Expect Airport Security Delays As TSA Starts Scanning Tablets Separately From Carry-On Bags

Image courtesy of Inha Leex Hale

If you’re one of the many air travelers who uses a tablet to play games, watch videos, read, or do work while flying, be warned that your device will soon be subject to the same sort of security screening that has been given to laptop computers for years. And even if you’re not carrying a tablet in your bag, you should probably expect longer waits at airport checkpoints.

The Transportation Security Administration announced today that any carried-on electronic devices that are larger than your typical smartphone will soon have to be pulled out of your bag and placed in separate bins at airport security checkpoints.

The TSA has been testing this process at a handful of airports — including Los Angeles International, Boston’s Logan International, and McCarren International in Las Vegas — and says it will now be rolled out in the coming weeks to all U.S. airports.

The agency says that, as the new screening rolls out, TSA officers will advise travelers on the best way to organize their carry-on items before they get to the X-ray machines.

“Travelers are encouraged to organize their carry-on bags and keep them uncluttered to ease the screening process and keep the lines moving,” advises the TSA. “There are no changes to what travelers can bring through the checkpoint; food and liquid items that comply with the 3-1-1 liquids rule, electronics, and books continue to be allowed in carry-on bags.”

If you’re traveling at some point in the months to come, we’d advise getting to the airport with even more time built in to make it through security — even if you’re not carrying any devices that need to be taken out of your bag and scanned separately. With so many people flying — and with so many tablets, e-readers, and gaming devices to be scanned — it seems inevitable that there will be occasional additional delays as travelers and TSA staff get used to the new process.

Good news for people enrolled in theTSA Pre✓ program: If you’re are using the Pre✓ lanes (which aren’t available at all airports), you won’t be subject to the additional screening on your tablets and other large electronics.

The agency is painting this increased scrutiny as a way of setting an example for other countries. In June, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announced new screening requirements for 280 foreign airports if they wanted to continue to operate flights to the U.S. without having to face additional restrictions on carry-on electronics.

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