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This holiday, TSA asks passengers be nice, not naughty, as more travelers become unruly

Lead TSA Officer Dina Miller.jpg
Ann Thompson
/
WVXU
At CVG, Lead Transportation Security Officer Dina Miller stands in front of illegal or prohibited items.

Agents nationwide have confiscated a record number of guns from passengers trying to carry them on, totaling 5,700 this year. Forty-four were detected at CVG.

Get ready for a long, drawn-out holiday travel season that begins this weekend and lasts through Jan. 3.

“We expect to see a heavy volume a couple of days before Christmas, the 23rd and 24th, and you also see a rush back on the third of January,” says TSA Spokesperson Mark Howell, speaking to reporters at CVG Tuesday.

The Christmas rush is a lot longer than Thanksgiving break, with 21 million people traveling over 10 days, he says. The good news is TSA staffing levels are improving.

What’s concerning is the number of guns passengers are trying to carry on. Nationwide, more than 5,700 guns have been detected, with 44 at CVG so far this year. That’s the highest ever, according to TSA.

“So, we want people to really think about that," Howell says. "You can take a gun with you when you travel but bringing it with you through the security checkpoint is the absolute wrong way to do it, and it’s going to get you a civil penalty from TSA as well as anything local law enforcement decides to do on their end.”

Here’s a TSA video on how to transport firearms and ammunition through checked luggage:

As unruly passengers continue to be a problem in the air, TSA wants to make sure they aren’t so on the ground. The agency has started a “Be Nice” campaign.

“Just be nice," Howell says. "These guys are here with the mission of trying to keep you safe, trying to get you from point A to point B.”

What food can I take on a plane?

Frozen liquids could be one option. “Completely frozen foods are OK because they are considered solids, but a general rule for food - and same for Christmas and same for Thanksgiving - if you can pump it, pour it, spread it or spray it and it is more than 3.4 ounces than it needs to go into your checked luggage,” Howell says.

He says pies and cakes are fine to carry on.

Speaking of food... robots will now bring it to you at CVG

Ottonomy is piloting delivery robots at CVG. Passengers order the food online and the robot brings it to them at their gate. “Then you go meet the bot," Airport Spokesperson Mindy Kershner says. "You scan a QR code, it will open, and then you can grab your items. We’re just testing this technology. We’re really trying to advance it, gather additional research. So we will be out in the concourse talking to travelers, their experience, encouraging them to try this technology.”

Another bot is testing carrying people’s luggage, as reported by WVXU in this story.

What about using your face as a boarding pass?

It may not be too far in the future when TSA uses a different type of technology: facial recognition. It has a Biometrics Roadmap and is supporting Delta’s test of facial recognition in Atlanta.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.