I think most of us here aren’t fans of the Transportation Security Administration (from my viewpoint, I’ve had some of my luggage luggage destroyed by them and repaired with TSA sealing tape more than once)

Now some of us deal with them with sarcasm, entertainment, anger, disgust, “meh” and other methods (for example stripping at a checkpoint), but Matthew over at Live and Lets Fly  (http://upgrd.com/matthew/a-thoughtful-conversation-with-the-tsa-in-honolulu.html) engaged a TSA member of staff… with a debate.

Makes for interesting reading, with the arguments used.


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Adding to the list that make the TSA go a bit giddy are Futuristic design awards it seems.

Juraj Hlaváč had won an Apple Designs Award at the recent Apple  World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco for the educational game called “Bobo Explores Light” developed by his company, Game Collage.

The award itself is a small silver cube that glows from within akin to the picture below.

Cute and Futuristic eh?

However, this was enough to make the TSA go slightly bananas when they saw this when Jurji begun the trip back to Seattle.

In his own words:

 The backpack went through the x-ray machine and (the award) showed up as containing a perfect, black square.

The guy watching the screen from the x-ray machine called for another guy, and another guy, and pretty soon there was small crowd scrutinizing the image.  The backpack came out, I sheepishly admitted to being the owner, and I was taken aside.  When the TSA folks pulled the cube from my bag, it glowed.

Whispers passed over the crowd

That’s what you not call “a good start” in my book.

Jurji was taken aside by the TSA staff who after some explanation, rescanned the award on its own, with the cube glowing as it went in the X-ray machine, and glowing as it came out, drawing in a crowd in the process.

Well, those of you with PowerBooks/iBooks/Macbooks/Air’s/Pros will know what your scree does when its on – the Apple logo glows – and the award was cleared as safe to travel.

Eventally Jurji was allowed to pack his glowing cube up and go and catch his flight.

So remember, don’t take any glowing cubes through a TSA security point as it tends to spook them.

At least I’m not writing about the TSA’s “few bad apples”. Others are making the point pretty well for me…

Sometime, it’s enough to make you want to stay at away and take a (home) advantage of the situation

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(….to quote the old Bran Van 3000 song)

Well it’s waiting for the next flight… certainly not drinking as the inbound leg was late.

I think the only reason why I changed terminal LAX just wanted my non-nude-o-scope visit from the TSA.

Shame they never bring you flowers or chocolates. I thought that what you were meant to do when someone tried to get to second base with you….

Greetings from the LAX Red Carpet Club!



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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.

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Once again, one apple spoils the entire TSA Crop – this time with a fake drugs incident at Philadelphia International.

A TSA agent decided to play a joke on a passenger on a Rebecca Solomon as she was travelling back to college

After pulling her laptop out, through the scanning machines, and walking through a detector, she went to collect her things and a TSA agent motioned her toward him, where a small, clear plastic bag from her carry-on. Inside the bag was fine, white powder – which is the sort of power that drugs could be in for example.

The TSA agent seems to be their usual caring self, saying

Answer truthfully, the TSA worker informed her, and everything will be OK.

Of course, this complete axehole of a TSA agent started to smile and said

Just kidding, he said

He waved the baggie. It was his.

I’m sorry. COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. Security Theater is a Joke as it is. Adding this little twerp into the mix with this action is UNACCEPTABLE.

Security was called and the incident reported

In the first instance, the TSA knew nothing. Shortly after the first inital statement was released.

“The TSA views this employee’s behavior to be highly inappropriate and unprofessional,” she wrote. “We can assure travelers this employee has been disciplined by TSA management at Philadelphia International Airport, and he has expressed remorse for his actions.”

Remorse. REMORSE! That it? No other penalty of acting like a complete numbskull?

But wait – there’s more!

It seems the young lady’s father is a Litigator. Now there is a shame. And in later a later comment the idiot of a worker is no longer employed.

This is why people don’t trust the TSA. Idiots like this who take their powers, exercise them to beyond the limit and then giggle about it afterwards.


The TSA have responded in it’s Blog, showing minimal remorse (which about right for the TSA Blog)

Rebecca Solomon also has published her comments too http://michigandaily.com/print/52118

Source: The Philadelphia Enquirer .

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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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It seems with bomb threats that the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security has something better to do – harass Bloggers and pump them for information.

Both Christoper Elliot and Steven Frischling have had visits from TSA and DHS  “Homeland Security Special Agents”, issuing subpoenas on disclosure of the actual source that these bloggers got their information from.

In the case of Christopher Elliot – the exact wording from his blog is:

“So if I’m reading this correctly, the TSA wants me to tell them who gave me the security directive.

I told Flaherty I’d call my attorney and get back to him.”

With Steven Frischling, the TSA seems to have gone one better, by threatneing to use a criminal search warrant if he did not reveal the name of his source, as well as threatening to get him fired from his job blogging for KLM – and indicated they could get him designated a security risk, which would make it difficult for him to travel and do his job.

In addition, the agents then said they wanted to take an image of his hard drive. Frischling said they had to go to WalMart to buy a hard drive, but when they returned were unable to get it to work. Frischling said the keyboard on his laptop was no longer working after they tried to copy his files. The agents left around 11 pm but came back Wednesday morning and, with Frischling’s consent, seized his laptop, which they promised to return after copying the hard drive, even though the mail was received from a Gmail address, and thus in the cloud. 

The TSA confirms it is investigating how this security directive was leaked.

Quote  “The Office of Inspection is investigating how the security directive was published by parties who shouldn’t have been privy to the document”

This smacks of heavy handedness of the TSA, and a reaction to the wrong problem – rather than dealing with the leaks internally (of a document that has gone worldwide), it has gone after bloggers who received it in good faith and published it when there was nothing but confusion over what directive was in force at that juncture by what airline.

Coverage on this is growing on web, and I can only urge you to read and support these bloggers who it seems the only thing they have done wrong is to post a document (which Air Canada did in the first play as well as WestJet and JetBlue)

I’ll be monitoring this over the next few weeks – suffice to say more directives will head our way, and hopefully the TSA might learn something about themselves in the meantime.

Or not.

Sources and References:
Wired: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/12/dhs-threatens-blogger/
Gadling: http://www.gadling.com/2009/12/29/government-harassing-blogger-for-source-of-tsa-directive-leak/
Airline Reporter: http://www.airlinereporter.com/?p=2677
Runway Girl: http://www.flightglobal.com/runway-girl/2009/12/paying-a-price-for-setting-the.html
Seattle PI: http://blog.seattlepi.com/aerospace/archives/189547.asp
Upgrade: Travel Better – http://www.upgradetravelbetter.com/2009/12/30/the-chilling-effect-tsa-tries-to-plug-a-leak-by-slapping-travel-bloggers-with-subpoenas/
One Mile at a time: http://boardingarea.com/onemileatatime/2009/12/29/blogger-gets-subpoena-for-posting-security-directive/

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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 www.aircanada.com.

 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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… Well someone has to do a good job… I mean to say what next – asking for manual scans of film may cause offence? ;)

Source: http://icanhascheezburger.com/2009/11/01/funny-pictures-unattended-at-any-time/

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From the highly entertaining and geek friendly xkcd.com – it’s view on the war on liquids, laptop batteries and a few other wonders that keep us travellers in constant pain…

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This was spotted today at LaGuardia airport in New York – by Matt Daimler, founder of the www.seatguru.com…


Snowglobes are now formally a WMD it seems now.

I’m honestly speechless. Once again, the TSA are proving they are living up to the axiomin that they are a bunch of…

Thanks to Upgrade: Travel Better.  I’m going off to vent some more. Next on my soapbox list is that wonder called “United Airlines… ”

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