TSA Is Screening Travelers at Mercedita and Rafael Hernandez International Airports After More Than a Year of Closures Due to the Pandemic

Local Press Release
Wednesday, April 7, 2021

( Español )

The TSA is screening passengers across Puerto Rico again at the Mercedita International Airport (PSE) and Rafael Hernandez International (BQN) Airport. Both airports are open for business after being closed for more than a year.

Nevertheless, last year’s hiatus did not stop the screening workforce from moving forward to support the TSA mission by undertaking new roles in detail opportunities with the Small Business Administration (SBA), the TSA Field Intelligence and Integration Division and the TSA Alarm Resolution Capabilities Management team. Furthermore, other members of the BQN and PSE screening workforce demonstrated their commitment by supporting the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU) hub until the reopening of their designated airports.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is ready for the continued surge in travelers across Puerto Rico once again.  Acrylic barriers and technology now reduce or eliminate physical contact between passengers and TSA staff in San Juan, Aguadilla and Ponce.

“We are focused on the health and safety of our workforce and the traveling public,” said Mariely Loperena Moure, the Transportation Security Administration’s newly appointed Federal Security Director for Puerto Rico. “The TSA is honored to be screening all travelers out of Ponce and Aguadilla once again.”

Staff at BQN photo
TSA Staff at BQN Airport
Staff at PSE photo
TSA Staff at PSE Airport

The TSA has installed acrylic barriers to separate passengers and TSA officers at strategic locations in the checkpoints in the three cities. And the airport in San Juan has the latest checkpoint technology: CT 300s.  “The computed tomography equipment uses complex algorithms to search for threats and allows our TSA officers to rotate the images, thereby reducing the need to open bags and thus reducing touchpoints,” said Loperena Moure, noting that passengers screened in the lanes with this new equipment do not need to remove their 3-1-1 bag or their electronics.

Face masks for both employees and passengers are required throughout all domestic transportation modes, including airport security screening checkpoints and throughout the airport. Since the implementation of the federal face mask mandate for travelers on Feb 2, masks are required regardless of local or state easing of restrictions. Those who refuse to wear a mask face fines from the TSA and from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) if the infraction occurs while flying.  The TSA continues to work closely with all transportation partners to enable the highest security standards within a travel environment that helps reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

Those flying to destinations as travel continues to pick up should follow these six tips for getting through the TSA checkpoint as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Tip 1: Wear a face mask. You must. The federal requirement supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Emergency Order mandating face masks be worn on all public conveyances and at stations, ports, or similar transportation hubs regardless of state and local laws. 

Tip 2: Leave prohibited items at home. To reduce the likelihood of physical contact with TSA officers at the checkpoint, verify if items are prohibited by using the “What Can I Bring?” page on TSA.gov.

Tip 3: Prepare for the security checkpoint. Have a valid ID card readily available. Follow the liquids rule of 3.4 ounces or less, with the exception of hand sanitizer, which has a temporary 12-ounce limit in carry-on baggage.

Tip 4: No guns at checkpoints ever. Airline passengers can fly with firearms only in checked baggage. All firearms must be properly packed and declared at check-in. Contact your airline for additional guidance.  And know what the laws are on both sides of your trip.

Tip 5: Help is always available. Get live assistance by tweeting your questions and comments to @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST and weekends/holidays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST. You can also call the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673.

Tip 6: Enroll now in TSA PreCheck®. “Travel with Ease” by enrolling in TSA PreCheck and avoid removing shoes, belts, liquids, food, laptops and light jackets. Most new enrollees receive a known traveler number within five days, and membership lasts for five years.   

TSA is committed to supporting a healthy and secure environment for our employees, airport personnel and airline passengers. For additional information about TSA procedures during COVID-19 as part of our “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure” campaign, visit tsa.gov/coronavirus.

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