Remember a couple weeks back when security rules were tightened for flights inbound to the United States, including more aggressive screening of electronics? This week that policy expanded within the USA, too. On Wednesday the TSA announced “new, stronger screening procedures for carry-on items that require travelers to place all electronics larger than a cell phone in bins for X-ray screening in standard lanes.” The new policy is already in effect at 10 airports and will expand to all TSA checkpoints in “the weeks and months ahead.”
In practice this means all electronics larger than a phone are now required to be removed from bags at the screening checkpoint. Up to this point only larger electronics – laptops, video game consoles, etc. – were required to be removed. That changes now, with cameras, e-readers, tablets and other devices now required to come out of the bag.
As new procedures are phased in, TSA officers will begin to ask travelers to remove electronics larger than a cell phone from their carry-on bags and place them in a bin with nothing on top or below, similar to how laptops have been screened for years. This simple step helps TSA officers obtain a clearer X-ray image.
On the plus side, the new rules do not apply in PreCheck lanes where all electronics remain in bags. Also, the TSA reminds travelers that books are still allowed in your carry-on bag:
There are no changes to what travelers can bring through the checkpoint; food and liquid items that comply with the 3-1-1 liquids rule, electronics, and books continue to be allowed in carry-on bags.
Ultimately this means longer lines at the checkpoint. Each passenger will take a little more time to remove the extra items from a bag. Were I passing through my my camera bag it would take a lot longer. Fortunately PreCheck covers me on most flights. But on the international trips I take (most foreign carriers do not participate in the PreCheck program) this will definitely be an inconvenience. And there is no indication that the TSA plans to staff up to account for the slower screening process.
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