The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) this week announced some updates to its security screening procedures that it says will limit physical contact and keep the health and safety of its staff, and the traveling public, in mind.
The new procedures includes changes to both the way officers will interact with the public and the way travelers will pass through TSA security checkpoints at airports around the United States. TSA Administrator David Pekoske, in a release announcing the changes, said that the TSA will continue to evaluate its “security measures with an eye toward making smart, timely decisions benefiting health and safety, as well as the traveler experience.”
A lot of the changes are specifically designed to allow TSA officers to do their jobs with less touchpoints than before. The changes include:
- Travelers will now be able to bring up to 12 ounces of liquid hand sanitizer through TSA checkpoints, which does away with the previous 3.4-ounce limit (this change had been announced in March).
- TSA officers will no longer handle a passenger’s boarding pass, instead the passenger will scan their pass themselves and hold it up so the officer can inspect it without touching.
- The TSA will ask that travelers keep an appropriate amount of distance between others passing through the checkpoints.
- All TSA officers will be wearing masks and, while not an absolute requirement for passengers, it will encourage members of the public to do so, as well. Officers may ask some to take a mask off for security confirmation.
- Any carry-on food will now need to be placed into a clear plastic bag and then placed into a bin separately (TSA Precheck members will be able to keep food inside their bag).
The release says that the TSA has already started implementing the changes, and will continue to roll them out at airports nationwide by mid-June.
The TSA is stressing that anytime a passenger does have a prohibited item in their bag, officers may direct them back outside of security to remove the item so officers “will need to touch the contents inside a carry-on bag much less frequently, reducing the potential for cross-contamination,” so travelers will have the easiest time by making sure there is nothing prohibited in their carry-ons.
The TSA is also recommending that when travelers empty their pockets prior to going through security, they put their wallets, phones, and other personal items into their carry-ons instead of in a security bin, another move to eliminate touchpoints at security.