Chicago O’Hare:  Not All Security Scanner Lanes Are Created Equal….

Chicago O’Hare: Not All Security Scanner Lanes Are Created Equal….

On a recent trip to Europe that required me to head over to Terminal 5 for my trans-atlantic flight, I was told by a security screener that not all screening equipment is created equal and that there is a bit of ‘secret’ when trying to clear security as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Terminal 5, also know as the International Terminal, is laid out in such a manner that makes it difficult to have multiple security lines based on status levels or class of travel.   Due to the physical bottleneck at security screening, most of the time all passengers are herded through only 2 lines that head toward the screening equipment.   There is a Business / First Class ‘Express’ lane that’s open occasionally based on the timing of some flight departures, but I’ve never seen it open and I have many departures from T-5 under my belt.  Nor is there a Pre-Check lane for those of us enrolled in the program since most international airlines are not enrolled, except for Lufthansa as far as Euro carriers are concerned.

As I was saying, on my last trip to Europe I was flying out of Terminal 5 so I figured I had to endure the long security lines without much chance of being to clear the line faster than anyone else.   Once I got past the point where my Passport and ID are checked, I made my way to the security scanners.   I chose to go the far right of the screening area since the line was shortest.  I also applied the stereotyping process used in ‘Up In The Air’ to avoid the families that seemed to be traveling for the first time ever and would have little clue how to handle security.   I chose the line that had the kind of people in it that I thought would know what they’re doing.   Glad I did.

When I came to the tray to put on my bags and began to reach for my shoes, the agent told me to keep my shoes and belt on.   Of course I had to ask why since I hadn’t seen any new rules regarding passenger screening.   The agent indicated that the scanner that I was going to go through was dialed up with stronger screening ability so that  passengers can leave shoes and belts on during screen.   Great…kind of a ‘Pre-Check’ lite!   I still needed to take my electronics out, but thats a small price to pay in order to keep my shoes and belt on.

I asked her why the difference and she simply replied that the 2 machines at the far right of the screening area are dialed up to help increase the flow of passenger screening during peak time and are sometimes used as overflow lanes to get people through faster.

So what does all this mean?

The next time you have a T-5 departure from O’Hare, pay attention when you pass through the ID/Passport check.   May your way to the 2 scanners at the far right of the screening area.  There’s a chance that you’ll have a much easier time getting through screening without going through all the steps that everyone else has to endure (shoes/belts,etc).

Now keep in mind that this is just my experience and ‘Your Mileage May Vary’, but I doubt that the scanners are re-adjusted too many times.   If the scanners are open, head there.   If not, pay attention to the scanner lines to see if any of them are letting passengers keep their shoes on.   You just might have a slightly easier time of clearing security in a Terminal where it’s normally not easy to do.

BREAKING: Explosions Rock Brussels Airport (Continuous Updates)

BREAKING: Explosions Rock Brussels Airport (Continuous Updates)

Just after 8am local time in Brussels, 2 explosions have been reported to have taken place at Brussels’ airport.   At the risk of speculating, the nature and location of the explosions suggest that these were most likely bomb attacks.  The airport has been closed to air traffic and will not open until 6am on 23 March (initial plans).

Based on uncorroborated ‘tweets’ coming from passengers in the terminal, it has been suggested that one potential suicide bomber was located near a check in area near the American Airlines desks (According to RT.com).

According to news reports, gun fire was heard in the terminal as well as shouting in Arabic moments before the bombs were detonated.

Officials indicate that there are numerous casualties and 13 deaths (According to various media).

Rail service to and from the airport has been suspended.  In addition, all Metro services in Brussels have been suspended after bombs were set off inside the Maelbeek and Schuman stations.  Eurostar service has also been reported to be suspended until further notice,

If your travels involve transiting Brussels, be prepared to have your plans interrupted today.   Call your airlines to seek alternatives.  If you fear that friends or family may have been impacted at the airport, an emergency Hotline has been established:  +32 2 506 711.

Extensive Terminal damage is evident. Courtesy: www.Airlive.net

Extensive Terminal damage is evident. Courtesy: www.Airlive.net

 

Photo courtesy of RT.com

Photo courtesy of RT.com via @WardMonkey

New Alcohol and Drug Testing Coming For Pilots In Germany and EU

New Alcohol and Drug Testing Coming For Pilots In Germany and EU

In what has taken nearly a year, Germany is prepared to amend its Aviation Act so that policies can be added that will subject pilots to random screening for Alcohol, Illegal Drugs, and Prescription Medications.    This initiative comes as a direct result of the Germanwings crash that took place on March 24, 2015 where it was determined that the pilot who caused the crash was under medical treatments that were not disclosed to Lufthansa.

In addition to the screening policy, the proposed revisions also include the creation of database that will track pilots and their medical conditions so that they can no longer be hidden from the pilot’s employer.    This was an issue with the Germanwings crash since the doctors examining the pilot who crashed the aircraft did not immediately report the pilot’s medical condition or prescriptions that he was on.   Creating the database would require doctors to submit updates on pilots that they treat so that airlines would be aware of their pilot’s current medical situations.

The update to the Aviation Act now goes to the German Federal Parliament where it will be debated and voted upon.    The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is supporting this initiative and it appears that the policy will be adopted throughout the EU.

Once enacted, the execution of the policy will be the responsibility of the airlines.  They will be responsible for administering the random screenings as well keeping track of their pilots in the database tracking their medical history.