“Meltdowns” the TSA forgot to mention

John Mica is sounding the alarm bells about “another TSA meltdown.” In a vaguely worded press release issued late Friday, the Florida congressman, who chairs the committee that oversees the airport screeners, warned of a “dramatic meltdown of TSA operations” at an unnamed Florida airport.

Pilot who posted security flaw video online is punished by the TSA

An airline pilot who posted a series of videos online that exposed shortcomings in airport security has been punished by the Transportation Security Administration, which included a visit to his home by federal agents and sheriff’s deputies.

Sound familiar? It does to me.

The videos, which have since been deleted, show that thousands of airport employees are allowed to skip security every day at San Francisco International Airport. Here’s the full report from the San Francisco ABC affiliate and the station that broke the story, News 10 in Sacramento.

The pilot, whose name was not given, had his gun confiscated and a deputy sheriff asked him to surrender his state-issued permit to carry a concealed weapon. The pilot’s status as a Federal Flight Deck Officer, a volunteer position, is being reviewed, he was told.

TSA agents return confiscated baby food after mom pulls out iPad

Betcha Steve Jobs never thought his iPad would help retrieve baby food from a TSA checkpoint. But these are strange times.

So here’s what happened to Jill Iseri when she flew out of Eugene, Ore., with her husband and baby last weekend. (You remember last weekend, don’t you?)

A TSA agent confiscated my 6 oz. jar of store-bought baby food which was unopened. They insisted on opening it to test for explosives.

I said they can’t do that, because it will cause it to spoil within the hour and my baby needed to eat it 2 1/2 hours later, while in the air.

I was told I could check it in luggage, but obviously that wouldn’t help.

I also had a 4 oz. jar of fruit that they didn’t test, saying “We let those slide.” They did test my baby’s sippy cup water.

All my pleading fell on deaf ears, I was told next time I could bring four jars, that way when they open two of them, I’d still have two jars to keep.

Poll: Air travelers “more confused than ever” about TSA rules

With the busy Thanksgiving travel season just a few days away, a majority of air travelers say the Transportation Security Administration’s new security rules are unclear, according to a poll conducted in cooperation with the Consumer Travel Alliance.

A weekend survey of 547 air travelers found 56 percent of respondents were “more confused than ever” about the TSA rules, which include new name-matching requirements, a ban on printer cartridges and enhanced pat-down procedures for passengers who refuse full-body scans.

Just over 40 percent of the respondents said they felt “about the same” as before, when it comes to the TSA requirements. Only 3 percent said the rules were clear, and that they were less confused than before.

The results come at time when the issue of full-body scans has snowballed into a national issue. The TSA is aggressively pushing back against travelers who opt out of the scans and pat-downs, escorting them from the airport and, in extreme cases, threatening them with fines for allegedly refusing to cooperate.

Thank you, TSA, for saving us from those dangerous snow globes, gel inserts and printer cartridges

True to form, the TSA has overreacted yet again to a minor security threat by banning printer cartridges. Printer cartridges!

But we knew that would happen, didn’t we? At least they aren’t forcing us through those strip-search machines — yet.

The government also banned cargo aircraft from Somalia and Yemen — which would have been a prudent move, if there were any cargo aircraft from Somalia and Yemen.

Have you taken a look at the list of banned items lately? It sure is getting long.

TSA: Enhanced pat-downs coming nationwide Oct. 31?

When it comes to the Transportation Security Administration’s new security measures, it’s hard to know who to believe anymore.

Take enhanced pat-downs. A few months ago, I asked the TSA if it was was giving people who refused the full-body scans a more thorough once-over. It denied it.

Then it un-denied it, admitting that it had been testing a more aggressive pat-down technique.

So when I asked TSA about what reader Andrew Burmeister heard when he was flying last week, I had to read between the lines. Here’s what he told me:

Saying “no” to TSA’s full body scan may come at a price

Having second thoughts about those new full-body scanners being used at airports by the Transportation Security Administration? The federal agency charged with protecting the nation’s transportation systems may want to take a second look — at you.

It apparently did when Karen Cummings refused to submit to a scan, which uses high-frequency radio waves to see through your clothes. Cummings, who works for a software company in Boston, described what subsequently happened to her at Logan Airport as “unnecessary” and “unpleasant.”

“The pat-down was completely thorough, as though I was a common criminal or a drug pusher,” she said. “The only place I was not touched was in my crotch — and isn’t that the one place they should be checking, after the underwear bomber?”

Internal TSA memo warns Good Samaritans: “We cannot allow a distraction”

If you’re unlucky enough to have a medical emergency on a plane, your flight attendants are trained to help. Same thing goes for other public places, like restaurants and schools. But an internal memo circulated to employees at one airport suggests the TSA would rather you take your heart attack elsewhere.

While most of the document is reasonable, part of it raises serious questions about the TSA’s mission and its place in an overall airport operation.

With air security, travelers are flying blind

IMG_9923The Transportation Security Administration likes to keep terrorists guessing. Apparently, it likes to keep travelers guessing, too.

And we do. Shoes on — or off? Laptop computer in the bag — or on the conveyor belt? And tickets: middle name, middle initial or just first and last? Oh, and are they going to pull you over at the gate for additional screening?

“We don’t want to be consistent,” TSA spokeswoman Lauren Gaches told me. “We want to be flexible. We don’t want a checklist mentality. If we are predictable, it could become easier for someone who wants to do us harm to figure out the system.”

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