Airport security

TSA’s Top 10 Most Unusual Finds of 2018

The Transportation Security Administration found a record number of firearms – 4,239 – in carry-on bags at the nation’s airports last year.

The agency also found a wide variety of unusual items. Like these inert grenades dressed in tuxedos.

Want to see more?

Here’s TSA’s video of the Top 10 Most Unusual Checkpoint Finds from 2018.

In case you missed it, here are the TSA’s Top 10 Most Unusual Finds from previous years.

More love for unpaid airport workers

Travel Tidbits: Long security lines + airfare deals

Long(er) checkpoint lines – and checkpoint closures

Due to staffing issues associated with the partial shutdown of the federal government, passengers are finding longer lines tha usual at many airport security checkpoints.

On Monday, Harstfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport had checkpoint wait times exceeding an hour. And George Bush International Airport (IAH) said its security checkpoint and ticketing counter in Terminal B would remain closed through Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019.

Fiji Airways airfare deal

Fiji Airways has a two-for-one airfare deal right now. “The Great Companion Getaway” is available to purchase January 12 to 19 for travel from January 21 through March 31, 2019 and includes flights to Fiji from Honolulu, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Buy one all-inclusive ticket and pay just for the taxes on a companion ticket. Details here.

$49 flights to Europe on WOW Air – with lots of caveats

WOW Air, the budget Icelandic airline that expanded quickly but is now cutting many routes, has announced $49 sale fares to some European cities from the U.S., all with stops (or free stopvers) in Iceland’s KEF airport.

Fares are on sale now through January 18 (or until seats sell out) for a limited number of dates and flights between January 21 and March 11, 2019.

Keep in mind that WOW Air charges for just about everything – including carry-on bags that go in the overhead bin, reserved seats and in-flight meals, so that $49 fare may be significantly higher once you add in the “extras.”

Stellar credit card offer from Southwest

There are lots of airline credit card offers out there (and blogs devoted to getting you to apply for them) but Southwest Airlines currently has a generous promotion that some say takes things to a new level.

The deal, available through February 11, promises 30,000 Southwest rewards points – plus a compantion pass for the rest of the year – to those who sign up for the airline’s credit card and charge $4,000 to the card in first three months.

Gov’t shutdown causes closed checkpoints – and pizza – at airports

The partial shutdown of the federal government is taking its toll on airports.

On Saturday, Miami International Airport closed one of its security checkpoints because airport officials were worried there wouldn’t be enough TSA employees on duty to keep all the airport’s checkpoints open.

The airport plans to reopen the checkpoint on Monday morning.

On Sunday afternoon, Houston’s George Bush International Airport (IAH), shut down the TSA checkpoint and ticketing counter in Terminal B. The reason? Concern about staffing issues associated with the partial shutdown of the federal government.

If the government shutdown continues, we can expect more of these checkpoint closures to take place. Passengers will be directed to other checkpoints, where lines will no doubt get very long.

And outpouring of pizza

While long lines are surely frustrating for travelers, there is an outpouring of support for the TSA workers, air traffice controllers and customs and border protection workers who are working without pay.

On Friday, Nashville International Airport sent pizzas to TSA employees at the airport working without pay.

And Canadian air traffic controllers showed their support for their American counterparts by sending pizzas as well.

Elsewhere, there’s a pop-up food pantry for TSA employees at Tampa International Airport.

At Your Gate is offering $10 off and waiving the delivery fee for food delivered to TSA employees on duty at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). The offer will expand to other airports where the service is available (San Diego International Airport, New York LaGuardia Terminal B, JFK and MSP) later this week.

Federal workers working without pay at Ontario International Airport were treated to a barbecue on Friday. Food was supplied by the Ontario Reign Hockey team and other groups in town.

On Friday, Pittsburgh International Airport served lunch to federal workers at the airport and plans to do so each Friday until the shutdown is over.

Seattle Tacoma International Airport will hold its second information fair on Monday to help federal employees working without pay learn about short term loans and other resources that may be available to them.

And, as we reported earlier, Hudson Group, which operates shops in many airports, is offering a 20% discount off food, beverages and many store products to all TSA and customs employees until the shutdown is resolved.

OTG, which operates retail outlets and restaurants in 10 airports, will offer TSA employees a 50 percent discount on food and beverage through the duration of the government shutdown too.

If you learn of any other efforts underway, please let us know.




Airport police host National Night Out events

Police departments – including airport police departments – join with their neighborhoods each August 7  to hold National Night Out events to encourage neighbors to get to know each other and to create safer places to live.

The street I used to live on held a picnic each year during Natoinal Night Out and one neighbor rented a bouncy house for the kids. Each year we shared phone numbers and emails. We introduced ourselves around and chose a street captain.

And when there was a serious issue on our block – or if someone just noticed that someone else had left their car lights on – we knew how to get in touch with our neighbors.

So if your street is hosting an event, I strongly encourage you to out there and say hi.

If you’re flying somewhere, stop and chat with airport police and others looking out for your safety.  National Night Out events planned for Washington Dulles International AirportWashington’s Reagan National Airport  and Los Angeles International Airport.

And don’t be shy about approaching those airport officers. As we’re learning from their entertaining entries in the viral police lip sync challenge, many airport police teams have a great sense of humor.

Know of another airport hosting a National Night Out event? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list.