Airport security

Guns in Peanut Butter & Inside a Raw Chicken: TSA’s Top 10 Catches from 2022

Officers for the Transportation Security Administration see a lot of stuff in the carry-on bags of passengers. Some of it is just fine for people to take on the plane with them. Other items, such as baseball bats, meat cleavers, and even Magic 8 balls, falls on the prohibited items.

So do knives, guns, and other items that are clearly weapons. Yet people try to sneak that stuff by all the time. In fact, even before the end of December, TSA found a record 6301 firearms in carry-on bags at airports. More than 88% of those firearms were loaded.

Some travelers forget they have a knife, gun, or some other prohibited item in their bag. Others know exactly what they’ve packed and go to creative lengths to try to get prohibited items past the checkpoint undetected.

The most outrageous items end up on the annual list of TSA’s Top 10 Catches.

This year, the list has some whoppers, including a gun found stuffed inside a raw chicken at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), gun parts inside a peanut butter jar at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), and a knife inside a laptop at Richmond International Airport (RIC).

Here’s the full 2022 list, in a corny video put together by TSA.

The agency has been doing this year-end round-up for a while. And our favorites are still the early ones hosted by the late Blogger Bob” Burns. We’ve included his 2016 round-up below.

Travel Tidbits From An Airport Near You

TSA May Still Make You Wear A Mask

The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a ruling that allows the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to require mask-wearing on planes, trains, and other forms of transport.  

The TSA stopped enforcing a mask mandate in April of this year after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mask mandate was struck down by a federal judge in Florida.

Are you still wearing a mask when you fly? COVID is still out there and we’ve seen lots of people wearing masks in airports and on planes.

Longer Hours for SEA’s Spot Saver program

Hate waiting in long airport security lines?

A great amenity popping up at airports is a program that allows travelers to make a timed reservation to go through the security line.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) was the first airport in the U.S. to offer the service, which they call Spot Saver. And it has become so popular that SEA is now expanding the program, just in time for the upcoming busy holiday travel season. 

Previously, the advanced check-in option for security checkpoint lines was only available during the busiest times of the day, until 1 p.m. Now travelers can use the service afternoons and evenings as well.

Other airports around the country offer a similar service. Check your airport’s website for the option before getting in that long security line.

New Airport Socks Alert

The Stuck at The Airport fashion reporter has a great collection of airport socks. And it looks like there’s an opportunity to add a new pair to the collection.

Here’s how to get them:

Washington’s Dulles International Airport (IAD) turns 60 this month, on November 17. And throughout November, airport visitors who purchase three items in the Duty Free Americas shops can show their receipts and get a free pair of socks. But only 1000 pairs are available.

There will also be special events on the airport’s anniversary day, November 17, including free cookies and throwback prices for coffee.

Some airports ease travel. Others make it harder

Now you can reserve a checkpoint slot at Miami Int’l Airport

One of the newest, and most welcome airport amenities are free programs that allow passengers to schedule the time they go through TSA checkpoint screening.

Examples include the Spot Saver program at Seattle-Tacoma Internation Airport (SEA), the LAX Fast Lane at Los Angeles International Aiport, the EWR Virtual Line at Newark Liberty International Airport, MCO Reserve at Orlando International Airport, PHX Reserve at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), and JFK T4 Reserve at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

There are also a few other checkpoint reservation programs operating at airports around the country.

Some are limited to certain airlines, specific checkpoints, or concourses, and may be offered during limited hours. Be sure to read the rules and directions on your airport’s website.

Miami International Airport (MIA) just joined the list

MIA Reserve is a six-month pilot program for passengers flying from MIA airport on American Airlines.

During the trial, passengers may reserve a checkpoint screening time, for free at MIA TSA Checkpoint 4 from 5 am to 7 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Reservations are limited and can be scheduled up to 72 hours before a flight.

Amsterdam Schiphol reduces passenger capacity. Again.

Citing a shortage of security workers in the coming months, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport (AMS) will once again reduce the number of passengers allowed in the airport.

This time the airport is reducing the number of daily passengers by 18%, through at least October 31. In a statement released last week, Schiphol officials said they expect to continue applying limits on the number of daily passengers until at least the end of the year.

That’s bad news for passengers and for airlines.

AMS had set a limit of 67,500 departing passengers per day during September and 69,500 during October.

The new maximum will be 54,500 per day for the rest of September and 57,000 per day in October.

London’s Heathrow Airport and several others also have passenger capacity limits in place at least through the end of October.

Travel Tidbits from an airport near you

Drama at Dallas Love Field

Operations resumed late Monday afternoon at Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL) after a frightening incident involving shots fired inside the terminal building.

According to Dallas police, a woman entered the airport near the ticket counter, went into a bathroom, and exited wearing a hoodie and brandishing a gun. She began shooting at the ceiling and was taken into custody after being wounded by a Dallas police officer on duty.

No one else was injured, but flights were grounded for several hours. All passengers had to be rescreened, more than 1000 flights were delayed, and more than 100 flights were canceled as a result of the incident.

Portland International Airport roof report

Portland International Airport (PDX) is getting a new timber roof and it’s both quite impressive and quite a complicated undertaking.

Here’s a short video showing one of the important steps it takes to install a 9-acre mass timber roof over an existing terminal.

Here’s what it will look like when the project is done.

Meanwhile, over at PIT Airport

As long as we’re looking at time-lapse construction videos, here’s one from Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), where they’re building a new terminal.

Airport security lines are long. Reserve your spot.

Summer travel is back in full force and that means long lines to go through airport security checkpoints.

Having a paid TSA Precheck or CLEAR membership will get you on shorter, expedited lines. But at an increasing number of airports, there are free programs in place that will also help you shorten the wait times, the unknowns, and the hassles of going through airport security.

CLEAR free Reserve Program

CLEAR offers a paid, identity program that allows many travelers to skip to the front of a checkpoint line. But the company also partners with some airports to offer a free program that allows any travel to reserve a time slot for going through airport security on a dedicated security lane. This can give passengers a more predictable and stress-free travel experience.

Here’s how the program works:

On an airport’s app or website, enter your flight information, the number of travelers in your group, and the time slot during which you’d like to go through security. At most participating airports, slots can be reserved as far ahead as 72 hours before a flight. In some airports, it is also possible to reserve a slot when you arrive at the airport.

Then, show up at the dedicated checkpoint lane at the time you’ve reserved; show the QR you received with your completed reservation; and go through security without waiting in a very long line.

The programs may operate during limited times, in specific terminals, be branded a bit differently at each airport, and is generally not available (or needed) for travelers who already have TSA PreCheck or the paid CLEAR service. So be sure to read the instructions carefully.

Here are the airports where the CLEAR program is currently operating:

*John F. Kennedy International Airport – JFK T4

*Seattle Tacoma International Airport (SEA) – SEA Spot Saver

*Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) – LAX Fast Lane (Terminals 7 and 8)

*Orlando International Airport (MCO) – MCO Reserve (East and West checkpoints)

*Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) – Newark Virtual Line (Terminal A)

*Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) – PHX Reserve ( Terminals 3 and 4)

*Calgary International Airport (YYC) – YYC Express – Checkpoint E

Keep an eye out for other airports that may adding this great amenity this summer and be sure to take advantage of reserved airport checkpoint times when you can.