The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is sharing some helpful tips for travelers flying during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
First and foremost, the agency is encouraging all passengers to travel with hand sanitizer and alcohol or anti-bacterial wipes.
TSA has relaxed its rules to allow each traveler one hand sanitizer container of up to 12 ounces in their carry-on bag until further notice. However, hand sanitizer containers exceeding the standard 3.4-ounce allowance typically permitted through checkpoints are required to be screened separately.
Passengers are also allowed to wear face masks during the screening process. Keep in mind that travelers may be asked to adjust the mask so officers can visually confirm their identity when checking travel documents.
By law, passengers over the age of 2 must wear a face mask. Those who fail to comply will be prevented from entering the screening area.
Travelers should also place any items from their pockets—including things like keys, tissues, loose change and cell phones—into their carry-on bag to avoid having to use a bin and faster screening.
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 are 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 can leave on their shoes and light jacket during screening.
2. Remove your belt and personal 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. 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.” Ask the TSA officer if you are unsure. (See these special instructions for gels and liquids.)
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.
6. Personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone need to be removed from your carry-on bag and placed in a bin with nothing on or under them for X-ray screening.
7. Passengers need to continue to practice physical distancing whenever possible. Floor markers indicate appropriate six-foot spacing between those waiting in line, and many reminders are posted.
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 TSA on 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.