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TSA Cracks Down On Screening For Carry-On Items

The Transportation Security Administration is tweaking the passenger screening process.  A briefing was held today at Albany International Airport.

As an extra measure of safety, carry-on items are undergoing enhanced scrutiny in the airport screening process. Under changes being rolled out nationally this month, any personal electronic device bigger than a cell phone must be placed in bins for x-ray screening, similar to procedures already in place for certain government and municipal offices.

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
"The terror threat is real, and TSA is committed to raising the baseline for aviation security." ~ TSA Upstate NY Federal Security Director Bart Johnson

The added precautions are partially in response to attempts by terrorists overseas to get modified electronic devices on board airliners without detection. The screening program began in May as a pilot tested at 10 airports scattered across the country including Boston’s Logan Airport.

TSA's Upstate New York Federal Security Director Bart Johnson explains what the public should expect from TSA agents.    “They’re gonna be much more hands-on. Moving the bins around. Situating them. Separating them. To make sure that as they go into the tunnel, the x-ray, once again, that officer has the best chance to view what’s actually in there, determine what’s a threat, what’s not a threat, and then continue moving on. Also it’s going to be a much more targeted search, because there are going to be more bag checks, and that could cause some concern about additional wait times.”

Johnson adds TSA agents will now be positioned on the opposite side of the conveyor so they can make eye contact with people passing through, providing an additional layer of protection as agents are trained to pick up on eye movements and body language, including nervousness, sweating or fidgeting, not to mention conversation-based screening.

Breanda DeJEsus
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
TSA agent Brenda DeJesus says the agency also recommendeds that books be placed in a bin.

TSA agent Brenda DeJesus:   “So you are gonna be having an officer behind you and giving you more direct feedback and advisement for what it is that you have to be doing. So they’re gonna be moving the bins, and just so that we can have a better view of your property going through the conveyor belt.”

Johnson says he doesn't expect the new measures to add any time to the wait in line or wait to be screened. All airports across the nation will be implementing the tweaks in the weeks ahead.

There are no changes to any other TSA rules, and the new rules do NOT apply to those enrolled in TSA Pre Check.

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