TSA

Airport Crossword Puzzles & TSA Nutcrackers

Use your words

We spotted a few airports celebrating National Crossword Puzzle Day on December 21 with their very own aviation-themed puzzles.

The holiday marks the day the first-known printed crossword was published in the New York World newspaper.

Give these puzzles from Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) a try. And let us know which ones we missed.

And just for fun: TSA Nutcrackers

Two TSA officers working at A. B. Won Pat Guam International Airport (GUM)  dressed up these 14-inch-tall nutcrackers in TSA uniforms. Their outfits include insignia patches, hats, airport security badges and, of course, face masks.

Timely Travel Tibits from airports near you

Easier ordering + pickup for airport food

The newest trend at airports right now seems to be expanding the options for mobile food ordering, no-contact pickup and food delivery to the gate.

We recently wrote about some of the latest efforts in airport food delivery for APEX, when Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) rolled out its LAX Order Now program.

Now Miami International Airport (MIA) has a new program called MIA2 Go.

The contactless mobile platform lets travelers browse menus, order, and pay for their meals before picking up the order.

The program is put together by MIA, concessionaire Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield Airports (URW) and Grab, and is available on MIA’s mobile-friendly website or mobile app. Food venues are searchable by food type and airport terminal. And orders are scheduled for pick-up at pre-set times, so customers don’t have to wait in line.

At Denver International Airport (DEN), the new Eats Delivered program works with At Your Gate. From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, passengers can order meals from seven participating restaurants (so far) and have the meals delivered to them anywhere in the terminal, including baggage claim.

More COVID-19 Testing sites at airports

More and more airports are offering on-site COVID-19 testing options.

One of the latest to do so is Bradley International Airport (BDL), near Hartford, CT.

And this week American Airlines, British Airways, and oneworld announced the launch of an optional coronavirus (COVID-19) testing trial on select flights from U.S. cities to London Heathrow (LHR).

The tests will be free. They’ll be available to customers on American Airlines Flight AA50 from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to LHR; on British Airways Flight BA114 departing New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to LHR; on BA Flight BA268 from Los Angeles (LAX) to LHR.

This part of the program starts on November 25.

The testing includes:

  • An initial at-home test to be taken 72 hours before departure from the US
  • A second test upon arrival at LHR
  • A third test to be taken three days after arrival in the UK

The testing program will then be expanded to American Airlines Flight AA106 from JFK to LHR, on a date yet to be announced.

TSA Talks Turkey. And pie.

And in case you are flying somewhere this Thanksgiving holiday, keep in mind that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a list of foods you may and may not bring as carry-on.

The “yes you may” list includes baked goods, meats (frozen, cooked, or uncooked), stuffing, casseroles, Mac ‘n Cheese, fresh vegetables and fruit, candy, and spices.

The “pack in carry-on” or “have someone else bring it” list includes dishes such as cranberry sauce, gravy, wine, canned fruit or vegetables (the cans have liquid), jams and jellies, and maple syrup.

Airport amenity of the week: VeriFLY at Denver Int’l Airport

Have you been through an airport security checkpoint recently?

We have. And it has us worrying that as passenger numbers increase TSOs and travelers will too easily revert to the pre-COVID checkpoint mentality and not pay attention to social distancing and safety.

That’s why we’re not even waiting until Friday to declare the ‘Airport Amenity of the Week.’

We’re giving the nod to Denver International Airport (DEN), which is the first airport in the U.S. to begin using the VeriFLY app to let passengers reserve a checkpoint time and then travel to the gates in a reserved train car.

Here’s how it works:

Travelers download the VeriFLY app (only available for iPhone for now), create an account, and then reserve a time to through the checkpoint on their travel date. There’s a 15-minute show-up window and there are a limited number of reservations per hour.

Passengers must fill out a health survey within 24 hours of their flight. Then, on the day of their flight, they go to the designated VeriFLY lane at the south screening checkpoint at their reserved time.

A touch-less, electronic gate will scan the access code on the app. And temperatures will be taken before passengers move to either a standard or Precheck TSA screening lane.

Once through security, passengers using the VeriFLY system will travel to their respective concourses in a reserved train car. For social distancing, only 12 VeriFLY travelers will be allowed in the train car at a time.

Face masks/covering are, of course, required for all travelers.

We hope – and expect – more airports will begin using this system.

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.

Vote for TSA’s Cutest Canine

Here’s something cute and furry for a Friday.

National Dog Day is coming up on August 26. And in preparation for that holiday, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is having a contest to pick the cutest canine from its roster of more than 1000 dogs trained to sniff out explosives.

Four furry finalists were in the running, chosen from those nominated by their handlers.

To narrow it down to a winner, the first match-up took place on Wednesday, August 19 between two of the finalists.

And it looks like Kajila from Honolulu’s Daniel Inouye International Airport (HNL) won that round.

On Thursday, August 20, the public was asked to pick their favorite between pup Lexa-Alexey from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and Ron, who works at Oakland International Airport (OAK).

Voting in this second round ends early Friday morning.

On Friday, August 21, the winners of the first two rounds will go head to head, with the overall winner to be announced on August 26, National Dog Day.

You can vote on TSA’s InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

TSA’s explosives detection canines have serious job descriptions.

They’re tasked with screening passengers, cargo, mass-transit, and maritime systems, and they support other security missions. Each dog is specially trained and paired with a TSA handler.

If you see these dogs at the airport, you may want to pet them.

Don’t do that.

TSA says that “While TSA canines are sociable, they are working dogs and they should not be petted or fed by anyone except their handlers.”