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8/09/2008 – Airline & Airport Terminology Glossary 102
Airlines and Airports don't only have whole language to themselves, they also have a series of acronyms that can often cause confusing among travelers. The acronyms can be even more complex once you enter the realm of international travel.
I can come up with dozens upon dozens of 'alphabet soup' abbreviations, however in this post I will stick to the most common ones you may hear as you walk through the airport.
ADASP: Aviation Direct Access Screening Program. This terminology refers to the TSA's TSOs (yes these two initials will be defined in this post) who patrol airport aircraft gates, and those who screen airline & airport personnel within the airport as well as the cabins of the aircraft
BDO: Behavior Detection Officer. The TSA's BDOs are tasked with detecting body language and human behaviour to aid in the screening of passengers passing through both security check points and the 'general terminal' area.
BAA (UK): British Airport Authority
CAA (UK) : Civil Aviation Authority
CBP: Customs & Boarder Protection. CBP handles immigrations and customs check-points upon entry into the United States.
DFS: Dual Function Screener. A DFS works both in passenger areas screening passengers and in the baggage area screening baggage.
DHS (US DHS): United States Department of Homeland Security
DOT (US DOT): United States Department of Transportation
ETD: Explosive Trace Detection. The ETD is used to check passengers for explosives at some security checkpoints
ETP: Explosive Trace Portal. The ETP is used to check passengers for explosives at some security checkpoints
FA: Flight Attendant
FAA: Federal Aviation Administration
FAM/FAMS: Federal Air Marshal/Federal Air Marshal Service
FFDO: Federal Flight Deck Officer. An FFDO is a Captain or First Officer who armed to defend to the flight deck.
FO: First Officer. The FO is second in command of the aircraft, in the right seat, with three stripes on their epaulets.
HHMD: Hand Held Metal Detector. The HHMD is used by TSA TSOs on passengers who have set off the walk through metal detector for secondary screening.
ICE: Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE is the investigative unit of the US DHS Immigrations & Customs branch.
LEO: Law Enforcement Officer
MMW: Millimeter Wave Portal. The MMW is a walk-through security screener that sees through clothing. The MMW is often referred to as an 'electronic strip search portal.'
NFL: No Fly List. The No Fly List is a DHS list of those who are believed to be a security risk and barred from flying on commercial aircraft. The NFL list is very controversial as multiple United States Senators, Congressmen and even Federal Air Marshals have found themselves on the NFL and unable to fly.
PIC: Pilot In Command. The PIC is usually the Captain.
POE: Port of Entry
SOP: Standard Operating Procedure
SPOT: Screening of Passengers by Observation Technique. TSA BDOs employ SPOT as part of their screening process.
SSSS: Secondary Security Screening Selection
TDC: Travel Document Checker. The TDC is often the first TSA Agent you encounter, as they check your identification and boarding pass before you move to the security checkpoint.
TSA: Transportation Security Administration
TSO: Transportation Security Officer. A TSO is the TSA Agent you encounter at the screening checkpoint.
WTMD: Walk Through Metal Detector
Hopefully these acronyms help sort the confusing series of letters that are commonly used in airports.