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Tag: Airports

Airports Brace for Safety Issues As TSA Employees React to Government Shutdown

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A government shutdown over border safety could soon cause serious security problems at airports, where more than 51,000 TSA employees began working without pay Friday.

The TSA reported a 55% increase in employees calling in sick Thursday, and some airport screeners have already quit, the agency’s spokesman Michael Bilello told Bloomberg.

The TSA is responding to staff shortages by planning to close some security checkpoints at airports nationwide beginning this weekend.

Airport authorities are expressing fear that the shutdown could soon worsen security screening.

“We’re very concerned that the current situation with government employees going without pay is unsustainable in the long term,” Christopher Bidwell, a senior vice president at the Airports Council International-North America in Washington, told Bloomberg. “We certainly have to be mindful of the potential for cascading operational impacts.”

Airports also are bracing for flight delays.

The group that represents more than 10,000 air-traffic controllers, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, filed a lawsuit Friday, alleging it’s against the law to force employees to work without pay.

Trump’s Shutdown Endangers Airport Safety As Unpaid TSA Screeners Call in Sick, Quit

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump said the government shutdown could last months or even years because border protection is so important.

But what about airline safety?

In the first weeks of the shutdown, protection at U.S. airport has been compromised because TSA screeners are calling in sick – and some are quitting – because they can’t afford to work without a paycheck.

The agency’s 51,739 screeners are required to work during the shutdown because their services – screening bags and passengers for weapons – are considered essential.

But with no assurances of getting paid until the shutdown is over, a growing number of screeners have called in sick.

Airports are increasingly concerned about airport safety and disruptions.

“We’re concerned that a prolonged government shutdown could potentially impact security and wait times at airports,” Christopher Bidwell, a senior vice president for security at the Airports Council International-North America in Washington, told Time.

During previous government shutdowns, Congress made sure that federal employees who are forced to work are paid. That has happened yet.

Under normal circumstances, screeners would get paid this Friday. If they don’t, airports are bracing for long wait times, disturbances and potential threats to airlines and passengers.

TSA Begins Using More Floppy-Ear Dogs for Airport Screenings to Avoid Scaring Children

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Pointy-ear dogs are sometimes scaring airline passengers, especially children, so the TSA is looking for more floppy-ear canines to engage with people in airports.

Turns out, dogs with droopy ears are less frightening to children, an internal TSA review found, The Washington Examiner reports.

“We find the passenger acceptance of floppy ear dogs is just better. It presents just a little bit less of a concern,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “Doesn’t scare children.”

The TSA uses about 1,200 dogs to screen passengers and luggage. About 80% have droopy ears, while the rest have cone-snapped ears, such as the German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois..

The floppy-ear dogs tend to be  Labrador Retrievers, German Short-haired Pointers, Wirehaired Pointers, Vizslas, and Golden Retrievers.

2018 on Pace for Record-Breaking Gun Confiscations at U.S. Airports

Guns seized at US airports, via TSA

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The TSA is expected to turn in another record-breaking year for the number of guns seized at airports.

While the final tally has not been made, records show 2018 is well on its way to surpassing the 3,957 guns confiscated the year before.

The number of guns seized at airports has increased every year since at least 2005, when 660 firearms were confiscated.

In just one week in early December, the TSA reported 78 guns were confiscated, ranging from .40-caliber Glocks to 9mm semi-automatics. Of the 78 guns, 63 were loaded.

The airports with the most guns confiscated last year were Atlanta with 245 and Dallas-Fort Worth with 211.

The theories for why more guns are being confiscated ranges from a more diligent security to flyers taking bigger risks out of fear of terrorism.

Significant Cuts to TSA Would Reduce Security at Time of Heightened Concerns about Terrorism

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s administration says it wants to make Americans safer from terrorism, but the TSA is cutting about $300 million from its budget in 2020, according to internal documents obtained by CNN.

To save the money, the TSA would eliminate screenings at more than 150 small- to medium-sized airports, reduce the number of full-time air marshals, cut the workforce at TSA headquarters and eliminate 50% in reimbursements to state and local law enforcement agencies for use of their K-9 units.

The TSA did not comment for the story.

Congress would still need to approve the cuts, and some congressional members have already spoken out about the reductions.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, of New Jersey and the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said the proposed reductions “could put at risk the safety of passengers and the security of our transportation systems.” 

“The intelligence is very clear that the threat to our transportation systems remains real, so I am baffled by this administration’s endless efforts to cut funding in this area,” Watson Coleman said in a statement.

Loaded Guns, Inert Grenades, Throw Star Among Top Confiscated Items at Airports in 2017

Sculpture made with an inert grenade, via TSA

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Festively wrapped narcotics, loaded guns, inert grenades and “Satan’s” pizza cutter are among the top 10 items confiscated at U.S. airport in 2017.

In a YouTube video, the TSA’s “Blogger Bob” Burns lists the most unusual forbidden items confiscated at airports.

Other eye-popping confiscated items include a menacing-looking “face-tenderizer,” a sculpture with inert grades, a pointed fidget spinner, a throwing star, a scythe, a bone knife and an umbrella that resembled a knife.

“Some people travel with weird stuff because they are collectors: it’s an heirloom, they have ADHD [attention deficit hyperactive disorder] and it’s their fidget, or they want to use the item as a training aid in a seminar,” Jeff Price, an aviation security expert and professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, told CNBC

Still, “a lot of people who don’t travel frequently just don’t understand that some of these items can be used as weapons,” he said.

Another Record Year for Number of Firearms Confiscated at U.S. Airports

Guns seized by the TSA.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

More firearms were confiscated at U.S. airports than any previous year, exceeding a record set last year.

Security officers discovered 3,888 firearms as of Christmas eve and may reach 4,000 by the end of the year, the Los Angeles Times reports

That’s compared to the previous record of 3,391 in 2016.

The number of confiscated firearms has risen every year since at least 2011, when about 1,200 guns were found.

The airports with the most firearms seized are Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.

A majority of the seized guns were found on carry-on bags, while others were found in potted plants and stuffed animals.

Travelers caught trying to bring a gun onto a plane face a civil fine ranging from $330 to $13,000 and could be turned over to local police in the event that gun laws are violated.

Gun laws vary by state.

Appeals Court Dismisses Case Against Ill-Tempered TSA Supervisor

tsaBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

TSA screeners at airport security checkpoints have such an important job that they cannot always be sued for failing to behave properly, a federal appeals court in Philadelphia ruled Tuesday.

The court tossed a First Amendment claim by a passenger who said he was arrested merely for asking to lodge a complaint against an ill-tempered TSA supervisor, Reuters reports

“We, of course, do not suggest that TSA screeners should act with disdain for passenger rights or that they can escape all the consequences of their bad behavior,” Circuit Judge Kent Jordan wrote for a three-judge panel.

“Ultimately, the role of the TSA in securing public safety is so significant that we ought not create a damages remedy in this context,” Jordan added. “The dangers associated with aircraft security are real and of high consequence.”

Reuters wrote:

Airport security screening can be stressful. The decision was issued four weeks after the TSA announced tighter screening of electronic carry-on items, because of concern they could be used to conceal explosives.

Vanderklok said he was flying on Jan. 26, 2013 to Miami from Philadelphia International Airport to run a half-marathon when TSA personnel subjected his carry-on bag to extra screening, after x-rays showed a heart-monitoring watch stored in PVC pipe.

The TSA supervisor, Charles Kieser, said he summoned police after Vanderklok made a bomb threat.

Vanderklok denied doing so, and said Kieser retaliated for his having requested a complaint form to report the supervisor’s “rude” and “aggressive” behavior.

Prosecutors charged Vanderklok, a father of three then in his mid-50s, with threatening to place a bomb and making terroristic threats. He was acquitted after Kieser’s testimony did not match airport surveillance video.

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