LINTHICUM, Md. (WJZ) — Transportation Security Administration officials spoke at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport Tuesday morning about changes travelers will experience at the security checkpoints going forward due to COVID-19.
As BWI sees more and more travelers flying in and out of the airport this summer, TSA wants to remind travelers to give themselves more time and expect changes while going through airport security. If you haven’t traveled in a while, the security checkpoint may look different.READ MORE: 'We're Getting Closer To Normal' More Than 24,000 Passengers Hitting The Sky At BWI Airport
Due to the COVID pandemic, TSA is taking a number of precautions to keep both agents and travelers safe in addition to the mask mandate.
Travelers must not only wear their masks on their flights, but in the airport as well.
“The checkpoint screening process is a little different today than pre-pandemic,” said Andrea R. Mishoe, TSA’s Federal Security Director for BWI. “Upon arrival to the checkpoints at BWI, travelers will see reminders to socially distance themselves from other travelers while in checkpoint lines.”
“When they get to the travel document checking podium, they will see our TSA officers wearing masks and gloves. Most will be positioned behind new acrylic barriers to reduce exposure and close contact with passengers,” Mishoe added. “Many TSA officers who are not behind acrylic barriers will be wearing face shields or goggles. They will change their gloves between each pat down and they will use a fresh swab if they need to swab your hands or your carry-on items.”
Travelers will scan their own boarding passes — electronic or paper — to reduce interactions. They will also be asked to remove their mask for a few seconds so that the officers can match the person’s face with the photo ID.
TSA employees will also be frequently cleaning areas.
Nationwide, TSA officers have screened around 1.5 million people daily, which is an increase from 2020, but down slightly from 2019.
At BWI, TSA was screening about 38,000 travelers per day during the summer of 2019 and now sees about 22,000 people were day.
If you’re planning on traveling soon, you might want to consider a couple of things before getting to security or while packing:
- You will now be allowed to bring one liquid hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces per passenger in carry-on bags. But, they will need to screened separately.
- Travelers also are permitted to bring individually packaged alcohol or anti-bacterial wipes in carry-on or checked luggage.
- To reduce touchpoints, it is recommended that travelers place items from their pockets such as wallets, keys, lip balm, tissues and cell phones into their carry-on bags to be screened instead of putting items from their pockets directly into bins. This minimizes the placing of personal items in a bin that you might hold to your face such as lip balm, tissues and cell phones. It also reduces the chance that travelers will leave something behind in a bin.
- Travelers also need to know what can and cannot go in their carry-on bag from firearms to oversize liquids. It is important to know what items should not be packed in a carry-on bag because if a carry-on bag triggers an alarm, it will require a TSA officer to open the bag to resolve the alarm. This means that a TSA officer will have to open your baggage and go inside to identify what item may have caused the alarm.
The TSA also suggest individuals who are planning to travel this summer should consider enrolling in TSA PreCheck®. The popular expedited screening program allows travelers to leave on their shoes, jackets, belts and enables them to keep their electronics and 3-1-1 bags in their carry-on bags.
“TSA PreCheck membership is more valuable now than ever before because it reduces touchpoints during the pandemic and puts travelers in security lines that have fewer travelers and move quicker, which encourages social distancing,” Mishoe added.