TSA Publishes New Airport Security Measures For Summer 2020 Travel
The novel coronavirus remains a threat, but Americans are beginning to travel again. A recent survey by The Vacationer shows 58 percent of respondents will be comfortable traveling again in the next six months. In response, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) published new security screening guidelines to help contain the spread at airports. Expect all of these measures to be in full effect by the middle of June.
Here is what you should prepare for when you fly again this summer.
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Social Distancing Measures
The CDC notes COVID-19 does not spread easily from touching objects or surfaces. Since the main method of transmission is close person-to-person contact, maintaining adequate social distancing is more important than ever.
The TSA says travelers should keep their distance when possible between airport employees and other passengers. Reminders will be placed in various locations, but travelers should be mindful when entering security lines. Additionally, certain lines may be closed or altered to allow for better social distancing. Each airport will have its own unique setup, but you should be ready to maintain a distance of six feet between you and others.
TSA officers and airport employees have been practicing social distancing since the pandemic started, and they will continue to do so.
Masks Are Optional But Recommended
The TSA says travelers are encouraged to wear masks. Despite the TSA not requiring masks, many airports and airlines are making their customers wear them. Some airlines are even giving their passengers masks and sanitizing wipes. You may have to remove or adjust your mask during the actual screening process, so be ready to do that.
Since the pandemic started, TSA officers have been wearing masks and gloves. Some even wore eye shields and face shields for further protection. After pat-downs, officers must change their gloves. This practice will continue as officers do their part to stop the spread.
Hold Onto Your Boarding Pass
While many travelers have been scanning their own mobile boarding passes for years, others still prefer a paper copy. All passengers must now scan their own boarding pass, whether it be digital or a printed version. After scanning, you will hold your boarding pass up so the TSA officer can read and verify it. Despite the CDC saying COVID-19 does not spread easily from objects, this practice further minimizes the risk.
Be Aware of Standard TSA Packing Rules
The same rules for what you can and cannot bring through airport security still apply. Remember to not pack any liquids large than 3.4 ounces. You should also remember to place your liquids bag and any large electronic devices in a bin. For the time being, the TSA is allowing travelers to bring one 12 oz bottle of hand sanitizer, but it must be placed in a bin.
If the x-ray machine picks up a prohibited item in your carry-on bag, you will be required to personally remove it and throw it in the trash. If the x-ray machine picks up an item in your carry-on bag that should have been in a bin, you will be given the opportunity to remove it and place it in a bin for screening. This reduces contact between TSA officers and your personal belongings.
TSA PreCheck members will continue to follow the guidelines outlined by the program. Liquids and laptops can remain in your carry-on bag, but you still cannot pack any prohibited items.
Remove Food From Your Bag
You must now remove all food from your carry-on bag. Place your food in a plastic bag and put it in a bin. According to the TSA, food is often a problem when going through the x-ray machine. Since it is now outside of your carry-on bag, the TSA can inspect it with minimal contact to your belongings. This rule does not apply to PreCheck members.
No, but it is encouraged.
Yes. In addition to social distancing, TSA officers are wearing face protection and gloves. Some are also wearing eye protection.
The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts
With summer on the horizon and more people traveling, now is not the time to relax social distancing. Wear a mask when going through security and be mindful of staying away from others. Be aware of what can and cannot be packed so there is minimal contact with TSA officers. With more people traveling, you should arrive early to the airport with the new measures in place as they may slow down the process.
Flying is stressful enough for many people, but following the TSA’s guidelines should reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 at the airport.
Featured Image via tsa.gov
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