The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported the final daily figure of estimated travel volume for calendar year 2020, closing a year that tested the agency’s ability to innovate and quickly implement modifications across more than 440 federalized airports nationwide to address the pandemic. Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, the agency screened a total of approximately 324 million passengers throughout its airport security checkpoints. That figure represents just 39% of the approximately 824 million total passengers screened in 2019.
A total of 293 firearms have been found in carry-on bags and as improperly packed or undeclared guns in checked luggage at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport so far this year. The TSA reports that 80 to 90 percent of them are loaded.
The Transportation Security Administration unveiled a multistep plan earlier this week to expand facial recognition and biometric use to improve security efficiency and reduce wait times at airport security.
The TSA is considering eliminating passenger screening at more than 150 small and medium-sized airports across the U.S., CNN reports. The proposal would mark a major change for U.S. air travel following 9/11, especially as screening measures for items such as laptops and tablets are increasing.
As part of a broader security push last summer, the Transportation Security Administration began scrutinizing containers of powders in travelers’ carry-on luggage, and the TSA will soon ask foreign airports sending flights directly to the U.S. to do the same.
Over the past few months, airport security hasn’t exactly made good headlines. Except for Miami International Airport. Unlike other airports across the U.S., Miami International Airport screens all employees that enter and exit the secured area of the airport. Miami has four checkpoints for employee screening, seven access gates for inspections of vehicles entering into the airfield, random background checks of employees and a mandatory security awareness class. Last year, the airport confiscated 209 employee ID badges for security violations. The airport has nearly 38,000 employees with ID badges, and 35,000 who have access to restricted areas. I spoke with Lauren Stover, Director of Public Safety and Security at Miami-Dade Aviation Department at the Miami International Airport (MIA) about the proactive stance that she and her team take each day.
The ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks in Paris in January and the threats against shopping malls in the U.S., Canada and the UK by Al-Shaabab highlight threats that call for more fully integrated surveillance solutions to enhance security. The horrifying Paris attacks demonstrated that, while various forms of video were available to record the attackers’ movements during and after the attack, the video wasn’t being made available in real time or near real time to help law enforcement’s response to the attack.