I live in a state that does not require face masks, yet I keep seeing signs and news reports that indicate face masks are required in mass transit, commercial air travel and other public transportation modes. Is the federal government requirement still in place?
Beginning February 2, TSA required individuals to wear a mask when indoors throughout the commercial and public transportation systems. This requirement, following the President’s executive order and the CDC emergency order, remains in effect until January 18, 2022. DHS published a national emergency determination and TSA published security directives and an emergency amendment that requires all operators and passengers to wear face masks on all modes of public transportation, in air, on bus and on rail. All of these orders and directives reflect the importance of this measure to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Should I wear a mask to the TSA checkpoint?
Yes, you are required to wear a face mask throughout your travel experience. You will be asked to adjust your mask for ID verification or if it alarms the security screening equipment. If you don’t have a face mask a TSA officer will offer one to you, if supplies allow.
Why is TSA requiring passengers to wear masks?
President Biden signed an Executive Order to “Promote COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel” on January 21, 2021. Following the Executive Order, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as the lead federal agency, issued guidance on Jan. 29 requiring travelers and the general public to wear masks when utilizing public modes of transportation when they are in airports, bus and rail stations, as well as while on passenger aircraft, commuter trains, buses, vessels, or other forms of public transportation. DHS then issued a “Determination of National Emergency” instructing TSA to take all appropriate actions to implement the President’s Executive Order. Starting on February 2, 2021, TSA requires everyone within the domestic transportation network to wear a face mask.
What will TSA do if a passenger is not wearing a mask during screening?
Passengers without a mask may be denied entry, boarding, or continued transport. Failure to comply with the mask requirement can result in civil penalties.
Within the nation’s airports, at the TSA checkpoint, those who approach the Travel Document Checker (TDC) podium without a mask will be asked to wear or obtain one to proceed. Passengers who refuse to wear a mask will not be permitted to enter the secure area of the airport, which includes the terminal and gate area. Depending on the circumstance, refusal to wear a mask may result in an individual being subject to a civil penalty for attempting to circumvent screening requirements, interfering with screening personnel, or a combination of those offenses.
Is the checkpoint within airports considered to be federal space?
The TSA checkpoint is designated space in which federal employees conduct their assigned job. As such, it is essential that federal employees have the benefit of a healthy, safe and secure work area and a face mask requirement seeks to ensure their safety. The face mask requirement extends to the entire transportation system. Travelers and the general public must wear masks when utilizing public modes of transportation when they are in airports, bus and rail stations, as well as while on passenger aircraft, commuter trains, buses, vessels, or other forms of public transportation.
How is TSA requiring or enforcing masks on aircraft, buses, and in railroad stations and trains?
As the federal agency responsible for securing the nation’s transportation system, TSA is requiring that all airport operators, aircraft operators, foreign air carriers and surface transportation owners and operators ensure that all workers and passengers wear face masks indoors to prevent further spread of COVID-19 and facilitate healthy and secure travel. Stakeholders throughout the transportation network implemented face mask requirements. This federal requirement reinforces those efforts and passengers without a mask may be denied entry, boarding, or continued transport. Failure to comply with the mask requirement can result in civil penalties.
How is TSA addressing travelers who cannot safely wear a mask because of a disability?
TSA has made provisions for those that cannot safely wear a mask. Travelers under the age of 2 years old, those with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask for reasons related to a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and those for whom a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by relevant workplace safety guidelines or federal regulations are exempt from the face mask requirement.
Can I request that TSA officers use new gloves and swabs during screening?
Yes. TSA always requires that frontline personnel wear nitrile gloves when conducting screening duties, and travelers may request new gloves be used during the screening process. TSA has also directed officers to change explosive detection swabs after each use.
My driver’s license has expired and I can’t get it renewed during the pandemic. Will I still be able to fly?
Yes. If your driver's license or state-issued ID expired on or after March 1, 2020, and you are unable to renew at your state driver’s license agency, you may still use it as acceptable identification at the checkpoint. TSA will accept expired driver’s licenses or state-issued IDs for 1 year after expiration.
Can I still enroll in or renew my TSA PreCheck® membership during the pandemic?
Yes, you can still enroll in TSA PreCheck® or renew your existing membership to enjoy a security screening experience with the most convenience and least amount of physical contact. Applying for TSA PreCheck® is quick and easy. Enrolling involves completing a short, 5-minute online application and a 10-minute fingerprinting appointment at one of our 400+ enrollment centers. Most applicants receive their Known Traveler Number within a week. Renewing is even easier and most members can renew entirely online. Visit tsa.gov/precheck to learn more.
Are TSA PreCheck® lanes still available during the pandemic?
Yes, TSA PreCheck® lanes are still open. Use the MyTSA app or click here to find availability. If a dedicated lane is not available at your departure airport, just show your boarding pass with the TSA PreCheck® indicator to receive expedited screening in a standard lane.
Where can I find the numbers of passengers screened by TSA?
The daily checkpoint travel numbers for 2019 and 2020 national passenger volume numbers are available here. This webpage is updated daily by 9 a.m. Eastern time. The statistics are current as of the time posted. Because this data is considered preliminary, it may be adjusted later and will differ from the final screening statistics that are available on the TSA FOIA Electronic Reading Room.
Is TSA conducting temperature checks at security checkpoints?
TSA has not conducted and is not conducting temperature checks on air travelers. The federal government’s interagency position and guidance on temperature checks is available in the Runway to Recovery, page 21, and was jointly developed by the U.S. Departments of Transportation, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services.