Regardless of how it happens, who made it or where it came from, when something explodes in an airport, it’s serious business. After not one but two dry ice explosions occurred on consecutive days at California’s Los Angeles International Airport, police are increasing securlty.
They are simple enough to make; add dry ice to a 20 ounce plastic bottle and wait. There is plenty of dry ice in the area, food service vendors use it daily.
Finding out who did it, apparently, might not very difficult either; police arrested an airport employee Tuesday night. Dicarlo Bennett, a 28-year-old employee for the ground handling company Servisair, was charged with possessing and exploding a “destructive device near an aircraft,” according to a statement from police, reports CBS News.
The exploded bombs did not cause any injuries or damage.Bennett apparently took the dry ice from a plane and placed it in an employee restroom Sunday night where it exploded about 7pm, locking down terminal 2. Another device exploded in a restricted area outside the international terminal on Monday.
It’s supposed to be impossible. Armed guards are in place to prevent it from happening. Three levels of airport security were breached, and airline and TSA officials have no idea how he did it. That’s the situation at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport (MSP) as a 9-year-old was able to get past all that then fly to Las Vegas on his own, without a ticket.
“At this point, this is a Delta and TSA issue,” said airport spokesperson Pat Hogan in a KARE11 tv report. “This is a rare incident.” Rare it may be, but the boy made it on to Delta flight 1651 and was not discovered until the plane landed in Las Vegas.
Both Delta and the TSA are investigating the incident and the 9-year-old stowaway, also believed to be a runaway. Getting past the TSA security screening as well as Delta’s gate agents and the flight crew on the aircraft was simply all in a day’s work for the boy. MSP airport officials report that he also took someone’s luggage off a carousel, ordered food at a restaurant before going through security and even asked his server to watch his luggage while he used the restroom. He never returned.Sound familiar? You might be thinking of the incident not long ago when a man posing as a pilot made it into the cockpit on a US Airways flight.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been working on addressing long lines at airport security screening areas for quite some time. TSA Precheck lanes are being expanded to more airports every year and Global Entry lets frequent, pre-authorized travelers to zip into the United States. Just last week, we reported faster airport screening via a new TSA program. But that’s not enough, says a travel trade organization, urging Congress to take action.
The U.S. Travel Association (USTA) is battling what they believe to be the cause of problems at our airports; budget restrictions and poor planning. They believe the current system leaves airports unable to handle millions of visitor a year. They have some specific recommendations too.
Calling for a 50-percent reduction in peak the wait times, the USTA believes it should take just 30 minutes to process travelers. They want Customs and Border Protection staffing and participation in the Global Entry Program increased. Congress should be involved in an ongoing way, and should require periodic progress reports, says the association in a list of 20 recommended policy changes.
Back at the TSA, the new system is indeed a step in the right direction, classifying travelers into three tiers — expedited, standard or enhanced — with each level requiring different procedures and qualifiers. The current system treats all travelers the same and is exactly what the Travel Association wants changed.
In an Open Letter to the U.S. Congress, over 70 travel leaders even suggested ways to fund the additional programing necessary to address the problem and increase transparency in the entire process. It’s a lofty goal but one worthy of pursuit: the U.S. economy could lose $95 billion and 518,000 jobs over the next five years due to long security and customs lines at the nation’s airports.
It’s taken a long time but a quicker, more efficient screening process at the nation’s airports looks to be coming into focus. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is planning a new three-tier system for passenger and baggage screening that taps features of ongoing programs to streamline the process.
Based on elements of the best parts of the existing Secure Flight and TSA PreCheck programs, the new system is “designed to increase the number of airline passengers who may be eligible for expedited screening,” says a report in Travel Weekly.
Using that information, air travelers will be classified into three tiers — expedited, standard or enhanced — with each level requiring different procedures and qualifiers. The current system treats all travelers the same.
Under the new system, low risk travelers would be directed to the lanes now used for TSA’s PreCheck program. Shoes and belts stay on. Laptops remain in cases.
Passengers would be screened at the time of booking, and the level of required screening would be embedded in the barcode of the traveler’s boarding pass.
PreCheck expands this year to 100 U.S. airports. This Fall, anyone can join by going through a background check. Participants allow their fingerprints to be file. The anticipated fee is $85.
The Transportation Security Administration has been working on its image, engaging readers on its blog with the latest travel security information, inviting fans to “meet the bloggers” and more. The TSA is also finding that its message is more palatable with a dose of humor.
This week on its Transportation Tips post, TSA asks readers to please leave their grenades at home. “After reading the title of this post, your first thought probably was, ‘That’s obvious.’ Not always so”, writes Bob Burns. Just this year, TSA officers have discovered 43 grenades in carry-ons and 40 in checked luggage.
Most of the grenades were inert, replica or novelty items, like antiques someone might buy on eBay. “But a few were live smoke, flare, riot, and flash bang grenades, which can pose major safety issues to aircraft and also violate FAA hazmat regulations,” added Burns.That the majority of grenades TSA sees won’t actually explode isn’t the issue. The problem is that they look just like real grenades during screening, slowing down the process, if not closing and evacuating terminals.
The “please don’t bring” advice goes for grenade shaped belt buckles, lighters, soap, candles, MP3 players, paperweights, inert training grenades, and other items can all look like the real thing when x-rayed.