Posts Tagged ‘Security’

In 2006 Raed Jarrar (a US resident) was waiting to board his flight at New York’s JFK airport when he was ordered to remove his shirt since it was making passengers uncomfortable. The t-shirt read “We Will Not Be Silent” in both Arabic and English.

The Transporation Security Authority (TSA) and JetBlue airlines agreeed to settle for a total payout of $240,000.

On a similar event, last week an Air Tran flight ordered a Muslim family (US citizens) off a flight after un-comfort over their talk over what seats are safer in an airplane.


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By November 20th, all the US Airports will have designated TSA passenger security-check lanes called “family lanes” to move through security checks and inspections at “their own pace”. The “popular” lanes had been tested earlier at 48 airports “provide a space for families and passengers who don’t travel very often to move through security at their own pace“.

I might sound a little selfish, but it is great for people like us who travel a lot and know how to zip through security with our shoes, belts, laptop(s), etc out in the bins well before our turn :).

From TSA.gov

Families, and individuals traveling with medically necessary liquids
this holiday season will be able to take advantage of the
Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) popular family lanes,
regardless of which airport they use.
The lanes, part of TSA’s Diamond Self-Select program currently
available at 48 airports, allow families, individuals unfamiliar with
air travel procedures and travelers with special needs to go through
security at their own pace. Individuals carrying medically necessary
liquids, aerosols and gels in excess of three ounces
will also be
directed to these popular lanes
. Individuals traveling with liquids,
gels and aerosols within 3-1-1 limits will not experience any change to
their screening procedures.

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Last weekend, I had to fly from Phoenix AZ to San Jose CA and since I had bought a one way ticket, I got the notorious “SSSS” on my boarding pass which allowed me the opportunity to use the Millimeter Wave Scanner (or Virtual Strip Search). “SSSS” means Secondary Security Screening Selection/Selectee, which is printed on the boarding pass if you have a one-way reservation made in 24 hours (like me), passengers who pay cash for the ticket, or others (might even me random).

The procedure –

  • At the Security checkpoint, I was asked to wait for a TSA agent to escort me to the Selectee area.
  • I went through the metal detector and my bags through the X-ray
  • Once I went through, the agent on the other side asked me if I would like to go to the “Millimeter Wave Scanner” or the “Body Scanner”, for which I said yes.
  • The agent guided me to the scanner which was had space in the middle. He asked me walk in between the walls of the scanner and stand with my feet in the designated blocks with my hands behind my head. (Behind the machine was an enclosed room where I guess the TSA agent looking at the scanned images is seated).
  • There was a display on the machine which blinked “Scanning”.
  • Once the scanning was done, he asked me to turn around and with the same posture and the machine scanned again.
  • All the while he was talked to someone (the agent who was probably looking at the scans) with his radio.
  • Then he asked me to walk out and wait, while he was describing (on his radio) about my clothes.
  • Once done, he told me that it was done and I could go pick up my bags (which were still going through the ETD machines).

A lot of people did prefer the manual patting to the scanner, which is understandable. On my personal experience, I think the manual search is faster than the scanner!

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Earlier, I had blogged about Los Angeles and New York Airport to install the millimeter wave machine (or Body Scanners). Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is installing the machines at 10 busiest US Airports.

Current Status –

  • Currently used at – Los Angeles, Baltimore, Denver, Albuquerque and New York’s JFK airport
  • This Month – Wastington DC’s Reagan National, Dallas, Detrout, Las Vegas and Miami
  • Plan – 38 machines to be in use in weeks

Though I am still not sure of how people would feel about someone looking under their clothes? Look at the picture below and decide for yourself –

From USA Today

“The scanners bounce harmless “millimeter waves”
off passengers who are selected to stand inside a portal with arms
raised after clearing the metal detector. A TSA screener in a nearby
room views the black-and-white image and looks for objects on a screen
that are shaded differently from the body. Finding a suspicious object,
a screener radios a colleague at the checkpoint to search the passenger.
The TSA says it protects privacy by blurring
passengers’ faces and deleting images right after viewing. Yet the
images are detailed, clearly showing a person’s gender. “You can
actually see the sweat on someone’s back,” Schear said.”

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We all expect the people working at Airports to have no criminal records since they are given accesses to various restricted areas of the airport. So, how can a country that claims (and should) have such high security standards allow a person responsible for hijacking a plane some 8 years ago to work at their main airport?

From AFP

“Nazamuddin Mohammidy, 34, was among nine Afghans who threatened to
blow up a Boeing 727 during a four-day stand-off with police at London
Stansted Airport in 2000.

This week he appeared in court after
police pulled his car over, on suspicion of being a bogus taxi driver,
only to discover his identity and that he had a security pass as a
cleaner for British Airways, said The Sun newspaper.”

From here

There was a four-day stand-off before the gang, who claimed they faced Taliban persecution, gave themselves up.

They were jailed for their part in the hijack, but those convictions were later quashed by the Court of Appeal.

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On April 30th 2008 around 3:30pm, nine people inadvertently breached security (X-rays) at the Quantas Airlines’ Domestic Terminal causing the whole terminal to be evacuated. All the passengers had to be re-screened causing at least 14 flights to be delayed. A number of planes were also unloaded and the passengers were evacuated to car park areas outside the terminal.

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