Whether people are feeling better about the Corona Virus risk or they are just plain sick of the lock down, many are starting to get back out and about. Businesses are reopening, and summer travel is expected to ramp up soon. In response, the TSA recently released a new set of procedures for air travel in the age of Corona. The procedures can be found on the TSA website, but we offer a summary below.
The first change relates to TSA’s modifications to the screening processes. Passengers will keep their boarding passes instead of handing them to a TSA officer for inspection. Passengers will simply place their paper or electronic boarding passes on the reader and then hold the pass up for the officer to examine. This will negate the need for TSA officers to touch the boarding passes and will reduce the risk of exposure to Corona Virus infection.
In addition, passengers will be asked to place items such as keys, belts, phones and wallets into their carry-on bags to avoid having to place them into the X-ray bins. This will further reduce the number of “touch points” during the security screening process.
The second change is to the airport security areas. Each will be marked and monitored for social distancing by TSA agents. Like many grocery stores, airport security areas will have floor markings to remind people of appropriate spacing.
In addition, all TSA officers will wear facemasks and all travelers are encouraged to do the same. Most airlines are requiring them unless the specific passenger meets the requirements for an exemption. All travelers should check their airline’s specific rules and restrictions.
In addition to facemasks, TSA officers will wear protective gloves and will be required to change them after each pat down. They will also clean and disinfect the security checkpoints frequently. In a significant change from the old rules, passengers will be allowed to bring up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer with them through the checkpoint.
As one would expect, these new procedures spell slower airport security times. In fact, many airports will reduce the number of available checkpoints so that each can be monitored more vigilantly. The TSA recognizes this and recommends that passengers show up well in advance of the flight times to account for the delays going through security.
If travelers are patient and prepared, air travel in the age of the Corona Virus should move forward adequately. For those with air travel is in their near future, just remember to be aware, be responsible and stay safe.