TSA

TSA’s first airport checkpoint turns 20

Then: the first TSA Checkpoint was a BWI. Photo courtesy TSA

It feels as if the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has always been in charge of security at airports.

But TSA was created in November 2001, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

And, beginning on April 30, 2002, Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI) became the very first airport in the nation to be ‘federalized.’ It became the first airport to have security screening taken over by the newly formed agency.

BWI and TSA officials marked that anniversary on Friday at the airport and shared background on what was happening at the time.

“The ‘TSA Start-Up Team’ at BWI built a ‘War Room’ on the lower level of C Concourse and began testing new screening methods, checkpoint designs, standard operating procedures, and more,” TSA said in a statement. “The team’s main tasks were to establish the new agency and its security mission and write policies and procedures that adhered to the requirements of the law that created TSA. They were to build a fully federalized workforce of security screening officers to replace private contract screeners.”

Many of the early Transportation Security Officers trained at BWI before they were deployed across the country.

Today there are 430 federalized airports and 64,000 TSA employees nationwide.

TSA Checkpoint at BWI now. Photos courtesy TSA

Traveling? You’ll still need to wear a face mask

Yes, COVID rates are falling in most places. And yes, communities everywhere are lifting their face mask requirements. But the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has decided to buck the trend. TSA will keep the face mask requirement for travel on public transportation in place for at least another month after the planned March 18 expiration.

Here’s the agency’s statement:

At CDC’s recommendation, TSA will extend the security directive for mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs for one month, through April 18th.

During that time, CDC will work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor. This revised framework will be based on the COVID-19 community levels, risk of new variants, national data, and the latest science. We will communicate any updates publicly if and/or when they change.

How to lose your TSA PreCheck status

Unruly airline passengers may face fines and the wrath of crew members and other passengers.

Now, under a new partnership between the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), unruly passengers may also end up kicked off the TSA PreCheck roster.

TSA PreCheck gives travelers access to expedited security screening. Precheck-qualified travelers don’t need to remove shoes, laptops, belts, light jackets, or take out their bag of lotions and liquids. The fee is $85 for five years and requires fingerprinting and a background check.

Under the new partnership, the FAA will share information with TSA about passengers facing fines for unruly behavior. And TSA may then remove those passengers from TSA PreCheck screening eligibility.

“If you act out of line, you will wait in line,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said. “Our partnership aims to promote safe and responsible passenger behavior. One unruly incident is one too many.” 

“TSA has zero tolerance for the unruly behaviors, especially those involving physical assault occurring aboard aircraft,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “This partnership with FAA will help ensure the safety and security of all passengers and hold those who violate federal regulations accountable for their actions.”

Other ways to lose TSA PreCheck Status

On its website, TSA spells out other actions that might cause a traveler’s PreCheck status to be revoked ‘for a period of time.’

The list includes refusing to wear a mask, making a bomb threat, or bringing a firearm to an airport or onto an aircraft:

If you commit certain violations of federal security regulations, such as refusal to wear a mask in U.S. transportation systems covered by the January 31, 2021 Security Directive and subsequent amendments, assault, threat, intimidation, or interference with flight crew, physical or sexual assault or threat of physical or sexual assault of any individual on an aircraft, interference with security operations, access control violations, providing false or fraudulent documents, making a bomb threat, or bringing a firearm, explosive, or other prohibited item to an airport or onboard an aircraft, you are denied expedited screening for a period of time.

TSA’s Far Out Social Media Accounts

Once again, it looks like someone is having a little too much fun with the Transportation Security Administration’s social media accounts.

The TSA has a handy “What Can I Bring?” tool that is part of the agency’s standing offer to help travelers figure out what they may and may not put in their carry-on bags and in checked luggage.

But not everything is covered. Hence the question: “Can I take my 850-pound THC infused brownie?”

See the TSA’s answers to that question and their advice on a few other travel items below.

And have a great weekend, wherever you are traveling.