Airport Security Has Changed Because of the Pandemic: What You Should Know

Category: Transportation

Airport Security Has Changed Because of the Pandemic: What You Should Know


The Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) has altered its checkpoints throughout the pandemic, which may look a bit different for those who haven’t flown yet.

The TSA from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) put out a statement May 18 advising its potential fliers to be aware that record numbers of fliers are expected throughout the summer season. Nationally, the TSA screens 1.5 million people each day, which is a large increase from 2020, but still far from 2019’s 2.5 million a day.

Air travel is considered public transportation, so masks are still always required when in an airport or on board a plane. A TSA officer will provide travelers with masks should they not have one by the time they reach security.

Travelers are also now able to bring one liquid hand sanitizer bottle up to 12 ounces in carry-on bags. They will most likely be opened and tested by security officers. Travelers can also bring antibacterial wipes and alcohol onboard, provided they are individually packaged.

“The checkpoint screening process is a little different today than pre-pandemic,” said Andrea R. Mishoe, TSA’s Federal Security Director for BWI. “Upon arrival to the checkpoints at BWI, travelers will see reminders to socially distance themselves from other travelers while in checkpoint lines. When they get to the travel document checking podium, they will see our TSA officers wearing masks and gloves. Most will be positioned behind new acrylic barriers to reduce exposure and close contact with passengers. Many TSA officers who are not behind acrylic barriers will be wearing face shields or goggles. They will change their gloves between each pat down and they will use a fresh swab if they need to swab your hands or your carry-on items.”

When it comes to security screenings, travelers will scan their own boarding passes and ID cards to prevent a touchpoint. Travelers will have to pull down their masks for a few seconds in order to verify that their identity matches their ID card.

Throughout security, it’s important to place smaller items, things like change, lip balm or hearing aids, into bags to be screened, instead of leaving them out in a bin.

This has become the standard throughout the nation’s airports to reduce the risk of exposure to both travelers and TSA officers. TSA officers will also routinely sanitize frequently touched surfaces, as well as screening equipment.

Download the myTSA app to get updates and learn about what you can bring in your carry-on. Consider enrolling in TSA PreCheck to get through the security checkpoint faster and eliminate more touchpoints.

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