T4-TBIT connector at LAX: Walkway overlooking the ramp between TBIT and T4 at LAX.
Updated 2/26 to fix Youtube video link.
On Thursday, the project at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to build a post-security connector (pdf) between the renovated Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) and Terminal 4 (T4) had a “soft opening” that vastly improves the airport experience for a significant number of passengers.
The $115 million project, which was originally set to open in early December 2015, is slated to include an outdoor patio, retail and food outlets, and a streamlined baggage transfer experience for those arriving on international flights and connecting onward. A small section for passengers walking to the customs and immigration was previously opened a couple of weeks ago.
With this opening, Terminals 4, 5, 6, and 7, as well as TBIT, are all connected behind security, meaning that passengers already in this area can walk to any of these terminals without the need to exit and reclear security. AirlineReporter has the first photos of the newly opened passageway…
The TSA PreCheck area at LAX Terminal 2
Let’s make one thing clear: TSA PreCheck is great. If you’ve flown anytime in the past few years, you’ve seen (or perhaps even been the beneficiaries of) the “PreCheck” lanes that some passengers use to zip past the general security lines, or even the premium lanes. Those who see others scoot all the way out of sight and/or get to keep their shoes on are envious; those who randomly received PreCheck access once are even more so.
For the low low price of $85, the Transportation Security Administration will grant a passenger the privilege of getting PreCheck most (not all) of the time. They’re in charge of keeping the flying public safe, and they’re not a for-profit institution, so we can trust them at their word, right?
NO! What they don’t tell you is that there are other ways to enroll in TSA’s PreCheck program without a) writing a check to TSA and b) paying less, or at least getting more out of what you pay.
I was recently invited to sit down with a local news outlet to discuss TSA’s Pre âœ“â„¢ 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 Preâœ“â„¢ 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 Preâœ“â„¢ dilemma.”
You can see a woman being scanned. The TSA agent who yelled at me is standing in the metal detector.
I have made my opinion on body scanners quite clear. If you have missed it, bottom line is I don’t like them. They violate our privacy and passengers are able to avoid them and request a pat-down, making them pointless.
On Sunday I flew from Tampa to Seattle via Denver and got my first view of the body scanners in action at Tampa International Airport. The scanner is not too imposing, but it is obviously something different. There are a few body images by the scanner that show you what it does, but they are small and people are rushed by them.
The whole time I was waiting in the security line, the body scanner wasn’t being used. By the time I was taking off my shoes, they had started pushing passengers into the scanner versus the metal detector.
I started to get excited. Not to try it out, but to respectfully decline going through the body scanner and get a pat-down instead. Well maybe excited is not the right word. The thought of having some stranger feel around my body isn’t great, but I wanted to take a little stand against the privacy invading machines.
I was flying with my girlfriend, Amy, and even though she knew about the scanners (or had heard me rant about them from time to time), she really didn’t understand my true dislike of them. The two people before us were told to go in the scanners. Then I was next, but I started going to the metal detector instead. I was waiting to be told I had to do the scanner or pulled aside to get a pat-down, but I was not. I just walked through the metal detector while the people in front of me and behind me were all forced into the body scanner. Now that is a big hole in security.
From what I have read, a passenger who does not do the body scanner, must be patted down. However it seemed unorganized and I don’t think the TSA agent at the metal detector realized people were being pushed into the body scanner.
Amy wasn’t so lucky. She felt rushed and not really sure what was going on and didn’t decline being scanned. They made sure she had no foreign items on her, she had to raise her hands and the scanner went around her and then she had to stand outside of the scanner with a TSA agent holding her in a roped off area (everyone had to do this). He was waiting for someone in another area to view her body images and confirm she was clean. He was talking to them via radio, but they didn’t seem to be working. It took about a minute for him to get a response that the two females could go (Amy was one of them). I trust it was a radio error and those images weren’t on the screen any longer than they needed to be.
After I was done and Amy was waiting to hear she was clear to go, I was taking some photos of her and the scanner. This is when the TSA sprung into action. From the metal detector I heard, “sir, you cannot do that.” I confirmed he was talking to me and that I wasn’t allowed to take photos of the body scanner. I am not exactly sure if there are rules against taking photos. I guess someone might take photos and learn how to beat the system? Well I don’t need to take photos to see how the system doesn’t really work, you just had to ask for a pat-down or in my case, just go through the metal detector. They never came over to take my photos or talk to me, so obviously it couldn’t have been that big of a deal to them.
What doesn’t make sense is they took action against me for taking photos, but no one noticed I didn’t go through the body scanner nor get a pat-down. It is so inconsistent. By no means was I trying to do this on purpose, but I imagine similar experiences are happening like this all around the world.
I know I talk negatively about these scanners, but I feel there is some hope in the near future. There are body scanners with Automated Target Recognition that have the ability where no human actually sees your image. The computer looks at your body scan and if there are any foreign items, it will flag you and the TSA will inspect you. There is a display of a stick figure only. If they had this version, which didn’t violate privacy, and it was required, not optional, I could get behind the body scanners. But until then, I will continue to voice my strong opinion against them and about the inconsistencies of their usage. However, the TSA says there is no system they feel meets their security needs yet.
Fort Wayne International Airport is the latest airport to get the full-body scanners, which brings the total US airports to 23. I have not hidden my opinion that full-body scanners are a bad choice due to the fact that they violate a passenger’s privacy and can be easily avoided.
Last week a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) worker at Miami International Airport ended up being arrested, after a co-worker teased him about his genitals.
Rolando Negrin was being scanned as a training exercise when a co-worker started to repeatedly harass him for the size of his “manhood.” Witnesses say Negrin lost it and started to hit his co-worker with a police baton. Negrin could be heard saying in Spanish, “get on your knees or I will kill you and you better apoligise [sic].”
The TSA has a zero-violence policy and stated, “we are investigating to determine whether other officers may have violated procedures in a training session with coworkers and committed professional misconduct.”
The TSA likes to note that this incident was internal and did not involve the general public. However, we have already seen the body scanners abused in public once and as they are used more, I am sure we will see them abused again.
When scanning passengers, the TSA says that a screener views the live image in a remote location and the images will be permanently deleted, never being stored. However, in a letter to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the TSA states they have 2,000 test images stored, using TSA personal, at its test facility. This means that the system has the capability to store images, not to mention workers could sneak in cameras or phones.
EPIC has tried to gain access to the test images to see how privacy might be violated, but the TSA has refused to release them. EPIC has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security under the Freedom of Information Act seeking details about the government’s use of advanced imaging technology. Many fear if the scans are publicly released, it will allow people to learn how to beat the system. Right now the system is really easy to beat, just refuse to be scanned and ask for a pat-down.
How much is all this wonderful security costing you, the tax payers? Only $6Billion per year. According to Stanford Daily, when airport security was still privatized in 2001, it only cost $700Million. Even in comparing with 2001 prices, that is $700million versus $4.6Billion.
It is frustrating to see stories like this continue to pop-up. I am sure this will not be the last story of a passenger’s rights being violated. Stay tuned…
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