TSA

Mask mandate on planes & public transit to be extended

On Tuesday, multiple sources were reporting that federal officials will extend until at least mid-January the requirement that travelers must wear face masks on commercial airplanes, in airports, and on other forms of public transportation.

The Transportation Security Administration’s current transportation mask mandate is set to expire on Sept. 13. The agency is expected to extend the mandate until Jan. 18.

The mask mandate makes sense, given the rising rates of COVID-19 due to the delta variant. But there are likely to be people who are unhappy with that requirement. Some of those people will likely end up in the FAA’s unruly passenger list.

No official tweet from TSA on the mask mandate as of late Tuesday night, but TSA did post something earlier in the day about the latest pups in competition for the agency’s Cutest Canine Contest.

Dogs are cool, but cat lovers at some airports made sure to celebrate Black Cat Appreciation Day on Tuesday as well.

This and that from an airport near you

Some people scroll through TikTok dances at the end of the day.

We click through the airport and airline news on Twitter.

Here are some items we stopped to read Tuesday evening.

Leave the fireworks at home

July 4th is going to be a busy time at airports and long security lines might make tempers flare. Don’t make it worse by bringing fireworks (even sparklers) in your carry-on bag.

Southwest Airline’s Freedom One

This plane with a patriotic livery is making the rounds. Be sure to watch how they made the paint scheme happen.

SFO adding some new gates and amenities

SFO keeps moving forward. We’re can’t wait to visit the new museum gallery.

United Airlines going all-in with new aircraft

We’re all for new planes, bigger overhead bins, seatback entertainment, and the promise of being able to connect wireless headphones with Bluetooth technology. 

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. 

Traveling? Face Masks required through at least September 13

Almost every airline, airport, railroad, and public transportation mode put face mask requirements into effect pretty early into the pandemic. The federal government did not.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) first issued its face mask requirement on February 1, 2021, with an initial expiration date of May 11.

Last week the agency announced it is extending the face mask requirement for individuals across all transportation networks throughout the United States through September 13,

That includes airports, on board commercial aircraft, on buses, and on commuter bus and rail systems.

So today, we’re bringing back some of the creative branded face masks from airports that we’ve been collecting. If you have more to share, please send them along.

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.