The Transportation Security Administration is testing new screening procedures that will require travelers to remove electronics bigger than cellphones and some food items from their bags and place them in bins to be screened separately, ABC News has confirmed. If passengers don't comply, their bag may be opened for a manual inspection.
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 one to increase efficiency. TSA has found that everyday items can appear similar to explosives on an X-ray machine, which slows down lines as officers have to manually inspect bags.
The TSA's goal is to cut down on manual bag checks and keep lines moving by screening these items separately. The change will not apply to Pre-Check passengers, only those in the standard security screening line.
The TSA began testing the processes a year ago at four airports and later expanded it to six more, including Los Angeles International Airport, Boston Logan International Airport and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.
The agency does not believe the changes will create longer lines. The TSA claims its testing indicates the time lost while passengers remove items from their bags is made up because fewer items confuse the X-ray machine, allowing scans to run faster and reducing the number of manual bag checks.
The TSA will also be testing a machine that verifies travelers' forms of identification, rather than having an officer manually study passports and driver's licenses. Travelers will walk up to the machine, hand their ID to an officer, who will scan its barcode, and the machine will populate the traveler's information; a boarding pass is not required. The machines will be tested in the Pre-Check lane at four airports beginning this week.