How airport security will be different — and Safer — across the country by mid-June

For the vast majority of Americans, the idea of boarding a plane right now is unattractive at all. Although the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) cruise count makes up only a small fraction of the millions of agencies it shepherded through metal detectors last year, the agency’s updated travel and airport security procedures (to be implemented in mid-June) are being careful. in accordance with the health and safety of those who decide to travel by air.

How Airport Security Will Look Different—and Safer—Nationwide by Mid-June
Crowds seen, on December 18, 2020 waiting by the baggage carousel at the Miami International Airport (MIA) in Miami, Florida, as the Christmas holiday travel starts despite the Coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

In a press release from May 21, TSA announced its intention to make adjustments to airport security procedures to “reduce the likelihood of cross-contamination at security checkpoints in an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19” – a task the agency says is particularly important now that passengers line up. Checkpoints across the country are slowing down. (May 22 marked the highest number of passengers — 348,673 — to pass through security in the U.S. since March 22 this year, but still far fewer than the typical airline’s 2.7 million daily passengers.)

The most obvious change is that TSA will encourage everyone to wear a mask, while all employees will be required to do so. You’ll also be instructed to keep your boarding pass during the scan — then hand it over to the check agent. “This change reduces the need of TSA employees to touch a passenger’s boarding pass, thereby reducing the likelihood of cross-contamination. To minimize exposure to bins, which are one of the dirtiest items at airports, even without a pandemic, authorities require you to store common items in bins (like belts and watches) in your suitcase.

You and your other passengers will also practice how to stay away from society safely as you glide through the security line. “Notable adjustments to the security checkpoint include, increasing the distance between individuals as they enter the security checkpoint, placing visual reminders of the appropriate distance on the floors of the checkpoint, and stun when using the lanes where possible,” TSA said.

Eventually, the TSA will loosen its usual 3.4-ounce liquid rule, allowing people to carry a 12-ounce bucket of hand sanitizer that they would have to take out of their pockets and put in the bin. This will hopefully provide passengers with enough disinfection products to extend their holidays in a time when it is rare to find a larger bottle.

“For the benefit of TSA frontline employees and the health of travelers, TSA is committed to making prudent changes to our screening process to limit physical contact and increase physical distance as much as possible,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. “We continue to evaluate our security measures to make smart, timely decisions that benefit the health and safety and experience of travelers.”

If you need to travel, TSA recommends checking your local airport’s website for specific rules regarding preventing the spread of COVID-19 in your area to see how you can access the security line with your health — and the health of other passengers — in front of your mind. “No two airports are the same, so this can be a little different at each airport,” tsa said.

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