TSA Security Directive SD-1544-09-06 : The Fallout From NW253

27/12/2009 – TSA Security Directive SD-1544-09-06 : The Fallout From NW253

Following the failed Christmas Day terrorist attack on Delta Air Lines Flight 253, operated by Northwest Airlines, from Amsterdam to Detroit, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has created a series of security measures in reaction to the incident.

Earlier today I wrote about Flight NW253 here, 27/12/2009 – Northwest Airlines Flight 253 : Myths & Facts.

The following is the complete text of the US DHS security directive as implemented by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

I post this text with no commentary or opinion; it is posted in its entirety as fact for you to better understand what is currently occurring in the realm of international aviation security.

Happy Flying & remember to use the lavatory 61 minutes prior to arrival in the US from overseas

Transportation Security Administration

Aviation Security Directive

Subject: Security Directive
Number: SD 1544-09-06
Date: December 25, 2009

EXPIRATION: 0200Z on December 30, 2009

This Security Directive (SD) must be implemented immediately. The measures contained in this SD are in addition to all other SDs currently in effect for your operations.

INFORMATION: On December 25, 2009, a terrorist attack was attempted against a flight traveling to the United States. TSA has identified security measures to be implemented by airports, aircraft operators, and foreign air carriers to mitigate potential threats to flights.


ACTIONS REQUIRED: If you conduct scheduled and/or public charter flight operations under a Full Program under 49 CFR 1544.101(a) departing from any foreign location to the United States (including its territories and possessions), you must immediately implement all measures in this SD for each such flight.


1. The aircraft operator or authorized air carrier representative must ensure all passengers are screened at the boarding gate during the boarding process using the following procedures. These procedures are in addition to the screening of all passengers at the screening checkpoint.

1. Perform thorough pat-down of all passengers at boarding gate prior to boarding, concentrating on upper legs and torso.
2. Physically inspect 100 percent of all passenger accessible property at the boarding gate prior to boarding, with focus on syringes being transported along with powders and/or liquids.
3. Ensure the liquids, aerosols, and gels restrictions are strictly adhered to in accordance with SD 1544-06-02E.

2. During the boarding process, the air carrier may exempt passengers who are Heads of State or Heads of Government from the measures outlined in Section I.A. of this SD, including the following who are traveling with the Head of State or Head of Government:

1. Spouse and children, or
2. One other individual (chosen by the Head of State or Head of Government)

3. For the purposes of Section I.B., the following definitions apply:

1. Head of State: An individual serving as the chief public representative of a monarchic or republican nation-state, federation, commonwealth, or any other political state (for example, King, Queen, and President).

2. Head of Government: The chief officer of the executive branch of a government presiding over a cabinet (for example, Prime Minister, Premier, President, and Monarch).


1. During flight, the aircraft operator must ensure that the following procedures are followed:

1. Passengers must remain in seats beginning 1 hour prior to arrival at destination.
2. Passenger access to carry-on baggage is prohibited beginning 1 hour prior to arrival at destination.
3. Disable aircraft-integrated passenger communications systems and services (phone, internet access services, live television programming, global positioning systems) prior to boarding and during all phases of flight.
4. While over U.S. airspace, flight crew may not make any announcement to passengers concerning flight path or position over cities or landmarks.
5. Passengers may not have any blankets, pillows, or personal belongings on the lap beginning 1 hour prior to arrival at destination.

AIRCRAFT OPERATOR ACKNOWLEDGMENT: The aircraft operator must immediately provide written confirmation to its assigned PSI indicating receipt of this SD.

AIRCRAFT OPERATOR dissemination required: The aircraft operator must immediately pass the information and directives set forth in this SD to all stations affected, and provide written confirmation to its PSI, indicating that all stations affected have acknowledged receipt of the information and directives set forth in this SD. The aircraft operator must disseminate this information to its senior management personnel, ground security coordinators, and supervisory security personnel at all affected locations. All aircraft operator personnel implementing this SD must be briefed by the aircraft operator on its content and the restrictions governing dissemination. No other dissemination may be made without prior approval of the Assistant Secretary for the Transportation Security Administration. Unauthorized dissemination of this document or information contained herein is prohibited by 49 CFR Part 1520 (see 69 Fed. Reg. 28066 (May 18, 2004).

APPROVAL OF ALTERNATIVE MEASURES: With respect to the provisions of this SD, as stated in 49 CFR 1544.305(d), the aircraft operator may submit in writing to its PSI proposed alternative measures and the basis for submitting the alternative measures for approval by the Assistant Administrator for Transportation Sector Network Management. The aircraft operator must immediately notify its PSI whenever any procedure in this SD cannot be carried out by a government authority charged with performing security procedures.

FOR TSA ACTION ONLY: The TSA must issue this SD immediately to the corporate security element of all affected U.S. aircraft operators.

FOR STATE DEPARTMENT: Retransmittal to appropriate foreign posts is authorized. Post must refer to STATE 162917, 201826Z Sep 01, Subject: FAA Security Directives and Information Circulars: Definitions and Handling, for specific guidance and dissemination.

Gale Rossides
Acting Administrator


  1. […] It’s over finding out who leaked a Transportation Security Administration directive to Flying with Fish and Elliott. My two-word response would be […]

  2. […] a respected travel journalist, to name names. They wanted Frischling to tell them who had given him “TSA Security Directive SD-1544-09-06,” which Frischling and another blogger had posted online three days […]


  1. Why not just do the ultimate, and have all passengers strip down naked before boarding the aircraft and have them fly that way?

    Oh, I guess they will have to do a full cavity search first before boarding then?

  2. It never ceases to amaze me how people constantly miss the obvious answer to a solution for terrorism. All these posts and the focus is always on the effect of the problem, not it’s root cause. If you want to stop terrorism then stop being a terrorist. Stop screwing around with other peoples countries. Stop murdering innocent people by the millions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and now Yemen. Stop destabilizing legitimate governments and supporting coup’s in Iran, Honduras, Venezuela, Bolivia and so many others. The Nigerian kid himself clearly states that the reason for his attempt on 253 was US bombings and murder of innocent Yemeni’s. This is not rocket science, it’s just blowback.. We will NEVER truly be secure for one simple reason. We have to be lucky everyday and they have to be lucky just once. Sooner or later they must win no matter what we do. Stop
    hitting them and they will stop hitting us, it is that simple..

  3. For people complaining about the full body imaging machines as an invasion of privacy, be grateful you aren’t flying out of Pakistan. Every person is physically hand searched and I was groped INSIDE of my pants by a police officer who felt a thick piece of denim near my zipper. I could only wish they had those machines there.

    Also I was on a 16 hour flight from Dubai to Atlanta less than 24 hours before the attempted bombing, and I was sick with a nasty virus to boot (no I didn’t go anywhere near the lavatory). If there was no entertainment system, I don’t know what I would do.

    I can understand shutting down the GPS systems to prevent a terrorist from knowing where to blow the jet over the Atlantic/Pacific to hide evidence of explosive residue etc., but what sense does it make to turn off entertainment systems, and other fun stuff????

    I do not mind being profiled and I do fit a certain profile. Use the body imaging machines, question people more who needs to be questioned and don’t strip search granny or a 5 year old kid, while a known terrorist from Nigeria is moments away from blowing up a jet in Detroit.

  4. First I agree with #25, Mark Levin. If you are THE MARK LEVIN; your are a great American. Profiling is a must. Screw the notion of embarrassing someone who might just have hidden explosives and the mindset to stare at follow passengers while pushing a button; BOOM.

  5. Is it included in the directive not to arrest someone for indecent exposure if he really has to pee and whips it out to go in the barf bag?

  6. Think West Bank and Gaza Checkpoints. The people running DHS now have lots of experience doing this in another part of the world. The East Coast will now be Gaza and the West Coast … well … the West Bank.

  7. Here’s what you do to solve this:

    On the way to the airport, stop at any sex shop. Buy the biggest dildo you can. Stick it in your trousers before getting in the security line. Wait for the scans, and the pat downs.

    When the pat down finds said object (and it will), loudly state that they can take their hands off your penis now. Ensure you are loud enough to be heard… Double points if you offer the TSA worker a tip.

    If they ask any questions about it after that, announce that you are unzipping your pants to show it to them. Take it out and make an obvious show of handing it to the person patting you down.

    If ten people a day… every day… did this, the TSA would have people resigning for PTSD.

  8. In a town where it takes six months to get two politicians to come to an agreement on a luncheon menu for a birthday party are we really to believe that a huge agency put this strange concoction together and released it on the same day as the event that supposedly instigated it? Come on guys, think this through. Nothing about this makes sense. Hollywood couldn’t right a script this bad.

  9. Look who they’re coming after. The guy who posts some useful information on the web that poses no risk to the public but keeps us informed…

    Dont you think its time they draw some conclusions and do some RACIAL PROFILING to decide who is and who is not getting on the plane without a full strip search…and that includes cavity search for stuffed condoms etc…?

  10. @Debbie:

    You are right to be upset if your son was chosen because of anti-Jewish sentiment. But it easily could have been some white supremacist. Do you think we should expel all white supremacists and never let any of them in the US, too?

    While I absolutely, unequivocally do not excuse violence in the name of any faith, or violence against anyone at all unless it’s defensive, I’m Jewish too, and I have several Muslim friends and coworkers who are perfectly decent people. I wish you would try to let go of your prejudice. Be angry at the people who are actually doing evil, no matter what they say their faith is.

  11. @CD: Racial profiling isn’t logical. This Nigerian guy is black – do we now strip search all black people? That will include black American Christians. Anyone who “looks Muslim”? That will catch Sephardic Jews, Hindus, Roma, and various Europeans who live on the Mediterranean, like Greeks and Southern French and Spanish people (because a lot of them are descended from Muslims of the Middle Ages). Racial profiling won’t catch domestic white terrorists like Timothy McVeigh. Al Qaeda is already recruiting whites.

    Look, the El Al Airlines has had a “profiling” system in place for years and it is to my understanding quite effective. It’s not just racial, it evaluates the entire package – luggage, national origin, destination, behavior, etc. No “puffers”, no virtual strip search of every person. These types of things have a checklist sort of procedure with ratings for evaluating whether someone is a potential risk. Have a random number generator between 1 and 10 and do a thorough personal and luggage search of the next Nth person. Don’t leave it up to people’s gut instinct because those prejudices aren’t rational and they can be exploited.

    Finally, these security measures don’t make us more secure. People just find ways around this stuff, like with bribes, infiltration, etc. If a suicide bomber can find a way into a protected MILITARY fort in Afghanistan and blow himself up in a gym full of CIA agents, what the hell makes you think the TSA can make a public airport safe?

    It’s ridiculous. This is getting to be more like the old Soviet Union all the time. If this keeps up we’ll have to have papers to cross state lines on any form of transportation at all. People have to put their collective foot down. I urge all of you to write a paper letter to your representatives and senators and follow up with an angry phone call.

  12. When a terrorist strikes, the US government needs to institute an eye-for-an-eye law. If a foreign citizen attacks any allied country in a ‘terroristic manner,’ we should launch a fucking cruise missile into that countries capital city. Maybe than, countries will start to frown on attacks towards ‘infidels.’

    Seriously, think about it…If Muhammad Da-goonka-doonk told his buddies of his terrorist plans, and those buddies knew his actions would cost a cruise missile hitting their capital city, wouldn’t his buddies turn him in? Would you turn in Timothy Mcveigh (the OK city bomber) if he was your best friend? Obviously, cause we’re Americans, and we don’t stand for such bullshit. But, you have to understand that Mcveigh’s best friend was probably just as fucked up as Mcveigh was, he might not have turned him in. But, what if Mcveigh’s best friend new that if he let Mcveigh go on with the OK city attack that his hometown would be hit with a cruise missile.

    Went off on a tangent there, but honestly, spending billions to stop terrorism is a waste of US money, just like the 30,000 dollars the government spent surveying inmates trying to answer a simple question…Why do inmates want to escape? Give me 10 bucks and I’ll tell you why prisoners want to escape. Just an example of what morons we have running our COUNTRY!

    They want us to get all upset and scared and fearful for our safety. They want us to follow along with their orders and follow them whever the hell they (TSA) goes with this Security Directive after wednesday. I know I’m not going to follow them, I wouldn’t even go grocery shopping with half of the TSA individuals.

  13. Stupid is as stupid does…….thanks Obama! As we can now see all the regulations in the world cannot stop a foolish indvidual in a explosive diaper w/o even a passport. Go figure. He’s happens to be black and from Yemen so we can’t profile him or were racist. Rome fell ,and so shall we ,if we keep this PC, BS up ,to make sheeple feel good. Socialism next stop.

  14. Poor little Amis. They soon will start to use butt pokers.

    Ami stay home in your homeland concentration camp!

  15. I agree that TSA is stepping over the line, but posting sensitive material also causes problems.

    This is pretty much the same as if I somehow got your credit card information, along with your SSN and ID information and I just went ahead and post it online for everyone to see. Sure, I just verified that your bank has some kind of security problem (leaking), but does that benefit you in any way? No. The way this should of been handled is that both bloggers that got a subpoena, should have gone to the authorities and make sure that the issue is resolved BEFORE posting anything related to the matter.

    Lives are at risk here, this is not about who posted valuable information first.

    Some of the points in the directive are stupid though:

    – Removing blankets? I understand why they are doing it but it’s really not going to fix anything. This is so a “terrorist” can’t arm a device under the blanket when closing in to the destination, but then they can arm it before then and just do whatever they need to do before even close to landing. So this measure is totally useless.

    – Disabling communication devices during the whole flight time. Totally understandable as this could be used to track the plan position and do whatever the terrorists are planning to do. I still think that location is not that important and all they (terrorists) want to do is get fear in everyone’s mind.

    – Location and landmark comments by flight crew. Same as last point.

    Anyhow, I don’t think any of these are effective and I wonder in what meeting was this discussed, since it was obviously not well thought out.

  16. “precautions” aside, it was clearly stated that the directive was NOT to be disiminated outside the TSA. So why did the blogger publish it? It was asking for trouble. There are regulations for everything. If you don’t like them, don’t fly. Flying is a privilege, not a right.

  17. Seriously…

    I am of the opinion that our government has no desire to make us safe. This guy’s own father reported him as a threat. And they did not pursue, nor even put him on the no-fly list. They ignore blatant threats in the name of not wanting to profile.

    Meanwhile, our government releases memo after memo declaring how much of a threat my Ron Paul bumper sticker is. Along with people who are pro-life, veterans, etc.

    No our government is not at all scared of islamic fascists. Instead it is terrified of it’s own people.


    The only thing the government’s policies ensure is to bankrupt the airlines so that our government can nationalize them.

  18. I’ve not seen it mentioned much that this whole uproar started because the government refused to pay attention to several warnings that the would-be terrorist was a known threat. Despite all of that he was still allowed to board an aircraft bound for the United States and obviously was not effectively screened before boarding.
    So, because our government agencies have bungled it once again (sorry, but if they had been doing their jobs correctly the whole 9/11 incident most likely would never have happened, IMO) everyone who wishes to or needs to fly has just been stripped of even more of their rights and personal freedoms, now even including being able to use the bathroom when necessary. I hope they’re going to be providing those portable urinals like the hospitals use on the aircraft, because if I have to pee, I intend to do so. If it’s in the washroom fine, if not then its gonna be wherever I can.

  19. I just hope one of these rule makers takes a flight and has a immediate need to use the washroom 59 minutes prior to landing and an airline person says , sit down
    How come the book that was run through a scanner and in a second search was manually looked at by a human becomes an issue at 60 minutes prior to landing while at 61 minutes it was fine to sit on my lap.
    If they had done their job in the first place like paying $2,000 + in cash, one way ticket, no questions at checkin, no lugguge , sounds like basic red flag stuff to me.

    And since when do Airline staff have the experience in pat down searches in the first place nor the staff at gates to handle each person for 2 – 5 minutes.
    I can agree with tough security but wanting to control our lives and every moment. No way
    The publice will soon revolt

  20. Ever notice how the media pays deference to Islam and always calls their founder as the ‘Prophet Mohammad.’ Ever notice that our media respects Islam, abides by their wishes (ie not depict Mohammad) and does not criticize its policies of convert or die? At the same time our media treats Christians, Jews, and Americans in general like crap?

    How do I get out of Bizarro world and back to the universe where the US was strong and Americans did not accept this behavior?

  21. We’re being set up once again. A clumsy Muslim Terrorist, a Dutch Jewish Hero Savior. It really is getting boring. It’s all about control, scare tactics and Muslim scapegoats. Is it just me? What’s next? Some Dancing Israelis with Turbans shooting missiles at our planes? It’s soooooooooooooo transparent, come on.

    We’re being set up once again. A clumsy Muslim Terrorist, a Dutch Jewish Hero Savior. It really is getting boring. It’s all about control, scare tactics and Muslim scapegoats. Is it just me? What’s next? Some Dancing Israelis with Turbans shooting missiles at our planes? It’s soooooooooooooo transparent, come on.

    We’re being set up once again. A clumsy Muslim Terrorist, a Dutch Jewish Hero Savior. It really is getting boring. It’s all about control, scare tactics and Muslim scapegoats. Is it just me? What’s next? Some Dancing Israelis with Turbans shooting missiles at our planes? It’s soooooooooooooo transparent, come on.

  22. To Fred54 who said :”Stop
    hitting them and they will stop hitting us, it is that simple..”

    Wonderful sentiment, false…but nice. It’s simply human nature, I’m sorry to say. Happens every day in every schoolyard in the world, the bully attacks apparent weakness. I’m sorry to say that the only solution to the bully is standing up for one’s self.

    Now the murdering millions comment, it never helps the case to lie or exagerate. Stop, it only makes you look the fool.

    I’m an American, we are the good guys and will help all the other good guys in the world from any nationality. It’s the good guy’s nature and it is the right thing to do.

    Pacifism is great, I applaud pacifist. I’m proud of you and will stand up for you every day, even if you won’t.
    We should stop meddling, and wait for the next hit, it is the right thing to do. Then we should hit back hard. Rinse and repeat. Take our hits, yes even if it costs us a million innocent lives, mine included, because that is what the good guy does.
    Nobody ever said being the good guy was an easy or cheap job.

  23. Perhaps we could get terrorist (the ones attacking U.S.) to blog about their activities before hand then if he had been close enough for the suburbans we would have stopped him from burning his dick off.

  24. Even with no screening whatsoever, you are still more likely to die in a car accident than terrorist attack. So screw the screening, give the flight crew a gun and if some towel head tries to light a bomb, shoot him in the face.

  25. I believe this will help. Everyone that gets on a plane over 21 gets a gun with one bullet. I know there are people out there that think, oh boy another gun nut,but here me out. The goal here is to make flying safer and to rid the sky of these nut cases that try to kill in the name of what ever. As you board the plane you will be issued a weapon containing one bullet to use in case of an attack. Why not a tazer or some other form of weapon? The goal is to remove from ever doing this again not to start long drawn out legal battles as to are they or was he or did they,no questions as to the outcome try something bad on any flight and the out come will be death. I am most certain that if just one person on any of the 9/11 flights had a weapon none of these flights would have hit their targets. Hard to argue with any credibility the truth in this. When at war fight to win or lose with all the intended consequences!

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