Posts Tagged ‘TSA’

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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Earlier, I had blogged about TSA approved laptop bags that will allow people to pass through security without taking the laptops out (one of the things about flying that I really hate). Belkin just launched a new laptop bag called “FlyThru” that is checkpoint friendly and “meets the guidelines set forth by TSA, with the business traveler in mind“.

Details about the bag (from Belkin) –

FlyThru Laptop Case (F8N094) – $59.99

  • Smart design isolates laptop for easy screening
  • Secure compartments organize accessories
  • Designed with minimal metal zippers and hardware for screening clarity
  • Durable with ample storage, ideal for busy professionals on the go
  • Fits most standard and widescreen laptops up to 15.4″

Now you can also show your love to the TSA Agents.

Now can someone please invent a TSA-approved pair of shoes??? 🙂

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European Union (EU) lawmakers (EU-MPs) have delayed the installation of full body scanners or millimeter wave scanners at European Airports which takes an X-ray picture to view “under the clothes” outline image of the person, an alternative to pat down search. EU MPs passed a resolution to conduct further study on privacy and health implication of the technology. 

The device has already been installed in some of the  airports in US and couple of months back, I blogged up my experience with one at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport. Do you think you will comfortable with the someone looking at an image like the one on the right?

Privacy Concerns from Wikipedia Article

Privacy advocates are concerned about the use of this technology because it allows screeners to see airport passengers without clothing.
Currently the technology does not mask any part of the bodies of the people who are being scanned. Proposed remedies for privacy concerns include only scanning people who are detected to be carrying contraband, or developing technology to mask genitals and other “private parts.” At least one government official has stated this technology is already in place, leading some to suggest that there are no privacy issues for regular passengers. In some locations, travelers have the choice between the body scan or a traditional “pat down.”
Note that in the specific case of the TSA, they have promised to separate the people viewing the private images from the people being scanned in order to retain some privacy. This policy seems to have been recently neglected, however, when the TSA set up scanning stations in public areas of the airports of Denver and Minneapolis during the 2008 Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

From CNN International

The European Parliament voted 361 to 16 with 18 abstentions Thursday in
favor of a resolution demanding EU authorities carry out a full study
of the privacy and health implications of the new technology.
The new systems allow guards to see an outline of passengers’ bodies
beneath their clothes. Supporters say it makes it easier to detect
concealed objects such as liquids or plastic weapons not picked up by
traditional metal detectors.

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This one is Funny (and maybe border line inappropriate but still fun). I came across the makezine blog which posted a story about an artist Evan Roth who is working on a project to make metal plates with messages that will be visible on the X-ray screen monitor of a TSA screening device. Take a look at the pictures 🙂 –

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Taking out laptops and then putting them back in has been a big problem for a lot of travelers (including me) while going through TSA checkpoints.

Starting August 16th 2008, TSA will allow travelers to leave their laptops in “checkpoint friendly” cases.

As I had earlier blogged, Targus has already started advertising the new bag.

From Time

“To qualify as “checkpoint friendly,” a bag must have a designated
laptop-only section that unfolds to lie flat on the X-ray machine belt
and contains no metal snaps, zippers or buckles and no pockets.

Among the manufacturers selling TSA-approved laptop bags are Mobile Edge, Skooba Design and Targus Inc.”

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One of the biggest problems I have while flying is getting the laptop out of the laptop bag and putting it back in after getting it scanned (at the security checkpoint). The problem gets even worse if you have bunch of people ahead of you fumbling with their laptops, especially the leisure travelers :).

Targus has come with a new product, the new “Zip-Thru Corporate Traveler Laptop Case”. The bag “Through some pretty nifty design tweaks, the bag eliminates all the
fumbling involved in removing your laptop from its carrying case when
passing through airport security
“. It is advertised as a checkpoint-friendly bags which meets the TSA guidelines.

From FREEP.com

The bags are made of nylon, briefcase-styled and part of a line of
Corporate Traveler bags known for having lots of document folders for
business papers — handouts gleaned from a convention, for example. They
can hold laptops with screen sizes as large as 15.4 inches and
generally sell from $75 to $100 online.

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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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