New TSA Screening Procedure Could Complicate Business Travel

Two months ago, the business travel community was shaken by disruptions resulting from the electronics ban. New policies have forced travelers on select inbound flights to stow laptops and other large devices in checked luggage. Despite criticism regarding flight safety and personal data security, the ban remains in place to this day.

Unfortunately, laptop restrictions may only be the beginning of business travel disruptions.

For over a year and a half, the TSA has secretly been testing new carry-on screening procedures. These test protocols require travelers to remove all electronics larger than a cellphone from carry-on luggage and place them in a separate screening bin. Once items have cleared screening they can be returned to carry-ons, making this potential change less severe than the ban. However, if implemented, the new screening policy will impact ALL US travelers – not just those traveling from select airports.

The new screening practices have been in the works for about two years, officials report. They are part of continuous counter-terrorism endeavors and not a response to an imminent threat.

Screening Test Details:

Expanded tests are now being conducted at ten airports across the country, including:

Arizona: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)

California: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Colorado Springs Airport (COS)

Florida: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)

Idaho: Boise Airport (BOI)

Massachusetts: Logan International Airport (BOS)

Michigan: Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)

Nevada: McCarran International Airport (LAS)

Puerto Rico: Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU)

Texas: Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport (LBB)

Not all screening lanes will be implementing test procedures, and PreCheck passengers are exempt from testing. TSA agents will be guiding passengers in impacted screening lanes through the test requirements. Despite increased bag checks, the agency doesn’t expect significant back-up in affected security lanes.

How Can Travelers Prepare:

Fortunately, there are no immediate plans to implement new screening practices at all airports. But travelers flying out of any of the ten trial airports may be subject to the test screenings. In order to avoid delays:

    1. Cut Down on Devices: Debating on whether or not to bring that e-reader you never use? Follow general travel best-practices and only bring the essentials.

    2. Separate Electronics from other Carry-On Goods: Avoid digging out everything in your carry-on to access your electronics by stashing devices in their own area. Use a bag with several pockets and dividers as your carry-on, or consider buying electronics sleeves.

    3. Consider Applying for TSA PreCheck: If you’re a frequent traveler, PreCheck will help you bypass aggravations like digging out all your carry-on devices. Individuals can fill out the application online, and in-person background check appointments usually take around ten minutes. If approved, the initial cost covers five years of membership.

We’ll be following and updating this story as new changes occur.

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