New Airport Security Measures Allow for Cancellation of Laptop Ban

New Airport Security Measures Allow for Cancellation of Laptop Ban

By Paula Hock

Back in May, we published an article on the laptop ban and outlined all of the need-to-know information. At that time, there was some speculation on what it would mean moving forward and whether the ban would be expanded to more locations. Recent developments include changes to screening protocols, a lift of the ban, and consideration of other security measures.

New TSA Electronic Screening Rules

This week, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced the coming implementation of new screening procedures for carry-on baggage: travelers will be required to place all electronics larger than cell phones in separate bins for X-ray screening in standard lanes. The announcement comes after successful pilot tests at 10 US airports over the last several months.

Screening electronics separately is certainly nothing new- it has been the procedure for laptops for several years. The separation of electronics from other carry-on baggage allows for clearer x-ray images, which will help prevent new threats of explosive devices disguised in such items.

The additional security screening will not apply to travelers enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program, as they have been previously selected as “trusted travelers” through government background checks.

Removal of the Laptop Ban

As of Thursday morning, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that all 180 airlines from 280+ airports have implemented the increased security measures in lieu of expansion of the laptop ban. This was certainly no small undertaking, as these measures will affect an average of 2100 flights and 325k passengers every day. However, when faced with potential enforcement of a ban on all large electronics in the cabin causing massive delays and profit dips, it was clearly the best option.

Emerging Technologies for Security

Security, as a general rule, is a very complex problem, and one particular challenge is continually staying ahead of evolving threats. To that end DHS has invested in a variety of research and development programs and evaluation of prototypes for transportation security technology.

Technologies currently being considered and developed include:

– Data analytics- primarily to scan no-fly lists, irregular activities, and gather intelligence on passengers

– Computed tomography (CT) scanning- scans of this nature (developed from medical tech) can provide HD, 3D and multiple viewpoints

– Biometrics- facial recognition, fingerprint capture, rapid DNA, and iris identification, among others

– Screening at Speed/ Stand-off Detection Technologies- developers envision minimal inconvenience to passengers with walk-through scanners

Most travelers can agree that expedited screening and security practices would be welcome developments. TSA’s priorities, however, are the safety and security of all passengers and bystanders. Only time will tell how and where the next threats and counter-measures arise and whether comfort will take a backseat to security.

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