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The airport security screening process could soon get a lot more tedious — and intrusive. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Transportation Security Administration plans to change up the way we put our bags through the X-ray machine at security checkpoints. The new policies haven’t yet been finalized, but officials expect to make a decision on implementing the rules within a few weeks after the summer travel season and once screeners are trained.
The new procedures, which are still being tested, include making travelers remove all food and electronics larger than cellphones into separate security bins. The tests for the new procedures began at some small airports around the country, such as Colorado Springs (COS), Boise (BOI) and Lubbock (LBB), and have been expanded to some others like Los Angeles (LAX), Phoenix (PHX), Las Vegas (LAS), Boston (BOS), Detroit (DTW), Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and San Juan (SJU). However, the TSA says that the procedures likely won’t affect PreCheck travelers and will stick to the standard screening lanes.
Travelers have reported signs of new procedures popping up at other airports, such as what we told you about at Kansas City (MCI) earlier this month. At the time, passengers were reporting that TSA agents were requiring them to remove all paper products from their carry-on bags. However, the TSA said that test didn’t go well and the process was stopped after a few days.
It’ll be interesting to see how these potential new procedures will work once rolled out at all airports. The screening process takes a long time as is, so requiring travelers to remove food and larger electronics from their bags seems likely to slow things down even further. However, the TSA says the new process won’t extend a passenger’s total time at the checkpoint itself. Instead, the agency will use “divesting” to slow down the process at the beginning of screening to declutter bags, but it expects things to speed back up when the bags are going through the X-ray. Also, the agency says it expects to reduce the number of manual bag checks, which also slows down the process.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the items that TSA agents ask travelers to remove from their bags could change line by line and airport by airport. And, compliance by the passenger isn’t mandatory — however, if you refuse, it’s safe to assume a manual inspection will follow.
In addition to the new changes in the security screening procedure, the TSA is also set to introduce machines that’ll be used to verify a passenger’s identity. Instead of an officer comparing the license or passport with the name on a boarding pass, the machine will check a form of identification with a passenger list — no more boarding pass needed. The TSA will begin testing the machines at Washington Dulles (IAD) later this month, followed by Atlanta (ATL), Austin (AUS), Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), and Washington Reagan (DCA). Full rollout of the new equipment is expected to take about two years.
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