As someone who’s always randomly selected for additional screening at the airport, I know to arrive early and prepare to have all my belongings checked and re-checked in the name of national security. But if you’re not someone that arrives to your flight two hours ahead of schedule, some news from the TSA may inspire you to be a little more pro-active in your planning.
According to ABC News, in addition to taking off your shoes and surrendering your laptop — naked, afraid — to the whims of the X-ray machine, you may soon be asked to separate any electronic item bigger than a cellphone from the rest of your luggage as well as remove food from your luggage to be inspected separately. Anyone uninterested in separating all their products will be met with the worst possible fate — a manual bag check that could make you late for your flight.
Before we all get upset (and I was very upset when I read the headline this morning), it’s important to know that the TSA is doing this for the greater good, that their hope is that this procedure will actually cut down on unnecessary time spent in line, and that they’ve been trying this process for the last year, starting in four airports and gradually expanding to ten. From ABC:
There is no specific threat associated with these items that requires them to be screened separately, and the change is not associated with the ban on laptops and other large electronics on flights originating from some Middle East airports; rather, the move is intended to increase efficiency. The TSA has found that everyday items can appear similar to explosives on an X-ray machine — which slows down lines because officers must manually inspect a large number of bags.
If you’re a pre-check flyer, good news: These regulations don’t apply to you. Anyone in a standard security line, however, may be asked to follow the guidelines at any time. So if you’re flying from any of the ten airports which may require you to rifle through your belongings to remove iPads and bags of chips for inspection — these include LAX, Logan, and Detroit Metropolitan — maybe show up a little early.