The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is rolling out new screening procedures over the next few weeks to airports across the country and wants travelers to be prepared.
TSA Administrator David Pekoske said of the updates:
In the interest of TSA frontline workers and traveler health, TSA is committed to making prudent changes to our screening processes to limit physical contact and increase physical distance as much as possible. We continue to evaluate our security measures with an eye towards making smart, timely decisions benefiting health and safety, as well as the traveler experience.
Some of the following changes are already in place, but travelers should look for all to be implemented nationwide by mid-June:
- Travelers should keep possession of their boarding pass - Instead of giving their boarding pass to the TSA officer, travelers will put the pass (or their smartphone) on the boarding pass reader themselves. Travelers should then show their pass to the TSA officer for a visual inspection.
- Travelers should put carry-on food items in a separate bag - Any food items brought onboard should be placed in their own clear plastic bag, then into a bin for x-ray screening. Food items in carry-ons often trigger an alarm during screening, so placing them in a clear bag should lessen the TSA officer's need to touch carry-on bags and food items.
- Prohibited item handling - TSA reminds travelers that liquids, gels or aerosols in containers greater than 3.4 ounces are not allowed in carry-ons, with one exception. Temporarily, TSA is allowing passengers a single container of hand sanitizer of up to 12 ounces. All liquids and gels should be removed from carry-ons for screening. If prohibited items are found, travelers may be directed to remove the items themselves to be disposed of. Travelers will then resubmit their carry-on bags.
- Social distancing - Travelers should maintain social distance between employees and other travelers. Adjustments will be made to increase the distance between travelers at security checkpoints, with visual reminders on floors and staggered lanes where possible.
- Facial protection - TSA officers at checkpoints will be wearing facial protection and TSA encourages travelers to wear facial protection as well. TSA officers, however, may ask travelers to adjust their masks during the screening process. As always, remove items like belts, wallets, keys, and cell phones before screening to avoid unnecessary touching during the screening process.
The above reminders are in addition to changes that were already in place such as additional cleaning and disinfecting; the use of masks, gloves, and optional eye protection; the changing of those gloves after a pat-down; plastic shielding installed at podiums, bag search, and drop off locations; and the reduction in the number of security lanes being used.
TSA also advises travelers to check with their airports directly for additional guidance and plan on arriving early to allow time for the new procedures.
Image: Orlando International Airport