Marilyn Hartman Now Sneaking Into Hotels Instead Of Airports…


Marilyn Hartman is quickly becoming a celebrity at airports beyond the west coast, it seems.

I first wrote about Marilyn Hartman last March, when she was arrested at SFO after trying to sneak through security several times without a ticket.

Then in August she successfully managed to sneak on a plane from San Jose to Los Angeles. Then she got arrested, escaped, and did the same thing again. And again.

We haven’t heard much about her lately, at least until now. This time she has changed up venues a bit, as she got arrested in Florida at a hotel.

Continue Reading »

I Was Emasculated At The Abu Dhabi Airport Security Checkpoint


Okay, so let me start by saying that I’m on #TeamScissors over #TeamClippers when it comes to nail care. Not usually a topic I discuss on the blog, but it’s important for context.

99% of countries don’t mind you taking cuticle scissors through a security checkpoint. The only countries I’ve been to that take issue with it are Australia and the UAE. The latter is bizarre, because they otherwise have some of the most lax security I’ve ever seen. Anyway, while passing through the UAE a few weeks back enroute to the Etihad A380 inaugural flight, my cuticle scissors were confiscated.

When they are confiscated or I lose them, I usually always buy the same scissors, which are available at just about every CVS in the world. Except I was in Hawaii until late last week staying at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, and was feeling especially lazy. Go figure the hotel gift shop sold only one variety of cuticle scissors:

Continue Reading »

Reciprocal Agreement Between US & German Trusted Traveler Programs


While the travel experience has become more and more unpleasant for the average traveler over the years, I can’t even begin to say how much more pleasant my security and immigration experience has become.

Obviously there’s TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry, but beyond that I have a German passport, so in the UK and many places in the EU I can just use the automated border control machines. I just slide in my passport and look at the camera, and I’m through in no time.

Well, it looks like the immigration experience is about to get better for those in the US and Germany, thanks to the announcement of a new reciprocal agreement between the Trusted Traveler programs of both countries.

Continue Reading »

Abu Dhabi US Pre-Clearance Facility To Be Discontinued!!!


I’ve written extensively and passionately about the US Pre-Clearance Facility in Abu Dhabi.

For those of you that haven’t seen my rants on the situation, see here:

— Abu Dhabi Airport United States Immigration Pre-Clearance Facility
— Dubai Airport US Pre-Clearance Facility Coming?
— Etihad’s Abu Dhabi Pre-Clearance Is Still A Disaster

Basically for select US-bound flights, Etihad offers a facility whereby you clear US customs and immigration prior to boarding your flight. This is a model that works quite well in some other countries, like Canada and Ireland, but works horribly in Abu Dhabi. It has literally been consistently delaying US bound flight by hours. Hours.

Continue Reading »

Could Electronics Soon Be Banned From Flights?


There have been quite a few news headlines lately about how al-Qaida is apparently planning five attacks on commercial airlines flying to Europe around Christmas.

I have several flights to/from Europe around the holidays, so when my mom heard the news today she instantly sprung into “scared” mode. My response whenever these kinds of threats are discovered is to say that I’m ultimately happier knowing about the threats which have been uncovered, as opposed to the countless number of threats we don’t know about. After all, what you don’t know about can’t hurt you… until it does.

Anyway, I’m not an intelligence expert so won’t chime in further there. Instead I’ll just share what’s apparently being considered as a possible preventive measure.

Continue Reading »

How Not To Get Secondary Screening At Immigration


Two second summary: answer all the immigration officer’s questions, even if he’s being an ass.

On Wednesday my dad and I flew from Sydney to Los Angeles in Qantas first class. My dad has a German passport, while I have both a German and US passport (though of course I use my US passport with Global Entry when entering the US).

As we deplaned I explained to my dad that he’d have to go through separate lines, and that I’d wait for him at the baggage claim belt.

As we entered the immigration hall I saw that there was virtually no queue, so figured he’d be out in no time. Our checked bags arrived (yes, at this point in our trip we were checking bags), though there was still no sign of my dad.

Continue Reading »

The Worst Case For Restricting TSA Pre-Check. Ever.


TSA Pre-Check is one of the greatest things to happen to the US flying experience in years. For those of you not familiar with TSA Pre-Check, it allows select passengers to go through an expedited security screening whereby they don’t have to take off their shoes or light jackets, and don’t have to remove liquids or electronics from their bags. You know, it’s basically the security screening process minus the theater. 😉

Originally TSA Pre-Check was only open to those in the Trusted Traveler program, which includes those with Global Entry, NEXUS, etc. However, over time they began allowing others in the Pre-Check line as well. I sort of get it from their perspective — ultimately they can’t be pouring a lot of resources into a small percentage of passengers, so by opening it up it was more justifiable.

That really bothered me, not from a safety standpoint, but rather from an experience standpoint. At first the benefit of Pre-Check was twofold:

Continue Reading »

TSA Screening Passenger AFTER Flight?!


While we all have our thoughts on the TSA, here’s something I haven’t seen before. There’s a video going around the internet of a 22 year old that flew from Minneapolis to Denver on Spirit Airlines, and upon landing was met by the TSA… because they wanted to do more screening on him. Check out the video:

Apparently he used to be on the “no fly” list, but was then downgraded to a list where he would just receive additional screening (with “SSSS” on his boarding pass). However, apparently the TSA failed to complete that screening in Minneapolis, and only realized that halfway through his flight.

So when he landed in Denver, the TSA boarded the plane to have him deplane before everyone else, and then they requested to do additional screening on him… even though he already flew and was done with his travels for the day!

Continue Reading »

I Was Asked To Power On Electronics At Security


In early July I posted about the new TSA policy which was implemented at overseas airports, whereby powerless electronic devices wouldn’t be permitted on planes.

Yesterday I experienced that — along with “targeted” secondary security — for the first time. It was no big deal at all, but I figured I’d share my experience, since it was a first.

I was flying from Frankfurt to New York on Singapore Airlines, and when I went to board the plane the machine that scans boarding passes beeped several times. The agent told me I needed to go to the ticket desk for a document check, though once there I was directed to the side of the gate, where two police offers told me to sit down.

Continue Reading »

Hilarious TSA Improvement Contest Entry!

Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 11.44.14 AM

As many of you probably know, the Transportation Security Administration is offering rewards totaling $15,000 for the best ideas that speed up the security screening process.

Via NBC News:

“The Transportation Security Administration is offering rewards totaling up to $15,000 for the person with the best idea for speeding up security.

The TSA will award one prize of at least $5,000 and others of at least $2,500 for the top ideas. Plus, the winner gets the satisfaction of knowing they’ve made the airline experience for those of the masses a little less of a headache. The TSA is looking for “a scientific and simulation modeling approach to meet queue design and configuration needs of the dynamic security screening environment,” but it may not be as simple as you think. Contest participants must consider a variety of factors such as peak hours, flight schedules and TSA staffing schedules.”

Continue Reading »

TSA To Start Limiting Pre-Check Eligibility


Two of the greatest travel innovations of the past few years have been Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check. Global Entry has taken the frustration out of the immigration process, while TSA Pre-Check has taken the frustration out of the security process. Well, at least for the most part.

When TSA Pre-Check first started it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Very few people had registered for the program at the time, so not only were the travelers using the lane actually frequent travelers that knew “the drill,” but the lines were almost non-existent.

Then over time the experience was diluted substantially. Passengers that didn’t sign-up started randomly getting TSA Pre-Check. This didn’t just slow down the line because there were considerably more people using the checkpoints, but also because they didn’t know how to use them. So they’d still take everything out of their bags, set off the x-rays, etc. In many cases Pre-Check took longer than the “normal” security line.

Continue Reading »