Facial recognition will transform airport security checkpoints

Imagine using technology that never forgets a face, while improving airport security and shortening lines. Such technology exists and may be coming to an airport near you.

Every flyer over the past two decades knows that airport security procedures involve a lot of unpacking, screening and repacking. This is the price that must be paid for using commercial air travel.

Yet, it does not need to be this way, and the Transportation Security Administration has the right idea in testing and deploying biometrics such as facial identification technology at airport security checkpoints.

Although travelers believe that the most important task undertaken by the TSA is detecting threat items, the true role of airport security screening is ensuring that you are the person you claim to be.

The TSA has been working on moving more passengers from “unknown” to “known” status for more than a decade. The first effort in this regard was the introduction of TSA PreCheck in 2011, which gives travelers the privilege (for a fee) of accessing expedited screening lanes. This means that your shoes can stay on, your computers and electronics can stay in your carry-on bag, and light outerwear can remain in place.

The launch of facial identification technology enhances such efforts and has the potential to revolutionize the way that airport security checkpoints are designed and operated.

Facial identification technology ensures that you are who you claim to be. When presenting yourself at a checkpoint, your face becomes your entry pass, based on a repository of pictures that you have voluntarily provided in the past. These pictures are assembled from passports or visas.

Another technology the TSA has deployed to enhance identity verification is Credential Authentication Technology. This, in concert with REAL IDs, which regrettably have been delayed until 2025, as a requirement for

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TSA confiscated record number of guns from airline passengers in 2022

Transportation Security Administration officers confiscated more than 6,542 firearms from airport passengers in 2022 — the highest number recorded since the agency’s inception. Of those guns taken at airport security checkpoints, 88% were loaded, the agency announced Tuesday.  

The confiscations by TSA mark a nearly 10% increase over the 5,972 firearms seized in 2021, which was also a record. 

The agency announced in December that it was raising the maximum civil penalty for a firearms violation from $13,910 to $14,950. 

map showing the airports with the most firearm discoveries in 2022
Airports with the most firearm discoveries, 2022

CBS News

These were the airports with the largest number of guns confiscated last year.

  1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport: 448
  2. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport: 385
  3. George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston: 298
  4. Nashville International Airport: 213
  5. Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix: 196
  6. Orlando International Airport: 162
  7. Denver International Airport: 156
  8. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport: 150
  9. Fort Lauderdale Airport 134
  10. Tampa International Airport: 131  

According to TSA policy, individuals toting either loaded firearms — or unloaded firearms with accessible ammunition — may face fines starting at $3,000, plus a criminal referral to law enforcement. Those with “aggravating circumstances,” including a history of carrying loaded weapons into security checkpoints, could be forced to shell out the maximum fine. 

TSA will grant civil penalty action only after completing an investigation. If passengers violate state laws, TSA refers cases to local authorities. 

TSA is also revoking PreCheck eligibility for at least five years for any passenger caught with a firearm, and it routinely conducts “enhanced screening” for those passengers to ensure no other threats are present.

Passengers who wish to transport firearms are instructed to follow proper packing guidance for firearms in checked baggage, and declare them to their airline at check-in. 

“I am incredibly proud of our dedicated TSA employees who perform the critical task of securing

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TSA found record number of guns in carry-ons. Will new fine help?

Sheldon H. Jacobson

The Transportation Security Administration found 6,542 guns at airport security checkpoints last year, and almost 90% were loaded. The number of firearms detected at checkpoints has increased every year since 2010, with the exception of 2020, when air travel was depressed due to the pandemic. 

The TSA also has increased the maximum fine for those found trying to carry a gun through a security checkpoint, from $13,910 to $14,950.

Even so, the takeaway is that nothing will change, and that 2023 will likely report even more firearms discovered at checkpoints. 

Some people carry guns like they carry cellphones

The problem with using fines to deter firearm-carrying passengers is that the majority of people are not bringing their gun with them intentionally and don’t have malicious intent. More frequently, they simply forgot to remove it from their bag.  

There are at least 400 million guns in the United States, about 120 firearms for every 100 people. Most states allow concealed carry either with or without a permit, which means that some people carry a firearm much like they carry their cellphone. People unintentionally bringing a gun to an airport security checkpoint could just be residual leakage from more firearms in the general population and the ease at which they are obtained and carried. 

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Of course, guns can be carried by passengers in their checked luggage, unloaded, in a hard carrying case and declared at check-in.   

If the TSA is serious about people not bringing firearms to security checkpoints, what can they do? 

The Transportation Security Administration found 6,542 guns at airport security checkpoints in 2022.

TSA should get to know air travelers better

Bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint is less about the weapon and more about the person. That 

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TSA’s Record Year for Firearm Detections Saw Multiple Accomplishments

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) remained vigilant to myriad threats in 2022 and reached a new record in firearm interceptions by Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) at checkpoints. Altogether, TSOs stopped 6,542 firearms at airport checkpoints last year and 88% were loaded. TSA is increasing penalties and extending the loss of TSA PreCheck eligibility for up to five years to help ensure 2023 does not surpass 2022’s record. 

The five U.S. airports with the most TSA firearm discoveries include Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which topped the list with 448 firearm finds. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport came in second with 385 followed by Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport with 298; Nashville International Airport with 213 and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport with 196. Orlando International Airport; Denver International Airport; Austin-Bergstrom International Airport; Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Tampa International Airport round out the Top 10. 

Some airports saw a lower total than 2021, indicating that the message not to bring guns to the checkpoint may be getting through, at least in some areas. For example, TSOs in Chicago stopped 85 handguns at Chicago O’Hare International Airport security checkpoints in 2022, and 38 at Chicago Midway International Airport, a decrease for both airports from 2021. Elsewhere, TSOs stopped 21 handguns at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport security checkpoints in 2022, a decrease from the 23 guns caught in 2021. TSOs at Kentucky airports discovered a total of 116 firearms in travelers’ carry-on luggage in 2022, a slight decrease from the 2021 total of 119. North Carolina airports discovered a total of 250 firearms in travelers’ carry-on luggage in 2022, down slightly from the total of 254 found in 2021. Despite the statewide decrease in firearms, Charlotte Douglas International and Asheville Regional airports both saw all-time highs for firearm detections at their security checkpoints

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TSA Issues Tips for Super Bowl Fans and Post-Weekend Travel Rush

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) is hosting some special guests this week who are helping to keep the public safe and secure leading up to and in the days after Super Bowl LVII.

More than 25 TSA explosive detection canines and their TSA handlers are in Phoenix to assist in security operations at key venues at PHX and throughout the Valley of the Sun. These working canines are specially trained to detect explosives and explosive components. Some of the teams work regularly at PHX while others have come from airports from across the country.

At the airport, TSA’s use of explosive detection canines significantly enhances the efficiency of the security screening process, serving as an added layer of security. Away from the airport, the dogs can work in a variety of locations and use their keen sense of smell to augment existing security efforts.

The canines have been trained to navigate among large groups of people to pinpoint the source of an explosive odor, often without the source being aware and even if the source is mobile. The handlers are trained to read the dog’s behavior when it indicates an explosive scent has been detected. If a dog alerts its handler to something suspicious, TSA follows an established procedure to resolve the alarm.

TSA’s canines are regularly tested to ensure they maintain excellent scent capabilities. While they are sociable, they are working canines so they should not be petted or fed by anyone except their handlers.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has classified Super Bowl LVII as a Special Event Assessment Rating (SEAR) Level 1, which qualifies it for extensive federal support. More than 650 DHS personnel are currently involved in dedicated security operations in and around the Phoenix area.


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