MyTSA app helps returning Jedi (and ordinary humans) fly more efficiently

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It is summer, and travel season is upon us.

The annual summer air travel forecast released by the industry trade association for the leading US airlines predicts that those airlines will carry a total of 206.2 million passengers from June through August this year. That is an average of 2.24 million travelers taking to the skies every day this summer.

To alleviate long lines and provide answers to the most commonly asked travel questions 24/7, the Transportation Security Administration has developed a mobile website and application that puts the information you need to get you through security and onto your flight right at your fingertips (and with as little a headache as possible).

The MyTSA iPhone app has multiple functions, including one that allows travelers to find out what they can and can't take with them through a security checkpoint before boarding a plane. The results of a query will answer if an item can be carried on, put in checked baggage, or if it's not permitted. If a specific item is not listed in the "Can I Bring?" tool, you can submit it through the app to TSA for consideration. But the “Can I Bring?” database for baggage items has already cataloged more than 2,500 items of almost any nature you can imagine, including the signature weapon of the Jedi Order: lightsabers.

According to Wookieepedia, the very image of the lightsaber is inextricably bound with the mythos of the Jedi and synonymous with the Order's values to uphold peace and justice throughout the galaxy. No Jedi would want to board a plane without one.

According to the “Can I bring?” database, MyTSA reports that while the technology doesn’t yet exist to create a real lightsaber, you can pack a toy lightsaber in your carry-on or checked bag. The TSA app adds: “May the Force be with you.”

Other tools that can be accessed on the MyTSA app include the following:

Airport status: Passengers can check what airports are experiencing general delays or search for conditions at a specific airport. This information is provided by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Guide: Passengers can use the guide tool to find the rules for liquids, gels, and aerosols; ID rules; tips for packing and dressing to speed up the security process; and guidelines for traveling with children and those with special needs.

Security wait times: Passengers can post the amount of time they waited to get through security for other travelers to view. TSA notes that the more people that contribute to the wait time function on the app, the better it works for everyone. 

So whether you're a kid returning home with a gift from your grandparents or a lifelong fan attending Star Wars Celebration VI, there is a new hope for travelers in the form of a creative government mobile app to make your trip a little easier.

In the age of the Internet and increasing interconnectivity, the federal government has sought new and innovative ways to provide citizens with the information and services they need. It comes as no surprise that for its efforts, the Transportation Security Administration was given the award for Best Government Mobile App from the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC).  The ACT-IAC annually honors programs that have pushed the boundaries of the federal government’s information technology to improve services to citizens, enhance government operations, and provide a more open and transparent government.

To use the MyTSA mobile site go to You can also find the MyTSA iPhone app on iTunes. There is currently no Android version of the app, but the mobile website is easy to navigate from your smartphone.

To see other government applications designed for the public, visit


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Harrison Gilbert works for the Corporate Affairs team at Red Hat. He is a graduate student at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.


Having used the TSA's "Security Checkpoint Wait" website to find the average wait times for my particular departure airport, having the ability to update the actual wait times compared to the average wait times and making that information available in an App sounds like a great idea. I'll be downloading this App and giving it a try on my next flight.

TSA's MyTSA Web application incorrectly <a href=
"">states</a> that all passengers 18 years of age and older must present documentation of their identity "in order to go through security". In fact, the only documentation passengers are required to present in order to pass a TSA checkpoint is a boarding pass. TSA employee Jonathon Breedon testified to this fact in Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court in January, 2011. See the <a href="">Identity Project</a>'s "<a href="">State of New Mexico v. Phillip Mocek FAQ</a>" and "<a href="">What's wrong with showing ID?</a>" for related information.

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