TSA

Now wearing a mask at the airport is the law

Now masking up at the airport is a law. So get with the program.

Most airports and airlines have been requiring travelers to wear proper face masks while traveling through the terminals and on the planes for months. But enforcing the rule has been difficult at times because there was no federal backing. Now, finally, there is. Effective February 2, a new CDC order requires masks to be worn at all U.S. airports and on other forms of transportation.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will be helping to enforce this new law at security checkpoints and other places in the airport. And their staff is authorized to impose fines for mask scofflaws if need be:

Depending on the circumstance, those who refuse to wear a mask may be subject to a civil penalty for attempting to circumvent screening requirements, interfering with screening personnel, or a combination of those offenses,” TSA said in a statement.

TSA found 3,257 firearms in carry-on bags in 2020

Travel was way down in 2020. But that didn’t stop those who were getting on airplanes from having firearms in their carry-on bags.

In a report released today, TSA says its officers found 3,257 firearms on passengers or in their carry-on bags at checkpoints. Of those firearms caught, about 83 percent were loaded.

In 2019, TSA officers stopped a record 4,432 firearms, of which 87 percent were loaded.

Firearems were found at 234 airports.

Here are Top 10 Airports where TSA found firearms at the checkpoints

AIRPORT (CODE)TOTAL
1Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)220
2Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)176
3Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)126
4Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)124
5Denver International Airport (DEN)104
6Nashville International Airport (BNA)94
7Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)87
8Orlando International Airport (MCO)79
9Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS)72
10Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)71

While firearms aren’t allowed in carry-on bags (for obvious reasons…) airline passengers may fly with firearms if they are properly packed as checked baggage. There are state and local firearms laws that passengers must be sure to comply with.

What happens if you’re found with a firearm in your carry-on?

In some cities, local police are called over and may file criminal charges.

TSA says it can assess civil penalties that vary by the number of previous offenses and whether the firearm was loaded at the time. Fines can exceed more than $10,000. range.

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.