TSA updates procedures ahead of summer, encourages — but doesn't require — masks at checkpoints

TSA updates procedures ahead of summer, encourages — but doesn't require — masks at checkpoints
Posted at 11:21 AM, May 21, 2020

With states easing coronavirus-related travel restrictions and travel expected to increase in the summer months, the Transportation Security Administration announced several changes to airport screening policies on Thursday morning.

In a press release, the TSA said it was highly encouraged — but not required — that passengers wear masks during the screening process. They also suggest that passengers place items in their pockets (phone, keys, wallets, etc.) and their belts in their carry-on bags to reduce physical contact.

The agency also encouraged airline passengers to practice social distancing while waiting in line, and give others proper space in the hopes of avoiding contact with others.

While airline passengers are typically restricted from carrying liquids in containers larger than 3.4 ounces, the TSA said Thursday that it relaxing those restrictions to allow passengers to carry hand sanitizer. Passengers are now permitted to carry one bottle of hand sanitizer of up to 12 oz in their carry-on bags. However, the agency says passengers must remove the bottle from the bag before it's sent through for screening. TSA is encouraging travelers to be prepared before screening so as not to hold up lines.

TSA also said Thursday that agents would no longer handle boarding passes. Passengers will put their passes on the boarding pass readers themselves.

Finally, the TSA is asking passengers that plan to bring food as a carry-on item to pack their food in a clear plastic bag and send it through for screening in a separate bin.

"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," TSA said in a press release.

"In the interest of TSA frontline workers and traveler health, TSA is committed to making prudent changes to our screening processes 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 with an eye towards making smart, timely decisions benefiting health and safety, as well as the traveler experience."