TSA offers new guidelines to keep fliers safe this summer

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Transportation Safety Administration has released new guidelines for flying during the pandemic.

Passengers may not take one hand sanitizer container onto planes up to 12 ounces per passenger in carry-on bags.

The sanitizer must be removed from the bag before X-Ray screening.

Gene Olson, Director of Airports at Peoria International Airport, says going through TSA lines will now look very different.

“They’re gonna expect everyone to wear a mask. They’re going to do everything so they don’t have to touch you or their stuff,” Olson said.

Olson says if you’re flying, you will be in charge of placing your boarding pass on the scanner to get through security.

If they encounter something in your carry-on baggage, you will have to take the bag out, get the item out of your bag, and then go back through security.

Olson says he hopes these new guidelines help passengers feel more comfortable flying.

“Slowly starting to see more people come through. April was our peak of the low, where we only had a little over 2,900 passengers. that compares to 52-thousand in February, which is our least busy month,” Olson said.

Olson says all TSA employees will wear masks and gloves. He says they were actually wearing gloves long before the pandemic started.

“In April, we were seeing load factors, in other words filled seats, that were barely in the double digits. Some flights, there was only maybe three or four people on the airplane. Now we’re seeing load factors in the 30% rate,” Olson said.

The information below is from the TSA website.

Keep possession of their boarding passes. Instead of handing their boarding pass to a TSA officer at the travel document podium, travelers should now place their boarding pass (paper or electronic) on the boarding pass reader themselves. After scanning, travelers should hold their boarding pass toward the TSA officer to allow the officer to visually inspect it. This change reduces the TSA officer’s need to touch a passenger’s boarding pass thus reducing potential for cross-contamination.

Separate food for X-ray screening. Passengers should place their carry-on food items into a clear plastic bag and place that bag into a bin. Food items often trigger an alarm during the screening process; separating the food from the carry-on bag lessens the likelihood that a TSA officer will need to open the carry-on bag and remove the food items for a closer inspection. This requirement allows social distancing, reduces the TSA officer’s need to touch a person’s container of food and reduces potential for cross-contamination. TSA Precheck members do not need to remove items from their bags.

Pack smart. Passengers should take extra care to ensure that they do not have any prohibited items, such as liquids, gels or aerosols in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces, in their carry-on bags (water bottles, shampoo). In response to COVID-19, TSA is allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on bags. Passengers are required to remove the hand sanitizer from the carry-on bag before being submitted for X-ray screening. If a bag is found to contain a prohibited item, passengers may be directed to return to the divestiture table outside of security with their carry-on bags to remove the item and dispose of the item. The passenger may also be directed back outside of security to remove, items that should have originally been divested (such as laptops, liquids, gels, and aerosols, and large electronics) and resubmit their property for X-ray screening. By resolving alarms in this manner, TSA officers will need to touch the contents inside a carry-on bag much less frequently, reducing the potential for cross-contamination.

Practice social distancing.  Passengers should allow for social distancing to reduce direct contact between employees and travelers whenever possible without compromising security. Noticeable adjustments leading up to the security checkpoint include, increasing the distance between individuals as they enter the security checkpoint, placing visual reminders of appropriate spacing on checkpoint floors and staggering the use of lanes where feasible. No two airports are alike, so this could look a little different at each airport.

Wear facial protection. TSA officers at checkpoints are now using facial protection. Travelers are encouraged to wear face protection to the checkpoint as well. Please note, however, passengers may need to adjust it during the screening process. Travelers are also encouraged to remove items such as belts, and items from their pockets, like wallets, keys and phones, and put them directly into their carry-on bags instead of into the bins to reduce touch-points during the screening process.

Travelers who have not flown since the pandemic are also likely to notice some other changes. They include:

  • Reduced security lane usage due to the reduction in passenger volume.
  • All TSA officers at checkpoints wearing masks and gloves.
  • TSA officers optionally wearing eye protection and clear plastic face shields at some locations.
  • TSA officers will continue the practice of changing gloves after each pat-down.
  • Plastic shielding installed at many travel document checking podiums, divest, bag search and drop off locations.
  • TSA officers practicing social distancing.
  • Routine cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces in the screening checkpoint area.

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