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Los Angeles Times Travel Show: Tidbits about the TSA

January 29, 2012|By Catharine Hamm | Los Angeles Times Travel editor
(Catharine Hamm )

Nico Melendez of the Transportation Security Administration was a last-minute guest at the L.A. Times Travel Show on Sunday at the L.A. Convention Center. In conversation with Chris Erskine, L.A. Times deputy travel editor, Melendez shared these tibidts of information:

--Behavior detection (think micro facial expressions) is now an important part of security but if you see the agents “standing around texting or laughing and joking, please report it,” Melendez said. “If you see something, say something.”

--If you’re in line waiting to get through TSA security and a first-class passenger gets to go ahead of you, don’t blame the TSA. That's the airline, not the TSA.

--TSA confiscated 1,200 guns from carry-on luggage in 2011, Why would people have a handgun in carry-on “Like Assemblyman Tim Donnelly,” Melendez said, “they forgot.” (Donnelly, a Republican legislator from San Bernardino, was recently stopped at Ontario airport when he tried to go through security with a gun.) “That’s 100 guns a month.”

--All that spare change that got left behind at TSA checkpoints? $300,000 a year goes to TSA’s bottom line.

--As much as 30% of TSA’s workforce has military or police training in their background.

--You might one day be able to leave your shoes on. The “global entry program” (expedited clearance) is expanding and Melendez promises more news in a couple of weeks.

--The items in your carry-on that don’t make it through the TSA checkpoint? Don’t call them “confiscated items,” he said. They are “voluntarily abandoned,” he said. You could take them back to the car, mail them to yourself, give them to a loved one to take home.

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