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Holiday Airport Security Procedures and Suggestions for Passengers

TSA urges passengers to plan ahead for security screening 

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Especially during peak travel periods, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) urges air passengers to be aware of the latest airport security checkpoint procedures and policies, and to take advantage of several tips designed to speed their clearance through security.

Currently, the security environment essentially remains unchanged since September 2004 when TSA announced it was increasing the use of explosives trace detectors, expanding the use of manual pat-down searches, and referring more passengers for additional screening based on visual observations by screeners, even if an alarm has not gone off.  As always, passengers have the right to a private screening.

TSA’s checkpoint protocols now require all passengers to remove outer coats and jackets for X-ray before proceeding through the metal detectors.  That includes suit and sport coats, athletic warm-up jackets and blazers.  If a sports coat or blazer is being worn as the innermost garment – not over a blouse or sweater, for example – it does not have to come off.

Tips for Travelers

Other important TSA travel tips to help travelers and their families be prepared for the security process include:

  • As you wait in line at the security checkpoint, place all metal items in a carry-on bag and take laptops and video cameras out of their cases.

  • To minimize the risk of damage or loss, don’t pack fragile or valuable items in checked baggage.  Take them with you in carry-on baggage, or ship them to your destination instead.

  • Put undeveloped film in carry-on baggage because equipment used to screen checked baggage will damage film.  Also, high-speed and specialty film should not be put through X-ray machines, so passengers may ask screeners at the checkpoint to physically inspect film.

  • You are NOT REQUIRED to remove your shoes before you enter the walk-through metal detector.  However, TSA screeners encourage you to remove them because many types of footwear – including boots, platform shoes, and footwear containing metal or having a thick sole or heel – will require additional screening even if the metal detector DOES NOT alarm.

  • Do not wear jewelry, shoes or clothing that may set off metal detector alarms.

  • Get to the airport in plenty of time.

  • Remember to put identification tags in and on all baggage including laptops.

  • Everyone, even frequent fliers, should double check the contents of their pockets and bags, particularly carry-on luggage, to ensure no prohibited items were inadvertently packed.

  • Passengers selected for additional screening have the right to request that it is done in a private location.

  • Do not overpack bags.  If screeners have to open them, closing overstuffed bags can be difficult and may result in that checked bag being delayed until a later flight.

  • If TSA screeners need to open a locked bag for inspection, they may have to break the lock. There are now products on the market that have uniform locking systems that enable screeners to open and relock a bag.  Passengers without such devices may still want to consider leaving bags unlocked.
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