Are New TSA Standard Operating Procedures On The Horizon?

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4/06/2008 – Are New TSA Standard Operating Procedures On The Horizon?

Over the past 10 days I have started to hear some ‘rumblings’ about a change in some of the current US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations and standard operating procedures (SOP). As these rumours can make their rounds somewhat regularly I contacted a few people within the organization to see what they were hearing. Having now heard back from a few contacts within the organization I’m now prepared to believe these rumbling may some significant credibility.

So what are these potential new changes in the TSA regulations and SOP?

–The TSA will begin instituting random pat-downs of passengers who have crossed through the metal detector. It is unclear whether or not this random pat-down will be initiated by TSA screeners or an automated system that will trigger the pat-down. Obviously an automated system is much more random and more in line with a change in SOP.

–The TSA’s new Photo Identification policy will now allow for photo IDs that are expired less than 12 months. Current rules only allow for “current and valid” government issued photo identification for passengers over the age of 18. I see this as a good change, as the TSA does not currently require you to have a photo identification provided you consent to a full search of your bags, a pat down and answer some “challenge questions.” I have seen one flyer end up being treated to this scenario when handing over a recently expired passport to the airport security ID checker when he explained her had lost his drivers license.

–Passengers who have no photo ID you will automatically have their boarding pass processed as they were tagged with “SSSS.” Rather than the current identification challenge you will be subject by Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOTted) by a Behavior Detection Officer (BDO). Currently BDOs do not work in this capacity.

–Passengers are currently only allowed to make two passes through the walk through metal detector before a pat-down and ‘wanding,’ should they set off the metal detector. The new SOP would allow a passenger to pass through the metal detector as many times as necessary to shed themselves of metal and not set off the metal detector. A passenger may request a ‘wanding’ if they prefer.

–Under the potential new TSA SOP you may bring any liquid or gel you’d like through security provided the TSA Agent can find nothing to indicate it is a threat. It is unclear how liquids and gels would be tested and be deemed safe. The potential new SOP wording is vague on whether this still limits passengers to to 3oz/100ml, however the TSA is indicating that the current volume limits on liquids are likely to be removed entirely.

For those of you who don’t find 3oz to be a large enough container, keep in mind you are allowed 3oz or 100ml, in your 3-1-1 bag. 100ml is 3.4 oz, so find containers marked 100ml.

Should these new TSA regulations and SOP changes come into place, the changes are expected to be announced in late June or early July as the summer travel season comes into full swing.

Happy Flying!

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