Passengers traveling through Dulles International and Reagan National airports will now be asked to put their e-readers, cameras, iPads and other electronic devices in a separate bin as part of the expansion of an initiative designed to tighten screening of carry-on items at airports across the country.
With more people opting to carry on bags instead of paying to check them, officials with the Transportation Security Administration hope the new procedures will speed screening while maintaining safety by “decluttering” bags so that officers can get a clearer view of what people are bringing onto flights.
TSA officials announced this summer that the changes, already in place at 10 airports, including Boston’s Logan and Los Angeles International airports, would be expanded to include all U.S. airports. On Friday, TSA officials held a demonstration of the new procedures at Dulles.
“It is critical for TSA to constantly enhance and adjust security screening procedures to stay ahead of evolving threats and keep passengers safe,” acting TSA administrator Huban A. Gowadia said in July, when she announced the expansion. “By separating personal electronic items such as laptops, tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles for screening, TSA officers can more closely focus on resolving alarms and stopping terror threats.”
TSA has tightened its rules for screening large electronic devices amid concerns that they could be used by terrorists to conceal explosive devices. That’s part of what spurred the Trump administration to temporarily ban such items from being brought into passenger cabins on flights from certain Muslim-majority countries.
The renewed focus on security could also mean more searches of carry-on bags here in the United States. TSA officials said one way travelers can help speed the screening process is by packing food items at the top of their bags or by placing food in a separate bin for screening. Officials, however, emphasized that there have been no changes to what travelers can bring on board with them.
Travelers who are part of TSA’s PreCheck program, which offers expedited screening for those who have had a background check and been fingerprinted, will be exempt from the new screening procedures.
The revised screening requirements for domestic airports come as the Trump administration is also tightening rules for travelers coming into the United States. As a condition for dropping the “laptop ban,” airlines and airports must adhere to new rules for screening passengers.