Air Travel Security Restrictions And Rules
Air Travel Security Restrictions And Rules
Nico Melendez (TSA Regional Spokesperson) gives expert video advice on: Why do I have to set aside electronic equipment like my laptop and PDA?; What is the best way to travel with camera and film equipment?; What can I do if I feel a TSA employee has treated me inappropriately? and more...
What is the "3-1-1" rule?
3-1-1 is a campaign that we initiated in September 2006 to help passengers understand the allowances made for traveling with liquid. The 3-1-1 rule allows three ounce containers of liquid, one zip top baggie, one quart size source. Three ounces, one quart, one baggie. You can have as many three ounce containers in that baggie as you can fit comfortably. However, 3-1-1 allows one baggie per person, and it must be one quart size.
What are the current restrictions for carry-on luggage, including liquids?
Nico Melendez: Well many of the restrictions that we have in place today have been consistent since we took over aviation screening or passenger screening in 22. The list of prohibited items is very extensive and really open to interpretation by our workforce because we can't necessarily have every item that is not allowed on our website. So knives, scissors, guns. threat items are not allowed. In 26, we changed a little bit with the liquid ban. Now passengers can bring liquids on the planes but it is a very minimal amount of liquids. If a passenger wants to bring a liquid it has to be in a three-ounce container and the three-ounce containers have to be in a one quart size ziplock baggie. So it minimizes the amount of liquids each passenger can bring onto a plane.
What are the exceptions to the ban on liquids for carry-on luggage?
The exception that we've put in place with regard to the liquid ban on air travel is that breastfeeding mothers can bring pumped breast milk. However, if the child is not traveling with the mother, it has to fall into the 3-1-1 category: three ounces of fluid in one container, in a zip-top baggie. If the mother is traveling with the child, the mother can bring formula or pumped breast milk to accommodate that child for the entire flight. The other exception that we've made to the 3-1-1 rule is for prescriptions. If passengers need to bring more than three ounces of cough syrup, they need to bring the prescription in the actual container and declare it to our security officers at the airport.
Can we expect additional changes to luggage restrictions?
The security policies that we have in place are adaptable and changeable. At any time we can change or put unpredicatable measures in place, because the "bad guys" are always coming after us and we want to make sure that we address the current threats. Tomorrow morning when you wake up the luggage restrictions could be different or the restrictions could be consistent with what's happening today.
Why do I have to set aside electronic equipment like my laptop and PDA?
First thing, with cell phones and PDAs, a lot of people wear them on their belt. If you don't take it off and make it available for x-ray when you go through the magnetometer or the metal detector it's going to set off the metal detector, which is going to delay somebody further at the security checkpoint. As far as laptops, there are certain things that we are looking for, and we need a laptop to go through screening because if a passenger puts a laptop, say on top of a bag, sometimes we're not able to see through that laptop just because of the density of the laptop. So they make you put it in their own container and make it available for x-ray, we're able to see what we need to see without really inconveniencing anyone.
What is the best way to travel with camera and film equipment?
When you travel with camera equipment, the x-ray machines don't hurt film. If a passenger's concerned about what the x-ray machine is doing damage to their film, they can certainly take it out and make it available for physical inspection. Where you need to be careful is at the baggage screening, because the baggage screening technology could damage some films and some video tapes. So, we also ask passengers: if you're concerned about the damage that could be done to film or tapes, take it out and put it in your carry-ons.
What is the difference between the "no fly list" and the "selectee list"?
The TSA maintains two lists. The no-fly list, which is a list of passengers who will not fly, and a list called the selectee list, which is a list of names of passengers who are suspected of posing a threat to civil aviation. Those passengers on the selectee list could be subjected to additional screening at the security checkpoint. They will, though, receive a boarding pass. The extra screening that they get at the security checkpoint could include the secondary screening where we do the pat down and we do the hand wanding of the passenger, and we check their carry-on bag. Additionally, that passenger on the selectee list might need to provide documentation at the ticket check-in counter to insure that he is not or she is not the person that we're looking for.
What is C.A.P.P.S.?
The airlines have C.A.P.P.S.; what's called the computer assisted passenger pre-screening system, a system that's been in place for years. Each airline employs a different type of technology to do name matching, so when you fly on one airline, you might be a hit but when you fly on another airline, you might not be a hit. So, we're working aggressively to introduce a new system that will alleviate the problems, significantly reduce the inconvenience to passengers, and really cut down on the workload that our individuals or the airline individuals at the ticket counter have to do to substantiate the identity of these passengers. For instance, if John Smith, birth date January 15, 1969 is the person we're looking for, and this John Smith is birthday January 15, 1942, and we have both birth dates, then we are able to substantiate who they are and that this person is not the same as that person.
What is The Department of Homeland Security's "Travel Redress Inquiry Program"?
The TRIP program, or Travel Redress Inquiry Program, was essentially designed to help passengers have some mechanism to address any kind of concerns that they had with inconvenience at the airports. The Travel Redress Inquiry Program gives passengers an opportunity to come to the agency and say, "I've had this problem at the airport. Can you please help me?" Once they provide some information, we may be able to help them alleviate some of the inconvenience that they have experienced, like not being able to print out a boarding pass at home, and help them through the process at the airport.
What can I do if I feel a TSA employee has treated me inappropriately?
The TSA has worked very, very hard to address concerns of passengers regarding how they're treated. The TSA train our employees in customer service, and how to treat people with dignity and respect. When you have two million passengers traveling every day through 450 airports, with 43,00 employees, certainly there might be a hiccup in the system here or there. The TSA have a customer service number the passengers can call, not only to bring forward complaints, but to call and compliment our people. We think we have a lot of good people out there doing very good work every day, and they deserve to be praised as well.
Why do security policies and procedures differ from airport to airport?
We really try to keep security policies and procedures consistent from airport to airport. I will tell you that as of August 10th, all shoes come off in every airport. No matter what kind of shoe you're wearing, the shoes will come off. There was some inconsistency from airport to airport, really depending on which day you flew. We try to inject some unpredictability into the system. We don't want the bad guys to know everything we're doing, so I think passengers would agree to be inconsistent here and there would be appropriate, because if they know everything we're doing then they can certainly find out how to get around it.
What can I do if I become suspicious while in the airport or aboard a plane?
The TSA has implemented layers of security and one of the most important layers of security that we have implemented is relying on passengers to report suspicious behavior or something out of the ordinary. Now, that's not only at the airport, that's at your home, that's in your neighborhood, that's driving down the street. If you see something in the airport, the best thing to do is notify a law enforcement officer, or a police officer, or an airline employee, or a uniformed TSA employee. Typically, someone that has a badge on, works for the airport or works at the airport. That would be the best thing to do initially should you become suspicious while at the airport.
How does the Homeland Security Advisory System relate to air travel?
The coloured alert system was put in place by the Department of Homeland Security to give ourselves, other agencies, and the public a better idea of where we see ourselves in terms of threat at any given time. Currently we are at orange in our nation's airports, which means we have introduced and implemented other pieces of security that passengers traditionally don't see, but we do, for example, have random screening of vehicles at the entrance to the airports. We have an increased presence of K-9 teams. We have other non-obvious security tools in place at the airport. Basically what it means is that we have more security in place or enhanced security in the airports.
How effective has the Air Marshal program been to deter terrorism on flights?
It's really hard to grade how effective any element of security has been, be it explosive detection screening of bags or federal air marshals. The fact is, we haven't had a terrorist attack on the aviation transportation sector since September 11, 2001. Since September 11, 2001 the TSA has significantly increased the number of federal air marshals in our ranks. So we do see air marshalls as a very effective tool in the aviation security blanket.
What types of security measures take place at general aviation airports?
The security measures imposed at general aviation airports are significantly different to the security measures at commercial airports. First, you need to realize there are about 19 general aviation airports in this country and that can be anything from a very common general aviation airport with charter flights to a dirt strip in the middle of the country for crop dusting. They're all considered general aviation airports. It's a very close-knit community, so we, the TSA, work with the aircraft owners and operators associations to provide them with intelligence, guidance and assistance in what can be done regarding security measures and what should be done at those airports, but we don't technically have a physical screening element at those airports.
Are cockpits safer since 9/11?
Since September 11th, 2001, the TSA has implented hardened cockpit doors, and we have aggressively trained volunteer pilots to carry weapons in the cockpit. Just those two elements have significantly increased the security of the cockpit. So yes, we believe that the cockpits are a zillion times more secure than they were just six years ago.
What additional security measures are being put in place?
Everyday the TSA changes what we do in our nations airports because we have to remain unpredictable and address current threats and new information on a daily basis. Most recently what we've implemented is increased screening of airport employees at access doors or access gates along the parameter, so in some airports a large percentage of employees will be screened on any given day. In other airports it would be randomly at one door or one gate. But, that's only one tool in place at airports. You need to remember that we have, we've implemented what we consider to be our layers of security. It's a trained workforce that comprises forty three thousand employees. Its explosive detection on checked bags, its explosive detection at the security check point ,it's new technology at the checkpoint. We have increased law enforcement officer presence in our airports. We have crew members who have been trained in self defense. We have an increased number of federal air marshals, since September 11th we've hardened all the cock pit doors and we have trained flight officers, pilots how to carry weapons, in both cargo planes and passenger planes. So all of those tools, individually public, working together comprise what we consider to be aviation security. There's a lot of other things going on at the airport that we do on a daily basis that the passengers won't see and its very transparent to the traveling public. But, it's all the things that you do see, and alot of things that you dont see
What are some of the latest innovations in airport security?
The work of aviation security is a constant process to improve the technology that we have, because you need to remember that as we improve our technology, the bad guys are improving their technology. It's a constant game of staying one step ahead. We have explosive detection technology like trace portals or the puffer machines, and explosive document checkers. We recently introduced a backscanner technology in Phoenix, and later this year in 2007 we're going to go to a couple more airports and introduce something similar, which is more like an x-ray of a person. We constantly work with industry to develop new technologies; shoe scanners, iris scanners, and other tools that are going to make the process more effective, more efficient, and enhance security.