A TSA Rep Tells All

Jon Allen, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, explains why you should be more understanding when flying this holiday season…or ever

"We know historically that holidays are the busiest travel times, but one of the biggest factors isn't just the volume -- you have a different passenger mix. During the holidays we see more casual travelers, people who don't travel as often and who may not be as familiar with the airport. We provide tips to encourage them to spend some time preparing to help them get through the screening process more quickly [try tsa.gov]. To hopefully avoid a situation where they get to a checkpoint and find out they're carrying something they can't bring on.

"Everyone who travels by air is required to go through screenings and have their travel documents checked. TSA assumed this function in January. It was previously done by airline employees. Two of the most common issues of concern we get from travelers are about having to take off their shoes and restrictions on liquids that they can carry on. There's a piece of technology we're testing at airports right now that's like an electronic sniffer. It can detect liquids that may be threatening. But in the meantime, the restriction is in place for a reason—that threat is real.

"Another concern is about them having to remove laptop computers from their bags. We need to get a clear view of the laptop to make sure it hasn't been altered in any way. In March, we went to the private sector and asked manufacturers if they could design bags that can allow laptops to be screened without being removed. Since some of them have started hitting the market, we announced in August that checkpoint-friendly bags would be accepted."


Streamline Security

We know, we know: going through security is a huge hassle. The good news? TSA has reduced the rigmarole by approving checkpoint-friendly laptop bags. Although there are no bags officially endorsed, there are some that will now sail through the X-ray scanner without a hitch. (A TSA insider revealed that the organization is hoping to make things even easier: the agency is testing shoe scanners at LAX.) Here's one 99.9 percent breeze-through-security laptop bag you can try.

Categories: Feature