Customers can see their TSA Precheck status before arriving at the checkpoint

On 05/05/2013, in Battle stations, by steve

The by now well known one size fits all approach to aviation security is slowly giving way to a risk-based model which is expected to provide the same, or even improved, level of security while making the screening process smoother. Part of this is the TSA’s Precheck prescreening procedure.

tsaUnited Airlines has now announced it is providing advance notice to customers who are selected for the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) prescreening program TSA Precheck. Eligible United customers will start to see the TSA Precheck indicator on mobile boarding passes, boarding passes printed at home or from the kiosks at some airports, allowing customers to effectively route themselves to available TSA Precheck lanes.

“Our customers tell us how much they appreciate that TSA Precheck expedites their security screening experience. By giving advance notice of TSA Precheck eligibility, in collaboration with TSA, we are making the screening process easier and more seamless,” said Alex Marren, United’s senior vice president of network operations and United Express.

The TSA Precheck logo will appear directly above an eligible passenger’s name on printed boarding passes. On mobile boarding passes, customers should look for the TSA Precheck logo at the top right corner above the barcode. The TSA Precheck indicator will appear on boarding passes throughout a customer’s itinerary whether or not the airport has TSA Precheck, so customers are encouraged to check that the airport is a participating location here.

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Meeting Bashir and the ride to Suez

On 01/01/2013, in Battle stations, by jason

The story I am about to tell is nothing out of the ordinary. Actually I guess it is something that most Maritime Security Officers experience on a frequent basis. However, it is so ordinary that we don’t even give it a second thought anymore. But I am sure it will get a laugh out of you and just in respect of Bashir, it is worth telling.

Without exaggerating, our job isn’t all that dangerous. Yes we go to the high seas and wait for armed gangs of pirates, armed with 7.62 AK-47’s and RPG’s (Rocket Propelled Grenade) and a doped up will to kill and conquer. But still, we have the solid and stable high ground. We have a prepared crew, precision weapons, razor wire and fire hoses (which only do any good in the minds of the people at IMO thinking up ways how to kill pirates by having the die of laughter and maybe ammonia after a cold shower). So all in all, it is pretty safe which is the reason that no vessel with armed security on board has ever been taken.
No, it is not the job in itself that is so dangerous. I have noticed that we have risked our lives more often in the drive to and from International airports in our countries of embarkation and disembarkation. For example Egypt or Sri Lanka. Being a resident of Belgium, I am used to people driving like their hair is on fire and execute maneuvers that look strange even to the half-blind. But in Sri Lanka for example I have woken up in the car seconds before the driver was about to hit a cow which was having its lunch break on the middle of the road. The cow wasn’t really the problem; it was the traffic on the other side of the road. The driver decided that he could take the oncoming lane to go past the cow. That this lane was occupied by a 20 ton “goods carrier” with limited or no brakes was left in the middle. Forget RPG’s and getting hit straight through the ballistic vest by a 7.62 stray round (stray because these pirates can’t aim for shit. But stray or not, bullets don’t discriminate).

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With fair winds on the ocean of experience

On 05/12/2012, in Tower chronicles, by lajos

I have just made a discovery! All things considered, it is better to fly with a low-fare airline than with a traditional, national carrier. We took a late-fall vacation recently and I had plenty of time to mull over the matter, making a mental inventory of the pro and cons. May be it was just the stale air…

The first advantage of a low-fare airline is that it requires concentration and focus on an extraordinary level combined with not a little computer savvy on the part of the would-be passenger already when making the reservation. With a traditional company it might just happen that a travel agent takes over all the burdensome steps and sets us up for the trip. Making a reservation on a low-fare airline needs concentration and a wary eye so that we watch every step, lest the ticket come to a price way above what was promised… Low-fare airlines are good for your brain!

Even at the airport, low-fare airlines have their advantages. Passengers on legacy airlines will spend up to two hours in the departure hall, wasting their time and money, purchasing things no sane person would consider buying at those prices while their low-fare colleagues will only spend about an our out on the concrete where there is nothing to buy. So low-fare is good also for your purse.

Low-fare passengers, at least at Ferihegy, will enjoy fresh air and healthy temperatures ranging from min 30 to plus 40 centigrade while they watch the procession of arriving and departing aircraft. Legacy passengers will endure constant plus 25 degrees in an air-conditioned atmosphere and can only watch their planes via glass, if they see anything at all. They have to walk through a narrow corridor at the end of which a door awaits them and troublesome cabin crew who will immediately start bothering them with questions about which seat they have been allocated. Such handicaps do not affect low-fare passengers. They have a plain view of their aircraft and once on board, may sit in any seat they want. They even get to practice a few martial arts tricks as a means of securing the better places… Weight lifting is also part of the boarding exercise as they cram their grossly overweight hand-luggage into the not too roomy overhead compartments.

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Disneyland or Cattle Ranch?

On 18/05/2012, in Airline corner, by steve

When Malev collapsed earlier this year, Budapest Ferihegy Airport saw a lot of its traffic disappear. Ryanair was quick to fill the vacuum but they ran into a number of unexpected problems. Downgrading quality is apparently as difficult as upgrading it…

Budapest Ferihegy Airport has two terminals. Terminal 1 is the old terminal and was used lately by the low-fare airlines. Terminal 2 A and B is the new facility, one of which was used exclusively by Malev and which was left vacant after the failure of the Hungarian airline.

When Ryanair arrived, they drove a hard bargain with the airport company and ended up using the former Malev part of Terminal 2 but! Ryanair does not use airbridges and passengers are supposed to walk to their aircraft wherever the low-fare airline operates. But those are typically second tier airports where the walking distance is limited. Not so at Ferihegy where the airport was built to use buses for the remote stands which are located quite some distance from the building itself.

I guess the managers of the airport and the security folks were breaking out in a cold sweat for several days when they imagined a 737 planeload of passengers trotting in the rain from the exit to the parked aircraft… some of them straying, others trying to come back… horrible! Clearly, something had to be done.

Well, the solution they came up with is what you see on the picture above. Depending on your temperament and experience, you might say this makes you feel like you were in Disneyland waiting to get on a new ride… or you will say this is not for people but only  for cattle.

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi!


Security over the top…

On 14/04/2012, in Battle stations, by krisztian

Our contributor krisztian is on assignment on a ship somewhere on the North Atlantic but he had time to find for us a real gem about how security can be misunderstood of we are not careful. This story was also published by its author on Facebook but we wanted to share it also with the readers of Roger-Wilco. Next time you go through security without too much hassle, think of this story and bless your luck…

“As the Chalk Leader for my flight home from Afghanistan, I witnessed the following:

When we were on our way back from Afghanistan, we flew out of Baghram Air Field. We went through customs at BAF, full body scanners (no groping), had all o…f our bags searched, the whole nine yards. Our first stop was Shannon, Ireland to refuel. After that, we had to stop at Indianapolis, Indiana to drop off about 100 folks from the Indiana National Guard. That’s where the stupid started.
First, everyone was forced to get off the plane-even though the plane wasn’t refueling again. All 330 people got off that plane, rather than let the 100 people from the ING get off. We were filed from the plane to a holding area. No vending machines, no means of escape. Only a male/female latrine.

It’s probably important to mention that we were ALL carrying weapons. Everyone was carrying an M4 Carbine (rifle) and some, like me, were also carrying an M9 pistol. Oh, and our gunners had M-240B machine guns. Of course, the weapons weren’t loaded. And we had been cleared of all ammo well before we even got to customs at Baghram, then AGAIN at customs.

The TSA personnel at the airport seriously considered making us unload all of the baggage from the SECURE cargo hold to have it re-inspected. Keep in mind, this cargo had been unpacked, inspected piece by piece by U.S. Customs officials, resealed and had bomb-sniffing dogs give it a one-hour run through. After two hours of sitting in this holding area, the TSA decided not to re-inspect our Cargo-just to inspect us again: Soldiers on the way home from war, who had already been inspected, re-inspected and kept in a SECURE holding area for 2 hours. Ok, whatever. So we lined up to go through security AGAIN.

This is probably another good time to remind you all that all of us were carrying actual assault rifles, and some of us were also carrying pistols.

So we’re in line, going through one at a time. One of our Soldiers had his Gerber multi-tool. TSA confiscated it. Kind of ridiculous, but it gets better. A few minutes later, a guy empties his pockets and has a pair of nail clippers. Nail clippers. TSA informs the Soldier that they’re going to confiscate his nail clippers.

Click here to read the full article


The Real Cost of Flying

On 19/01/2012, in Just to let you know..., by steve

Since 2006, we have accepted the norm of zip-top-bagging our liquids, gels and aerosols, and ditching our water bottles at airport security checkpoints. Without going into the issue of whether or not these measures are effective from a security point of view, has anyone stopped to think about how these rules affect our wallets and the environment? Well, eCollegeFinder did and they produced a very interesting infographic which you can access here.

Check it out, the stats are pretty amazing!


Viewfinder View 6 – Helpful Security

On 16/01/2012, in Viewfinder view, by steve

Not aviation related but still very nice…  If a roll of paper from the cash-register needs to be rolled up again, what better resource to use than the security guy. If somebody decided to rob this hamburger joint, throwing the roll against the robber would probably have had the right surprise effect!


How not to protect

On 16/12/2011, in Battle stations, by krisztian

An oldie, but still very current. This video shows the arrival of Condoleezza Rice at Brussels Airport. Diplomatic Security agent argues with a Belgian State Security agent and the protocol service, almost getting into a fight, WHILE Ms. Rice is already OUT OF THE PLANE and on her way down the stairs…

Lessons learned:

– Make good and proper arrangements PRIOR to the arrival of your principal with the local security teams;

– Be diplomatic, even if that means biting your tongue from time to time;

– Your ego is not the one needing protection;

– Cameras are ALWAYS watching your protection detail.

Enjoy the video (courtesy VRT).


Budapest’s SkyCourt – will the security check point hold up?

On 06/04/2011, in On the go..., by steve

Budapest Ferihegy Airport has recently opened an impressive passenger hall between Terminal 2A and 2B. It is something truly attractive with an inner space that seems to be even bigger than it actually is… and it is huge by any measure. The architects have really excelled with this steel and glass building which embraces you with light whether it is day or night. You can eat and shop or just sit around while you wait for your flight.


A cute idea picked right from Las Vegas casinos… when you enter the SkyCourt after security control, you must walk through the booze store to reach the rest of the facility. The stores are not particularly impressive though, they are the usual collection of brand names selling stuff at exorbitant prices. But this is not the biggest problem of SkyCourt.

Its biggest problem is the security check point.

I do not know what the experts had in mind when they allocated the ridiculously cramped area for the security lanes… may be they wanted to maximize the commercial space and cut the rest just a little too small. This will be a killer when traffic picks up. Last night there were only about 20 of us and with two lanes operating, we stood in line for almost 5 minutes!

Click here to read the full article



On 03/04/2011, in Just to let you know..., by steve

For frequent travelers, safety is a primary concern. It can be in the forms of safety before, during and after departure and safety of personal belongings. The fun and excitement disappear when cases of simple traveling become the start of habitual paranoia, more so a traumatic experience triggered by an obvious lack of security. Leaving home for a long period of time entails making sure contracts and similar important documents plus personal valuables like cash and pieces of jewelry are held in place where there is restricted access to avoid any instance of loss or damage.

Same goes when an employee has to travel often for official business, all files bearing confidential information about the company and its transactions and company property such as computer software programs should have a certain spot in the office away from the prying eyes and hands of nosy colleagues and outsiders and the effects of natural calamities. In these situations, security safes turn out to be helpful and indispensible.

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