Now you can do just that… … Simply snap a picture and tweet it to AskTSA (twitter.com/asktsa), or send it via Facebook Messenger (facebook.com/asktsa) and our team will get back to you promptly with an answer. … And that's not all. Contact us about any TSA related issue or question you might have. We can even help you if you don’t see TSA Pre✓® on your boarding pass. … We look forward to answering your questions, 9am-7pm daily. #AskTSA #TSATravelTips

A post shared by TSA (@tsa) on

On TSA’s blog, Burns shared a weekly count of the firearms TSA officers found at airport checkpoints and a summary of the knives and other often alarming prohibited items passengers packed in carry-on and checked bags and in their pockets, briefcases and purses.

He also filmed a humorous year-end video countdown of TSA’s Top Ten Most Unusual Finds where his dry wit was charmingly evident.

“His Top 10 items of ridiculous items found at the checkpoint reminded everyone that commonsense isn’t evenly distributed. And what screening officers did isn’t security theater. And if it were, the cast of characters were often those being screened and not doing the screening, as some suggest,” Michael Bilello, a TSA spokesperson noted in a statement announcing Burns’ death.

Thanks to Burns and his wry approach to sharing photos and comments about odd items discovered by TSA officers, TSA’s Instagram account won many honors, including three Webby Awards in 2018 and ranked fourth best by Rolling Stone in 2015.

Here’s Burns giving his Webby Award acceptance speech:

During a TSA Facebook live, “Ask Me Anything” episode earlier this year, Burns attributed the success of TSA’s Instagram account in part to the shock value.

“People don’t come to a government Instagram account and expert to see humor,” he said, “And they also don’t expect to see these crazy things that people are trying to bring on a plane.”

His favorite item? The sandwich slicer that someone tried to bring on board, “Just like the ones you see at the deli!”

According to an obituary in the Dayton Daily News, Burns was a chemical engineer for the U.S. army during Desert Storm, the father of two daughters and also lead singer and song writer for the “Big in Iowa” band.