TSA

TSA offering self-defense training to flight crews.

As airline passenger volume ticks up, many passengers are packing something the Transportation Security Administration and airlines would rather they’d leave home: a combative attitude.

“Passengers do not arrive at an airport or board a plane with the intent of becoming unruly or violent; however, what is an exciting return to travel for some may be a more difficult experience for others, which can lead to unexpected, and unacceptable, behaviors,” said Darby LaJoye, TSA Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Administrator.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is reporting an alarming spike in incidents of unruly passengers.

Here is part of a table from the FAA showing all the cases investigated that cited violations of one or more FAA regulations or federal laws.

There are 3,082 incidents so far in 2021, compared to fewer than 200 cases in any of the past five years.

You’ve no doubt seen and read about all the crazy incidents on planes with passengers refusing to comply with federal regulations to wear face masks. But not as well-publicized are the incidents that have been taking place in airports.

TSA shared this in a statement:

Two separate incidents this month have triggered referrals to law enforcement for passengers in Louisville, KY and Denver, CO. In Louisville, a passenger allegedly assaulted two TSOs while attempting to breach the exit lane and is facing state criminal charges for criminal trespass, fleeing and evading police, misdemeanor assault, and resisting arrest. The Denver incident involved a passenger allegedly biting two TSOs and remains under investigation. Both passengers also face a potential civil penalty of up to $13,910 for each violation of TSA security requirements.” 

Here’s something that may help:

In early July the TSA is restarting its Crew Member Self-Defense (CMSD) training. Under the voluntary program, which was paused due to COVID-19 restrictions, Federal Air Marshals train flight crew members in defensive measure techniques for responding against an attacker in a commercial passenger or cargo aircraft.

During the training, flight crew members learn to identify and deter potential threats, and if needed, apply the self-defense techniques against attackers.  The four-hour training is offered to flight crew members free of charge and is held at 24 locations around the United States.

“Through this training program, TSA’s Federal Air Marshals are able to impart their specialized expertise in defending against and de-escalating an attack while in an aircraft environment,” said LaJoye, “

Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, would like the course to be compulsory.

Assaulting or threatening a member of the flight crew is a federal crime and perpetrators may face civil penalties, criminal fines, or imprisonment. In May 2021 alone, the FAA proposed civil penalties ranging from $9,000 to $15,000 against five airline passengers for allegedly interfering with and, in two cases, assaulting flight attendants who instructed them to obey cabin crew instructions and various federal regulations. 

TSA’s Top 10 Finds of 2020

It has become a tradition for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to release an annual “Top 10” list of the ‘best’ things the agency’s officers find travelers’ checked and carry-on bags.

The list for 2020 has just been issued in video form (below).

What made the TSA list?

#10 was a sling shot.

#9: Knives hidden in a hollowed out book.

#8 was a stash of 107 Roman candles found New York’s LaGuardia Airport in early November 2020.

#7: A smoke grenade found at Dulles International Airport

#6 A shark in a jar, found at Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR) in November.

#5 Again at LaGuardia in November, 2020. TSA officers spotted what looked like a pipe bomb in a carry-on bag. “When one of the end caps was removed, a partially smoked cigar was found inside,” TSA reports, “It turned out that the item was a homemade humidor for a traveler’s cigars.”

#4 Marijuana concealed inside checked bags, discovered at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS).

#3 In July, while scanning checked baggage at Newark-Liberty International Airport, TSA officers found an assault rifle, a high-capacity magazine, four boxes of hollow-point bullets, three magazines, one of which was fully loaded, and two additional boxes of rifle ammunition “artfully concealed” (as TSA says) in the lining of a checked bag.

#2 In September at John F. Kennedy International Airport TSA officers spotted two large electronic items wired to what appeared to be a tampered power source. It looked like an improvised explosive device but was later identified as a solar panel wired to the batteries to power the electronic item.

#1 Here TSA’s list of great ‘catches’ veers into the “aw, that’s romantic.”

These two lovebirds are TSA canine handlers at Newark Liberty International Airport. They got married in June and, of course, Obelix and Proto were on hand to help celebrate.

Here’s the full TSA video of the Top 10 Catches of 2020.

For your entertainment, we’ve include a few Top 10 lists from past years too.

And here’s why we still really miss TSA’s Bob Burns.

TSA found 3,257 firearms in carry-on bags in 2020

Travel was way down in 2020. But that didn’t stop those who were getting on airplanes from having firearms in their carry-on bags.

In a report released today, TSA says its officers found 3,257 firearms on passengers or in their carry-on bags at checkpoints. Of those firearms caught, about 83 percent were loaded.

In 2019, TSA officers stopped a record 4,432 firearms, of which 87 percent were loaded.

Firearems were found at 234 airports.

Here are Top 10 Airports where TSA found firearms at the checkpoints

AIRPORT (CODE)TOTAL
1Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)220
2Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)176
3Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)126
4Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)124
5Denver International Airport (DEN)104
6Nashville International Airport (BNA)94
7Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)87
8Orlando International Airport (MCO)79
9Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS)72
10Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)71

While firearms aren’t allowed in carry-on bags (for obvious reasons…) airline passengers may fly with firearms if they are properly packed as checked baggage. There are state and local firearms laws that passengers must be sure to comply with.

What happens if you’re found with a firearm in your carry-on?

In some cities, local police are called over and may file criminal charges.

TSA says it can assess civil penalties that vary by the number of previous offenses and whether the firearm was loaded at the time. Fines can exceed more than $10,000. range.

Travelers tip TSA a whopping $926,000

Rushed, distracted travelers unwittingly gave the Transportation Security Administration a cash tip of more than $926,000 last year.

TSA gets to keep the cash and currency travelers forget to pick up when they empty their pockets into the bins at the airport security checkpoints.

And that cash adds up.

During Fiscal Year 2019, which ended in September 30, 2019, TSA collected $926,030.44 in unclaimed money. That included $18,899.09 in foreign currency.

The amount of unclaimed money TSA collects has been increasing each year. But for the first time, the total collected actually decreased year over year. In FY 2018, travelers left behind $960,105.49.

For 2019, here the Top 5 airports where travelers left behind the most cash:

  1. John F. Kennedy International Airport – $98,110
  2. San Francisco International Airport – $52,668.70
  3. Miami International Airport – $47,694.03
  4. McCarran International Airport – $44,401.76
  5. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport – $40,218.19

And here are the totals from previous years:

FY 2013 – $638,142.64

FY 2014 – $674,841.06

FY 2015 – $765,759.15

FY 2016 – $867,812.39

FY 2017 – $866,839.56

FY 2018 – $960,105.49

Hold onto your cash

Don’t want to unwittingly leave a tip for TSA at the checkpoint?

Take a moment to organize your stuff before you get to the airport and again before you get on the TSA checkpoint line.

Instead of emptying your pockets into the bin, put loose change, bills and anything in your pocket into a small bag or pouch that you put inside your carry-on bag or purse.

TSA’s new rules for security checkpoints

As we head into the Memorial Day holiday and a slight uptick in air travel, the Transportation Security Administration rolling out some new rules for the security checkpoint screen area in response to COVID-19.

Some of these strategies are already in place. Others will show up at checkpoints by mid-June.

Scan you own boarding pass

Still no word about TSA taking passenger temperatures, but TSA officers will now ask passengers to place their paper or electronic boarding pass on the ticket readers themselves. TSOs will still examine your document, but they won’t touch it.

Clear bags for food

TSA also now asks passengers to put any carry-on food items in a clear plastic bag and place that bag in a bin at the checkpoints.

“Food items often trigger an alarm during the screening process; separating the food from the carry-on bag lessens the likelihood that a TSA officer will need to open the carry-on bag and remove the food items for a closer inspection,” TSA says in a statement.

“This allows social distancing, reduces the TSA officer’s need to touch a person’s container of food, and reduces the potential for cross-contamination. TSA Precheck members do not need to remove items from their bags,” TSA adds.

If you haven’t flown since the pandemic arrived, you’ll see TSA checkpoint officers wearing facial protection and gloves. Passengers are also asked to wear masks at checkpoints as well and be prepared to lower their masks if requested. At many airports, masks are now required throughout the terminals and on the planes.