December 14, 2021
TheTransportation Security Administration (TSA)continues to use a range of procedures to keep contact to a minimum for both TSA agents and fliers who go through security screening as the pandemic continues.
But it’s also asking the public for patience, courtesy and compliance due to the combination of staff shortages and a growing number of passengers passing through security this winter; the number of airline passengers screened by theTSAeach day has risen substantially in the past few months— more than 1.9 million people passed through airport security on Dec. 13, for example. That’s nearing the approximately 2.25million who did so on Dec. 13, 2019, and a huge leap from the 752,000 who flew on Dec. 13, 2020.
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With the holiday season upon us, TSA Administrator David Pekoski said in a recent statement that travelers should “plan ahead, remain vigilant and practice kindness.”
TSA and other officials are increasingly concerned about traveler behavior, during screening and in the air. The airline industry is calling for more serious prosecution of the growing number of passengers who are disruptive, sometimes violently. Since the middle of January 2021 through Dec.7, there have been more than 5,550 reports of unruly passengers, at times involving physical assault, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.Those include nearly 4,000 incidents related to passengers’ compliance with the federal face mask mandate.(The FAA has a new online videofeaturing children instructing adults on how to behave maturely.)
By law, passengers over the age of 2 must wear a face mask in the airport and on the plane, at least through March 18, 2022. Those who fail to comply will be prevented from entering the screening area, and subject to fines, which the federal government recently doubled (fines now range from $500 to up to $3,000 for repeat offenses).
The TSA screening officer at the travel document checker station will likely ask you to briefly lower your face mask to verify your identity.
TSA officers will also be wearing masks and gloves (they’ll change them after any passenger pat-downs), and the agency has installed acrylic barriers between officers and travelers in some cases. It has also embraced new technology that prevents agents from having to touch bags; the computed tomography (CT) units can provide detailed 3-D images of a carry-on bag’s contents.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the TSA has had 11,518 federal employees test positive for COVID-19, and 33 have died after contracting the virus.
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For a smooth and safe screening process, follow the TSA’s current protocols.
1.Arrive at the airport early to make sure there’s sufficient time to make your flight in case lines are long due to increased passenger volume and TSA staffing shortages. You’re encouraged to sign up for TSA PreCheck®,which allows for speedier passage through screening (you don’t need to take off your shoes and belt, and you can leave liquids and laptops in your carry-on).Note that those 75 and older canleave on their shoes and light jacket during screening, even without PreCheck.
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2.Organize your personal items before screening.Remove your belt, keys and other items from your pockets and put them in your carry-on bag before lining up for screening. (This does not apply to TSA PreCheck members.)
3.TSA officials no longer physically handle boarding passes, so place your paper or electronic pass on the code reader and hold it for the officer to inspect. Again, the agent may ask you to briefly lower your mask to confirm your identity.
4.If you’re bringing food, it may need to be inspected, although in most cases, the TSA says, “food or snacks such as fruit, health bars and sandwiches can stay inside your carry-on bag,” as can cakes and other baked goods. Consider putting them in a clear plastic bag so a TSA officer can see the contents clearly. The agency notes that foods such as gravy and cranberry sauce should bepacked in a checked bag because they are not solids (TSA guidance: “If you can spill it, spray it, pump it or pour it, then it’s not a solid”). Ask the TSA officer if you are unsure.
5.Up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer is permitted through security, but the TSA asks that it be removed from carry-on bags before screening. You can also bring alcohol wipes or antibacterial wipes in carry-on bags.
6.Personal electronic devices larger than a cellphone need to be removedfrom your carry-on bag and placed in a bin with nothing on or under them for X-ray screening.
7.Practice physical distancing whenever possible.Floor markers indicate appropriate 6-foot spacing between those waiting in line, and many reminders are posted.
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8.The TSA will accept a driver’s license or state-issued ID up to a year after expirationfor those who have been unable to renew them during the pandemic. Note that you now have until May 3, 2023, to acquire a security-enhancedReal ID instead of a regular driver’s license in order to get through airport security. The deadline was recently delayed from Oct. 1, 2021.
9. Passengers are asked to remain aware of and to report suspicious activities(“If You See Something, Say Something,” is the motto of the public-safety campaign). Find out more at the Department of Homeland Security website.
10. Ask for help. If you have any questions about the procedures, you can call the TSA’s customer service center at 866-289-9673, or get in touch through Twitter (@AskTSA) or Ask TSAon Facebook. If you require assistance because of medical or disability issues, contact TSA Cares at least 72 hours in advance of your flight at 855-787-2227.
A few more tips to make air travel easier for yourself and others:
- Make sure you know the correct terminal that your flight will be departing from; you don’t want to waste time by getting dropped off at the wrong one.
- Wear socks and shoes without laces, if you know you will need to take your shoes off at security.
- Have your boarding pass pulled up on your phone and your ID ready before you reach the checkpoint.
- Remember that you can only bring one carry-on bag and one personal item on most flights. A personal item is something like a purse or laptop bag that can fit under the seat in front of you.
- Again, be nice. Many people are tense when they travel, and TSA and airline staff are facing their own stresses. Try to keep this in mind, and go with the flow as much as possible. And have a great trip!
Editor's note: This article was originally published on May 21, 2020. It's been updated to reflect new TSA procedures.
Christina Ianzito covers scams and fraud, and is the books editor for aarp.org and AARP The Magazine. Also a longtime travel writer and editor, she received a 2020 Lowell Thomas Award for travel writing from the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation.
More on travel
Coronavirus and Travel: What You Should KnowMany restrictions ease with lower COVID-19 case numbers
Tips for Travelers Facing Chaos and Crowds This SeasonPatience and preparation are essential if you’re flying or driving over the holidays
How Staffing Shortages May Affect Your Next TripPack your patience as the travel industry struggles with fewer workers
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What are the new TSA rules for flying? ›
Starting May 7, 2025, every traveler will need to present a REAL ID-compliant license or an acceptable form of identification to fly within the U.S. Passengers who do not present an acceptable form of identification will not be permitted through the security checkpoint.What do the new airport scanners detect? ›
Airport body scanners alert the TSO to threats—mainly weapons such as knives, guns and explosives. They are designed to detect “metallic and nonmetallic threat items,” according to the TSA. Those are things like explosives or knives made out of materials other than metal, like ceramics, says Malvini Redden.What is the new technology for TSA? ›
TSA continues to deploy computed tomography (CT) systems to airport security checkpoints nationwide to address rapidly evolving threats. As of March 6, 2023, 287 of the scheduled 313 Analogic Mid-size systems have been deployed. Installation of all 313 Mid-size systems is scheduled to be complete in November, 2023.Why do I always get SSSS on my boarding pass? ›
If you see the SSSS code on your boarding pass it means you have been selected for extra security screenings, which may take additional time. Most likely, you will go through a metal detector, receive a pat-down and have your hands and luggage swab tested for explosives.Does toothpaste count as a liquid? ›
Each passenger is limited to one quart-size bag of liquids, gels and aerosols. Common travel items that must comply with the 3-1-1 liquids rule include toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash and lotion.Can I pack a razor in my carry-on? ›
Safety Razors: Because the razor blades are so easy to remove, safety razors are not permitted in your carry-on luggage with the blade. They're fine to pack in your carry-on without the blade. The blades must be stored in your checked luggage. The same applies for straight razors.Why does my groin get flagged at TSA? ›
If you were wearing loose fitting pants or clothes then that can cause a pat down cuz the scanner doesn't see everything as clearly as we think it does. Or the scanner may have registered your groin area as a hot zone (I'm serious) and flagged you for a pat down. It happens almost every time my wife flies.How much cash can you fly with? ›
International travelers entering the United States must declare if they are carrying currency or monetary instruments in a combined amount over $10,000 on their Customs Declaration Form (CBP Form 6059B) and then file a FinCEN Form 105.Is TSA getting rid of the 100ml rule? ›
Some security rules on liquids and items such as laptops in airport hand luggage will be scrapped in 2024.What's the difference between TSA and TSA? ›
What Is the Difference Between a TSO and the TSA? TSA is the Transportation Security Administration; it is the federal agency in charge of airport and aircraft security. A TSO is a Transportation Security Officer; this is the position of airport security screening officers. TSOs are agents of the TSA.
What does F mean on boarding pass? ›
An “A” or “F” mean first-class treatment, while a “B” often means you're more likely to get upgraded than if you have a “Q” or a “Y” on your ticket—the latter two are typically the cheapest economy fares.Why pack a tennis ball in your luggage? ›
Tennis balls can put any fancy, expensive gadgets to shame when it comes to alleviating pain, improving circulation, and relieving tightness. And as it turns out, having one of these portable masseuses in your carry-on could prevent blood clots on long flights or road trips.Who assigns SSSS on boarding pass? ›
The TSA can tag you with the SSSS code once or with regularity.Can I bring tweezers on a plane? ›
Yes, tweezers and razors are allowed on planes, in your cabin bag. So are scissors, as long as the edges are less than 4 inches long (10 cm). Straight razor blades, however, are not allowed in the carry-on. They must be packed in your checked bag instead, or left at home.What is not allowed in a carry-on bag? ›
Liquid or gel food items larger than 3.4 oz are not allowed in carry-on bags and should be placed in your checked bags if possible. TSA officers may instruct travelers to separate items from carry-on bags such as foods, powders, and any materials that can clutter bags and obstruct clear images on the X-ray machine.Does mascara count as a liquid? ›
So is mascara considered a liquid? Yes, when it comes to makeup, the following items are considered liquid cosmetics: mascara. nail polish.Can I bring nail clippers on a plane? ›
Nail clippers, nail-trimming scissors and cuticle cutters are totally fine in your carry-on bag. But if the blades are over 6 cm in length, they will need to be packed inside your checked luggage (this same rule applies to small tools such as calipers and drill bits). Tweezers under 6 cm are permitted, too.Is lipstick a liquid TSA? ›
You are permitted to bring solid cosmetics and personal hygiene items as such lipstick, lip balm and similar solids. Please remember these items must be solid and not liquid, gel or aerosol. Only the items mentioned above are permitted in your carry-on bags.How do you pack makeup in a carry-on? ›
TSA's 3-1-1 Rule: How to pack makeup in carry-on luggage. The TSA's travel size rule says you can bring a 1–quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. The containers need to be 3.4 ounces or smaller and placed in the resealable clear bag.Can fat set off airport scanners? ›
TSA body scanners may be more likely to trigger false alarms if you're black or overweight. The letter F.
Can TSA see under your clothes? ›
Airport scanners, including backscatter and millimeter-wave scanners, can both see through clothes. Backscatter scanners use low energy x-rays that reflect the x-rays back to the machine, while millimeter wave scanners use low-energy non-ionizing radiofrequency waves to see through clothes.Does an IUD show up on airport security? ›
Intrauterine device (coil)
As the coil is small and deep inside your body, the airport detectors will not pick it up and you're fine to pass through any airport with an IUD. Summary: ✔ An IUD/coil will not set off the body scanners or metal detectors at airport security.
How much cash can you fly with? In other words, does TSA have a limit for the amount of money you can bring through security? No, you can bring any amount of money to the airport. It is not illegal to fly with a large amount of cash on a flight.Where do you put your money when flying? ›
Money belts and neck wallets — those flat, cloth pouches that fit under your clothes — are the traditional ways to carry money safely while you're traveling. They're meant to escape the notice of pickpockets and muggers, and some even have RFID blocking to keep your credit card and passport information safe.How much cash can you keep at home? ›
You obviously will have a risk of it being stolen, but don't have a limit of how much you can have in cash in your house.” “However, you have to declare it, it can not be illegal money, it can not be hot money, your taxes must be paid and up-to date, you have to declare all income.”Can I bring an unopened bottle of water on a plane? ›
So you can't bring H20 or any other liquids more than 3.4 oz. (well there are some exceptions) through security, but you CAN bring an empty bottle.Why isn't water allowed on planes? ›
The liquid ban was introduced around the world after a transatlantic terrorist plot was foiled in August 2006, in which a group planned to detonate liquid explosives on board multiple flights.Is deodorant considered a liquid? ›
Roll-on deodorants are a broad category and usually come either as liquids or gels. If a product is a liquid, gel, cream, or paste it's restricted! The general rule of thumb is that roll-ons are technically liquids, so they should be stored in small containers no larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 ml.What is TSA starting pay? ›
Average TSA (Transportation Security Administration) hourly pay ranges from approximately $12.78 per hour for Correctional Officer to $20.23 per hour for Security Officer.What are TSA employees called? ›
Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) are the face of the agency, the people on the front lines and the most important role at TSA. For many people, working as a TSO has led to a long, fulfilling career with the federal government.
Does TSA make a lot of money? ›
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Sequence: This is the order in which you checked in to your flight, e.g. if your sequence number is 066 you're the 66th person to check in.What does PRB mean on boarding pass? ›
The word “PRIORITY” will appear on your home printed boarding card if you check in online, or; The abbreviation "PRB" or "PASS" will appear on your mobile boarding pass if you checked in on your mobile, or; A sticker will be placed on your boarding card at the airport check-in desk.How long before a flight should I take aspirin? ›
As someone who practices emergency medicine, I ALWAYS take aspirin before any flight over three hours. This is my own choice, and also my partners. Check with your own doctor, if you have no medical reason for not taking aspirin, why not, it might just prevent a DVT/PE.Why do people put tennis balls in the laundry? ›
Instead, we're looking at the laundry hack of tossing a few tennis balls into the dryer along with your wet clothes. The theory is that the balls will help create gaps in between your clothes as the dryer spins, preventing them from bunching up and allowing more hot air to circulate for faster drying.Why do I always get my hands swabbed at the airport? ›
The Transportation Security Administration randomly swabs passengers' hands at security checkpoints and airport gates to test them for traces of explosives. The TSA swabs are analyzed for nitroglycerin, nitrates, glycerin, or other chemicals. This was an expansion in 2010 from simply swabbing luggage and other items.How long does SSSS take airport? ›
An SSSS code stamped on your boarding pass overrides pre-approval through a Trusted Traveler Program such as TSA PreCheck and can add 15 to 45 minutes (or more) to your boarding process.How do I get SSSS off my boarding pass? ›
How can you get the SSSS from Boarding Pass in Future ? If you are constantly getting SSSS on your boarding pass, have issues at security check every time you fly or denied boarding, any other security screening issues, you can reach out to DHS on this and submit your request.Do you have to have a Covid test to fly on an airplane in the United States? ›
If you are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you'll need to: (If fully vaccinated) Have proof of full vaccination as approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) or U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and a negative COVID-19 test taken within one calendar day of departure.
What is TSA carry-on rules 2023? ›
TSA liquid limit: For carry-on you are limited to containers of 3.4oz or less that can fit comfortably in one quart-sized, clear, zip-top bag. If it's overflowing from the bag, that isn't comfortable. Please remember, one bag per passenger. For checked bags, there is no limit!How many 3 oz bottles can I take on a plane? ›
How many 3-ounce bottles can I carry on? You must be able to fit all your 3-ounce bottles into a 1-quart bag, which is 6 x 9 inches. This usually equates to nine bottles. FYI, you can use a Ziploc or any anything that's about that size, but the TSA doesn't officially approve or disapprove of any bags.Do I need to be vaccinated to fly in the US? ›
Noncitizens who are nonimmigrants and seeking to enter the United States by air are required to show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States from a foreign country.Do you still have to wear a mask on a plane? ›
As a result of a court order, effective immediately and as of April 18, 2022, CDC's January 29, 2021 Order requiring masks on public transportation conveyances and at transportation hubs is no longer in effect.Do you have to be vaccinated to fly Delta? ›
At time of boarding, inbound U.S. travelers must provide proof of vaccination. This can either be digital or paper and must include at a minimum full name and date of birth matching the traveler's passport, name of official source issuing the vaccine, vaccine type and date(s) of vaccination.Can I have a purse and a backpack on a plane? ›
Most airlines allow passengers to bring on both a carry-on and a personal item like a backpack, laptop bag, purse, briefcase, shopping bag, etc. The general rule of thumb is that your personal item is smaller in dimension than your carry-on bag and it can fit underneath the seat in front of you.Can I bring medicine on a plane? ›
You can bring your medication in pill or solid form in unlimited amounts as long as it is screened. You can travel with your medication in both carry-on and checked baggage. It's highly recommended you place these items in your carry-on in the event that you need immediate access.Does TSA open every suitcase? ›
The majority of checked baggage is screened without the need for a physical bag search. Inspection Notices: TSA may inspect your checked baggage during the screening process. If your property is physically inspected, TSA will place a notice of baggage inspection inside your bag.What happens if your bag is over 50 at the airport? ›
While specific policies differ, most legacy airlines limit checked luggage to 50 pounds. That means that if your checked bag weighs more than 50 pounds, your airline will charge you a set fee on top of their standard baggage rate.Can I just bring a carry-on? ›
Carry-on bags must weigh less than 35 pounds and must not exceed 10 inches deep, 16 inches wide and 24 inches high. Bags must fit in the overhead bins. Checked bags must be no longer than 62 linear inches (length + width + depth) and must weigh under 40 pounds.
Is chapstick considered a liquid when flying? ›
You are permitted to bring solid cosmetics and personal hygiene items as such lipstick, lip balm and similar solids. Please remember these items must be solid and not liquid, gel or aerosol. Only the items mentioned above are permitted in your carry-on bags.Does mascara count as a liquid TSA? ›
So is mascara considered a liquid? Yes, when it comes to makeup, the following items are considered liquid cosmetics: mascara. nail polish.Can you carry hairspray in your carry-on? ›
TSA has determined that liquids, aerosols and gels, in limited quantities, are safe to bring aboard aircraft. So it is important to remember that all liquid, aerosol and gel items must be stored in containers 3.4 ounce or smaller.