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Albany Airport, TSA Offer Summer Travel Tips

TSA Director Bart Johnson; TSA Agent Francesco Genovesi
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
TSA Director Bart Johnson; TSA Agent Francesco Genovesi

With the summer travel season upon us, Transportation Security Administration officials were at Albany International Airport today to talk about items that need to be checked under the current terror threat.

TSA screening got some good press this week after it was revealed agents at Albany International Airport found a diamond setting a Florida woman lost from her engagement ring while going through screening. She sent TSA officers a thank-you note and told local media outlets she never met as amazing a team of workers in the airline or security industry as the one in Albany.

TSA officials seized the buzz publicize the screening system and why it's crucial to follow guidelines in these troubled times.

Based at Albany, Bart Johnson is a federal security director who works at many airports for the TSA. He wants travelers to be fully aware that the process conducted at the airport is meant to ensure safety and security.   "There's very well-spoken officers out there who are saying 'take your shoes off, take your laptop out, make sure you don't have A, B, C or D in the bag with you,' and just listen to them. And remember why we do these things. We still take our shoes off because of Richard Reid, December 2001. We also, obviously, have to take the computers out, and that's because of the electronics ban and innovation of the terrorists that we're facing. Take everything out of your pockets so you don't receive an alarm, and that's because of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, December 25th, 2009. So the threat is there. We're asking you to do things based on the intelligence that is being developed by the intelligence community to keep you safe and make sure that you arrive at your destination very safely."

Francesco Genovesi, a veteran TSA officer stationed at Albany International, says screening has changed dramatically over the years.   "In the beginning we allowed liquids on board the aircraft, and I can remember the day the liquid ban began, it was a very chaotic day. We all banded together and tried to inform the public prior to coming through what the requirements were that day. And ever since then we still do have passengers that come through with liquids and they don't understand that it's not allowed through checkpoint if it's more than 3.4 ounces. Although sometimes we do feel pressure, with the lines building, we are not supposed to speed up."

Passengers are reminded to be at the airport at least 90 minutes prior to departure time.  Airport officials say they expect more than 500,000 passengers to pass through Albany International during July and August.  Go to the TSA website for additional information.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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