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TSA unveils changes to keep travelers safer this holiday season

TSA unveils changes to keep travelers safer this holiday season

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - As part of the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure.” campaign, the agency has made procedural and policy changes to help travelers understand the many protective measures that are in place to make the screening process safer for the traveling public and the TSA workforce due to COVID-19.

At Pocatello Regional Airport (PIH) and airports across the country, TSA has instituted social distancing guidelines to ensure that travelers have adequate space around them while going through the security checkpoint. TSA may opt to open additional screening lanes as needed. TSA also requires its officers to maintain social distance while conducting security screening protocols.

Departing travelers can expect to see all TSA officers wearing face masks and gloves during the screening process. If a TSA officer is working close to travelers, they are also required to wear eye protection or a face shield. TSA officers will change their gloves after each screening position rotation, after a pat-down, and upon a passenger’s request. Travelers are asked to wear a face mask during the entire security screening process.

To reduce physical contact during the identity verification process, travelers will be asked to keep possession of their paper or electronic boarding passes and scan them on an electronic reader themselves. They will need to hold the boarding passes up to the TSA officer for visual inspection as well as briefly adjust their mask to verify their identity. The use of this self-service system reduces touchpoints in the security checkpoint.

TSA has increased the frequency and intensity of cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in the security checkpoint, including bins. However, that is no substitute for practicing good hygiene while traveling.

Travelers are encouraged to wash their hands before and after going through the checkpoint.

If you have made plans to travel, here are some steps you can take right now to be prepared:

Tip 1: Don’t forget your mask

  • Bring and wear a mask when going through the security screening process. Plus, it never hurts to pack an extra mask or two for use during your air travels.
  • Travelers will be asked to momentarily remove their masks to verify their identity.

Tip 2: Pack the pandemic essentials

  • Bring disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer. TSA is allowing travelers to bring one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on luggage. Be prepared to remove your large hand sanitizer container from your carry-on for special screening. Bring as many pre-moistened wipes as you like.
  • Bring an empty reusable beverage container (even an empty plastic water bottle). Fill it up on the secure side of the checkpoint after you go through screening to stay hydrated during your flight.

Tip 3: Enroll in TSA PreCheck® now to expedite screening and reduce touchpoints

  • Travelers who are enrolled in TSA PreCheck® don’t have to remove their shoes, belts, lightweight jackets, electronics, or their bag of travel-size liquids and gels. Not only is that convenient, but during a pandemic, it reduces touchpoints during the screening process. The closest enrollment center is located in Idaho Falls, Idaho, at 461 May Street. It is open Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Tip 4: Pack those gifts, but please do not use wrapping paper

  • TSA recommends against wrapping gifts when packing them for a flight. Wrapped items are screened just like any other item. If a wrapped item alarms the security screening technology in carry-on or checked luggage, a TSA officer may have to unwrap it to determine what the item is. Consider traveling with unwrapped items or placing them in a gift bag, gift box, or putting a festive bow on the item for easy access and resolution.

Tip 5: Download the free myTSA app and follow @TSA on Twitter

  • The free, downloadable myTSA app is a traveler’s best friend and a trusty source for last-minute travel questions. It provides 24/7 access to the most frequently requested airport security information as well as real-time data on airport weather delays. Use the searchable “Can I Bring” database, which is available on the App Store or Google Play.

Travelers are reminded to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel guidance as well as local and state advisories regarding COVID-19. For more information about the TSA response to COVID-19, please visit

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Linda Larsen

Linda Larsen

Linda is an anchor and reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.


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