Ready for Takeoff? Tips for Tourists and Business Travelers Alike

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Michael D. Shetler and Shetler Security Services Help to Keep Our Airports Safe and Offer Some Insightful Tips During This Busy Spring Travel Season

Spring travel season is upon us and airports around the world are ramping up efforts to serve millions of people, and increased aircraft movements and takeoffs and landings in a climate where terrorist threats around the globe have led to even tighter security checks. Michael D. Shetler, CEO of Shetler Security Services provides global security solutions for entities worldwide in a dangerous, ever-changing era where new airport screening rules, “undetectable bomb” threats from groups like ISIS, and “inside job” possibilities from actual TSA employees have placed our country’s airports on even higher alert levels.

“Our nation’s airports are truly the gateway to our country, which means that they are always ripe targets for the wrong person” says an insightful Shetler. “Airports function like highly secure worlds unto themselves and every worker who services the facility, from food workers to fuel suppliers need access to secure areas.”

In the past, when Shetler was President of AT Systems Security, Inc., the company provided security services to Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) in Phoenix, AZ, and his company currently provides security services for the outside secured areas and flight lines of the El Paso International Airport (ELP) in El Paso, TX. ELP is the gateway to West Texas, Southern New Mexico and Northern Mexico, and in 2014, it served 2,778,248 passengers. PHX is one of the ten busiest airports in the country, and on a typical day, 1,200 aircraft and 100,000 people arrive and depart and more than 800 tons of air cargo is handled.

“The SIDA badges are really our first line of defense at both of these busy airports, and they help to ensure the safety of the public who depend on safe, secure travel,” relates Shetler.

According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), all airport employees working inside the Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) of any airport facility must possess a SIDA badge to access the secure areas, such as baggage loading areas, taxiways, runways and boarding gates. Shetler also emphasizes the stringent requirements necessary to obtain the SIDA badge, such as a fingerprint check and background screening as yet another layer of security the TSA provides to ensure the highest levels of security possible.

On a personal level, Shetler has a vested interest in Security at Phoenix Sky Harbor as his company is based in the Valley of the Sun, and the local economy depends on travel and tourism with events like Cactus league Spring Training luring millions of visitors to Arizona.

“You know it’s going to be crowded, so be patient, as the TSA only has so many gates and screeners,” comments Shetler. As a former police officer, Shetler also notes that courtesy and politeness go a long way with the well-trained men and women in law enforcement.”

“I love spring training and heading out to the ball games for a good time as much as anyone, but don’t show up to the airport high-intoxicated and expect to waltz through security if you’re a loud-mouthed, rude jerk,” cautions Shetler.

For savvy travelers, Shetler highly recommends enrolling in the TSA Pre✓™ , which is an expedited screening program that allows travelers to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, as well as keeping your laptop and cosmetics in your bag.
Along with the known traveler program, Shetler notes the increased use of sophisticated biometrics that utilize retina scans and fingerprints to confirm identification, especially coveted by international travelers. Private companies such as CLEAR ( provide users with CLEARcards the ability to go past the long lines and straight to screening.

“It’s really the wave of the future, and while there will always be privacy issues in regard to the use of this type of information, if you’re not doing anything wrong and have nothing to hide, it’s a great way to save time, particularly if you’re on a business trip,” explains Shetler.

For Americans traveling abroad for work, Shetler recommends using the company’s resources to know what possible dangers await. Companies with a large American presence overseas will have Security Operating Procedures (SOP) in place, and companies like Kroll ( provide highly-detailed risk management reports for sophisticated business travelers.

“Our government, and private firms like mine are in place to make sure that our airports are safe and secure,” comments Shetler, “but it’s up to all of us to be wary and maintain your vigilance, whether you’re traveling to one of our world’s hot zones, or just here to phoenix for spring break.”

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Terence J. Murnin
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