Is travel recovering? It looks promising based on this news by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
So, yes, this is significantly lower compared to this time last year – about 1/3 – and yet the numbers are encouraging for an industry that has been rocked to the core.
Could these numbers indicate the start of a busy fall season for travel in general and the holiday season? It’s an interesting year so we’ll be watching.
What’s the TSA process like during COVID?
You’ll certainly notice some differences at the airport if you haven’t traveled over the last several months.
- Additional screening lanes were opened to allow passengers to maintain social distancing at airport checkpoints
- Technologies to reduce or eliminate physical contact between passengers and TSA officers.
- You’ll also see acrylic barriers installed at various points throughout the TSA checkpoints to help reduce the spread of COVID-19
- Credential authentication devices have been installed at a number of airport checkpoints that enable passengers to insert an ID directly into a card reader
- A number of airport checkpoints now have enhanced computed tomography (CT) scanners that allow TSA officers to manipulate the image on screen to get a better view of a bag’s contents
- This could mean your carry-on won’t have to be searched
- This new CT scanner also reduces the need for the TSA officer to require the passenger to remove liquids, aerosols, gels and electronics from their carry-on bags during screening
The TSA is also piloting a new touchless “self-service” technology, currently at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), that matches a traveler’s live photo with the photo on their ID. The initiative automatically authenticates a traveler’s ID, matches the live photo with the image on their ID, and confirms their flight information in near real time.
The pilot at DCA includes volunteer TSA PreCheck travelers – so a shorter wait time and less physical contact while at a checkpoint. Passengers can use U.S. driver’s licenses, Passports, U.S. military common access cards/Retired and Uniformed service military ID cards, or Department of Homeland Security Trusted Traveler ID cards.
In case you’re wondering, those photos are not saved as there isn’t a way to do so with the technology.
Travelers are also encouraged to follow CDC as well as other COVID-19 related guidelines and restrictions in place at airlines, airports and local jurisdictions both at home and at their travel destinations.