Posts filed under ‘Security’

I don’t want it to look like I’m picking on the TSA, but I can’t let these go without saying something….

Yesterday they missed a guy at JFK who had a stun gun in his bag (http://bit.ly/YdUSrI)

They eventually got him after his former girlfriend let the cops know he had stunned and then raped her repeatedly the night before.  Bad guy caught but not without slipping through the TSA security checkpoint while trying to escape to London.

This while TSA Chief John Pistole was in Washington saying only an act of congress would prevent small knives from being allowed onboard (http://bit.ly/ZFuDaJ).

Ok, so a stun gun is not a small knife, but I’m not sure I’d be digging it on a position at this point if I’m Mr. Pistone.

In fact, this brings to mind the great scene towards the end of the original Rambo movie “First Blood”, when Colonel Trautman says to Rambo “IT’S OVER JOHNNY.  IT’S OVER”.

richard_crenna_rambo[1]Rambo-2-lg01[1]

If only it was!!

March 15, 2013 at 10:06 am Leave a comment

Leave it to the TSA to shake a blogger out of his doldrums…..

Ok CarryingOn fans if you’re still out there, I’d like to apologize for not being very active over the past few months. Chalk it off to a bunch of things we won’t go into here, but after observing the recent statements and actions of the TSA, even the Rip Van Winkle of bloggers would be stirred to life!!

It all started when I read that the sequestration forced budget cuts were going to cause chaos in air travel. It seems as if a 4% budget cut would result in everything from forced flight cancellations to reduce the workload on ATC staff, to dramatically longer security lines with a less secure environment to boot, and a quadrupling of the time it takes to clear customs at some of our bigger international gateways.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and TSA Chief John Pistole were the ringleaders of a clear effort that used hyperbole to create panic among the masses who use the air transportation system on a regular or irregular basis. They were quickly joined by a chorus of industry insiders and pundits who accepted their predicted outcomes without even the slightest pushback, and then decried the impact on the travel industry.

In fact, in the days after the sequestration started, Napolitano suggested that the lines had already begun to build (this despite the fact that not one screener has been let go, since the law requires that federal workers must be given 30 days notice before a furlough, but we digress from the chaos).

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Well as your might have imagined by now, CarryingOn is not buying any of it.

It’s all political theatre designed to scare us into thinking that what amounts to a rather insignificant budget cut, would mean the end of air travel as we know it.

We’ve written a few times about the TSA and like tracking them because of their entertainment factor (http://bit.ly/YxteVQ),
but for those of you who might not scrutinize them as closely as CarryingOn, here are a few of data points to consider:

• The TSA now employs 62,000 people, 47,000 of which are screeners, and has an annual budget of $8Billion.
• In 2007 some 680 million flyers were screened by what were then 44,000 screeners, but in 2011 only 640 million of us took to the skies, yet there were 47,000 screeners.

If you’re keeping score on that one, a 6.2% reduction in the number of people being screened seemed to require a 6.8% increase in the number of screeners. Now I don’t claim to be a TSA staffing specialist or to know all the complexities of what the TSA does, but I did do a two year stretch at LGA Airport a few years back, when the airline was still responsible for the screening checkpoint (we hired sub-contractors), and I seem to remember that if we had less people coming through the place, we needed less people to handle them. Who knows, maybe the shoes in the bin part causes you to need more people.

The TSA has also said that the only way to manage the required cuts is by reducing staff. Obviously that’s one way to do this, but surely not the only way. Maybe they can cut something else. Like what you ask? To answer that, it’s time for some more TSA fun facts, these provided by a joint report by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Committee on Oversight of Government Reform, which showed that among other things:

• The TSA has a warehouse in Dallas, Texas, where 5,700 pieces of unused security equipment sit in storage. The dormant equipment is worth $184 million.
• This equipment storage cost taxpayers another $23 million in depreciation, because nearly all of the 472 carry-on baggage screening machines in the warehouse have been sitting there unused for over nine months.
• The agency spends another $3.5 million every year just to lease and manage this warehouse.

In addition, under the recently renewed labor agreement, TSA employees will see their uniform allowances nearly double to $446 per year (by comparison, a combat Marine Lieutenant receives a one-time uniform allowance of $400). The cost of the increase in TSA uniform allowance is an estimated $9.63 million annually.

If we total this stuff up you could lop $220 million off the budget, which represents close to 3/4th of the required cuts, and not one TSA head was touched in the process! And I’m guessing they could find another $100 million to get to the required 4% reduction without too much difficulty.

But I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on the TSA because they are relaxing the restriction against carrying pocket knives, billiard cues, and a host of other items that make absolutely no sense being onboard.

So while it might take more time to get through security, once onboard at least I can go back to my favorite thing to do on a long transcon flight, whittling wood. I can see it now…..”Hey, look there’s Minnesota Fats in 32C . I’m going over and introduce myself and see if I can trade him my wood carving of Janet Napolitano’s head in return for some tips on how to play a better game of 9 Ball.”

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March 15, 2013 at 6:02 am 2 comments

To shut off or not to shut off, that is the question…

As a follow-up to our last post, looks like the FAA is going to take the lead on updating the rules with respect to the use of electronic devices in-flight.

Being as thorough as they are, they plan to bring together manufacturers, consumer electronic associations, aircraft and avionic manufacturers, airlines, pilots, flight attendants and passengers, but, and this is a BIG but, they have yet to secure funding for the project. 

CarryingOn therefore expects we’ll get a definitive ruling at some point in 2018, or a full year after Mariano Rivera is enshrined unanimously on the first ballot to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Actually, I’m thinking Mo will be introducing Derek Jeter to the Hall in 2019 before you’ll know for sure if you can turn on your iPad and watch the induction ceremony from 35,000 feet.

March 21, 2012 at 7:09 am 5 comments

So what should we make of this………………

I read an interesting story in the Wall Street Journal about the growing trend of in-flight incidents involving people not shutting off their electronic devices.   There were quite a few nuggets of information in the article including:

– most passenger misconduct cases now deal with non compliance of electronic devices (no surprises there),

-there’s no firm scientific data that having a device on will cause an issue, just that there is the potential for it to cause an issue (again not surprising),

-In a study published in 2006, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University who rode 37 airline flights with a radio-frequency measuring device found emissions from cell phones that could interfere with global-positioning satellite systems (mildly interesting, and while I’m sure the Carnegie Mellon guys are smart, there’s still nothing too urgent about this factoid),

-Crews have anecdotally reported numerous issues linked to computers or devices on board, such as erroneous warnings on collision-avoidance systems, heavy static on radio frequencies and false readings on instrument landing systems, according to NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ok you now have my attention, but seeing the word anecdotal probably means I’m still not that worried about some guy sneaking in a few more emails after takeoff),

-RTCA Inc., the non-profit which advises the FAA on technical issues, said in a lengthy study in 2008 that emissions from transmitting personal electronic devices, or T-PEDS, could interfere with critical aircraft systems (the evidence seems to be mounting),

-In some instances where crews caught passengers talking on a phone or using a computer, they were able to end interference by shutting down the device.  Turning it back on recreated the problem, suggesting a possible link (ok now I’m really paying attention, and by the way isn’t Nasa going away soon, and if so, who will check this stuff going forward?).

Given this compilation of information, CarryingOn has a couple of recommendation for its followers.   First, let’s all shut our devices off when asked, period.    Unless you’re giving someone instructions on how to disarm a nuclear weapon about to detonate, that phone call or email can probably wait don’t you think?   Second, if you see somebody who’s not in compliance feel free to educate them about the dangers of their playing another round of “Words with Friends”, or posting those photos of themselves eating a burrito in the airport on Facebook.   Perhaps something along the lines of “hey chief (or sister, if the offender is a woman), you know there’s data that shows that having that on can interfere with the collision-avoidance systems, so why don’t you do us all a favor and shut it down.   Otherwise, I’ll ring my call button and you know how that will turn out.”

If they give you the dirty look and shut it down, it’s all good.   You probably didn’t want to talk with anyone who just had an airport burrito anyway :-).

March 13, 2012 at 1:41 pm 5 comments

You have to love the TSA……

by Tony

……if for nothing else but the pure entertainment value they provide on what seems like a weekly basis.

Last week they were forced to defend the actions of a Las Vegas TSA crew that confiscated some cupcakes.

In their defense on the TSA Blog (who knew there was such a thing but I guess if I can have a blog why not the TSA), Blogger Bob (again I’m not making that up, he’s a real guy that is part of the TSA Blogger Team), defended the cupcake confiscation citing the 3-1-1 rule that limits the amount of liquids, gels or aerosols you can bring on a plane.

Ok, I felt Blogger Bob’s explanation stretched things a bit, and despite agreeing with the passenger in this case, who suggested the TSA used “terrible logic”, I guess a rule is a rule, and I was all set to let this TSA incident slide without comment.   That was until I read that the TSA had issued an apology for strip searching a couple of granny’s at JFK.

In these cases all logic went right out the window when on separate occasions TSA agents at JFK asked two 85+ year old women to strip because they saw something unusual (turned out to be a defibrillator and a colostomy bag).  Ok, now picture yourself as the TSA agent involved in the colostomy incident.   Do you really think that agent is checking the next 88 year old woman after witnessing the first colostomy bag?  CarryingOn says “NO WAY”!  That woman is clearing the security area faster than you can say “get her out of here before anything starts leaking”.

CarryingOn thinks these stories taken together illustrate the problem with the current TSA procedures.  Going forward, what prevents the 88 year old woman from taking explosive fluids in her colostomy bag, or a coordinated team of cupcake makers from taking only a portion of the needed ingredients thereby circumventing the 3-1-1 rule, and then coalescing while onboard to create an explosive from what appeared to be the ingredients of my all-time favorite cupcake, the Yankee Doodle?

Nothing, I would argue, other than the fact that an 88 year old women and the unassuming cupcake baker have no reason to.   No one who fits their profile ever has, and nothing about them would suggest they are getting on that plane for any other reason than to get from point A to point B.    Yet the TSA continues to confiscate stuff and breach personal barriers because of some rules intended to make us feel safer.  Sounds kind of silly if you ask me, and it doesn’t make me feel any safer.   How about you?   Are you feeling safer?  If not, go get yourself a Yankee Doodle and a glass of milk.   You might not feel safer, but I guarantee you’ll at least feel better :).

January 19, 2012 at 12:31 pm 5 comments

Justin Bieber all tatted up? I saw it on my daughter’s phone!

by Tony

Perhaps this isn’t what our Carrying On followers typically use their mobile devices for, but I had the displeasure of seeing JB’s new left hip tat on my daughter’s iPhone – likely minutes after the paparazzi snapped the pic . It’s always interesting to see what The Bieb is up to, especially when it involves little birdies, but what really caught my attention last week was two articles with rather conflicting viewpoints – both about mobile apps and travel.

First up was a Tnooz posting titled “Six out of ten mobile users now downloading travel apps.” My initial thought – perhaps those other four people are too busy downloading Talking Gina the Giraffe (a personal favorite of mine). The Tnooz story discussed a recent TripAdvisor survey that revealed what those 60% are doing – checking flight status (51%), booking and/or researching hotels (42%), and researching restaurants (52%) as the top use cases.

But then I read about a survey done by our friends at AirPlus International “Mobile tools remain an area of opportunity for travel managers.” More than half those surveyed (55% to be exact), responded that corporate travel management has no responsibility for mobile travel apps/tools.

Unlike Mike D., I don’t have an advanced degree in statistics (or a Bud Light calculator), but I am sharp enough to discern when there is a gap bigger than the one present in David Letterman’s smile. How can these corporate travel managers flat out disregard the needs and wants of their travelers? Doing so results in several organizational risks associated with travelers using unapproved apps, including but not limited to IT security threats, leakage, decreased employee productivity, and an inability to communicate with employees during a crises.

Therefore, I strongly recommend you immediately conduct a survey or your employees – find out what apps they have downloaded and how they use them when on the road. Then, as I have said many times on Carrying On, you need to get cracking. A great place to start is by watching our recent webinar, “We Heart Mobile | A practical guide for adding mobile technology to your travel program.”

If you’ve already integrated mobile into your travel program – congratulations! Go ahead and reward yourself by visiting the local tattoo parlor for a cute little hip tat to match that of The Bieb.

Click here to join Carrying On Compadres, our LinkedIn group.

June 7, 2011 at 9:43 am Leave a comment

Is mobile part of your travel program? Here’s how it can be.

Perhaps you were tied up :) a few weeks back during our post-Valentine’s Day We Heart Mobile Webinar. Or, were you scrambling to buy some “sorry honey, I forgot roses?” Either way, Carrying On understands, and that’s why we are giving you a link to view the recorded webinar at your convenience.

Watch the webinar for FREE (especially if you are adding mobile to your travel program our you are unsatisfied with your current mobile solution). Just click here, sit back, and enjoy some of those delicious bonbons your sweetheart gave you on Valentine’s Day.

Below are some of the nuggets that we tweeted to the masses during the webinar.  Follow us on Twitter, and you’ll never miss these great insights or TD’s next joke.

  • According to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co, 74% of companies let their employees use devices other than BlackBerrys. What about yours?
  • According to PhoCusWright, business travelers want mobile checkin to their flight, hotel, rail – time flight updates is #2 @NormTravelTech hit it on the head – users want location awareness, contextual relevance and personalization
  • Make sure your mobile technology will support multiple platforms such as iPad and android
  • Involve end users in the selection process. Select a solution that people want to use and they’ll become your champions.
  • Do you want travelers searching through 350,000 mobile apps when one smart app can fulfill their travel needs? Time suck?
  • The value of mobile tech is the ability to communicate with travelers. How will you use this?
  • Finance and IT folks aren’t travelers. Be able to explain the end-to-end solution and how it fits into your program
  • Mobile apps can reduce travel fees? One area of savings – more than 40% fewer calls to TMC for certain travel department calls – Click here to read more
  • The mobile app must have the Scooby Doo factor. It must sell itself, be easy to download and use

We Heart Mobile | A practical guide for adding mobile technology to your travel program

You’ve read the stats – 75% of business travelers now carry smart phones. You’ve surveyed your travelers – they are starving for an exceptional mobile experience that makes their lives easier when on the road.

Watch this webinar and learn:

  • How do you identify the best mobile travel solution?
  • How do you navigate the potential IT and Finance hurdles in order to gain internal approval and support?
  • Most importantly, how do you ensure that your employees adopt the mobile solution you choose?

Tony D’Astolfo Rearden Commerce
Norm Rose Travel Technology Consulting, Inc.
Richard Clowes SAS
Steven Mandelbaum The Advisory Board Company

Click here to watch.

March 3, 2011 at 10:37 am Leave a comment

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