Thursday, January 21st, 2021

TSA report shows dramatic changes in checkpoint operations due to COVID-19 pandemic

© Shutterstock

A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) report assessing the 2020 calendar year detailed the implementation of modifications across more than 440 federalized airports nationwide amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, the agency screened a total of approximately 324 million passengers throughout airport security checkpoints. The figure represents 39 percent of the approximately 824 million total passengers screened in 2019.

“In 2020, TSA implemented significant operational changes across its entire security checkpoint environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic,”
TSA Administrator David Pekoske said. “The speed and degree of change was unmatched in our 19-year history. The flexibility and agility of the men and women across TSA is a testament to their dedication to our collective transportation security mission. Our entire workforce, including screening officers, canine handlers, inspectors, and federal air marshals, continues to do everything possible to protect our colleagues and airline passengers, and I am grateful for their adaptiveness and resilience.”

Authorities indicated TSA modified nationwide security checkpoint procedures to reduce physical contact and help protect workers and passengers and accelerated deployment of acrylic barriers and technologies as a means of enhancing security and reducing touchpoints throughout the checkpoint.

Many of the modifications, including self-serve Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) units at travel document checking podiums and Computed Tomography (CT) equipment for a detailed image of a carry-on bag’s contents, are expected to remain in place in the future, per the TSA.

TSA continues to require all officers to wear face masks and gloves while on duty. Additionally, face shields are also required when there is no acrylic barrier in place. And the agency will continue to disinfect frequently touched surfaces and encourage social distancing through signage.