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.

FAA Call-Out: Design a Sustainable Control Tower

Think you can design a cost-efficient, sustainable air traffic control tower?

The Federal Aviation Administration, (FAA) has more than 100 aging control towers at regional and municipal airports across the United States that will need to be replaced. So, the agency is launching a nationwide solicitation for a new design for control towers that can be built and operated sustainably.

The FAA points to the tower at Tucson International Airport (TUS) as an example of a sustainable tower building already in operation. The TUS tower is the first air traffic facility with net-zero energy consumption. It uses a 1,600-panel solar farm to generate power for all of its electrical needs. And it supplies unused power back to the grid. The solar farm also produces ice, which is stored in large containers and used to cool the building when solar panels are not generating electricity. 

You can read about the deadlines and the solicitation phases for the new tower RFP here.

But even if you’re not an architect or an engineer, note that the last time the FAA invited architectural firms to develop a modular design concept for new control towers it hired the company headed by then rising architect I.M. Pei. Several of the 16 Pei-designed towers—including at Chicago O’Hare, Sacramento, Madison, and Jacksonville international airports—are still operating.

Don’t mess with airline crew members who graduate TSA’s self-defense class

Last week we joined a group of airline crew members for a four-hour self-defense class taught by the Transportation Security Administration’s Federal Air Marshals.

TSA has been offering these classes since at least 2015 but put the courses on hold during the height of the pandemic. Now, given the uptick in unruly passengers and the viciousness some passengers have been unleashing on flight attendants, TSA has brought the classes back. Since June, more than 50 free classes have been held around the country.

You can read our story about what goes on in these classes on The Point Guy site, but we wanted to share some bonus photos and observations here too.

The courses are available in two dozen cities to any active crewmember working for a domestic airline. While the courses are free, those taking the courses must do so on their own time. Airlines offer some self-defense training as part of their training, but some flight attendants we spoke with would like the more advanced TSA self-defense course to be on paid time.

While there are Federal Air Marshals on many domestic flights, they are not on all of them. And, air marshal presence or not, flight attendants are the ones who must first deal with unruly and aggressive passengers. Some flight attendants told us they signed up for the self-defense class because they wanted new tools to deal with the behavior they’ve been witnessing, hearing about, and could soon be coming their way.

Flight attendants don’t just feel vulnerable in the air. Some crew members we spoke with during the self-defense class said they also wanted to be prepared to defend themselves when on the ground. We heard about flight attendants who worry about being attacked in hotel hallways and while walking through parking garages or waiting for shuttle vans.

The crewmembers in the TSA self-defense class we observed learned basic self-defense skills using their personal weapons: fists, palms, the edge of their hands, forearms, elbows, legs, feet, and knees. And, after four hours, they were pretty good at, and confident about, using these skills, if necessary.

As more airline crew members get the TSA training and go on to take more advanced self-defense courses on their own, we hope word gets around that it is a bad idea to try to tangle with an airline crew member. Especially one who has graduated from the TSA’s self-defense course.

Celebrities welcome you to Miami Int’l Airport

Here’s another sign that the world of travel is moving back towards normal:

Miami International Airport (MIA) is bringing back celebrity welcome messages to its public address system.

The Voices of MIA program launched in 2019 and featured the voices of local celebrities including Miami Heat stars Alonzo Mourning and Udonis Haslem, celebrity chef Adrianne Calvo, Grammy-winning producer Emilio Estefan and telenovela star Jencarlos Canela.

The refreshed 2021 series of celebrity welcome messages includes rapper and singer Flo Rida; actor, singer and composer Carlos Ponce; celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein; rapper and TV personality Trina; and celebrity chef and TV personality Chef Pepín. Listen for the messages on MIA’s address system around the clock on a rotating basis.

And if you’re traveling through Miami International Airport, or have friends or family meeting you there or dropping you off, keep in mind this is one of the airports hosting a free COVID-19 vaccination site through July 31.

MIA’s Military Hospitality Lounge recently reopened as well.

Fresh art at Miami Int’l Airport

Brian Reedy, UFO over Bombay, 2020

UFOs have been in the news lately. So we are pleased to see a piece of art featuring a UFO included in a new exhibition at Miami International Airport.

Key West and Other Unusual Places includes printed works by Miami-based visual artists and printmakers Brian Reedy and Tom Virgin.

Reedy has a fascination with the supernatural and Asian architecture. So the work above, UFO over Bombay, makes sense.

Tom Virgin’s work reflects his travels across the United States.

Tom Virgin, Big Shark (from Escape Series), 

The exhibit will be on display in the The Eye Has to Travel Gallery near Gate D29 until October, 2021.