Updated July 28, 2020
TSA Response to COVID-19
TSA understands that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to weigh heavily on the minds of travelers and the general public. We have established this webpage to provide resources and information to assist passengers who find they must travel during this challenging time. TSA remains dedicated to our mission of ensuring that travelers get to their destinations as safely and securely as possible. For the latest press releases and statements related to COVID-19, please visit our media page.
Traveling During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Travelers are reminded to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel guidance regarding COVID-19. Travelers are also encouraged to:
- Practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands regularly, including directly before and after completing the security screening process.
- Maintain a social distance of six feet wherever possible.
- Remove belts and all personal items from your pockets such as wallets, keys or phones before you enter the checkpoint queue and place them in your carry-on bag. (Does not apply to TSA PreCheck™ members.)
- Wear a face covering during the screening process. You may be asked to adjust your mask for ID verification or to remove it for secondary screening.
- Remove food items from carry-on bags and place in bin for screening. (Does not apply to TSA PreCheck™ members.)
Travelers may be directed outside of the checkpoint to remove or repack items (e.g., laptops, liquids, gels, aerosols and large electronics).
Employees or travelers who believe they may have been in contact with a person who has COVID-19 should consult with their healthcare provider. Employees or travelers who have tested positive for COVID-19 should seek medical attention and follow the guidance of their healthcare provider and local health department.
Click here for a short video on tips for traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While security is TSA’s top priority, the health and safety of our employees and the traveling public is of utmost importance to us. TSA remains in close communication with medical professionals, the CDC, and various government agencies as we continue to carry out our important mission. Below are some adjustments TSA has made at checkpoints to make the security screening process safer:
- Passenger Volumes
TSA is consolidating its screening operations to adjust for reduced flight and passenger volumes. Impacted security checkpoints may close as a result, so passengers may be redirected to other security screening checkpoints at the airport. View a comparison of TSA checkpoint screening numbers for 2019 and 2020.
- Social Distancing
TSA has implemented procedures to increase social distancing and reduce direct contact between our employees and the traveling public whenever possible – without compromising security. Adjustments include increasing distance between passengers as they enter the security checkpoint queue, placing visual reminders of appropriate spacing on checkpoint floors, and staggering the use of lanes in the security checkpoint where feasible.
- Reduced Physical Contact
TSA is implementing a phased installation of plastic shielding at points of interaction between passengers and TSA ofﬁcers (e.g., checkpoint, checked baggage drop-off, etc.). Also, travelers maintain possession of their IDs and boarding passes, place on the reader, and hold up to the TSA officer for visual inspection.
- Personal Protective Equipment
TSA officers are required to wear face coverings and gloves. They may also choose to wear eye protection or clear plastic face shields. In addition, TSA ofﬁcers change their gloves following each pat-down and upon passenger request.
- Cleaning and Disinfecting
TSA has increased the frequency and intensity of cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces and security screening equipment, including bins. TSA officers also use new Explosives Trace Detection swabs for each person.
- Medical Exemption for Hand Sanitizer
TSA is allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on bags until further notice. Since these containers exceed the standard allowance typically permitted through a checkpoint, they will need to be screened separately. This will add some time to your checkpoint screening experience. Please keep in mind that all other liquids, gels and aerosols brought to a checkpoint continue to be limited to 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters carried in a one quart-size bag. TSA’s special procedures for traveling with medication.
- Expired Driver’s License and REAL ID Extension
If your driver's license or state-issued ID expired on or after March 1, 2020, and you are unable to renew at your state driver’s license agency, you may still use it as acceptable identification at the checkpoint. TSA will accept expired driver’s licenses or state-issued ID a year after expiration. DHS recently announced an extension of time to obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license. The new deadline is October 1, 2021. Learn more on TSA’s REAL ID webpage.
Click here for a printable infographic on “What to Know Before You Go.”
The latest travel restrictions and advisories related to COVID-19 can be found on the DHS COVID-19: Protecting Air Travelers and the American Public webpage and the State Department’s website.
Airport Closures and Flight Cancellations
TSA does not make decisions about flight cancellations or airport closures. These decisions are made locally, on a case-by-case basis, by individual airlines, airports and public health officials. Before traveling, passengers should check with their airline and airports of origin and destination for the latest information on closures and cancellations.
Protecting our Workforce
TSA is taking extraordinary steps to protect our workforce, including issuing improved personal protective equipment like N95 respirators and eye protection.
Administrator David Pekoske recently responded to questions from Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson and Subcommittee Chairman J. Luis Correa on the efforts TSA has taken to protect the frontline workforce from COVID-19. You can read the letter to find out more.
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