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SITA forms group to address US airport security threats 20 March 2017 16:06 GMT

SITA has announced the formation of the Secure Journeys Working Group to address today s airport security threats in the US and to work towards creating a secure and efficient passenger experience throughout the airport. The launch of the Secure Journeys initiative is in response to the current security climate and recent attacks on non-secure areas of the airport, including the Brussels airport bombing and Fort Lauderdale airport shooting. Members of the working group cite these incidents as examples that demonstrate the need to rethink the approach to getting passengers through the airport quickly and safely.

Because CVG is a mid-market airport, we have the unique ability to quickly test the effectiveness of emerging technology on security and efficiency, says Brian Cobb, vice president of Customer Services, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG). As a member of Secure Journeys, we can use our knowledge to help shape recommendations to the TSA and CBP based on real-world experience rather than untested concepts. We look forward to collaborating as a community to ensure the safety and convenience of the traveling public. Secure Journeys is an evolution and expansion of SITA s Border Automation User Group which was formed in 2015 to facilitate implementation of the US Customs and Border Protection s (CBP) Automated Passport Control program.

The newly extended group will address growing challenges, including:

Moving passengers and baggage more rapidly through non-secure areas of the airport, such as check-in and baggage claim areas
Reducing and effectively managing security wait times to reduce lines of people in non-secure areas
Incorporating biometrics for passenger screening authentication
Addressing ways in which identity management solutions can be used along with data analytics to reduce the growing concerns around the insider threat.

According to SITA, the value of Secure Journeys is its ability to bring together experts and representatives from across the air transport spectrum to provide input and recommendations based on their unique perspective and experience. Given the Administration s focus on transportation security and commitment to large-scale investment for the nation s infrastructure, the solutions and recommendations identified by Secure Journeys are vital to informing key decision makers.

As the US government looks for answers to a new set of threats passengers face, Secure Journeys will identify solutions to common soft target challenges, passenger screening and insider threats and develop a set of recommended standards for US airports to adopt, says David Menzel, sales director Government Markets, SITA, founding member, Secure Journeys. We look forward to continuing work with the Department of Homeland Security and our airline and airport partners to make America s airports safer and improve the overall passenger experience from reservation to destination.

Flier makes it through airport security with loaded gun in her purse

Guns get through TSA checkpoints more often than you might think. A 2015 report from the Department of Homeland Security revealed undercover investigators got through TSA checkpoints with banned weapons in 95 percent of trials. In response, Homeland Security leaders laid out steps to take in order to improve airport security, which is why we ll continue to see changes like the new pat-down procedures TSA is now performing.


One Colorado woman can certainly attest to that after she accidentally made it all the way through security and onto the plane with a gun in her purse. She said, It was really scary how easy it was to get a gun past TSA.


Still worried about consequences, she wanted to stay anonymous. It was an airport in Charlotte, North Carolina where she went through security, got to her gate and realized her loaded revolver was still in her purse.

My first inclination was I needed to tell someone about this but I knew that there would be repercussions. she said. I would have definitely gone to jail.

She instead called her mom who works in the airline industry. Her mom said to go to the bathroom, unload it and pray no one sees it, which is exactly what she did, making it all the way to her destination in Texas without anyone knowing the mistake she had made. She said, It was disturbing to know that a loaded revolver which is a pretty, I mean it s a small revolver but it s heavy and it s metal, that that got through the scanner. According to the 2015 Homeland Security report, this happens a lot more often than we might think.

People make mistakes. Obviously I m not the only one that in the rush of getting to the airport forgot to take their gun out. she said. Take your time, in the rush of getting to the airport to make sure that is left at home and locked up.

Click for more from Fox 21.[3]


  3. ^ Click for more from Fox 21. (

Leaked: TSA documents reveal New York airport’s wave of security lapses

Leaked: TSA Documents Reveal New York Airport's Wave Of Security Lapses

NEW YORK — Sensitive documents leaked after a data exposure at an upstate New York airport have revealed several major security lapses in recent years. Dozens of files seen by ZDNet list a catalog of security failings[1] over the past few years at Stewart International Airport, about 60 miles north of Manhattan, which serves hundreds of thousands of passengers each year, including high-profile guests and private charter flights. The cache build up a unique picture of insider threats, breaches, and lapses that acknowledge the difficulty in keeping airside security to a high standard, even at smaller airports.

In one such instance, documents seen by ZDNet[2] show how airport staff was for an unknown period in 2010 unable to screen names against the US government’s watchlist of suspected terrorists who were forbidden from flying in its airspace. A response letter[3] by the airport manager confirmed that the airport “did not have access to the list,” and therefore badge-holding staff at the airport were not being screened properly. The airport had to enlist the help of neighboring Westchester County airport to carry out the checks, the letter added.

Leaked: TSA Documents Reveal New York Airport's Wave Of Security Lapses

Leaked: TSA Documents Reveal New York Airport's Wave Of Security Lapses

The government’s “no-fly” list currently prevents around 47,000 passengers from within, into, or out of US airspace, according to leaked documents[4], a figure that rocketed during the Obama administration. But the list has proven controversial, not least because it’s shrouded in secrecy. Only a select few people who have challenged their membership are even aware that they have been on the list, which includes regular citizens to diplomats and politicians[5]. Sister-site CBS News obtained a copy[6] of the no-fly list in 2006, which showed that the list is riddled with mistaken identities, wrongly added names, and even dead people. It’s not clear what led to the screening mishap, but emails found in the cache of exposed file show one security-cleared employee of AVPorts, a third-party operations provider that manages the airport, regularly downloaded the no-fly list from a secure Homeland Security portal.

A former head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) explained that both passengers and airport staff are checked against the no-fly list centrally, making it more difficult to slip through the cracks.

“All airline passengers are screened for the no-fly list automatically by TSA centrally when a flight reservation is made,” said Kip Hawley, who helped to found the agency following the September 11 attacks. “It looks like the airport is supposed to screen badge-holders against the no-fly list, and maybe they weren’t doing that so they got the notice of violation,” he said. But Hawley said that the so-called “insider threat” remains a concern. One email seen by ZDNet showed that the airport was concerned about the issue following an arrest of a Long Island, NY resident, which resulted in the discovery of a counterfeit badge for LaGuardia airport. The email said that had staff not properly checked the badge, it may have allowed an uncleared person to enter the airport’s secure area.

“Please keep in mind that this could happen at any airport and we must be vigilant,” read the email sent by a senior security official at Stewart airport.

Federal agencies continue to put greater scrutiny on the security protocols and policies of smaller airports, including Stewart, in the wake of the threat posed by the so-called Islamic State. Among the concerns are that potential fighters who try to join the terror group on the ground in Syria and Iraq may aim to travel through smaller, regional airports in order to avoid detection by the authorities. One field intelligence note[7] found among the exposed files, published by Homeland Security in April 2016, said terrorists “may continue to choose smaller airports… as preferred, more attractive departure points for foreign fighter travel,” because security is perceived to be not as strict as larger international airports.

That makes the risks greater and the need to ensure tight security controls all the more important. A review of various letters of investigation received by the airport over the past decade point to as many as 15 separate investigations carried out by the TSA each year as a result of security lapses at the airport. TSA inspectors wrote in one letter of investigation[8] in 2010 that some in the airport’s corporate transit zone installed card readers that allowed direct access to the air operations area, a highly restricted area of the airside tarmac where aircraft depart, arrive, and maneuver.

Another letter of investigation[9] from 2011 found an unsecured baggage carousel key, which provides direct access to the airport’s secure area. The key was lent from a member of one airline’s staff to another, but it was later left on a ticket counter when the airline staff returned the key. And, a letter of investigation[10] from mid-2012 detailed a list of multiple claimed violations, including unsupervised and unescorted access to non-cleared contractors and visitors to highly sensitive and restricted parts of the airport, known as security identification display areas. But a concerted effort by the airport to improve security over the past three years has paid off.

One email sent by the airport’s security manager earlier last year confirmed that the TSA had not sent any letters of investigation during 2015. Also, a comprehensive security review by TSA inspectors in the same year concluded with no findings of concern, the email said. A spokesperson for the Port Authority referred comment to AVPorts. Representatives for the company did not respond to multiple requests for comment prior to publication.

An email requesting comment to the TSA went unreturned.



  1. ^ a catalog of security failings (
  2. ^ seen by ZDNet (
  3. ^ response letter (
  4. ^ to leaked documents (
  5. ^ to diplomats and politicians (
  6. ^ obtained a copy (
  7. ^ field intelligence note (
  8. ^ letter of investigation (
  9. ^ letter of investigation (
  10. ^ letter of investigation (
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