USA Flag

Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

CSS for FAQ

Transportation Security Administration

Security Screening

TSA has evolved from a one-size-fits-all security screening approach to a risk-based, intelligence-driven strategy designed to improve both security and the passenger experience. This approach permits us to provide expedited screening for trusted travelers and to focus on high-risk and unknown passengers at security checkpoints.

TSA officers may use risk-based security measures to identify, mitigate and resolve potential threats at the airport security checkpoint. These officers may ask you questions about your travel to include identity, travel itinerary and property. TSA may use a variety of screening processes, including random screening, regardless of whether an alarm is triggered. In addition, TSA uses unpredictable security measures throughout the airport and no individual is guaranteed expedited screening.

 

Airports are busier than ever and this could impact your travel from curb to gate. TSA recommends arriving up to 2 hours ahead of departure for domestic travel and 3 hours ahead for international. Your security is our top priority.

Secure Flight

Secure Flight is a risk-based passenger prescreening program that enhances security by identifying low and high-risk passengers before they arrive at the airport by matching their names against trusted traveler lists and watchlists.

To protect privacy, the Secure Flight program collects the minimum amount of personal information, such as full name, date of birth, and gender, necessary to conduct effective matching. Read the Privacy Impact Assessment and the System of Records Notice for information about the program's rigorous privacy protections. Personal data is collected, used, distributed, stored and disposed of according to stringent guidelines.

Secure Flight transmits the screening instructions back to the airlines to identify low-risk passengers eligible for TSA Pre✓®; individuals on the Selectee List who are designated for enhanced screening; and those who will receive standard screening. Secure Flight also prevents individuals on the No Fly List and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Do Not Board List from boarding an aircraft. The Travel Redress Program provides resolution for travel-related screening or inspection issues.

Screening Technology

TSA uses millimeter wave advanced imaging technology and walk-through metal detectors to screen passengers. Millimeter wave advanced imaging technology safely screens passengers without physical contact for metallic and non-metallic threats, including weapons and explosives, which may be concealed under clothing. Generally, passengers undergoing screening will have the opportunity to decline AIT screening in favor of physical screening. However, some passengers will be required to undergo AIT screening if their boarding pass indicates that they have been selected for enhanced screening, in accordance with TSA regulations, prior to their arrival at the security checkpoint. This will occur in a very limited number of circumstances. The vast majority of passengers will not be affected. See the responses to frequently asked questions.

Safety: Advanced imaging technology is safe and meets national health and safety standards. This technology uses non-ionizing radio-frequency energy in the millimeter spectrum with no known adverse health effects.  It does not use X-ray technology.

Privacy: TSA has strict privacy standards when using advanced imaging technology to protect your privacy. Advanced imaging technology uses automated target recognition software that eliminates passenger-specific images and instead auto-detects potential threats by indicating their location on a generic outline of a person. The generic outline is identical for all passengers.

Pat-Down Screening

If you cannot or choose not to be screened by advanced imaging technology or a walk-through metal detector, you will undergo a pat-down procedure instead. You may also undergo a pat-down procedure if you alarm the screening equipment and/or at random. The pat-down will be conducted by a TSA officer of the same gender and you may ask that the TSA officer change their gloves before performing a pat-down. The TSA officer will ask whether you have an injury or tender area to treat such areas accordingly during a pat-down.

You may request to have a pat-down in private and be accompanied by a companion of your choice. You may bring your carry-on baggage to the private screening area and may request a chair to sit if needed. You will not be asked to remove or lift any article of clothing to reveal sensitive body areas. Please note a second TSA officer will always be present during a private pat-down screening. Learn more from these frequently asked questions.

Checked Baggage Screening

TSA screens approximately 1.1 million checked bags for explosives and other dangerous items daily. Upon check in, your checked baggage will be provided to TSA for security screening. Once the screening process has completed, your airline will transport your checked baggage on your respective flight as well as deliver it to the baggage claim area. The majority of checked baggage is screened without the need for a physical bag search.

Inspection Notices: TSA may inspect your checked baggage during the screening process. If your property is physically inspected, TSA will place a notice of baggage inspection inside your bag. This is to inform you that an officer conducted an inspection of your property.

Claims: If your property is lost or damaged during the screening process, you may file a claim with TSA. If your property is lost or damaged during transport to the plane or baggage claim, please contact your airline.

Monitoring: Responsibilities for access control and video monitoring of checked baggage facilities fall to individual airports as part of their security plan. Methods of monitoring vary from airport to airport and may include CCTV.

Security Screening

Learn about how you can receive expedited screening through TSA Pre✓®.