New TSA screening rules

The TSA has recently new security regulations governing entry to airports in the United States. These new rules will require electronics larger than a cell phone to be put in their own bins for x-ray screening. This includes devices such as tablets, e-readers and laptop computers which were previously subject to such scanning requirements.  In a statement released on their website, the TSA says that:

"To ensure the security of airline passengers and the nation’s airports, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is implementing new, stronger screening procedures for carry-on items that require travelers to place all electronics larger than a cell phone in bins for X-ray screening in standard lanes. Following extensive testing and successful pilots at 10 airports, TSA plans to expand these measures to all U.S. airports during the weeks and months ahead."

These new regulations are being received as the latest necessary expansion of security practice to keep pace with a changing world environment and are aimed at ensuring safety and security for both passengers and the public at large. They are understood to be in response to concerns that miniaturization could allow dangerous materials to be concealed in smaller and smaller devices.

The changes come on the back of other new security measures, such as the controversial travel ban from some middle-eastern countries, the tightened security requirements imposed on foreign airports operating services to the U.S and the now defunct laptop ban.

The new measures will affect about 2,000 flights and 325,000 passengers every day. In addition, the TSA is also introducing pilot testing programs for new luggage scanning technology.  Currently devices must be placed in their own bin to allow for an unobscured 2-D image of the internal workings to be constructed. This image can then be compared to stock images of devices to ensure there has been no tampering or suspicious additions. The new luggage scanning technology will allow officers to construct 3-d models in real time in the hope of providing a more accurate picture to staff, allowing them to get the same level of security for travelers with less onerous requirements and potentially mitigate the need to unpack bags for a clear view.    

The new measures will not apply to travelers enrolled in TSA PreCheck. Because of the pre-screening and voluntary background checks members of the programs consent to, they will not be required to unpack their small electronic devices, remove their shoes, belts or light outerwear. The PreCheck program requires payment of an $85 fee, but is now available in over 200 airports, up from 180 last year. You can apply for TSA PreCheck here.

While the new rules may cause some delays and traveler irritation, the TSA believes it will be much more efficient than the alternative which required passengers to turn on each device to prove that it was safe and legitimate; a doubtlessly time consuming task.