Browsing Tag: TSA


A TransAsia ATR crashes – Photo: @Missxoxo168

UPDATE 2/4/15 7:00AM PST: The Associated Press is reporting that the death toll from the accident has risen to 25, with 18 people still unaccounted for.  Per civil aviation authorities in Taiwan, the pilot had logged nearly 5,000 flight hours.  The cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder (“Black Boxes”) have been recovered, which should assist authorities in determining the cause(s) of the crash.


TransAsia Flight 235 (GE235), an ATR72-600, has crashed during takeoff while en route from Taipei Sung Shan (TSA) to Kinmen Shang-Yi Airport (KNH), in the Fujian Province. The aircraft, reg# B-22816, was only 10 months old at the time of the crash.

Rescuers and passengers can be seen on the bank with the TransAsia ATR72 in the background - Photo: Yung Jen

Rescuers and passengers can be seen on the bank with the TransAsia ATR72 in the background – Photo: Yung Jen

Video and photos show the aircraft at a steep angle flying over an overpass and then into the Keelung River. At the time of this update, there have been three reported passenger deaths with another few injured.

TSA Expert Traveler Podium. Photo: Michael Gray

TSA Expert Traveler Podium – Photo: Michael Gray | Flickr CC

I was recently invited to sit down with a local news outlet to discuss TSA’s Pre ✓™ program from the perspective of a frequent flyer who hadn’t signed up, and questions its utility as the program stands today. To be clear, I do not see the program as a threat to security. Instead, the program’s benefits simply aren’t compelling enough for me to part with $85 and take the time to be interviewed and fingerprinted.

$85 isn’t unreasonable, and there is even an interview site here in my Kansas City suburb. The idea of fingerprinting and background checks don’t bother me either since I’ve been through both as a basis for employment.

Instead, the “gotcha” for me is the fact that while having never signed up for TSA Pre✓™ I have experienced it first-hand many, many times, and I’m just not convinced on its utility to me as a semi-frequent traveler. But why? It comes down to what I like to call the “TSA Pre✓™ dilemma.”

My razor head sans the handle along with a notice of inspection.

My razor head sans the handle, along with a notice of inspection, courtesy of the TSA                Photo: JL Johnson | AirlineReporter

For years I’ve been a self-described “semi-frequent flyer.” That is, someone who travels just enough to almost make status, but ultimately fall short. Certainly, individual definitions of frequent and semi-frequent will vary, but that’s not the point. Recently, due to a promotion at work, I’m more keen on labeling myself a bona-fide “frequent flyer” now, having low-level status with two airlines.

As I’m spending more time at the airport I’ve learned a simple rule regarding the TSA: With the TSA, expect the unexpected. I have my fair share of stories; the time in Phoenix when I was waved into the Pre-Check line as a non-pre-check, non-premium customer only to stand around and wait as both explosives detection machines were calibrated at the same time. Or, the story about how at 4:30 AM on a Saturday I snapped this terrible photo of a non-existent security line at Kansas City International only to have a First Line (In KC TSA is contracted out to a vendor: First Line) officer in my face, chests touching, ready to fight for “taking his picture.”

And to be clear, the TSA and their First Line contractors here in Kansas City, MO are all human. Mistakes are made, and that’s just the way things go. But these irregularities could never have prepared me for the most recent, almost comical incident I experienced on a trip from KC to San Antonio.

This sign is actually lying. This photos was taken via an iPhone just minutes before getting through security without valid ID.

This sign is actually lying. This photos was taken via an iPhone just minutes before getting through security without valid photo ID.

This guest post was written by Jenny Brown, mother to David Parker Brown, the Founder of Notes in italics in the story are from David:

Unlike my son, a perfect flight is an uneventful flight. However, when I flew to Tucson in November, several events occurred that made my flight more of an adventure than I wanted.

It began when I boarded an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to Tucson (TUS) on November 14, the only non-stop between the two cities. I usually fly first class (I was flying economy next to the lavatories -David) mainly because I am a reluctant flier and it allows me to relax more and get on and off the plane quickly.

So, the first class passengers were settling in when I heard the flight attendant say to the pilot, “So, what’s wrong with the plane?” Not something I wanted to hear! The voice on the intercom eventually told us that the co-pilot’s instruments were not working in the flight deck and it would take about two hours to fix. We deplaned to wait at the gate. Periodically, we were given updates and thanked for our patience. How the voice over the intercom knew we were being patient, I don’t know (Wait, isn’t this story about your ID mom? -David).

After a bit over two hours, we were told that another plane was being brought in and we eventually made it to Tucson.

While in Tucson, enjoying my family for Thanksgiving, I for some reason was looking in my purse for my driver’s license. I couldn’t find it. Yikes… I am undocumented in Arizona! (Let’s not get too political here -David). How am I going to get back to Seattle? What do I do? Call my son of course!

Luckily he helped out and emailed Alaska Airlines as I checked out their website as well as TSA’s. I also called Alaska Airlines and Cindy reassured me that I would make it home. Much to my surprise, I discovered that a photo ID is not necessary to fly, even though so many make you feel that it is required.

A list of other identification was given, including voter registration and social security card. I had both in my wallet as well as an expired passport with a 16 year-old photo. Thank goodness I don’t clean out my purse (I have since talked to my mom about having so many ID’s and identity theft, but that is another story – David).

Top tier (that is sarcasm) iPhone photo of our Alaska 737 at TUS. Image by David (not that I really want to take credit).

Top tier (that is sarcasm) iPhone photo of our Alaska 737 at TUS. Image by David (not that I really want to take credit).

I was still nervous about getting through TSA on the way home. Fortunately, David was returning on the same flight (he came down later), so he was there as son and journalist.

At the ticket counter, the Alaska agent was again very helpful (Well, technically, it was a Delta employee who was being contracted out to operate the counter for Alaska, but that is okay, she was very nice -David).

Then there was no line at security (Yea, that almost never happens -David). The TSA agent was very understanding and accepted the ID I had available. David was taking notes and photos; he seemed disappointed that I wasn’t whisked away to a room for “interrogation”. Would make for a better story (No way, I am happy nothing bad went down. Although a nice frisking and detaining of my mom would have provided interesting content. -David).

Final Chapter: So after getting home safe and sound, I went to pick up my held mail at the post office the next day. The postal worker asked for a photo ID. I showed my voter’s registration and Social Security card to no avail. Finally, he reluctantly accepted my expired passport. I told him the postal service is tougher than the TSA. He said this is the US mail!

In my held mail was my driver’s license-sent by Alaska Airlines.