Q: I’m traveling for the holidays. What is the current airline policy on wrapped gifts? —Molly Richins, Astoria, N.Y.
A: The TSA doesn’t prohibit them, but if an agent asks to see what’s inside, you have to comply. Because they’re legally allowed to open the gifts in your checked baggage as well as those in your carry-on, it’s best to wrap when you arrive (or send them ahead).
Would everybody please stop picking on the TSA for a cotton-pickin' minute?! Hey, no question the airport-security agency has taken a pummeling from critics lately, especially over accusations of theft. A report by ABC's Nightlinelast week was particularly damning when an iPad stolen from an airport security checkpoint was tracked down to the home of the TSA agent on-duty at the time. And now comes another dust-up. But this time the TSA claims it had nothing to do with it.
"Whaaaaaaaaaat?" That's what I said to myself after reading this piece by Gizmodo who reported via the Transportation Security Administration's blog, that since January 1st, TSA agents have discovered 821 firearms in carry-on bags at airports around the country. Of these, 691 were loaded, and 210 were locked and loaded with a round chambered. Some other bizarrely alarming weapons discovered while passengers were filing through security? Dead venomous snakes (snakes almost on a plane!), a gun in a hollowed out book (retro move there), an explosive grenade, a spear gun, eels, a gassed-up chainsaw, and a chastity belt. Too weird, America. But keep up the good work TSA! And in the future, before you confiscate that sealed bottle of Poland Spring in my backpack, can we just put a few things in perspective?
Marguerite A. Suozzi is an assistant research editor at Travel + Leisure.
We’ve always felt that finding a comfortable place to rest your head at an airport is challenging, but a Norwegian tourist at the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome had no problem drifting away to Slumberland. When he found the ticket check-in counter was empty, the unnamed man wandered behind the desk to take a nap on the baggage conveyor belt. He was sound asleep, hugging his suitcase, until the belt started to move. Of course, as any adventurer would do, he stayed on, riding on the baggage belt (and through the x-ray machines) for 15 minutes until airport security took notice and removed him. Shocked? Airport security wasn’t. They see similar incidents twice a year.
Kelsi Maree Borland is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.
I love to travel. Obviously. I wouldn’t work here if I didn’t. And I love when I hear about advances in technology that can help make traveling easier. So you can imagine how excited I was when I saw our friends over at sister mag Executive Travel reported three new improvements that are underway that’ll help speed things up while you get to your destination, so you have more time to enjoy that beachside mojito.
The first will help you speed through the baggage check a little faster. How? By printing out your baggage tag at home, while you’re checking into your flight online. The technology was created by Unisys Corporation, and is currently being tested at Billund Airport in Denmark. When passengers show up at the airport, they simply drop their bags off at a special counter and head on over to security.
A diabetic 16-year-old Colorado girl was emotionally traumatized and her health put at risk by a TSA security check after a full body scanner at Salt Lake City Airport apparently incapacitated her insulin pump, according to a report by a local television station. It's only the latest concern about the scanners, which many consumer advocates consider an intrusive, ineffective, and possibly dangerous form of airport security.
There are now some 700 such machines in use at 180 U.S. airports, according to the TSA. A 2011 report by ProPublica and the PBS NewsHour raised questions about a possible link to cancer. Some scanner models, according to testing by the German government, have mistaken perspiration for dangerous chemicals, casting doubt on their reliability. And many travelers have complained that the scanners invade passengers' privacy by taking "nude" photos of them, although the TSA has since implemented softwarethat eliminates anatomical details from the images. Now the Salt Lake City incident raises the newest fear: Can these "advanced imaging technology" scanners, specifically millimeter wave scanners, be harmful to diabetics wearing insulin pumps?
Miffed that airport security full-body scans can feel so cold and impersonal? Don’t worry—your TSA officer may soon want to chat you up before they pat you down.
For the next 60 days or so, select TSA agents at Boston’s Logan Airport, trained to detect behavior that may indicate that a passenger is nervous about more than turbulence, are using their powers of observation to change the screening process.
BBC Travel's Passport Blog | As controversy simmers surrounding the levels of radiation used in full body scanners, a small company based in the United Kingdom has developed a machine that emits no radiation at all.
Washington Post | Those blurry but revealing airport body scanner images that caused a public uproar last year are being replaced by a gray, cookie-cutter image of the human form.
After six months of testing at three airports, including Reagan National, the Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday that the new software would be installed on 241 units at 41 airports that use millimeter wave technology.
Software for an equal number of units that use backscatter technology is still being developed, the TSA said. Both work by bouncing X-rays or radio waves off skin or concealed objects.
Well, that’s one way to cure boredom! Stuck, the viral short film sensation created by Joe Ayala and Larry Chen, depicts the twosome’s epic adventures during an overnight layover in the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, including but not limited to wheelchair races, sneaking in a beer at a deserted bar, and a wet paper towel fight in the bathroom. Chen and Ayala, who are professional automotive photographers, released the video last month, prompting questions about the apparent lack of security in the terminal.