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An all things aviation blog

Tag Archives: TSA

Ok, well maybe not a bad deal, but there are better deals out.

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Last year I wrote about how a person could conceivably take their boarding pass and edit it in such a way as to permit the passenger to use the PreCheck TSA line. The TSA has been telling us for years that all of the added security at U.S. airports is necessary. With the PreCheck system it suddenly became ok for frequent travelers and other people who submitted their information to the government to go through less stringent security. Through the use of online barcode readers, barcode makers, and something like MS Paint, it became possible for any determined person to edit themselves a new boarding pass that would allow them to go through the less stringent PreCheck security lane. As I pointed out this is an obvious security flaw. I suggested encoding the data on the boarding pass, but the powers that be had another idea in mind.

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I just finished watching season two, episode three of Airport 24/7 MIA. Tonight’s episode featured a bomb threat in the rental car facility, an overbooked Lufthansa flight, and customs search.

Read more after the break for a breakdown and spoilers.

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The TSA Pre-Check program that features reduced security for passengers deemed low risk has been rolled out to international flights leaving the US. Previously, a person eligible for pre-check that was on an international flight was unable to use the pre-check security.


John Pistole announced today that the TSA is the gold standard of aviation security.


First go huh?

Mr. Pistole attributed this to the lack of domestic terror acts initiated from United States airports. While that number is zero, it is see to that Mr. Pistole has been drinking the kool-aid and not in a good.

First, there Israeli security at Ben Gurion International Airport, which is widely thought of as the best aviation security in the world.

Next, there are the TSA success of searching grandmas and young children. While recently these problems have abated they are well known.

Then, there are the ways around the TSA well publicized layers including ways to avoid detection on the millimeter wave scanner as well as hacking boarding pass and getting around the no-list.

Also, there was the famous list of TSA suspect countries published through a poorly redacted sensitive information document.

Finally, there is the general lack of professionalism of the line TSA members, including lack of knowledge of appropriate identification, stealing, and retaliatory actions. (see my post about Mr. Tobey’s protest of intensive body searches)


Mr. Pistole, your agency has to be the gold in order for you to call it the gold standard. Until then it is just like the USA Today article says, a butt of late-night TV jokes.


Happy Travels



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Meet Aaron Tobey in protest of the TSA deploying advanced imaging scanners and intrusive pat downs when going through airport security stripped down to running shorts (rather tight fitting ones based on the picture) and requested a hand search. In addition Mr. Tobey had written an abbreviated version of the 4th amendment to the US Constitution on his chest. This amendment prohibits search and seizure without warrant.

In response the TSA quickly phoned local police who detained Mr. Tobey and charged him with disorderly conduct and released him. Later the District Attorney dropped those charges. Mr. Tobey proceeded to file a civil suit against the TSA, and local police for deprivations of civil rights under 42 USC 1983. 42 USC 1983 makes any agent of the government liable for deprivation of civil rights when acting outside of the agent’s authority.

The government moved to dismiss all claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The government argued that even if everything Mr. Tobey said is true, he still can not claim relief under 42 USC 1983, because the agents were in there authority. The court dismissed all claims save one that the TSA and police violated Mr. Tobey’s first amendment right to free speech.

The government appealed and this week in a 2-1 decisions lost in circuit court of appeals. The opinion can be found here

What does this mean. Well it means if the government does not appeal the decisions to the 4th circuit en banc, the lawsuit will proceed. It does not mean Mr. Tobey has won anything other than he has claim against the government.

What does this mean for you? Well unless you want to get into it with the TSA nothing. If your desire is to start problems with the TSA it means a great deal. The opinion notes two things the peaceful and non-violent nature of the protest and that it was not “disruptive” to TSA operations. The TSA has a broad definition of disruptive, so far from what I have found that they consider arguing with the TSA or berating them while they are doing their job to be disruptive. Go figure you can not be insulting to them.

So according to this ruling, peaceful, non-violent, non-disruptive protests could be protected under the first amendment. While I am no fan of the TSA or their somewhat questionable regulations, I have found that is just easier to ignore them and get on with my travel experience.

Happy travels.


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U.S. Senator Nelson from Nebraska introduced a bill today to end the practice of airlines providing elite security lines. These lines which require the user: to maintain some sort of elite level; have the correct credit-card; or purchase the service from the airline allow the passenger expedited access to the TSA checkpoint. The users clear the same security as everyone else it just takes less time to do so.

Why is this a big deal? Well there was a companion article in Slate that calls these lines racist and un-American. Whether or not they are racist is up for you all to decide. What they are to the airlines is another opportunity to make money of the flying public. It is for this reason that they are not going away. I don’t think Sen. Nelson expects this bill to go anywhere as well.

Every day bills are introduced in congress. They are assigned to a committee who is supposed to hold hearings on them and then either reject the bill or pass it back into the house or senate for a full vote. The majority of bills introduced never even get a hearing, they “die in committee.” My guess is we will never hear from this bill again as it too will die in committee. You can read both articles below.,0,1359084.story

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The original article does a much better job explaining this.

The TSA has acted in a way no designed to protect commercial aviation security but to line its own pockets with an ever increasing share of the federal budget.

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The TSA, defenders of the homeland, had reps testifying on Capital Hill this morning.  Without surprise, the TSA were brought to task over screeners that were both rude and ineffective. USA Today has the story here.

This comes at a time when President Obama has proposed increasing the security fee all air passengers pay. Right now the current fee is $2.50/segment. That means if you have a non-stop return you are paying $5.00 and if you connect $10.00 on every ticker. President Obama has proposed increasing this fee. The airlines are against it because they say it will drive passengers away.

I say increasing the already bloated budget for an agency that is more concerned with taking away water and harassing children is a horrible idea. Put it to you this way there were the exact same number of terrorist acts from U.S. airports in the 11 years preceding 9/11 as there were in the 11 years after.


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