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Entries in TSA (8)


TSA's upgrades address privacy concerns - 544

New “generic images” replace “passenger-specific” images, aka naked scans. Photo from TSAOn Wednesday, the Transportation Security Administration announced measures that are sure to please privacy-enthusiasts: It’s currently upgrading its software to ensure greater privacy for travelers.

In a release, the TSA said upgrades will be made on to the millimeter wave Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines used throughout airports. Basically, the new software applies to scanners, and according to the TSA,  “eliminat[es] passenger-specific images”. Instead of a full-scanned of your body and its naughty bits, a generic-outline will be produced:

The new software automatically detects potential threats and indicates their location on a generic, computer-generated outline of a person that appears on a monitor attached to the AIT unit. As with the current version of AIT, if a potential threat is detected, the area will require additional screening. If no potential threats are detected, an “OK” appears on the monitor with no outline, and the passenger is cleared.

If a “potential threat” is detected, though, expect “additional screening”, parlance for “a pat-down” amongst other things. On the TSA’s blog, it goes a step further: the generic outline will only show up if a passenger sets off an alarm, otherwise a green screen with the word “OK” is shown to TSA officer and passenger both.

The new software was successfully tested at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Las Vegas McCarran International and Ronald Reagan Washington National airports. The TSA plans to roll out the new software upgrades to all 500 AIT units in 78 airports, though similar software for backscatter units will be tested in the fall.


After-hours in an Airport: Laughable, or security-risk? - 531

A video making the rounds on the internet (via sites Buzzfeed and Jalopnik) have some chortling at the after-hours antics of two friends stranded in Dallas Fort Worth Airport, while others are chagrined at the lax security in an airport terminal.

Photographer Joe Ayala and friend Larry Chen videotaped their shenanigans at an empty DFW when their connecting flight was canceled. The video shows the two racing wheelchairs through the terminal, pouring a brewskie in an airport bar and otherwise partaking in the kind of overnight prankery many of us wish we had the guts to do when given an opportunity. The shocker? There was no security stopping them, at all.

The video, which has since been switched to “private” on Vimeo, has caused a buzz, not all of which is positive. For obvious reasons, security concerns are being raised regarding the access the men were afforded after hours. According to a CBS Dallas affiliate, the airport says it is too soon to tell if criminal charges will be filed, but:

DFW airport board member Betty Culbreath says while it may have been a prank, it sent the wrong message. “It’s not funny. It’s not going to happen again as far as I’m concerned. It should not have happened because it gives the perception the airport is sitting out there unguarded and that’s why I was concerned, and am still concerned.”

While the Vimeo video is now blocked, parts of the CBS report below features video footage—including planking the escalator—plus traveler comments.


'Round the Webz: Metrodome collapse, pasties, Jesus-sighting, Santacon, travel trends

Photo from Flickr

Hopefully, you had a good weekend, whether it involved braving the weather or indulging in some Santa-themed fun. Speaking of which, here’s a round-up of happenings around the world:

[1] Winter in the Midwest is notoriously difficult, what with snow, wind, sleet et al. As if you need more evidence, 17 inches of snow in Minneapolis caused the Metrodome to collapse, with snow pouring all over the field. So what, pray tell, does this have to do with travel? If you’re traveling to the Midwest, bundle up. [Source: Bleacher Report]

[2] TSA-proof clothing is all the rage. The flying pasties are particularly fetching. [Source: Matador Goods]

[3] Does anyone else think this Jesus sighting in Australia correlates directly with Oprah’s own visit? [Source: AOL News]

[4] Nothing quite signals the holidays like drunken Santas. This past Saturday, NYC was crawling with a legion of red-clad jollymakers for the annual Santacon, though I doubt they were out for milk and cookies. [Source: BuzzFeed]

[5] Time Magazine highlights the next 10 travel-industry trends. Any others you think should be noted? [Source: Time Magazine]


'Round the Webz: More TSA, Amusement (?) Park, FIFA and Airline nightmare - 449

For your afternoon news fix, we’ve got a calendar that’ll have you alternately hot AND bothered (by the TSA, that is); a new amusement park for the kiddos; another enraging TSA scenario; everyone’s flight nightmare; and the FIFA World Cup announcement.

[1] Need a stocking stuffer for the college-age male traveler in your life, but think a swimsuit calendar is just too, too? Have we got a tasteful solution for you! The Miss TSA Pin-up Calendar! [Source: Gadling]

[2] America has the Christ of the Ozarks , the Creation Museum and by 2014, the Ark Encounter theme park. There aren’t enough words. [Source: The Courier-Journal] UPDATE: There will be dinosaurs.

[3] Via Gizmodo, CBS and USA Today, retired 52 year-old surgeon Tammy Banovac (see video above) was given a pat down by the TSA recently. Not a big story, really, until you consider she was dressed in nothing but lingerie. In one of the articles, Dr. Banovac “says that typically she is hand-searched because she uses a wheelchair; however, she feels violated due to the more invasive searches that have recently been employed.” Too bad the TSA still gave her the full check. Traces of nitrate were found on her person (from medication or hunting, says Banovac) and she had to return the next day. Again, in lingerie. After yet another pat-down, she made her flight.

[4] A co-pilot on the Air India Express nearly killed the 113 passengers when he adjusted his seat on a recent flight, which resulted in a 7,000-foot, 26-degree nosedive for the Boeing 737. The pilot, who was on a bathroom break at the time, was able to pull the plane out of the plunge in time. No one was injured. [Source: ABC News]

[5] If you haven’t already heard the news via Twitter, the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup host cities have been announced in Zurich: Russia and Qatar, respectively. 


Round-up: TSA has us LOL - 445

There is no shortage of outrage over new TSA security regulations. “Enhanced” pat down or body scan? Leaked nude photos or PG-13 grope-age? People are mad and they’re not going to take it anymore: Nov. 24 (Thanksgiving Eve) has been declared National Opt Out Day; interest groups are popping up left and right; people are getting sued for confronting the TSA monster!


We get it: the TSA sucks. And while travelers’ privacy concerns and outrage are somewhat justifiable, let’s take a second to cool off and enjoy the comedy goldmine, courtesy of the TSA.


Gizmodo’s slideshow of leaked body scans highlights, oh so subtly, what these machines are for. Namely: Freedom. From privacy and clothing, apparently.

Robert Reid’s 76 Second Travel Show on Lonely Planet brings up a good point: “If we have to share our junk, can we at least keep our shoes on?”


CNN examines the TSA controversy with double entendres and wordplay galore in their Griping over Groping segment. How funny/extreme are the flying pasties?



Asian media outlets are inexplicably all over the TSA-madness. Exhibit A: Japanese airport security spoof video:



Then there’s exhibit B: The always entertaining “animated news” treatment coming out of Taiwan.



A particular favorite from David Letterman’s Top 10 “How To Make Airport Security More Pleasantis the option for a patdown by a Cinnabon employee. Mmmmmm, cinnamon-scented groping.


Honorable mention: Location-based social network Loopt has a great contest. If you’re traveling on Nov. 24, check-in via Loopt and tweet with the hashtag #touchedbyTSA  for a chance to win (what else?) an iPod Touch.