Just in time for the summer travel season, there are new airport screening measures that could mean longer lines at security checkpoints. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is testing a new screening procedure for carry-on luggage. "This will involve not just taking your laptop and your liquids out of your bags, but you'll have to take out any food items, any electronic item larger than your phone would have to be removed, and in some cases books and things of that nature," says Ken Jenkins, author and aviation consultant. Right now the TSA is only testing the enhanced procedure at 10 airports, including Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Boston and Detroit. Houston is not among the test airports.
Jenkins explains that the TSA's reasoning behind this new screening is the increase in people filling carry-on bags in order to avoid checked baggage fees. "They're packing everything in their carry-on luggage, and the bags are so full it's more of a challenge for the technicians to read through the x-ray scanner," he says. In preparation for the new procedures and in anticipation of a busy summer travel season, the TSA recently boosted its ranks.
The extra carry-on scrutiny may not be the only change for travelers. The TSA is also considering a ban on all laptops being carried on board, which would require them to be left in checked luggage. "What concerns me about that is the risk of whether there is an explosive in the computer versus having all the lithium batteries from those computers in the cargo hold of an aircraft," says Jenkins. "That in and of itself is a risk."
On the other hand, travelers may get some relief from current policies. "There has also been discussion of changing one of the rules we've had for years, and that's removing your liquids," says Jenkins. "As the detection systems get smarter, we may not have to remove those."