Anyone who’s flown has been there — that moment when you’re passing through the TSA security checkpoint, and have to take off your shoes, empty your pockets, take off your belt and place your laptop in a bin. And you can double the fun if you have little kids in tow. Now TSA’s PreCheck program aims to make travel easier for those flying the increasingly complicated skies. But just in case you think PreCheck is a one-size-fits-all panacea, not so fast.
You can’t just sign up for PreCheck. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple … yet. TSA plans to — eventually — allow all travelers to apply directly to the PreCheck program, but it’s not clear when they’ll open up the application process. For now, travelers can enroll in the program in one of 2 ways: be selected to apply for the program based on your frequent-flyer status with an airline, or, enroll in one of several US Customs and Border Protection trusted traveler programs.
For Airline Frequent Flyers
Elite members of airlines’ frequent traveler programs — United, American, etc – if selected, can apply for PreCheck. If not selected, frequent flyers can still participate by joining a CBP Trusted Traveler program. Note that you must submit your biometric fingerprint for registration with the FBI, as well as undergo a criminal background check and pay an $85 fee to the TSA for a 5-year PreCheck membership. This program is slated to bring a total of $225 million to the TSA in 2013, and beyond that, over the next year, a reduction in passenger screening – the TSA’s goal is to see 25% of passengers see lighter scrutiny.
Tonight at 9|8 c, catch an all-new episode of Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover. With only 32 hours before his flight out, Tony takes the Eternal City by storm. Watch as he embarks on a high-speed tour of the city’s sights in a classic Fiat 500, gets a lesson in Italian breakfast etiquette and challenges a Roman chef to make a Hawaiian pizza that Tony actually enjoys. Also, learn all about Rome from the people who know it best: the locals.
Don’t worry about making note of all the pizzerias, salumerias and gelaterias that Tony visits and recommends in the show. If you want to replicate his trip, just take a look at our Episode & Travel Guide and read through our selection of Tony’s travel tips from the episode.
For an extra dose of Tony after the show, check out this missing scene in which he rants about airport security inefficiency.
A disturbing photo was posted on Twitter of a baby getting a pat-down from a security officer at Kansas City International Airport. It’s the latest in a growing number of publicized incidents involving airport security agents who have screened children under 12.
In the most recent incident, the baby stroller set off a security alarm, which requires that Transportation Security agents pat-down all family members. According to a TSA statement, their security officers “followed proper current screening procedures by screening the family, who were very cooperative and were on the way to their gate in no time.”
The Twitter pic, showing the baby pat-down, was taken by Kansas City pastor Jacob Jester, who said it was an “extreme measure.” In an MSNBC.com article, the pastor said, “I wasn’t trying to embarrass the TSA, but believe there has to be a line drawn. I do not believe that an 8-month-old constitutes a security threat.”
This recent baby pat-down comes on the heels of highly publicized complaints about airport security screenings, including a 8-year-old boy who received a pat-down at the Portland International Airport, and parents who were upset after their 6-year-old daughter was frisked in New Orleans.
A TSA agent’s pat-down of a child at the Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans has caused a major uproar. This video, posted on YouTube, shows a female TSA agent explaining the security procedure to the child’s mother Selena Drexel, and then subjecting 6-year-old Anna to an intense pat-down. Todd Drexel, Anna’s father, says Anna started to cry afterwards.
Marjorie Esman, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, questioned why the child wasn’t taken to a private area and whether the screening was necessary. A TSA spokesman says after reviewing the incident that the agent did follow proper procedures.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, thinks a modified pat-down for children 12 and under may be necessary after a string of similar incidents. There’s no word yet if there are efforts underway to change airport screenings for children.
The US Travel Association wants to make traveling easier for fliers. According to CNN.com, the group is calling for a trusted traveler program that would allow passengers who volunteer certain information about themselves to go through less rigorous security before their flight.
Under this proposed program, passengers would be considered low-risk based on information such as a background check, employment history, lack of a criminal record and other factors. Each participating passenger’s identity would be confirmed at the airport using biometric info, allowing them to pass through security at a quicker pace.
TSA Administrator John Pistole believes something needs to change. “The TSA screens more than 628 million airline passengers every year at US airports, and the vast majority present little to no risk of committing an act of terrorism,” he said earlier this month.
A TSA agent was arrested for helping a drug dealer get past security at Buffalo’s Niagara International airport on Tuesday. According to The Buffalo News, 43-year-old Minneta Walker was watched for months after federal agents became aware of her ties to local drug dealers.
The Buffalo TSA bust is the most recent example of a crackdown on airport crime over the past year. In February, 2 TSA workers at New York’s JFK airport were arrested for stealing nearly $40,000 from passengers. Just 2 days before, a Newark Liberty Airport supervisor was charged with stealing $30,000 over a 13-month period.
Worried about showing your skivvies and move to the TSA at the airport? Well, you’re in luck if you happen to be flying the friendly skies this month from Las Vegas, Atlanta or DC’s National Airport. The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is testing new software at these airports to increase your privacy when passing through the dreaded Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines. Instead of showing a detailed image of each passenger, the new AIT software shows only a generic outline of a person with any potential threats flagged on the picture. This generic outline is the same for every traveler, and if you’re deemed clear by the auto-detection security software, the monitor simply shows an “OK.” It seems like a win-win situation—the same high level of security without publicizing your private parts!
Get the news directly from the TSA, and check out our tips for preventing an airport pat-down, unless, of course, you’re kind of into it.
There’s a new travel item that we thought you should know about. It’s underwear designed to hide your naughty bits during a full-body scan at the airport. That’s the good news if you don’t want TSA employees peeking at your nether regions. The bad news is that you could still get a pat-down (or grope-n-go, as I like to call it) to ensure that you’re not concealing a weapon, according to a post on the Transportation Security Administration’s blog.
In case you didn’t know, the underwear has been imprinted with a special ink that creates an opaque blur to help keep your private
parts private. The new undies, T-shirts and boxer briefs each cost about $15 — and that’s a pretty expensive pat-down in my book.
With or without the new undies, you’ll need to acclimate yourself with the most recent changes in airport security. So check out our slideshow of airport pat-downs and full-body scans.