While COVID-19 is terrible news in just about every way, as a somewhat socially awkward introvert, there are some changes to the way we interact that I appreciate.
For example, when I see people I know there’s no longer the expectation of touching. I don’t have to decide whether it’s someone I’m supposed to shake hands with, hug, hug and give a kiss on each cheek to (I live in Miami, this is basically Latin America), or have some sort of choreographed bro-handshake with.
Along those lines, the TSA has today announced some updated screening guidelines, including the elimination of one of the silliest practices of the TSA.
TSA’s updated security procedures
With Memorial Day coming up and the summer travel season kicking off, the TSA is evolving some procedures due to COVID-19. While demand is obviously still way down, we’ve seen an increased number of travelers as the weeks have gone by.
These updated guidelines follow an announcement a couple of weeks ago that TSA agents will have to start wearing masks, which seems long overdue. Here are some of the changes you can expect, in no particular order:
TSA agents will no longer touch your boarding passes
Instead of handing TSA agents your boarding pass, travelers will now place their boarding passes (whether paper or electronic) directly on the boarding pass reader themselves.
Once that’s complete, passengers should hold their boarding pass towards the TSA officer to allow them to visually inspect it.
This is great news far beyond reducing the potential for cross contamination:
- TSA agents will no longer endlessly scribble on your boarding pass; some agents seems to make a game of how much ink they could waste on any given boarding pass
- This never made much sense to me, since it’s not like they scribble on your phone if you have a mobile boarding pass
- I’ve always assumed this was done primarily because the agents are bored just checking boarding passes all day, and it’s a nice way to pass the time, and maybe allows them to focus a bit on verifying that details are accurate
So that will no longer happen… yay!
Food will have to be separated for screening
Any carry-on food items should be placed in clear plastic bags and directly into a bin. Food items often trigger alarms during the screening process, and separating the food from the carry-on bag lessens the likelihood that you’ll need secondary screening, and if you do get secondary screening, it reduces the risk your carry-on will need to be opened.
Social distancing & face masks
While there’s nothing really new here, the TSA also provides reminders of the following:
- Practice social distancing at security checkpoints, and keep an eye on visual reminders of appropriate spacing on checkpoint floors
- The TSA “encourages” travelers to wear face protection at security checkpoints, though it’s not required; passengers who do wear masks may need to adjust them during the screening process so that TSA agents can look at them
The TSA is updating a couple of policies, as they expect to see an uptick in travelers. The TSA is asking passengers to separate food from bags during the screening process, and perhaps most exciting is that TSA agents will no longer touch your boarding pass, which also means there will be no more scribbling.