In anticipation of the busiest summer travel season since before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Transportation Security Administration has expanded digital screening operations to assist air travel volume expected to meet or exceed levels not seen since 2019.
The agency hopes enhanced screening operations and the deployment of nearly 50,000 TSA agents will not only reduce security wait times for travelers but also minimize the spread of COVID-19, particularly as Americans take to the skies for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day.
“Daily passenger volumes at TSA checkpoints show that people are traveling again, and TSA is ready for their return,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a press statement on May 10. “Our airport security checkpoints include 47,500 highly-trained security professionals and new technologies that enhance security and reduce physical contact.”
In a proactive response to assumed passenger traffic, the agency has reportedly quadrupled the number of TSA employees who are ready and able to fill in at airports where long lines arise, including nearly 1,000 employees who allegedly volunteered to be sent to other airports as needed, according to reporting by AP.
Most recently, the TSA deployed two new technologies at airport screening checkpoints to reduce the amount of physical contact between TSA agents, passengers and their carry-on luggage. That includes computed tomography units at more than 160 airports nationwide that allow for digital verification of carry-on bags.
This new technology means TSA officers are able to review a 3D image of passengers’ bags, reducing the need to physically search a bag’s contents. What’s more, passengers screened in lanes with the CT technology do not need to remove their liquids or electronics, further speeding up the time it takes to get through security.
“The new CT units are currently being installed at Billings Logan International Airport in Montana, Albany International Airport in New York, Buffalo Niagara International Airport in New York, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina,” the TSA confirmed in a press release. The agency also confirmed that additional CT scanners will be installed at checkpoints throughout the summer.
Additionally, TSA deployed Credential Authentication Technology at more than 175 airports, more than half of which are modified and equipped to digitally verify a passenger’s boarding pass is consistent with the information listed on their driver’s license or passport.
Beyond implementing these new technological measures designed to provide a smooth security experience among travelers, TSA also advised travelers to arrive early at the airport to ensure you have enough time to check in, check bags if necessary and complete the entire security screening process ahead of your flight.
Airlines generally recommend arriving at the airport at least three hours before your scheduled international flight or two hours before a domestic flight. Travelers can also verify anticipated security wait times ahead of travel via the MyTSA app or iFly.com.
As the TSA continues to invest in more agents and technological improvements, the most consistent way to expedite your way through TSA security is by enrolling in TSA PreCheck. With it, passengers are directed to a PreCheck-specific lane in which they do not have to remove their shoes, belts, liquids, food, laptops or light jackets.
In April, 94% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than five minutes at the checkpoint, according to data provided by the TSA.
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