Fort Myers – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is ready for the continued surge in travelers at Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) and across the country. Acrylic barriers and upgraded technology now reduce or eliminate physical contact between passengers and TSA staff.
But as you prepare to fly after what could be a year or more for many, the TSA offers serious tips for navigating the airport checkpoint. The first is to arrive early, two hours early. Remember that the doors to your plane are shut 15 to 20 minutes before the posted flight time and you might arrive just when there is a crowd to check a bag or go through security. TSA staff are screening record numbers of passengers at RSW, even higher than before the start of the pandemic
“The health and safety of our work force and the traveling public remain our critical mission,” said Robert McLaughlin, who took over as the Federal Security Director with the Transportation Security Administration at RSW after returning from a five-year TSA assignment in North Africa and the Middle East. “I am impressed with the professionalism of our TSA employees and the remarkable teamwork with Lee County Port Authority and the Lee County Port Authority Police.”
The TSA has installed the latest checkpoint technology – CT 300s – as well as CATs or credential authentication technology, both of which reduce touchpoints. The CTs or computed tomography equipment uses complex algorithms to search for threats, allows TSA officers to rotate the images, and therefore reduces the need to open bags. Passengers screened in the lanes with this new equipment do not need to remove their 3-1-1 bag or their electronics.
In the lanes with CAT machines, passengers are separated from TSA officers by acrylic barriers and can insert their own ID or passport. Boarding passes are not needed in those lanes. The equipment verifies passengers’ identity and confirms in real time that they are flying that day.
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 February 2nd and the subsequent extension into September, masks are required regardless of any 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.
Travelers 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. Face masks must be worn in the airport, on the plane and 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. Also empty your pockets of your wallet, coins, phone and other permitted items into your own carry-on, not into the trays in the checkpoint. That will reduce touchpoints as well.
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.