TSA Unveils Enhanced Security Screening Procedures

Beginning Dec. 22, airline travelers can expect to see more random screenings and fewer prohibited items. The changes are part of an update to security procedures announced by Assistant Secretary Kip Hawley, to address the ever-evolving threat to commercial aviation.

The specific changes include more additional screenings of passengers and their bags using a variety of methods selected at random. Passengers will also once again be able to carry small tools and scissors on-board aircraft. These changes will allow the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workforce to focus on detecting and defeating more serious threats, such as explosives.

"It is paramount to the security of our aviation system that terrorists not be able to know with certainty what screening procedures they will encounter at airports around the nation," said Hawley. "By incorporating unpredictability into our procedures and eliminating low-threat items, we can better focus our efforts on stopping individuals that wish to do us harm."

Passengers will continue to walk through a metal detector and have their carry-on and checked baggage screened. However, these measures may now include a brief additional search of their person or their property. Examples of this additional screening include: explosive screening of shoes, hand-wanding of passengers, enhanced pat down searches and inspections of carry-on bags. These searches will be generated at random and will take only about a minute to complete. They will allow transportation security officers (TSOs) to better screen passengers for explosives and other threats to the aviation system.

As of Dec. 22, scissors with a cutting edge of 4 inches or less and tools such as screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers smaller than seven inches will be permitted on board. Scissors longer than four inches and tools such as crowbars, drills, hammers and saws will continue to be prohibited from carry-on bags. Lighters will continue to be banned from the cabin of aircraft and in checked baggage.

In addition to these changes, the agency's 43,000 transportation security screeners have been re-classified as TSOs.

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