TSA

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.”

Airport songs for safety

Like other airports around the country, Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) is keeping the facilities clean.

The airport is also using signs and floor stickers to encourage passengers to remember to keep their distance and wear face coverings.

Now, SJC is also getting even more creative with getting those messages out.

The airport has enlisted Santa Cruz-based singer/songwriter artist Nick Gallant to write and record three original songs to remind passengers and employees what they can and should do to keep things safe.

The ditties are catchy.

And you’ll have plenty of time to learn them by heart. Each song is being played throughout the Airport’s terminal buildings once an hour on a 20-minute cycle.

Give a listen:

FlySJC · SJC Go Somewhere Safely

Why play safety songs in an airport?

“By now our travelers and employees know what they need to do to keep each other safe while traveling,” said SJC Assistant Director of Aviation Judy Ross, “So the challenge for us was to find a unique, engaging way to remind everyone to stay vigilant.”

Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) isn’t the first to have safety songs to remind passengers to pay attention to the rules.

Way back in 2011, Montana’s Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) was running a video of a local band named The Singing Sons of Beaches to remind passengers of the rules and routines required at the TSA checkpoint.

The “bonus reminders” aren’t always songs.

Over the years McCarran International Airport Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas has enlisted celebrities to create instructional reminder videos as well.

Airports upping their safety act with helmets and more

What are airports up to now?

If you’re heading to an airport now or sometime in the future, the new normal is going to be, well, different.

Masks for everyone, please.

As more and more airlines now require each employee and passenger to cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth, airports from Seattle to Singapore are adding that requirement to anyone entering the terminals.

Temperature checks may become the new normal.

Airports in Asia have been scanning travelers’ temperatures for quite some time.

Now Fiumicino Airport in Rome is using ‘smart helmets’ to check the temperature of passengers.

The device is worn by airport workers and allows them to check and measure the body temperature of passengers at a distance.

Frontier Airlines, which stepped back from charging an extra fee to keep middle seats free, will begin pre-boarding temperature screenings for passengers on June 1.

Customers will be screened via touchless thermometers prior to boarding.

If the temperature reading is 100.4 degrees or higher, they will be given time to rest and, if the flight departure time allows, get another temperature check.

“If the second check is 100.4 degrees or higher, a Frontier gate agent will explain to the customer that they will not be flying that day for the health and safety of others,” the airline said in its statement. Any passenger with a 100.4 degrees or higher fever will be offered the option to rebook travel on a later date or make other arrangements.

And don’t be surprised if in the not-too-distant future TSA officers scan you for a fever at the same time they’re looking through your stuff.

What do you think of these moves? Will it make you feel safer when you fly?