In an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and reduce the potential for cross-contamination at security checkpoints, TSA is implementing some new procedures, effective mid-June.
“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,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “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.”
As the world begins various stages of re-opening and we approach the season of summer travel, airports are experiencing a steady growth of travelers. With that in mind, here’s what you can expect at security checkpoints should you decide to travel.
Only You Will Handle Your Boarding Pass
Rather than handing over your boarding pass as you approach a TSA officer at the travel document podium, you will now place your pass (paper or electronic) on the boarding pass reader yourself. Then you will need to show the officer your pass to allow them to visually inspect it.
Separate Food for X-ray Screening
Passengers will be required to place any carry-on food items into a clear plastic bag which they will place into a bin for screening. Food items often trigger an alarm during screening, so this new process will lessen the likelihood that a TSA office will need to open your carry-on to remove the food items for closer inspection, lessening any chance of cross-contamination. TSA Precheck members do not need to remove items from their bags.
Remember the 3-1-1 Rule
Take extra care to pack smartly and ensure you do not have any prohibited items, such as liquids, gels or aerosols in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces in your carry-on. (3) No liquids greater than 3.4oz – (1) Must fit in a 1-quart size bag – (1) One bag per passenger. THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: TSA will allow 1 liquid hand sanitizer, up to 12oz, per passenger in your carry-on in response to COVID-19. However, passengers will be required to remove the hand sanitizer from their bag before submitting their carry-on for x-ray screening. “If a bag is found to contain a prohibited item, passengers may be directed to return to the divestiture table outside of security with their carry-on bags to remove the item and dispose of the item. The passenger may also be directed back outside of security to remove, items that should have originally been divested (such as laptops, liquids, gels, and aerosols, and large electronics) and resubmit their property for X-ray screening.”
Always Practice Social Distancing
Remember to allow for social distancing (6 feet) between passengers to reduce contact between security officers, airport employees and fellow travelers whenever possible without compromising security. As you approach security checkpoints, take note of the visual reminders placed for your convenience for appropriate spacing and staggering use of lanes where possible. Keep in mind that no two airports are alike and things may vary slightly at each airport.
Don’t Leave Home Without Your Facial Protection
Travelers are strongly encouraged to wear face protection throughout their travels. This includes TSA checkpoints. However, please note that passengers may need to adjust their coverings during the screening process. In addition, travelers are requested to remove their belts and pocket items (ie, wallets, change, keys and phones) and put them directly into their carry-on bags rather than any screening bins so as to reduce the number of touch-points during the screening process.
Other Noticeable Changes If You Haven’t Traveled In A While
- Reduced security lane usage due to the reduction in passenger volume.
- All TSA officers at checkpoints wearing masks and gloves.
- TSA officers optionally wearing eye protection and clear plastic face shields at some locations.
- TSA officers will continue the practice of changing gloves after each pat-down.
- Plastic shielding installed at many travel document checking podiums, divest, bag search and drop off locations.
- TSA officers practicing social distancing.
- Routine cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces in the screening checkpoint area.
Check With Your Airline For Their COVID-19 Related Procedures
Before you head to the airport, remember to check with your specific airline for guidance regarding any new procedures they may have now initiated to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.
Arrive At The Airport Early
One last thing to point out. During the time of stay-at-home restrictions, those who continued to travel under necessary circumstances experienced near-empty airports and began arriving at security checkpoints shortly before their time of departure. With the new procedures under way, travelers are encouraged to arrive early once again in order to allow plenty of time to be processed by smaller numbers of staff, and allow for the potential addition of time to perform the new pre-flight procedures.
For more information on the TSA security screening process during the pandemic, visit www.tsa.gov/coronavirus. The information provided above was issued in a national press release on May 21, 2020.
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