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TSA implementing stronger screening procedures for carry-on electronics

LG G6 on top of a passport and plane tickets
LG G6 on top of a passport and plane tickets (Image credit: Android Central)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is implementing new carry-on screening procedures for electronics that will affect anyone flying to, from, or within the United States. The move comes after extensive testing in 10 major airports around the country, with the goal of improving security measures to stay ahead of any emerging threats to aviation security.

As explained in the official press release, the new security measures will require TSA agents to scan smaller electronics in the same way they screen laptops :

"As new procedures are phased in, TSA officers will begin to ask travelers to remove electronics larger than a cell phone from their carry-on bags and place them in a bin with nothing on top or below, similar to how laptops have been screened for years. This simple step helps TSA officers obtain a clearer X-ray image."

You may have already dealt with these new screening procedures for electronics if you've recently flown out of LAX or one of nine other airports where the TSA has been conducting tests.

Over the coming weeks and months, as these new screening measures take effect across the nation, the TSA is encouraging travelers to keep their carry-on bags organized with all electronics kept accessible to ease the screening process. The TSA also acknowledged this new security policy may lead to passengers experiencing more bag checks than before, but it also states that they've identified "ways to improve screening procedures with quicker and more targeted measures to clear bags".

If you're a frequent flyer that consistently packs a lot of electronics in your carry-on this all might sound like another added headache to an already frustrating process. If this is you, you may want to look into TSA Precheck membership, which lets you skip past the security line by paying a $85 membership fee and submitting to a 10-minute background check and fingerprinting. TSA Precheck allows you to go through an expedited security check at over 200 US airports without having to remove your shoes, belt, jacket, laptop or electronics.

Marc Lagace was an Apps and Games Editor at Android Central between 2016 and 2020. You can reach out to him on Twitter [@spacelagace.

45 Comments
  • Well, they have to justify their complete lack of worth, what with the zero terrorist attacks they've prevented or even realistically could prevent. It's tough to be a totally ineffectual waste of time and money.
  • I mean, they can be drastic, and the employees can be annoying, but can you *PROVE* they haven't stopped any terrorism? You can't. Unless you work for the government and can release documents saying so, there is no way to *KNOW* that this didn't stop anything. The procedures may have simply stopped a lot of terrorists before they even made it to the airport. Like the week before 9/11, they did a dry run. What if their subsequent dry runs failed? I was patted down, to the point they used gloves over my clothes, going to LAX because I had all my stuff in my checked bag, and just shoes in my carry-on as I'm used to flying just carry-on but had a longer trip so I figured I'd put everything checked. I still think it's needed, albeit the lines can be improved upon.
  • Can you prove that they actually have? Stating that there hasn't been an incident isn't proof that it's working. I can just as easily attribute it to my magic rock. There have been no attacks since I've been traveling with my magic rock. Prove that it isn't effective. Having been a frequent flyer for many years and also having followed TSA since the beginning, the stories are legion I can tell you of issues I've had with TSA, their lack of professionalism and their complete lack of understanding they have for security. They talk about the right concepts, such as layered security, but they have no clue how to implement them properly. Given how ineffective TSA is at finding things that matter (knives, guns, explosives, etc) - upwards of a 95% failure in some tests, I don't think terrorists are terribly concerned about sneaking things past them. TSA is too focused on finding things like water, shampoo and toothpaste that they just don't have the ability to focus on the other stuff. Since they can't do their core job right, they try to make the process more complicated to appear that they're doing something without actually really doing anything. If liquids are so dangerous to take on a plane, why are they casually thrown into garbage cans IN the checkpoint? If these truly are dangerous, TSA is repeatedly putting us in danger with such a casual attitude. Bruce Schneier calls it security theater - and that's exactly what it is. If TSA didn't at least put on the show, too many people would be afraid to fly and it'd be devastating to the airlines and our economy. Add to that the fact that many TSA and DHS officials are rejects from other agencies that were in dead-end jobs or being pushed out, we have the bottom of the barrel in charge. It's no wonder things are a disaster. Airport security was fine before 9/11. It wasn't even what failed on 9/11. It's still the same people doing as before - they're now just government employees. Several of the terrorists received secondary screenings and were allowed to pass because they didn't have prohibited items. What failed was that terrorists got access to the cockpit and the crew cooperated with them. I don't fault them - no one ever thought of using planes as guided missiles. Hijackings to that point usually meant a detour to Cuba. Well, that's changed, and now we have crews and passengers that won't cooperate, and secured cockpit doors. On top of that, the ticketing area is a huge soft target - as are the security lines. You don't have to go thru a check to show up, detonate a bomb and wreak havoc. TSA continues to ignore this. TSA has grown into an out of control monster that Congress can't control. If they try to rein it in by cutting funding, some politician will make accusations of being soft on terror and not wanting to keep people safe. We're stuck with it, and we're screwed because of it.
  • "Can you prove that they actually have?" I mean, I did ask you first. Answering my question with a question isn't really an answer. Nor is the question I asked you, since you can't really prove a negative. If you want to get political, how can we tell that TSA didn't tip off the FBI about Debbie Wasserman Schultz's IT guy fleeing the country? He wasn't stopped buying the ticket, he must've been stopped when his passport was scanned. That is worth having your ID checked before boarding. I didn't say they were anywhere near 5% effective. They do need an overhaul, they should be able to what they do in other countries and go off of what they see. "Well, that's changed, and now we have crews and passengers that won't cooperate, and secured cockpit doors." Right. A secured door will stop someone blowing something up on the plane to cause it to crash somewhere.
  • Ok Blane. Whine noted. Now tell us how you would do it differently. We're all excited to hear your superior approach to airline travel security.
  • The ideas have been out there for over 10 years and actively discussed on other forums. How about you try doing some research instead of expecting someone to reinvent the wheel for you?>
  • I am a Trusted Traveller and have PSA Precheck. Mostly I do not have to remove my electronics but have had to on occasion, even though I was in the Pre Check line. I never complain about the officials keeping us safe.
  • They aren't keeping anyone safe, it's just security theater
  • Yeah, they're mostly there to make you FEEL safer
  • I know I always feel safer when I'm being needlessly inconvenienced.
  • ^ all of this, exactly.
  • Adam Conover, is that you? :) (First thing I think about when I hear "Security Theater" when it comes to the TSA...and I agree totally!)
  • Yup. It's only an illusion of security.
  • http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/01/politics/tsa-failed-undercover-airport-scr... They have shown to be a complete waste of a department.
  • The TSA is a joke. In their own testing they fail 95% of the time, according a HuffPo article from 2015.
  • HuffPo? They fail 95% of the time too. But regardless... taking the shoes off, taking the phone out.. all BS.
  • TSA has had miserable failure rates for years. And the most recent 95% failure is widely reported outside of the HuffPo. If you want follow TSA's antics, check out the Travel Safety/Security board at Flyertalk http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/checkpoints-borders-policy-debate-687/ The angst has been going on at least since 2005 when I joined. What would really be news is TSA actually doing something effective.
  • Too many people needlessly complain about things that are actually good for them and protect us all. I mean, come on people we have less terrorist attacks compared to other countries, so somebody is doing something right.
  • It's been proven over and over again through various independent agencies testing the TSA by bringing fake bombs and weapons through airport screening that they do not actually keep us safer. All these procedures do is waste people's time. The TSA is no more effective then having a drug / bomb sniffing dog close by as people pass through into the airport. You may enjoy having your time needless wasted and being made to feel uncomfortable and dehumanized in the process, but I certainly do not.
  • Fear reigns supreme.
  • Keep believing that.
  • I've found the ones that are the most vocal supporters are most often the least frequent users of air travel. It may not be a big deal if you're on the once a year trip to Grandma's or Disneyland, but if you use it day after day, week after week, month after month, it really starts to grate on you.
  • I'm glad that the comments here are filled with people that know the TSA is security theater and needs to be abolished :) Great job guys.
  • I know from first-hand knowledge ;-)
  • I often think of the one trip I took out of El Paso on Feb 1 a couple years back. TSA did a bag inspection and left a notice in my checked bag. The date was stamped Jan 32. And yes, I have the picture to prove that. :) If they can screw up something that simple, imagine what they're really blowing ...
  • My SO brought a bag of nuts from the hotel we stayed in on our trip back through the TSA. She got flagged for a bag search. Turns out some nuts show up as "explosive material" on the scanners. Though the FIRST thing they pulled from her bag was the bag of nuts, and they spent 10 minutes going through the rest of her stuff using the sniffer. They then picked up the bag, and said, "Oh must be the nuts." Handed her stuff to her (outside of her bag, in handfuls) and told her to go to another table to repack.
    I on the other hand brought this: https://www.balmshot.com/ Left it in plain sight of the agents in the containers you put your stuff in when they go through the scanner. Nothing. Not even a "rescan" in the machine.
  • What a joke, they aren't doing anything now and tougher screening is only going to cost more and do nothing.
  • Well maybe this will help lower the 95% success rate of DHS sneaking bombs past their checks to maybe 94%😂
  • As someone who up until recently traveled quite often for work, and with a checked tool bag, I can tell you the TSA is a joke and a scam. No matter how well myself and fellow workers would prepare our bags so they could easily see exactly what was in there with little to no effort, things would be a mess when we arrived, and many times with tools missing. And it was not messed up simply by the baggage handlers tossing them around. There were boxes that had been physically ripped open, even though you could clearly see what was in the container. I even accidentally flew back from NYC with a boxcutter in the side pocket of my carry-on backpack. Went through the scanner, and they did not see it. I didn't realize it was in there until I got home. So yea, the TSA exists solely as a front to make us feel safe, and to employ people who enjoy power trips.
  • In a major airport in the Midwest I had the same kind of experience. I was looking at the xray and thought, "snap, the guy in front of me has broadheads in his bag." Lo and behold they were mine, I'd forgotten that I had special CNC cutting tools in MY bag that were about 1"/1.25" diameter and these were showing up bright solid red on the screen. Not a word was said. I really "felt" safe. Not
  • What I find interesting is that with almost all of the comments posted here, they echo what I have felt all along: The TSA does nothing but create the illusion of making people feel safe. It's interesting that when you hear about these measures on the news (as I did last night), you would think that everyone is on board with these extra security measures when in reality, it's just another pain in the neck for passengers.
  • "Pilot! Why did you bring a BOMB on-board the plane??"
    "Let me explain. Statistics shows that the probability of a bomb being on an airplane is 1/1000. That's quite high if you think about it - so high that I wouldn't have any peace of mind on a flight." "And what does this have to do with you bringing a bomb on board of a plane?" "You see, since the probability of one bomb being on my plane is 1/1000, the chance that there are two bombs is 1/1000000. If I already bring one, the chance of another bomb being around is actually 1/1000000, and I am much safer...!!"
  • As someone who travels almost weekly for work; the more they can do the better. They may not be able to stop all attempts at bringing explosives (etc.) on board but as long as they stop one - I don't mind a little discomfort. If you don't fly frequently, your comments don't matter.
  • Really? I can't care about effectiveness, expenditure, etcetera if I don't fly frequently? A waste of money is a waste of money.
  • The more they do the better? They should do what's effective and they should be able tell us why it is effective and have data to back it up. I don't want to be inconvenienced by people trying to justify their job by putting on a show.
  • The "if it can stop one, it's worth it" argument. The problem is that it's not stopping anything. The skies aren't safer because of TSA, they're safer DESPITE TSA.
  • And also, as someone who travels by air frequently for work too - I completely disagree with you. Your comment is more indicative of someone who flies infrequently rather than someone who does.
  • I can just see the headlines. "9 year old patted down after leaving ipad in backpack"
  • About 10 years ago, I was taking my then 4 year old son across country to spend the holidays with his mom. I was a top tier flyer with United at the time, and never had any problems checking in online. Except that time. It wouldn't let me. I called UA and they told me that TSA had flagged my son for security reasons and I'd have to arrive at the airport early in order to clear him. Yes, that's right, TSA flagged a 4 YEAR OLD as a potential terror threat. I proudly wore my "Kip Hawley is an Idiot" (the TSA administrator at the time) T-shirt that day.
  • This is common practice here in Europe. That said, because it's actually a security measure and not a money-grabbing scheme, you can not pay to avoid or accelerate the security check in any way.
  • For everyone complaining about TSA, please offer a tangible solution to preventing explosives, weapons, etc onto a plane. How can it be done differently?
  • Read Flyertalk's safety and security forum I linked earlier. There have been things proposed for over 10 years there. The problem is Congress doesn't care.
  • It's a waste. All they do is bully everyone.
  • You should work in a prison, they screen you coming and going, they can search your car! You can't have anything with you in there, not even your phone.
    I for one feel safer, if a little saddened that it has come to this...
    I fly sports planes and we have to have security checks every two years before we can go into most airports..
    It's the times we live in, get used to it.
  • The sad thing is that TSA isn't about security. It's about control. And they're succeeding.