China Introduces Women Only Airport Security Lines


In a rather interesting move, China’s Beijing Capital International Airport has added female-only security lines. This was made permanent after a three month trial, and has also been expanded to the airports in Shenzhen, Kunming and Wuhan.

Here’s the rationale, per The New York Times:

“They are marked by bright pink signs that say ‘Female Only’ in Chinese and English.

The government’s rationale is that women want to avoid being frisked by men. In the women’s lanes, the security guards are all women.

Women also carry bags of personal cosmetics that need to be opened and inspected, requiring greater scrutiny, one security guard told state media. The implication is that they are slowing down other (male) travelers with less fussy baggage.”

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TSA Pre-Check Expands To More International Airlines


The two innovations of the past several years which have made the US travel experience substantially more pleasant have been TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry. As a reminder, TSA Pre-Check allows eligible travelers expedited security screening, where they don’t have to take off their shoes, or take their liquids or laptops out of their bags.

Meanwhile Global Entry allows for expedited customs & immigration, where eligible travelers can just use kiosks at immigration, rather than having to queue for an agent.

While Global Entry is valid regardless of which airline you’re flying, TSA Pre-Check requires flying certain airlines which are enrolled in the program. Up until now, only 12 airlines have participated in TSA Pre-Check.

However, as of today, four more airlines are participating in TSA Pre-Check: Aeromexico, Cape Air, Etihad Airways and Seaborne Airlines.

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Airport Video: Why You Shouldn’t Attach A Sex Toy To A Water Bottle


If you don’t have the sense of humor of a 12 year old, click out of this post now. 😉

I think the YouTube caption tells you everything you need to know:

“My buddy was headed to his bachelor party in New Orleans. It was his first time flying. The thing he was worried about most was airport security…with friends like his he was right to be worried!”

Here’s the amazing video:

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“Mobile Detonation Device” Isn’t A Good Hotspot Name On A Plane…


If there’s one thing I’ve noticed from constantly being in different hotels, it’s that people have all kinds of ridiculous names for their wifi hotspots. Probably the most common is something with “NSA” in it. Actually, I just pulled up the wifi networks in my “range” right now, and one of them happens to be “NSA Surveillance.” Hah.

Well, you might want to be careful about which hotspot names you use at airports or on planes, as it could lead to a significant delay. That’s what happened to a Qantas flight between Melbourne and Perth on Saturday, which was delayed by roughly 2.5 hours due to a passenger spotting a hotspot with the name “Mobile Detonation Device.”

Per The West Australian, the passenger showed it to the crew, who informed the captain, which lead to the following:

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The TSA Proposed Screening Passengers After Landing… Why?


POLITICO has the story of how the TSA wanted to introduce a program which would lead to passengers being screened on arrival rather than on departure at select airports. Obviously that sounds completely ridiculous on the surface. After all, what use is it to screen someone after they get off a plane?

But the idea is more creative than it sounds, and one of the rare attempts by the TSA to cut costs (after all, you have to leave room in your budget for randomizer apps which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars).

Here’s the plan which was proposed, which has since been shot down, per POLITICO:

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The TSA Paid HOW MUCH For A Randomizer App?!?


The TSA promotes its risked based inclusion techniques as one of the ways it keeps travelers safe and saves taxpayers money. For a couple of years the TSA has been using a randomizer app at dozens of airports, which randomly directs people into the PreCheck lane (because nothing quite helps manage risk like a randomizer app). Per Bloomberg, here’s the purpose of this randomizer app:

“The TSA uses software to randomly choose whether travelers in the PreCheck lanes go left or right, making it harder for potential terrorists to detect any patterns. The randomization also helps to prevent accusations of racial or other profiling.”

For those of you who haven’t seen the randomizer app in action, here’s a video (the commentary is sort of hilarious):

Kevin Burke submitted a Freedom Of Information Act request with the TSA to see just how much it cost the TSA to build this app, given how simplistic it seems. As he explains, a beginner could code an app like that in a day, so you’d think this didn’t cost the TSA very much. Well, unfortunately you’d be wrong.

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Flight Attendant Caught With 70 Pounds Of Cocaine Turns Herself In

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Earlier in the week I posted about the insane story of the flight attendant who was caught with 60 pounds of cocaine at LAX. Airline crews can join the Known Crewmember program, where they can bypass security. However, they’re always subject to additional screening, either randomly or because of suspicious behavior.

That’s exactly what happened at LAX last Friday night. A flight attendant apparently had two carry-ons, and when she was brought to a room for additional screening she ran, leaving behind 60 pounds of cocaine and Gucci shoes. The insane part is that up until yesterday her identity wasn’t revealed, and she wasn’t caught.

Well, we now have more information, after the flight attendant turned herself in at JFK yesterday. First of all, the flight attendant was 31 year old Marsha Gay Reynolds, and she worked for JetBlue. Also, the initial estimates were on the low side — she was carrying 68.49 pounds of cocaine, valued at roughly two million dollars.

Here’s the craziest part of all this — despite authorities knowing her identity, she was still able to get on a flight on her own airline the following day to New York, and she was possibly even working the flight. Per The Los Angeles Times:

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Alaska Airlines Now Lets You Redeem Miles For TSA Pre-Check


TSA Pre-Check allows eligible travelers expedited security screening, where they don’t have to take off their shoes, or take their liquids or laptops out of their bags.

It’s a fantastic innovation, and one which makes the US travel experience that much more pleasant, along with Global Entry, which offers expedited immigration screening.

There are several credit cards which offer fee credits for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry, including the Citi Prestige® Card, The Platinum Card® from American Express, and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, among others.

In the past, some airlines have even offered TSA Pre-Check fee credits to elite members. Alaska Airlines is taking a different approach, however.

Alaska Airlines is the first airline which is allowing members to redeem miles for the $85 TSA Pre-Check fee. Per Alaska’s press release:

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You May Want To Avoid These Flights From New York JFK


I’m mileage running this week, which means I have lots of opinions about everything even tangentially travel-related. Like feeling pretty strongly that you shouldn’t be able to open the CandyCrush app unless the volume is disabled/headphones are connected, or that the Admirals Club is maybe not the best location for taking care of that delayed pedicure.

But that might just be me.

My current adventures have me routing through New York JFK approximately seven million times this week (more like seven, but each time has been epic, so I’m rounding up), and I’ve been stunned by how rarely PreCheck seems to be open at Terminal 8.

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Is Free TSA Pre-Check Still Being Offered?


The two innovations of the past several years which have made the US travel experience substantially more pleasant have been TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry. As a reminder, TSA Pre-Check allows eligible travelers expedited security screening, where they don’t have to take off their shoes, or take their liquids or laptops out of their bags.

Meanwhile Global Entry allows for expedited customs & immigration, where eligible travelers can just use kiosks at immigration, rather than having to queue for an agent.

Historically TSA Pre-Check has been limited to those enrolled in a Trusted Traveler Program, like TSA Pre-Check, Global Entry, NEXUS, etc. However, over time they started a “managed inclusion program,” where elite members of airlines and many other passengers deemed “low risk” got access to Pre-Check as well.

While I don’t take issue with managed inclusion from a safety standpoint (since I don’t think Pre-Check is actually any less safe than the standard screening), what was annoying was the degree to which it slowed down lanes. It’s not just that they were adding people to the Pre-Check lanes, but much worse was that the people being added were largely less experienced travelers, who didn’t know “the drill.”

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TSA Screening Just Got Less Optional… Sort Of


For years the TSA has been using AIT (Advanced Imaging Technology) machines at airports to screen passengers. These are the machines they’ve used in lieu of metal detectors — you walk into them, hold up your arms, and then are cleared to go after waiting for a few seconds.

For those of you not familiar, here’s a video about the technology:

Since it was introduced, use of the machine has been optional. You can choose to opt out, and in lieu of the AIT you’ll get a full body pat down. Some people prefer this. I used to opt out back in the day. I’m not sure why, exactly. Perhaps because I’m displeased with the TSA in general, and thought it was a decent way to “protest.” But it’s not something I do nowadays, as I’m a much mellower person and just want to get on my way. For that matter I don’t actually have to opt-out, since I have TSA Pre-Check, which means I get to use a metal detector in lieu of an AIT.

However, for those of you who always opted out of the AIT machine, the TSA has updated their policy on opt outs in a very confusing way. The Department of Homeland Security has published a “Privacy Impact Assessment Update For TSA Advanced Imaging Technology.”

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Woman Accused Of Trying To Bribe US Customs Agent With Sex


I’ve recently starting watching the show “Locked Up Abroad,” which is sort of addictive. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it basically recounts the stories of those who did jail time abroad for smuggling (typically drugs). It has given me a newfound respect for the jobs of customs & immigration officers, and how my frequent 1-2 day trips outside the US may look suspicious.
While trying to bring designer goods/jewelry into the US isn’t the same as trying to sneak in heroin (for example), this still makes for quite a story. A 55 year old Chinese lady was charged with offering sex to a customs officer in exchange for her daughter being allowed to enter the country with $160,000 in undeclared goods.

The story goes back to last July, when she arrived in New York on an Air France flight. Via the NY Daily News:

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Passenger Kicked Off Spirit Airlines Flight Due To… Paranoia


There’s no denying that we live in terrifying times, when you look at what’s going on in the world right now. At the same time, the speed at which people get news and the impact of social media amplify what’s happening in the world even more. Which isn’t at all to downplay anything which is going on, but I’m not actually convinced we’re any worse off now than in the past, when you look at the atrocities which have occurred over the past hundred years, thousand years, etc.

All of which is to say we have to keep living our lives, as easy as it is to get paranoid…

…like many people clearly were on a Spirit Airlines flight this Tuesday morning between Baltimore and Chicago, which returned to the gate.

What happened? Well, here’s the reaction of the event from one of the passengers who was onboard, via WBALTV11:

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TSA Doesn’t Do Their Job, Armed Officers Charge Plane


Wow! This apparently happened earlier in the week, and I’m not quite sure how I missed it. A Barbados-bound American Airlines flight was charged by armed police and evacuated after the TSA made a mistake screening one of the passenger’s bags.

Via ABC News:

“The Transportation Security Administration says that “standard procedures were not adhered to” during when dental equipment set off a bag scare at Miami International Airport Monday, closing two security checkpoints and delaying 50 flights before it was determined the items weren’t a threat.

The FBI in Miami said a passenger — a dentist — went through security just before 5 p.m. and “it was later determined that items in his carry-on bag looked suspicious.”

A transportation security officer had stopped the X-ray machine at a checkpoint to conduct further screening of the carry-on bag, but “in the process of transitioning other passengers to an adjacent screening lane, standard procedures were not adhered to and the passenger was allowed to depart the checkpoint and proceed into the terminal,” said TSA spokesman Mike England.”

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