New Airport Security Screening Rules Make Travel Easier

Several years ago, my family was flying with friends just after the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) banned all containers of liquids greater than 3 ounces from going through airport security checkpoints.

Even in our small regional airport, the supersized trash bin was overflowing with bottles of shampoo and nail polish and half-drunk sodas. Our friends were caught unaware of the new regulations and ended up adding contact-lens solution and a full bottle of water to the trash pile.

One friend turned around to me and sighed, “I swear, every time we fly, there is some new security issue to deal with.”

Based on the number of people I come across who still seem surprised about the restrictions on liquids and the requirement to take off shoes, it appears that unless you fly frequently, many TSA regulations can catch you unprepared.

Less hassle for young …

Fortunately, the latest changes will mean an easier ride through security for most passengers.

“Since last summer, the TSA has adopted a much more risk-based security approach,” said Lisa Farbstein of the TSA office of public affairs. “Risk-based security is an understanding that the vast majority of travelers pose little risk to aviation security, and that the one-size-fits-all security model, which has been in place since the attacks of 9/11, needed to be re-evaluated.”

Don’t get all your hopes up just yet. You still have to put your carry-on liquids in 3-ounce containers, and then put those containers into a quart-sized clear plastic bag, and most everybody still has to take off his or her shoes.

But there have been changes since last summer. One of the biggest changes eases the airport screening procedure for children ages 12 and younger.

Kids can now keep their shoes on while walking through security screening — a relief to anyone who’s ever dealt with trying to put shoes back on a toddler in the middle of a congested screening area.

That doesn’t mean your child will have a free pass through security. He or she still has to go through the scanner just like everyone else, but with their shoes on.

The TSA official blog states, “These new screening procedures also include permitting an additional pass through advanced imaging technology to clear any alarms, as well as greater use of explosives-trace detection.”

However, the TSA pointed out that children will not be separated from their parents at any time during security check-in.

… and old

In some airports, at least, travelers over the age of 75 will be getting a similar break.

According to the TSA blog, “TSA recently concluded a modified screening pilot program for passengers ages 75 and older.

“As the program proceeds toward full implementation, passengers 75 and older will undergo similar modified screening procedures to those 12 and under and will be able to leave on a light jacket or outerwear when passing through security. Passengers 75 and older may see these procedures in place as they travel this summer.”

What you can actually bring on the plane in your carry-luggage hasn’t changed too much over the years ever since the “3-1-1″ policy was established (liquids and gels in 3-ounce containers in one quart-size bag, one bag per person).

The TSA recommends packing as much liquid into the checked luggage as possible, but realizes that more people are avoiding checking luggage whenever possible, thanks to additional airline fees.

Suntan lotions count as a liquid or gel and have to meet the same requirements as your shampoo. That includes aerosol cans of sunblock. If you don’t want to deal with putting the lotion in your checked luggage, you may be best off purchasing your suntan lotions at your vacation destination.

Frequent checkers

You may see some people breezing through security checkpoints without having to remove their shoes or empty their carry-on luggage.

Why do those people get special privileges? They’re part of the TSA’s new PreCheck program, which was established for frequent fliers who spend almost as much time in airplanes as they do in cars.

Airlines designate certain elite fliers for consideration into the PreCheck program, which is being slowly rolled out in airports across the country.

“I was selected by Delta Airlines, since I’m one of their super elite travelers, and I filled in the required information,” explained comedian and former computer engineer Dan Nainan.  “Now every time I go to LaGuardia or any airport where they have it, I am always selected.”

It’s all part of making security screening more efficient, said Farbstein.

“These enhancements allow us to focus our resources on those travelers we know less about and thus may pose a greater risk to aviation security,” she said.

Security with privacy

Farbstein added that the TSA has installed numerous modified advanced-imaging-technology scanners at airport checkpoints. The days of TSA agents seeing a naked image of you may be numbered.

“This also is new and different this summer compared to last summer,” Farbstein said. “These new machines give our officers the best chance to detect both metallic and nonmetallic items concealed on a passenger, and at the same time, the technology enhances passenger privacy.”

The new machines have “targeted recognition” that shows a generic cookie-cutter outline, or avatar, of a person instead of the real image. If the machine detects something, a yellow box appears on the image where the item was spotted.

For example, at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, one of the machines recently detected something on a passenger’s ankle. Thanks to the avatar image, the TSA screening officer knew exactly where to look. It turned out that the passenger had concealed a 10-inch canister of Mace in his sock.

Keeping tabs on changes

The best way to keep up with the latest changes in TSA policies is to check the agency’s website. Be aware, though, that while the website is updated regularly and has a lot of useful information, the TSA also has a few phone numbers for travelers with specific questions or concerns.  

TSA Cares, which is designed specifically for passengers with disabilities, special needs or medical conditions, can be reached at 1-855-787-2227. Call before traveling with questions about screening, procedures and what to expect. The helpline is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST.

Just in time for summer travel, the TSA has extended the hours of its TSA Contact Center for passengers to call with questions about TSA procedures, upcoming travel or to provide feedback or concerns.

The Contact Center is now available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, and can be reached at 1-866-289-9673. For less urgent questions, you can also email the Contact Center at tsa-contactcenter@dhs.gov.

The TSA also offers a mobile app called MyTSA for iPhones. The app provides answers to what you can and cannot bring on the plane with you, what to do if you’ve lost your ID and other quick questions you may have. It also provides airport information, including about flight delays.

Speaking of apps, there is a new app available for iPhones and Android phones called Fly Rights that allows passengers to report any problems or concerns during their encounters with TSA and the security process.

Keep cool and be polite

No matter how often or little you fly, remember that almost every other passenger is subject to the same security regulations you are.

The security process will much less stressful if you remain patient, give yourself plenty of time to get through a checkpoint and are prepared by the time you reach the item-screening belt.

Wear shoes that are easy to slip off, have your bag of liquids and your laptop out of your luggage, have your belt off and make sure your pockets are empty. This all streamlines the process and will help ease the tensions that reach a boiling point for many other passengers.

“Here is what I consider to be the most important tip one can take to heart,” said frequent-flier Nainan. “No matter what happens, always, always be extremely, extremely nice to the TSA agents. 

“To a person, none of them will be mean to you if you’re not mean to them. They have jobs just like us and have to deal with really nasty people all day long. By being kind to them, you are a breath of fresh air.”

Article provided by SecurityNewsDaily, a sister site to Laptopmag.com.

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  1. Bill Fisher Says:

    TSA has been saying this for two years and it has been an empty promise

    TSA is staffed by pedophiles and criminals and most people don’t want to believe that they are being groped by a a high school dropout with a rap sheet, but the fact is that they are. Even TSA admitted that 98% of screeners have a high school equivalency or less.

    This week a former TSA screener was arrested for “assaulting” a TSA supervisor after the passenger was molested in retaliation because the supervisor didn’t like her.

    Last week a TSA screener reached inside a 73 year old woman’s bra at a checkpoint in Bozeman, Montana while she was at the checkpoint in full view of other passengers.

    Two weeks ago CBS 3 reported that a Catholic priest who was removed from the ministry over child molestation allegations now is a TSA Supervisor at Philadelphia International Airport. This week they fired seven screeners at PHL for bribery but allow a known pedophile to continue to grope children at the checkpoint.

    Two weeks ago they lied to Congress about having $200 million in new, unused equipment hidden in Dallas that they were going to destroy to conceal the waste. Then we saw footage of a TSA screener purposely smacking a Congressman in the privates and the screener is still on the job.

    A month ago, TSA molested an elderly couple and robbed them of $300, molested three children, a ten year old with a diabetes pump, a four year old who hugged her grandma and a seven year old with cerebral palsy, twice!

    There were a total of 91 TSA workers arrested in the last 18 months including 12 arrested for child sex crimes, over 25 for theft, ten for smuggling and one for murder. Even Kip Hawley, the last TSA Director, has called for its overhaul.

    In April, a report from Atlanta indicates that they are allowing airport workers to operate in secure areas of airports without completing background checks and Congress took them to task for not reporting half of the security breaches at Newark.

    TSA continues to fail 70% of GAO security tests and contraband still gets through security on a daily basis. Yet the TSA apologists continue to say that this crime and abuse by TSA is somehow improving airline security.

    There are laws to protect citizens from abuses by police for a reason and the same standards should be applied to TSA. It is unacceptable to excuse TSA workers and the agency when they deliberately abuse their position to harass and humiliate people over personal conflicts that have nothing to do with security or regulations.

    It’s long past time to replace this agency with a sensible and effective system and prosecute those responsible for this travesty.

  2. Ted Ruxpin Says:

    Great advice provided by Mr. Nainan!

    In fact, to illustrate his point, my great-grampa told me that whenever he was EXTRA nice to the guards at his concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen, they would often give him a second spoonful of gruel at dinner time!

    Not only that– just by being a “breath of fresh air” to the Nazi guards (who, to a person, were just doing their jobs and all of whom were usually extra cranky for having to put up with “nasty” stick-thin, big-nosed, smelly people all day), my great-grampa was able to stay out of the oven for almost three whole extra months– just enough time to smuggle out a tissue with some semen on it which ended up turning into my grandmother!

    Lucky for me (and everybody, really), I had a nice, kind ol’ great-grandfather.

    Cheers! :’D

  3. Vincent James Says:

    Absolutely disagree: these people are thugs, goons and perverts (as well as mostly stupid). Rather than being nice to them, every passenger should make it a point of being nasty or sarcastic–but don’t try irony; they are too stupid to get it. Make their life unpleasant. I know, they are only doing a job. Well, don’t do that job! If you do, you are a representative of the system for which you are working and you personally and individually are responsible for the sins of the organization.

  4. jefferson Says:

    Sue,

    Can yyou remember the day you became a serf who trembles before your masters?

  5. Agrenish Says:

    Sue may not be able to, but I know when, September 11th, 2001. Most Americans started to beg for serfdom. “Keep us safe! Keep us safe!” and the government loved it, pushed for more and slowly tightened its grip over their servants. The cheerleading, flag waving, ra-ra bullshit reached a frenzied pace, even as the country was gong bankrupt because, as we all know, America is #1 baby!

    After decades over voting for the lesser of two evils, the US is learning the twisted, mutilated form evil takes. Never be nice to a TSA agent, a customs agent or a police officer. They are not our friends and they are not here to keep us safe. The enemy has come home my friends and they wear American flag pins on their lapel.

    America: Now he have forgotten to behold this, our land. Once ours, once free; This my home of the once brave.

  6. Someone Says:

    Hey, can anyone tell me when we’ll have a country that offers political asylum for dissenters in the USA? I think we’ll need something like that pretty soon since this place is getting progressively less-free and shows no signs of stopping the slide into complete (as opposed to partial) tyranny.

  7. Brant Says:

    I’m sure there were some people who told the other people how to deal with the Nazi soldiers,

    “No matter what happens, always, always be extremely, extremely nice to the…agents…to a person, none of them will be mean to you if you’re not mean to them. They have jobs just like us and have to deal with really nasty people all day long. By being kind to them, you are a breath of fresh air.”

    That is until we all get to their chambers and then thier ovens.

  8. Sindawe Says:

    Be ‘extra nice’ to the TSA goons? Are you serious? Like Vincent James suggests above,

    “Make their life unpleasant. I know, they are only doing a job. Well, don’t do that job! If you do, you are a representative of the system for which you are working and you personally and individually are responsible for the sins of the organization.”

    Extend this to their time off work as well. Shun TSA goons in private life; have no truck with them or those merchents they frequent and make sure the merchents know why they are not longer getting your custom. Call them out for their thuggery when they have the foolishness to wear their costumes off the job site.

  9. Thomas Paine Says:

    By saying “please” and “thank you” to your violator your violation may be less painful. How utterly pathetic. The TSA have caught NO ONE trying to actually harm a plane. They are a JOKE, a DISGRACE, and a CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION. The very existence of this group of incompetent thuggery in this country have turned us into a laughing stock all over the world. The USA, We’ll kill you overseas, torture your people, then molest you when you come to the “land of the free”. Never mind the wonderful “No Fly” list being used to force people into being tax free paid informants for the cowards at the FBI who blackmail your freedom of movement with threats and coercion.

    I weep for my country.

  10. Steve Rose Says:

    I have the solution to passing through TSA!

    TSA is a fact of air travel life, and no one wants their plane to explode. So in spite of the effect being contrary to principles on which America was founded, there is no point in making yourself upset in dealing with TSA requirements — being upset only worsens YOUR health. Think of it like speed limits on the highway — necessary for a shared environment, just much more personally invasive. So, what is the solution?

    First, let me explain. I’m an old, fat, electronics guy who carries lots of “questionable” stuff when traveling, both in my carry-on and in my pockets. Removing it to pass though the metal detector was a hassle, but tolerable. I’ve always used a belt that is TSA “invisible” with a small buckle. I use a pair of suspenders with plastic clips and buckles that attaches to my belt, also TSA compliant. I always pack my “questionable” items in clear plastic boxes that can be taken out of my Porter Case in a moment and replaced as easily, that can go in individual bins through x-ray and visual inspection (avoiding a TSA unpack/repack, always a disaster). I always get things ready before I get into the security line, so as not to delay my fellow travelers. This has worked for me for years of constant travel, but things have changed recently with TSA’s new full body scanners.

    The scanners require that I remove everything from my pockets, as well as my belt and suspenders (the plastic buckles show up as an “anomaly”). I wear my suspenders under my shirt, which leads to other issues (one cannot disrobe in the security area). The first time through the scanner at my home airport, without a belt or suspenders, my pants fell to the floor when I was told to put my hands over my head, much to the amusement of the TSA folks. And it takes forever to get redressed and pockets and carry-on repacked when you have to take it to the new level required.

    It took a few trips (and an incident where the airport police were called and an invasive “pat down” performed in a small closet, away from my stuff, with four other adult males in the closet with me) to figure out my current “no hassle” approach. First, as long as you don’t disrobe in the security area, you can walk through in your swimsuit and dress socks. Second, if you use suspenders, you can get redressed in a flash, just like a fireman jumping out of bed into his pants, pulling up his suspenders, and sliding down the pole (or in this case, ascending the escalator). Third, by removing your pants and shirt, and folding them neatly into a plastic bag (just outside of security), you avoid the delay and possible loss of having to unload / reload your pockets. So this approach is a significant net time saver.

    This also makes me the MOST TSA compliant traveler. Their full body scanners are blank when I pass through. They never have to touch my stuff, or unpack my bags — it is all clearly visible. In spite of my attire and appearance (an old fat guy in a bathing suit and dress socks), there is nothing that they can use as an excuse for delaying me. If you are shy, you can wear a t-shirt, which has the additional advantage that you can print any message you like on it (preferably not obscene, but to the point).

    Ironically, in spite of being their friendliest and most compliant customer, with whom amiable greetings were always exchanged, I now have trouble making eye contact. This doesn’t bother me nearly as much as I thought it would. The airport police, on the other hand, remain my friends.

  11. Roentgensson Says:

    To those trolls comparing TSA agents to Nazi concentration camp guards, your attempt at making a point is not well-served by hyperbole. You just come across as a hysterical and paranoid moron. Also, I find the comparison disgusting, and a callous insult to the memory of those who were murdered in the Holocaust.

    @Bill Fisher: Sources, please?

    I am a frequent flyer and have never once experienced the ludicrous accusations the other posters have made. The same goes for my wife and kids. These TSA folks just want to get travelers through the lines as quickly and efficiently as possible. Think it’s better in more “liberal” countries? Wrong. I just recently travelled through Schipol in Amsterdam and everyone goes through the whole body scanners under the watchful eye of uniformed troops carrying automatic weapons.

    Travelling through U.S. airport security is a necessary evil. Live with it. Or maybe try moving to another country where your rights are held in higher regard. I hear Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Iran and China are all lovely this time of year!

  12. RAFAL BADRI Says:

    I still believe that background check and profiling is an efficient way of moving passengers thru quick and swift security screening.

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