By now, you’re all aware that security at some airports on certain routes has been stepped up, with electronic devices being targeted as the next item that could be an unwelcome item in an airport.

The UK Government has seemed to settled on its travel advice which states:

Make sure your electronic devices are charged before you travel. If your device doesn’t switch on when requested, you won’t be allowed to bring it onto the aircraft.

Electronic items that should be charged - Image GhettoIFE
So if I was to get on the plane right now, only the MacBook Pro and Sony Xperia E (for Economy Class Android Landfill) would make it. The HP Tablet wouldn’t be allowed onboard as the battery is dead… although sometimes I think that’s a good thing the way I want to throw it across the flat.

Various operators out of the UK have come with different advice – sadly there is no uniform advice.

  • British Airways has comprehensive advice and options, ranging from posting the device home, charging the device up before security, storing the device, and even if you pick up electronics at the airport.
  • Virgin Atlantic advise you should keep your devices charged
  • Monarch Airways advise to keep devices charged and prepare for extra delays at security
  • According to The Guardian EasyJet and Ryanair flights will probably be unaffected
  • United Airlines states “The TSA has implemented enhanced security measures at select overseas airports with direct flights to the U.S. Please make sure any electronic devices, including cell phones, are charged before you travel, as you may be required to turn them on during security screening. If your device does not turn on, you may not be allowed to bring it on board.”
  • American Airlines states pretty much the same thing as United.
  • Delta states “Effective immediately, customers traveling on any airline to the U.S. from select airports in Europe, the Middle East and Africa should expect additional security measures relative to carry-on items. All battery-operated electronic devices intended for carry-on must be operational; any device that cannot be powered on upon screening will not be permitted onboard. Customers are encouraged to allow extra time at airports to account for additional screening requirements and to charge their electronic devices prior to arrival at security checkpoints.”

Which routes are being targeted for this treatment is not exactly clear as UK Department for Transport officials aren’t mentioning which ones they’re going for. Suffice to say to anything flight to the USA will probably be targeted. Whilst airports have not been mentioned, Heathrow and Manchester have stepped up their security.

Airports are reporting that wait times for security clearance is about the same as normal to get through

The travel advice is pretty clear – ensure your electronics are charged up, and if you are transiting through London, ensure there is plenty of charge left in your computer if you are intending to connect to another flight. 

Comment: Whilst this is important and aviation safety is paramount… this reaction smacks of security theatre doesn’t it?

Posted by Kevincm | No Comments

Let me start with off with the obvious – I love using Twitter. Apart from connecting with airlines, it allows me to keep up to date with incidents, as well has off-ball conversations (Because we talk about things that matter… like Kale, Coffee Wine, BMI, The Aer Lingus Buy on Board breakfast – the list goes on and on).

Recently, Twitter rolled out an update to their iOS, Android and Desktop Client – which on the face of it was very shiny, as it allowed you to add four photos at once to a tweet.

Which is nice.

What wasn’t published as much is that Twitter rolled out without much notice) that face/photo tagging was switched on – by default (thanks Twitter).

Whilst I am pretty open, I also do like to have a modicum of privacy in the world… and this doesn’t sit well with me (for example I don’t use FourSquare any more as I realised HOW much data I was giving away – that and the supply of free IHG points dried up for checking in at a property daily) .

The Register reported on this last week, but I’ve had the odd retweet about it from my own Twitter feed… so I though I’d write something techy.. and how to  disable Phototagging:

On the web site

Go to and Security and Privacy

Scroll down and you’ll see this:
Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 21.30.19

Press save.

iOS Version

  • Tap Me
  • Tap Settings
  • Tap the account you want to change
  • Scroll until you get to this:


  • Tap Photo Tagging
  • Swipe the slider to the off position

photo copy

Hit the back arrows – it’s all saved for you.

Android Version

It’s pretty much the same method as iOS method. Alas, the screen capture on the Android phone I have doesn’t work too well..

If you’re happy some people to tag you – hit the middle option. Personally for this Facebookesque feature, I’d switch it off ;)

Of course you can follow me on Twitter as GhettoIFE where you can keep up with such gems as:

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 22.36.11 Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 22.38.41 Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 22.36.57 Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 22.36.20

HT: The Register -

Want to keep up with me at GhettoIFE? Join me either by signing up for my newsletter, or follow me on Twitter @GhettoIFE for when there are posts to the blog!

Posted by Kevincm | One Comment

Part 6: The Hell of Toronto Airport, and an unexpected dinner…

Back into action, Up to the Top?*** – To Chicago with American Airlines, American Eagle and British Airways


*** = Hang on. Why title has changed 2/3rds the way through the report? This part explains why… ;)

Part 6: The Hell of Toronto Airport, and an unexpected dinner

The Pictures:

Getting off the plane, I negotiated my past the horde of people waiting for their wheeliebags, and headed into the terminal, hunting for the connections area.

Eventually, my hunt leads me to Immigration – which was also deemed as the connection area.

It’s somewhere this way.

Hmm. This has all sorts of wrongablity written over it. What was looking like a reasonably comfortable connection was starting to get tighter by the minute.

I presented my passport and landing card, and was allowed to proceed after light questioning, which lead me into luggage reclaim… and where I found out that there is no straight interline for baggage – all bags must be reclaimed, then dropped off (akin to the US arrivals system)

Grrrrrrrr. Starting to get annoyed now. It’s possible to do a straight interline in T1, yet it’s a fully manual process in T3. Wonderful.

Of course, there were no free carts, and me being tight fisted, I waited a fair chunk of time for the bags to come out… to be confronted with a long old queue for Canadian Customs.

Thankfully it seems, Customs were not interested in me, and directed me to baggage re-check, where there two lines – one for WestJet customers, and one for everyone else. Thankfully the “everyone else” line was empty. My bags were rescanned and I was invited to lug my own luggage onto the belts.

After that little debacle I followed the signs for connections that took me… you’ve guessed it – into the public arrivals area.

What sort of person designed this level of Dante’s inferno?

I found my way by chance to the upper level and after floundering trying to find the right security gate, a member of staff directed me to the right concourse.

Thankfully, security itself was very quiet, and I was through within minutes. It was then a case of hiking through the B pier, and finally to the C gates which a gate guardian protected.

After getting some Canadian Maple Leaf Cookies (just for my father…), my attentions turned to the next thing: a lounge.

From there – I could see the gates, and a sign to the British Airways Lounge. I followed the sign to the lift, and up to an oasis after the pain I just went through.

Lounge stop: British Airways Galleries Lounge
Meals eaten quickly 1
Surprises: 2…

I headed into the lounge where I was welcomed after looking very exhausted. The lounge agent, who started to do some tapping at her keyboard, took my boarding pass. I thought nothing of it as she confirmed my bags and apologised for the way luggage is handled at T3.

After a short while I was issued with a replacement boarding pass on BA stock with a ticket for pre-flight dining.

Hang on… Preflight dining – On an economy class ticket? My brain was still fried dealing with immigration (and carrying 65kg again), so I headed off to the pre-flight dining not knowing what actually was in my hand…

Dining area





Dining area

I was welcomed to pre-flight dining and my invite taken from me. As I sat down to settle down on a starter, I read what was on my boarding pass…

Class = J = Seat 63J… class = CLUB WORLD.

That were the first letters I saw. 63J is not an economy class seat no matter how you cut it. I then broke into a big smile as I saw the other words on the boarding pass - CLUB WORLD.

To say I ran back to reception and thanked the agent.

This is a rare Double Upgrade, from a seat in World Traveller, skipping straight past World Traveller Plus and straight onto the Top Deck of a 747.

Suddenly, going through Toronto wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

I dived into the main course when boarding was called. Talk about bad luck in timing.

I’m getting there gov. Hang on!

The lounge itself was very Galleries style, with fancy lights and blue hues everywhere.



Main lounge area

I finished off my meal and grabbed a bottle of water. I made the effort to thank the lounge staff who wished me a good flight, and I headed for the gate

Gate area

I headed into the area, and skipped the economy line – straight to the Fast Track. My boarding pass was beeped, and I was let through… onto my first upper deck experience.

Well everyone loves a first time don’t they? ;)

De Plane boss… and a seat on the upper deck is MINE!

Next up: BA098 Toronto Pearson T3 to London Heathrow… in CLUB WORLD.

Posted by Kevincm | 2 Comments

Here’s a big news breaking from the European Union, Forbes and The Economist.

And it’s to do with Nude-o-scopes – or Backscatter/Millimetre Wave Scanners. And to be blunt – the European Union is not happy about them in the least.

The big line from the release it is this:

In order not to risk jeopardising citizens’ health and safety, only security scanners which do not use X-ray technology are added to the list of authorised methods for passenger screening at EU airports. All other technologies, such as that used for mobiles phones and others, can be used provided that they comply with EU security standards.

In addition, new rights are imposed. These are:

  • Security scanners shall not store, retain, copy, print or retrieve images;
  • Any unauthorised access and use of the image is prohibited and shall be prevented;
  • The human reviewer analysing the image shall be in a separate location and the image shall not be linked to the screened person and others.
  • Passengers must be informed about conditions under which the security scanner control takes place.
  • Passengers are given the right to opt out from a control with scanners and be subject to an alternative method of screening.

Currently, the UK, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Italy have deployed scanners, and for some countries, if you are referred to a scanner, if you choose NOT to be scanned, you would not be allowed to pass.  The rules above change this aspect

Vice-President Siim Kallas, Commissioner responsible for transport, said:

“Security scanners are not a panacea but they do offer a real possibility to reinforce passenger security. Security scanners are a valuable alternative to existing screening methods and are very efficient in detecting both metallic and non-metallic objects. It is still for each Member State or airport to decide whether or not to deploy security scanners, but these new rules ensure that where this new technology is used it will be covered by EU wide standards on detection capability as well as strict safeguards to protect health and fundamental rights. Experience to date shows that passengers and staff generally see security scanners as a convenient method of screening.”

This is going to irk a lot of goverments who see these scanners as the universal soultion of security screening. In addition protocols are going to have to be changed and examined.

I’d also expect denials of anything wrong by the TSA and the TSA apologist brigade as well as governments.

Posted by Kevincm | 5 Comments

Well it didn’t take long to get the Nude-o-Scopes out into the open in the United Kingdom.

The Millimetre Wave Scanners which will solve all terrorist issues (actually they won’t) are now in operation at London Heathrow and Manchester Airport T2.  If one is selected by security staff, one must go through the scanner – or else one will not be allowed aboard.

It’s important to note that if selected, there is NO option of pat-down – you must go through the scanner or you won’t fly. 

Birmingham International is to follow it is own sweet time, with more machines to go live later this month at LHR and MAN (Including MAN T1 and T3).

Adults and Children can be selected for scanning with all the privacy issues that brings.

Of course to prevent abuse a code of practice has been published (and of course, we all know a code of practice stops everyone in their tracks).  This includes:

  • Passengers should be informed as early as possible that they may face a the Nude-o-Scope (before a ticket is purchased  in the best scenario)
  • The security officer looking at images is put  out of sight of passengers.
  • People chosen for scanning can ask for the images to be viewed by someone of the same sex.
  • Images will be deleted once scanning is completed.
  • Security officers must obtain appropriate security clearances before receiving training
  • Training for Nude-o-Scopes must be approved by the Department of Transport.

The code states: ”

Passengers must not be selected on the basis of personal characteristics (i.e. on a basis that may constitute discrimination such as gender, age, race or ethnic origin).”

In other words, completely random at a security officers whim of course.

Scanners must be operated in accordance with detailed protocols which are not published because, they contain security sensitive information which includes selection criteria on those chosen for scanning.

However, the code of practice has been published for all to see at: with the announcement by Lord Adonis (someone has possible bed trouble with a name like that) at

My opinion? I have tickets for sale for “Security Theatre”. Playing now at Heathrow, Manchester and soon to be Birmingham…

In addition, the flippant term of Nude-o-Scope is to be applied in any post forward regarding Millimetre Wave Scanners in an effort to educate the public about this wonderful invasion of privacy that quite frankly doesn’t work.

Hattip: The Register

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Well the UK has decided paranoia must rule again, and the Home Secretary – Alan Johnson has said  the UK terror threat level is being raised from “substantial” to “severe”,

Whilst no specific threat has been given in relation to the threat increase,

The decision to raise the threat level was made by the UK’s Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC).
Mr Johnson says

“We still face a real and serious threat to the UK from international terrorism, so I would urge the public to remain vigilant and carry on reporting suspicious events to the appropriate authorities and to support the police and security services in their continuing efforts to discover, track and disrupt terrorist activity.”

So the sky isn’t falling yet – but it could do soon!

The rise is in response to the perceived increased threat from international terrorism following the NW253 Incident on Christmas day.

Again – Mr Johnson stressed there was no intelligence to suggest a terrorist attack was imminent.

In other words, the free pass for extended security at airports and transport hubs has now been given a free ride.

Kevin’s hint: Allow extra time for travel.

Posted by Kevincm | Comments are off for this article

Well it sees the USA isn’t the only country that can do kneejerk reactions.  The UK Has commenced a review of airport security, with the upshot of it being Millimetre Wave Scanners (MMW) being implemented in UK airports for deployment by end of January.

How do they work?

According to Wiki…

Clothing and other organic materials are translucent in some extremely high frequency (millimeter wave) radio frequency bands.[2] This frequency range is just below the (related) sub-millimeter “Terahertz radiation” (or “T-ray”) range.

The millimeter wave is transmitted from two antennas simultaneously as they rotate around the body. The wave energy reflected back from the body or other objects on the body is used to construct a three-dimensional image, which is displayed on a remote monitor for analysis.

Obviously, there are privacy concerns, including the threat of abuse of images (although the promise of instant deletion of images quite frankly doesn’t wash with me), but it still boils down to one person behind a screen examining the images.

Herein is the problem. If a person is having an off day, and misses something – oops.

The big question is this however – Is this all just security theatre? By that I mean is it there to reassure the public that something is being done, or is it just a “Show of force” with nothing more behind it. It should be pointed out that no disclosed threat has been identified by security means.

Even the Home Secretary has confirmed this in his speech:

“It is clear that no one measure will be enough to defeat inventive and determined terrorists and there is no single technology which we can guarantee will be 100% effective against such attacks,”

- Alan Johnson, Home Secretary

In addition, Alan Johnson said there was only a 50 to 60% chance that a body scanner would have detected bomb materials allegedly carried on NW253.

Only combined with the possibiltiy of passenger profiling (which itself could open a whole kettle of fish), could this stand a chance in hell of working.

I think I know the answer to the security theatre question, and I’m sure you can guess what I think it is too…

Posted by Kevincm | Comments are off for this article

In very good news (and news I missed by my own admission) both Chris Elliot and Steven Frischling  have had their subpoenas for information regarding the now infamous SD-1544-09-06 TSA Directive withdrawn by the TSA.

In addition, the TSA will replace Fish’s MacBook that was damaged by the investigation.

The TSA describes their investigations nearing completion satisfactory. I call it a cockup of epic proportions – least of all thanks to Runway Girl finding out that a notebook that an agent was using was left in a public place.

My congratulations to Elliot and Fish. And since I read their blogs now, you’ll find them on the left hand bar to visit from here.

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Well with the massive changes happening, it seems that now this could hurt operators, with shares in Delta and AMR (American) dropping by about 4%, UAL (United) down 3.4% and US Airways down 6.7%, with fears that this incident will depress air travel further than it is at the moment, and that the extra costs of implementing security changes will affect the back pocket – let alone the experience in the ground or the air.

Meanwhile there seems to be some libraliation of the knee jerk reaction, with the following in the TSA Directives:

  • Extended security wait times, allow at least two hours for security at the gate.
  • A physical pat down by security at the gate prior to boarding all flights to the United States
  • A complete physical inspection of all bags being carried on flights to the United States
  • Flight crew may make no announcements or reference to position or landmarks while flying over US airspace

Maddening things like:

  • IFE shutdown T -1 hour before landing
  • Access to carry on items T -1 Hour
  • Blankets

have been recinded, pending further decisions by the TSA, however

  • Satellite Phones
  • Moving Maps

Are still awaiting clarification.

TSA Directive SD-1544-09-06 has been posted at which is the initial response.

President Obama has requested a full review of airline security. In other words, Napoli and the DHS/TSA will have to get their ass out of gear and work for once.

The message for travellers alas is clear as crystal. Arrive early, Expect delays and expect everyone to be twitchy.

More advice and commentary:

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It seems the airlines are taking deep action after the NW253 incident.

Companies have updated their travel advice to include:

  • Only one item of hand luggage, including items bought airside (British Airways and Virgin will not charge extra) 
  • If your presents are wrapped, check them in
  • Passengers subject to “pat-down” searches before boarding, on top of usual security checks
  • Customers to remain seated during final hour of flight
  • No access to hand luggage and a ban on leaving possessions or blankets on laps during this hour

Anyone can spell the words “knee jerk reaction?”

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British Airways

BA has imposed an immediate bag restriction on it’s US flights, restricting one bag per person only from Heathrow or Gatwick. Expect security checkpoints to have increased as well as well as other airlines following suite .

BAA is reporting  (Heathrow Airport)

“Travelling to the USA?  Passengers travelling to the United States should expect their airline to carry out additional security checks prior to boarding. To support this process, which will take time, please allow extra time to check in and limit the amount of hand baggage taken on to the plane.”

Air Canada has modified its restrictions too

“Air Canada advises passengers travelling to the U.S. that due to enhanced government security measures air travellers should arrive early at airports to allow extra time to clear security screening. Passengers should also expect flight delays, cancellations and missed connections, and limit themselves to a single piece of carry-on baggage.

Air Canada recommends passengers travelling to the U.S. to arrive early at the airport for their flight in order to allow adequate time for additional personal searches. Under new rules enacted by Transport Canada and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, passengers and their carry-on baggage will be subject to full searches both at airport screening points and prior to boarding at the aircraft gate area.

As a result of the added security precautions, passengers should also expect delayed and cancelled flights as well as missed connections. Air Canada will endeavour to transport passengers to their destination as quickly as possible and rebook passengers who miss their connections at no charge.

While these measures directly affect only flights from Canada to the United States, domestic and international flights may also experience delays due to airport congestion and delayed aircraft. For information on a flight’s status please consult

 In addition, new rules imposed by Transport Canada will limit the amount of carry-on baggage to one item per person travelling on flights from Canada to the United States.”

Expect more changes as the story develops

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