Changes at TSA: Travelers can wear face masks while waiting in line for security screening
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Major changes are coming to TSA — including face masks and lots of sanitizer.
It’s just one of the ways the novel coronavirus has changed life as we know it, with the world of commercial aviation among the most affected.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been well known for these longstanding security screening regulations, implemented in response to the 9/11 attacks: No liquids over 3.4 ounces in carry-ons, nothing obscuring your face when going through security and nobody being let through with expired identification.
Now, the new threat of COVID-19 is prompting some of those measures to be temporarily reversed.
The TSA says airline passengers can now wear cloth face coverings while waiting in line for security screening. Travelers must still briefly lower their masks in order for the TSA officer to verify their identity, but they can stay protected throughout the rest of the process.
The TSA’s coronavirus hub page states, “Travelers are reminded to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel and prevention guidance regarding COVID-19.”
Of course, a face mask won’t keep you completely protected from the novel coronavirus, especially if you’re wearing a fabric mask instead of a full-fledged medical mask. But according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), any type of covering over your nose and mouth serves as additional protection from virus-carrying droplets like those in a sneeze, helping to prevent the disease from spreading from you to others around you, and vice versa.
This isn’t the first move toward more customer-friendly policies in response to the coronavirus outbreak. In mid-March, the TSA announced that travelers would be allowed to carry on up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer, although TSA cautioned that larger bottles would be subject to separate verification and could result in a slight travel delay.
Travelers who cannot renew expiring ID right now are also able to use state driver’s licenses which expired after March 1, 2020, as acceptable identification at security checkpoints. “TSA will accept expired driver’s licenses a year after the expiration date, plus 60 days after the duration of the COVID-19 national emergency,” the agency stated in late March. Real ID compliance has also been pushed back from its original date in October 2020.
Of course all this comes at the time of a severe collapse in demand for air travel. The TSA reports security screenings are down as much as 96%. Earlier this month, TSA screened fewer than 100,000 passengers in a single day — its lowest number ever. One year earlier, on the same day, that figure was 2 million passengers.
It is likely to take years for airline traffic to return to pre-Covid-19 levels, with effects being felt throughout the industry. Airlines are offering lowered requirements for earning elite status, while change and cancellation fees are temporarily non-existent.
Featured photo by Darren Murph/The Points Guy.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.