TSA Screening at CVG - Tour of Facility

Old Jun 4, 07, 7:26 am
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TSA Screening at CVG - Tour of Facility

I recently had the opportunity to attend the CVG Delta Do and this past Saturday we got to tour many areas of the airport normally off-limits to passengers.

As part of the tour, the TSA was kind enough to show us their checked baggage screening operations at CVG terminal 3 (DL/NW/CO/AF). If any TSAers out there work at CVG, Thank You!

After touring the Delta Ramp/Operations tower in the B concourse, we proceeded down to the checked luggage area. CVG is a well built airport and they have a good sized basement area in B airside where this takes place (one level below the tarmac - I believe the FIS area on the ground floor was directly above us).

First, CVG is getting ready to build a full inline system for screening in this area. This will mean only bags that alarm the CTX will get diverted for manual inspection and a lot of baggage will remain untouched.

Currently, the setup uses CTX machines with ETD stations for suitcases that do alarm. There are camera's in this area - some visible and I also observed a few that weren't as visible as I looked around the area. Between the eye in the sky and a team of employees working closely together, I don't believe theft is an issue at CVG.

My overall impression in the brief time I spent down there was the employees were honest, hard working individuals. I am not fan of the TSA and many their crackpot policies, but what I saw appeared to be well run and operated. Screening luggage is one of the measures I do support and I do believe it provides a needed layer of security.

Thanks is due to Delta Air Lines, the CVG TSA, and Holly with the TSA at CVG; she kindly provided the tour and answered questions. Of course this wouldn't be possible without tkey75 who setup the entire event.

How many other facilities with screening behind the scenes have the eye in the sky and other provisions in place to guard against theft? I know other airports screen behind the scenes and the goal at most airports is to get the CTX machines out of the lobby and to be screening luggage in a non-public area.

I honestly believe the largest problem, with respect to luggage theft, is the unlocked luggage policy. A good lock with the proper suitcase is a deterrant. I speculate that when you transfer through some of the big city airports (JFK, LAX, ORD) - or some destinations overseas (where locked baggage is the norm) - that you are more likely to encounter an unhonest employee who takes advantage of the open bags.

Moving on, the Delta operations folks had a lot of good things to say about the TSA at CVG, including the fact they have a well working relationship between DL and the new FSD. If this were only the case at all airports.

OT: For those of you who missed out, we had the opportunity to climb inside the cargo hold of a 737-800, we all spent about an hour in Delta's operations tower (great view of the field), and Delta did an excellent job with the tour. In the Delta Ramp/Ops tower they spent a good hour answering our "lame-o questions" (Quote from Choula!) and gave us their undivided attention.

To get back onto a security topic to close:

I always thought gate passes meant 'SSSS' treatment? Or is this no longer policy? Most of us had Delta issued Security Documents to clear security and it was the routine just shoes off, empty pockets, and thru the WTMD.

Cheers!

SDF_Traveler

Last edited by SDF_Traveler; Jun 4, 07 at 7:36 am
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Old Jun 4, 07, 10:40 am
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Originally Posted by SDF_Traveler View Post
I always thought gate passes meant 'SSSS' treatment? Or is this no longer policy? Most of us had Delta issued Security Documents to clear security and it was the routine just shoes off, empty pockets, and thru the WTMD.
I'm pretty certain that there's no hard and fast rule that assigns SSSS to gate passes; if that's been your routine experience in the past, I'd say that was a series of errors.
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Old Jun 4, 07, 10:43 am
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Did they make you take off your shoes before the tour?
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Old Jun 4, 07, 10:46 am
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Originally Posted by Superguy View Post
Did they make you take off your shoes before the tour?
LOL.
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Old Jun 4, 07, 5:03 pm
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Did anyone ask directly why passenger paging isn't being done when a bag alarms? All's that needed is a video camera and telephone. I don't like the idea of strangers going through my stuff while I'm not present or watching.
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Old Jun 4, 07, 9:41 pm
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Originally Posted by Wiirachay View Post
Did anyone ask directly why passenger paging isn't being done when a bag alarms? All's that needed is a video camera and telephone. I don't like the idea of strangers going through my stuff while I'm not present or watching.
It's a cost issue. The big emphasis within the TSA is to streamline the operation to make it is as fast and efficient as possible. Passenger interaction in the checked baggage process is extremely labor intensive. Even though the technology and screening process is better today, still a large percentage of bags need to be opened for screening. Paging the passenger would involve placing the bag aside and waiting for the passenger to arrive/not arrive. This is not a practical solution.

When one hundred percent baggage screening was rolled out, the goal was to eliminate passenger participation in the baggage screening process. The simple reason is that it takes much longer to screen a bag while the passenger is present. The airlines were also concerned about creating another waiting station at the airport. That is passengers wait in line at the ticket counter and screening checkpoint, they didn't want to create another line at the baggage screening station. For these reasons, there has been a major push to move baggage screening away from the public.

Could the TSA screen every opened bag only with the passenger present, yes but it would necessitate more TSA resources. I understand why passengers would want this. And I personally would not object to the passenger being present. However there is a cost.

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Old Jun 4, 07, 11:38 pm
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We also watch them inspect one real wreck of a suitcase, strapped from top to bottom and taped from side to side. The owner should seriously consider saving his pennies and buying a new one. A couple of us were quietly better whether or not they would tape it back up. At the conclusion of the inspection, he put the strap back on very carefully and then reached for a big roll of strapping tape.

Two things that always alarm the CTX: peanut butter & barbecue sauce. One civic minded mind FT'er asked aloud if we should always pack barbecue sause together in one suitcase. The less civic minded among us were thinking, "Peanut butter in every suitcase! Shut down the system!".

Originally Posted by SDF_Traveler View Post
I always thought gate passes meant 'SSSS' treatment? Or is this no longer policy? Most of us had Delta issued Security Documents to clear security and it was the routine just shoes off, empty pockets, and thru the WTMD.
At MSP I can always get a gate pass for the WorldClubs on day's notice, and they are never SSSS'd.

Originally Posted by Superguy View Post
Did they make you take off your shoes before the tour?
They even confiscated my wife's 2 oz. bottle of hairspray because none of us had a baggie to put it in. I'm still trying to figure out how a baggie can contain the explosion resulting from such a critical mass of hair spray.

Last edited by MikeMpls; Jun 4, 07 at 11:46 pm
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Old Jun 5, 07, 4:56 am
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Originally Posted by MikeMpls View Post
Two things that always alarm the CTX: peanut butter & barbecue sauce. One civic minded mind FT'er asked aloud if we should always pack barbecue sause together in one suitcase. The less civic minded among us were thinking, "Peanut butter in every suitcase! Shut down the system!".
Most definately one can of peanut butter per suitcase

At MSP I can always get a gate pass for the WorldClubs on day's notice, and they are never SSSS'd.
The one time I received a gate pass was at EWR for World Club Access (was departing intl out of another concourse in 2), I was treated with the full haraSSSSment criteria. There was no "SSSS" on the BP; the EWR supervisor told me all gate passes are subject to extra security. Consistent inconsistency, but I wouldn't expect anything less at EWR.

They even confiscated my wife's 2 oz. bottle of hairspray because none of us had a baggie to put it in. I'm still trying to figure out how a baggie can contain the explosion resulting from such a critical mass of hair spray.
I saw that and rolled my eyes when the TSAer insisted it had to be in a one quart plastic zip-top bag. Dontcha feel much safer now?

If we had time, your wife should have re-claimed it, said it was going to be left with someone landside (then disappear for a minute), and re-enter with said hairspray in pocket.

Just prior to your wife going through, someone went through with a lighter in their shoe. I don't recall who it was, but it took them a second to step up and claim their belongings as everyone waiting got the "no lighters allowed, but you can take upto 4 packets of matches" lecture.

BTW: 3 Puffer Machines at the CVG main security checkpoint? Most I'd ever seen at one checkpoint is two until then.
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