Archive for the ‘TSA’ Category

Rick Steves on Rethinking the Massive Cost of Airport Security

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Great post today on Facebook by Rick Steves about how we need to do a rational job of assigning costs and benefits to our Airport Security apparatus.   Although I agree with him I think a lot of the blame is with … those of us who continue to irrationally fear terrorism more than the *hundreds* of other greater risks around us, many of which we could mitigate very cheaply.   For example a smoker is creating fairly substantial death risk for themselves, and could live longer simply by spending *less* on smoking.   In other areas like auto accidents (which kill hundreds of times the number of people killed in terror incidents), we could simply make sure more people buckle up and fewer drive drunk.   The cost of these measures is trivial but the lives saved would be vastly more than we save with our TSA security measures.

Of course a challenge Rick is not addressing is that the irrationality many of us apply to this topic means that if we DO have terror incidents it will discourage many from flying at all.   This irrational result means that it might actually be good policy to provide more anti-terror measures than you would apply in a more rational world, because people’s fear might wind up creating large scale problems with the global transportation system.   Thus we might need to spend billions more than is rational in order to prevent losing tens of billions from irrational economic decisions.

Still, the moral of the TSA story is that our safety is coming at a cost that may not be sustainable.   Therefore we should start educating the public to be more rational in how they assign risk and reward, and start working towards sustainable safety spending rather than excessive and irrational political spending programs.

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Rick Steves on Facebook:
I’ve been through a lot of airports lately, and I have to say, when people joke about TSA meaning “thousands standing around,” it has a ring of truth. In November, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that we spend about $8 billion a year on scanning machines, all that time-consuming checking, and employing those people who stand between us and our departure gate. And that cost doesn’t even consider the valuable time wasted by travelers who need to allot extra time to cover surprise delays at airport security.

 Sure, we need to spend some money and time on security. But does anyone in government have the nerve to raise their hand and ask, “Could we lighten up here a bit?” or even “Aren’t we going a bit overboard there?” Bloomberg Businessweek reports that entire years go by (such as 2011) when TSA doesn’t spot a single terrorist trying to board an airplane. And then there’s s this staggering statistic: “In fact, extremist Islamic terrorism resulted in just 200 to 400 annual deaths worldwide, outside the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq — the same number…that occur in bathtubs in the US each year.”

 

Following 9/11, there was, understandably, a push to strengthen our airport security measures. But these efforts may be costing us even more lives. According to Cornell University researchers cited in Bloomberg Businessweek, after 9/11, frightened travelers switching from flights to drives resulted in over 200 more traffic fatalities every month. In the long term, due to security hassles, about 5 percent fewer people fly than used to, resulting in even more road fatalities. In other words, far more people have died on the road as an indirect result of 9/11 than actually died on 9/11.

 

Maybe it’s time to come to grips with the risk of terrorism and finally put it in a rational perspective. Many will say, “If TSA and all the security saves just one life, it will be worth it.” The way I see it, wasting money wastes lives. Intimidating people into driving instead of flying wastes lives. A nation can reach a point where its passion for showboat security designed to make people feel safe actually kills them. Security is good, but a cost-benefit awareness is simply smart. What do you think?

TSA Transportation Security Administration Air Travel Review

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Although there are more flight travel rules than you could ever fully understand, the basics are fairly simple and boil down to the following notes from the TSA:

TSA’s  Prohibited Items  NOT all-inclusive but helpful.

3-1-1 Rule – CONSOLIDATE your liquids and gels into a single see-through bag.    Liquids and gels must be in containers smaller than 3.4 ounces (100 mililiters), and you can only have ONE bag that is ONE quart sized.    Zip lock freezer bags are a good way to go as they are sturdy, cheap, and easy to replace if spills or tears ruin them during travel.

For Travelers   General travel tips from the TSA

ID Requirements … Especially important for International travelers who can in some (rare) circumstances be denied entry if they don’t have the right papers/visas/passports/ID.

TSA Precheck Program = Sensible Security.

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

TSA’s new precheck program is in early stages and not available to everybody, but if you are asked to join it’s probably a good idea. Here’s David Pogue, the New York Time’s technology writer, favorably reviewing the process:

Although TSA’s PreCheck is free you will have to “opt in” and only certain flyers are offered this opportunity at this time.
Look for a popup when visiting your airline’s Web site.

Pogue reports that “you can also get in to eCheck by joining a similar program like Sentri, Global Entry or Nexus”.

Read more here from David Pogue about the TSA Precheck Program

TSA Precheck Program from TSA

TSA Pre™ is currently available for eligible passengers flying on participating airlines that have opted in at the following airport checkpoint locations:

  • Atlanta (ATL): T-South Checkpoint (Delta only)
  • Chicago (ORD): Terminal 3, Checkpoint 8 (American only)
  • Dallas (DFW): Terminal C, Checkpoint C30 (American only)
  • Detroit (DTW): Checkpoint 2 on the ticketing level (Delta only)
  • John F. Kennedy (JFK): Terminal 8 Main Checkpoint (American only)
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA): Delta Main Checkpoint (Delta only)
  • Las Vegas (LAS): D Gates First Class Checkpoint (American and Delta)
  • Los Angeles (LAX): TSA Pre✓™ screening lane (American only)
  • Miami (MIA): D2 Checkpoint (American only)
  • Minneapolis (MSP): Lindbergh Terminal, Checkpoint 4 (American and Delta)
  • Seattle (SEA): Checkpoint 5 North (Alaska only)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC): Terminal 2 Checkpoint (Delta only)
  • Washington D.C. (DCA): Terminal B, South Checkpoint for gates 10-22 (Delta and Active Duty U.S. Military only)

In 2012, TSA plans to expand TSA Pre™ for eligible passengers flying on participating airlines at the following airport locations:

  • Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
  • Denver International Airport (DEN)
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  • Honolulu International Airport (HNL)
  • Indianapolis International Airport (IND)
  • Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL)
  • Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY)
  • Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU)
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  • Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
  • Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
  • Portland International Airport (PDX)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Tampa International Airport (TPA)
  • Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC)
  • Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)

TSA plans to continue expanding the TSA Pre™ concept to include additional airlines, as well as airports that participate in CBP’s Global Entry program, once operationally ready.

 

 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics – a great online resource

Friday, November 18th, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am often amazed at the resources that pop up online without much fanfare.  One for Transportation is the Research and Innovation Technology Administration, thankfully shortened to  “RITA” , which is part of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics at BTS.gov .     Here you’ll find flight, airline, and airport statistics provided by the US Government that include everything from flight delays to jobs in the industry.   If you are a researcher this is an essential resource, and even travelers will find the information very interesting.   Did you know, for example, that extra baggage fees were $887 million – almost a billion dollars –  in the second quarter of 2011.  This is a lot of extra revenue for the airlines and also suggests an obvious budget cutting travel tip – travel light and use a carry on rather than checked baggage!     You won’t save $887 million, but one of the reasons that number is so high is that the extra baggage fees have become exceptionally high over the last few years as many flights do NOT provide any free checked bags.   My personal experience has been that travelling light has many, many advantages.    For example on our 2010 family trip to Venice, Italy we decided to walk to our hotel from the train station rather than hire a water taxi.   This was a charming walk because we only had one bag each to roll along, with more it would not have been possible.

 

Prohibited Items in Carry on Luggage

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Even a frequent traveler can get confused and confounded by the rules regarding what you can put in carry-on luggage, in checked baggage, and what you cannot bring onto the airplane.    It’s all getting a bit mathematical, so don’t forget these two important rules:

3-1-1  Rule.    This regards LIQUIDS in CARRY ON luggage and means that you must place all liquids and gels in containers that are UNDER 3 ounces, place them in a SINGLE clear plastic bag or pouch that is ONE QUART or less.  Unless you travel very rarely it’s a great idea to have separate a separate stash of tiny bottle of shampoo, toothpaste, and other personal care items etc so you don’t have to reorganize too much every time you go.   Note the rule generally includes medicines in liquid form.   I think there may be an exception for medicine, but this is probably more hassle than it’s usually worth.

45 inch rule:  Although it’s routinely not followed, your carry on measurement in inches is supposed to be 45.    e.g. a bag 12x13x20 = 45 inches should be fine, where a bag 15x15x20 = 50 is technically too large.

I just learned that  “gel insoles” for shoes are NOT allowed in carry on or in your shoes *unless* the gel is built into the shoe.     Also surprising to me was that scissors are allowed in carry on as long as the blades are less than 4″.   That said I wouldn’t try to bring on a pair as I’m guessing many TSA folks would confiscate them as they did with considerable fanfare when they took my daughter’s plastic barbie scissors some years back, undoubtedly landing her in some TSA database for life or on the  9 year old, 4′ 2″ watch list.

For those of us who prefer not to check baggage it’s getting a bit harder to pack because now any prohibited “carry on” items can’t simply be stuck in the checked bag.     As with the 3-1-1 rule you need to be cautious or you’ll wind up getting valuable items or expensive liquids taken away.

I’m about to make a trip from Reno to Philadelphia and not sure if my electric shaver is allowed in carry on – I think yes, but no mention of that object at the TSA site.

TSA Official Website “Prohibited Items” lists are HERE

3-1-1 Rule from TSA

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

TSA’s “3-1-3” rule about your toiletries/liquids/gels has not changed very much in the last five years, but for me the details of what you can and can’t bring and how you need to declare things are always a bit of a travel challenge as you struggle through the security lines removing belts and computers while managing your kids or parents.

First off, it’s recommended you pull together a “travel kit” with the stuff you’ll need in appropriate (100ml or less) bottles.    If you travel as much as I do, it’s good to have this separate from your normal day to day stuff.   You then just need to review the travel kit for anything you might need that might not have applied on your last trip (e.g. a medicine, suntan lotion, insect repellant, etc)

If you are checking bags put stuff there – it’ll save the hassles at security.  Unfortunately many of us no longer check bags due to convenience and/or cost issues … and hey, why are you taking up MY space in the overhead bin!

Consider bringing pills rather than liquids when you can.  e.g. pepto bismol, cough and cold medicines, etc.   This makes things easier to manage.

Source: TSA Website
3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3.4 ounce (100ml) container size is a security measure.

3-1-1 is for short trips. If in doubt, put your liquids in checked luggage.

Declare larger liquids. Medications, baby formula and food, and breast milk are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint. Officers may need to open these items to conduct additional screening.

TSA Tips for Travelers

Friday, July 16th, 2010

The TSA Website regularly offers features and tips on travel, and you’ll be better prepared if you check in before trips.     Rules are starting to stabilize after the dramatic security changes created by the 9/11 terror attacks on the USA, but unless you fly regularly you may be unpleasantly surprised by some of the rules.

The most important change since 9/11 has been the liquids rules, which restrict the amount of liquid you can bring through security.    I think the simplest approach if you check bags is to place your gels and liquids there, but if you need to carry them be sure they conform to the rules or you may loose that expensive new shampoo you just bought for the trip.

Liquids rules from TSA – remember it’s 3-1-1 3 ounce or LESS container in a SINGLE ONE QUART clear bag.    You may place several containers in the same quart clear bag.

Laptop Bag Security May Improve

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

The TSA has issued guidelines to laptop carrying cases that may allow travelers to place the laptop bag directly through X ray machines without having to remove the computer inside, helping tech travelers avoid an inconvenience that used to be greater before everyboy learned the routine.

USA Today Reports:
http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2008-05-21-laptops_N.htm

New Laptop battery rules for flights – do not put them in checked luggage!

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Yes, it’s true – there are even more new complicated rules from the TSA. It’s not even clear this relates to any terror issues but they are restricting lithium batteries in carry on luggage:

New Laptop Battery Rules from TSA

If you’ll be travelling by air in 2008 be sure to review the new rules for carrying batteries on airplanes. The new battery rules are here at TSA’s websiteOn new rule is that you are NOT allowed to pack lithium batteries in your *checked* luggage, though you *are* allowed to have them in carry on baggage in clear plastic bags.It’s also a good idea to review the 3-1-1 rule here at TSA:3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3 ounce bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin.

Transportation Security Administration TSA

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

This is an OLD post.  For the latest on TSA Requirements CLICK HERE for TSA Travel Information

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The TSA here in the USA has a very big job. They are charged with protecting the millions of travelers who travel daily in, out, and around the country.

All travelers should spend at least a few minutes getting familiar with security basics here at the TSA “for travelers” web page here. Most important is managing your liquids, toothpaste and other gels using the 3-1-1 rule.

Overall the TSA website suffers from the typical bureaucratic challenges of telling people much more than they need or want to know about the organization while leaving key details about travel too thinly discussed. TSA is a place where it would be very advantageous to have a blog team with access to up to the minute information about delays, lines, airport and airline security information and then post up to the minute on their blog to help travelers with access get around.

An example of “travel inefficiencies” that create lose-lose situations came up Thursday on our trip home from PHL Philadelphia. We wanted to visit the shopping/dining section of PHL because we had several hours to kill, but because of the odd setup at PHL this would have required us to either stand in a HUGE line for D concourse and then find a way to C concourse vs walking in to E (with no line!) which was where we needed to be to leave. I’m sure if I knew the place inside out I could have used the bus system more effectively, but given that PHL so heavily promotes the shopping and dining area you’d think they’d arrange things such that you could easily hang out there without worrying about missing a flight. The discrepancy in line length was odd as well and I’ve seen this very often. TSA seems to use humans where machines would be better and perhaps vica versa. As Thomas Edison pointed out — there is a better way – find it (please…!).