Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Airport security news - Of fines and lines

You probably know that if you show up at an airport security checkpoint with a banned item, it will be confiscated. But did you know that if you carry a forbidden item through airport security in the U.S. you could be fined as much as $1,500?

It's true.

An article from the Dallas Morning News, republished on the Airport Business website says this:
Most passengers don't realize that if they take banned items through airport security - knowingly or unknowingly - they could face as much as $10,000 in fines. Usually the threat is obvious, such as being caught with a loaded gun. But try to pass through metal detectors with a large pair of scissors and a bad attitude and you could be out as much as $1,500.

TSA assessed $1.4 million in passenger fines in 2005, and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and three other Sun Belt airports topped the list, in part, said one federal official, because these states usually have more gun owners along with laws that allow individuals to carry firearms. D/FW security uncovers about one gun a week during the screening process, said Dallas-based TSA spokeswoman Andrea McCauley.
The article goes on to say that from January to July 16 of this year, TSA issued 1,450 fines nationwide.
People usually don't know they've been fined until a letter arrives at their homes. In reviewing incident reports, TSA officials consider factors like whether the passenger tried to conceal the item or the "attitude of the violator."

Ms. McCauley said fliers can fight fines through an informal conversation or a formal hearing. Those who contest the penalties may eventually have to travel to the airport where TSA issued the fine.

Money from the fines goes into the U.S. Treasury General Fund - not to TSA. If the violator doesn't pay, the Department of Treasury takes actions to collect payment, such as withholding the violator's tax refunds.
A related article, also on Airport Business, talks about the idea of an express lane that business travelers and other frequent fliers can pay to use. This is being considered for BWI Thurgood Marshall airport. Here's how that would work:
Participants pay an annual fee and undergo a TSA threat assessment. They also must provide either a fingerprint or allow their retinas to be scanned so their identity can be quickly and positively established at the airport.

In return, they get their own, fast security lane, away from regular checkpoints filled with children, families or elderly passengers, all of whom can slow down the screening process.

TSA will maintain a supervisory role by ensuring security standards at the express lanes remain high and business travelers at BWI are united in their support for the program.
Sounds good to me!

Source: Fines Lurk for Fliers Toting Banned Items - Airport Business
Express Security Lane May Woo Fliers - Airport Business

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