7 Ways Airport Screening Is Changing for All Travelers

TSA agent
Photo by everythingforall / Shutterstock.com

If you plan to fly in the foreseeable future, prepare for some new rules while you go through airport security.

The Transportation Security Administration is making some tweaks to the screening process that occurs in airports across the country. The changes are a reaction to the coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping the nation and the globe.

The changes are as follows.

You can carry on larger amounts of hand sanitizer

For starters, you are allowed to pack up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer per passenger in your carry-on bag until further notice, a variation from TSA rules on liquids. According to the TSA:

“Since these containers exceed the standard allowance typically permitted through a checkpoint, they will need to be screened separately. This will add some time to your checkpoint screening experience.”

All other liquids, gels and aerosols must be in quantities of no more than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters and carried in a clear, 1-quart-size bag.

You must screen your own boarding pass

You no longer hand your boarding pass or phone to a TSA agent, which was the process for many years, the TSA says.

Instead, you are asked to place your pass on the boarding pass reader yourself and then hold it out for a TSA agent to inspect it while you hold it. This way, it will be less likely that agents will need to touch your boarding pass.

You’ll be asked to keep more distance from others

As you might expect, you are being asked to keep an appropriate “social distance” of at least 6 feet between yourself and other passengers. According to the TSA:

“Adjustments include metering passengers to increase distance between individuals as they enter the security checkpoint queue, placing visual reminders of appropriate spacing on checkpoint floors and staggering the use of lanes in the security checkpoint where feasible.”

You can wear a mask during screening

The TSA says you can wear a mask during your security check, but the agency reserves the right to ask you to adjust the covering at any point.

Many airlines now are requiring passengers to wear masks during flights.

You can ask agents to wear fresh gloves

A passenger may request that a TSA agent don a fresh pair of gloves during the passenger’s screening.

The agency also will use new explosives trace detection swabs for each traveler.

You can use expired and noncompliant IDs

Any traveler whose driver’s license or state-issued ID expired on or after March 1, 2020, can still use the card for identification at the checkpoint for up to a year after expiration.

In addition, you now have until Oct. 1, 2021, to get a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license.

You’ll be asked to separate food for X-ray screening

The TSA wants passengers who are carrying food onto a flight to pack their food items in a clear plastic bag and place the bag into a bin for screening. This change also allows for more social distancing.

The agency explains:

“Food items often trigger an alarm during the screening process; separating the food from the carry-on bag lessens the likelihood that a TSA officer will need to open the carry-on bag and remove the food items for a closer inspection.”

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