Monday, June 2, 2008

Techno Security - Travel

I had such an exciting adventure attempting to get down to Techno Security that I decided I needed to have a dedicated blog entry about it. Please note this is a break from IR and forensics.

My day began at 6 am. I arrived in Philadelphia for my connecting flight to Myrtle Beach around 1pm. My flight was scheduled to leave at 3:30. No worries, just a 2 hour layover...yeah right. And that's when things went awry.

As an experiment in not just awareness but self-amusement I decided to take my notebook with me on my trip so I could take notes on what happened during my trip and write down any observations at the same time. So without further ado, here are some observations, quotes and other stories from my beleaguered trip down.

The following is from my Airport of Origin:

Observation: 9:15am

"8 TSA guys at baggage check. One spinning in chair getting dizzy, standing up then attempting to walk. Other TSA employees standing by laughing".

- comment - tax dollars hard at work, no problem with homeland security here.

At the security check I attempt to add a little humor to the screening process.

TSA Guard:"How are you today"
Me:"Overdressed apparently" This in reference to the de-robing that passengers must undergo.
TSA Guard:"I take it you have to pee"
Me:"No not really".

She clearly did not get my brand of humor.

-comment- Why is it that I can't take a certain size container of "liquids or gel" onboard but I can take bomb making components - copper wire, batteries, tools etc.

-comment- Oh great a turboprop, I love massaging chairs.

10:00am Young man across the way using a macbook sets it down on the chair next to him, and goes to bathroom.
10:05am Young man returns
10:18 Old man across the way using an Asus EEEPC sets it down on chair next to him, and walks down the hallway.
10:23 Old man returns

-comment- Can people really be that trusti..stupid?

I refer to Johnny Long at this point...No Tech Hacking all the way.

There were two women sitting behind me at the airport having a very candid discussion about HR issues in a corporation. I won't get in to details but let's just say people need to be more aware of the conversations they have in public. We do pay attention even if we appear to be "pre-occupied". I was pre-occupied with capturing their conversation.

The following is from Philadelphia:

After 2 hours of the following comment our plane arrived...
Woman at Gate: "The flight to Myrtle Beach is running behind schedule due to weather. As soon as it arrived it will need to be fueled, cleaned and catered. As soon as that's done we'll begin the boarding process".

After a relatively short boarding process the captain gets on and says (by the way you never want to hear this)
Pilot flight 3245: "Ladies and gentlemen, unfortunately we can't push off yet, it looks like we took a bird in the #2 engine and maintenance just needs to take a look at it".

Observation - The maintenance crew pulls up and "takes a look at it" and essentially confirmed "yep there's a bird in the engine" and drove off.

My plane finally pushes off from the gate and we make it out to the tarmac for taxi and as we are pulling near the runway I look out the window and see approximately 15 airplanes stacked up in holding positions. Uh-oh that can't be good...

Pilot Flight 3245: "Folks this is the captain on the flight deck. I have bad news, they're holding up all the southbound flights at this time. There's a line of thunderstorms over virginia that's slowly moving east. It's going to be about 15 minutes before they update us".

25 minutes later...

Pilot Flight 3245: "Folks, we're headed back to the gate. They've found us a new flight path that will take about 2 hours but we don't have enough fuel. We need to head back to the gate to refuel and we'll be on our way. Thank you for your patience, we're trying to get you to Myrtle Beach as soon as possible."

At the gate some time later...

Pilot Flight 3245: "I know it's a pretty depressing situation folks. The flight attendant's will bring around water if you need a drink."

30 minutes later still at the gate...

Flight attendant (speaking to woman nearby):"No Ma'am I have no idea, I've been in the back there and know less than you." This in reference to what's taking so long and when we're going to leave.

The plane finally pushes off again and as we are being backed up so we can begin to taxi, the plane is all of a sudden heading back to the how odd. When we get back to the gate the co-captain opens the flight deck door and gets on the radio and says..

Co-captain:"Ladies and gentlemen I have a bit of bad news...we've missed our flight window and the big wigs upstairs have said we can't go. We missed our flight window, your crew has been in service for 15 hours and the FAA won't let us fly because we've timed out. Please bear with us, we're going to try to find a new crew."

Meanwhile, the baggage loading vehicle has approached the plane and is unloading us...

Flight attendant: "Ladies and gentlemen we have some good news to bring a smile to your faces. I'm breaking out the liquor cart. Ya'll have put up with more than you should have to today to I'm going to bring around the liquor cart."

The flight attendant made it through the first 1/3rd of the plane before they de-planed the passengers. Great I didn't even get a drink.

And this folks is where we start to have some real fun. Emergency planning 101: HAVE A PLAN.

At this point there are over 100 angry passengers that have spent the last 4 hours, waiting for their plane to take off. Not a lot of happy people... The airline set up three gates to re-ticket passengers, provide hotel and food vouchers and handle issues.
Fantastic..except it took about 15 minutes per passenger. Now what you ask did they do about the angry passengers? That's right they called security on them. By the time I arrived at the desk, all hotel vouchers had been used and they couldn't find me a hotel room anywhere. Another 30 minutes of waiting..

I walk over to the Airport Marriot at 9:15 or so and check myself in.

The next morning I arrived at security. My Driver's license was viewed as suspicious by TSA..why? Because my address had been crossed off on the front and was written by hand on the back on a DMV sticker. Apparently in NY this is acceptable, but not in Philadelphia. Interesting...TSA has different policies in different areas? Note if you will that TSA said nothing in the NY airport. Maybe the guards should have done more than spin in chairs and get dizzy.

I arrived in Myrtle Beach a day late - the day the conference started. My bag as it turns out was on a different that got delayed. So, I was in two day old clothes, full of airplane stink and I couldn't check in to my hotel room because it was too what else could I do but hit the conference?

The airline you ask? US Airways...


Rob said...

Ok.. this is where our trips to techno seem very similar... ( The other 3 days seem Alien to me as I was "able to attend 3 presentations, obtain a lovely Suntan, and consume copious amounts of Booze.. It's what I call a Paid vacation..!!)

My Trip down from Pittsburgh was "OK" delays and I did receive my luggage in one piece at the Myrtle Airport. Now the key I think was flying through Charlotte. The Return Trip..well.. through DULLES (DC) was a disaster. Not to totally blame the airlines here.. the Weather was the instigator.. but on Wednesday the Flight from Myrtle was boarded..then we were promptly asked to get back off the no one in or out of DULLES due to weather...
We, of course ,missed our connectors in DULLES and were sentenced to 45 minutes waiting in line at the United Customer service center. At about that 45 minute mark my traveling companion got the bright idea to attempt to use one of the ignored (*5 of them) kiosk that we were standing by while inline. Well if that didn't let us just print out some new boarding passses.. BRILLIANT! The rest of the line didn't quite get it.. and it mystifies me that no one in UA Customer Service didn't direct people to them. It surely would have cut down the workload and the line greatly.
We bolt from one terminal in Dulles to anotherto get to where our newly schedule flight should be (more later on that!)... and this is in a Completely different building. So you are tasked with taking a very strange, but kinda cool, bus like deal. This thing was on Stilts or something and was height adjustable by the driver. All I could think of when approaching the stop was some type of space transport.. like a shuttle docking with the enterprise while in space dock.. We needed the cool music for that though..
Needless to say the Gate we were all waiting at for the flight to Pittsburgh changed for some reason to a post 1:00 am flight to Montreal.. with no notice but a change of the monitor (which, according to my travel companion, should skip the artsy french street scene art and concentrate on Flight Departure info.. Which I agree with). Luckily we closely examined the Deparure board..and of note the old DR.Watson had a pop up window or two displaying.. (Hmmm what os is that?) Anyways I digress.. the flight gate had been secrely changed on another Gate in another area.. oh my..
We did get back to Pittsburgh, landing at approx. 0130 hrs.. which we were sheduled to get it near 6:00 PM the day before. Or course the lost luggage line was long..and I got out of the Airport at approx 0230 hrs. Good news though.. The Luggage did make it to me.. A day and half later..after being put on a completely different airline alltogether to get closer to my home. Why didn't they just ship the thing FedEx or something?? I will never know...

Oh.. Props to Vantos for thier Stripper/Cop thing.. It's a far cry from the GSA and IBM booths.. a bit spiritually closer to the Paraben display (Of which I think Amber will be getting an idea from for next year!)... I know I will remember I was cornered by stripper cop on Monday AM and was caught completely off guard. I was probaly 3 shades of Red.. I did learn that the "chicks" were Hooter's girls who moolighted with an Agency.. Good memories..
Johnny Long was good as usual. If you buy a few of his books and seem him couple of times you could probably skipped it.. but he is entertaining and educational.. While in Dulles I pointed out and Shoulder surfed a guy with some electronic Schematic on his Laptop. I didn't have a spy camera to document it.. but you certainly notice it after a Ninja Hacker presentation...

Nice work on the Blog and website!!!