"Please place your laptops and protein bars in a separate bin."
Okay, so that particular phrasing—and the sentiment behind it—isn't yet a reality. But if the TSA's new screening procedures get nationwide clearance, it just might become one.
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At several aiports around the country, they're currently testing out the idea of requiring travelers to remove certain food items from their bags and put them into separate bins, just as is required of passengers traveling with laptops. Passengers who refuse to do so may be asked to open their bags for a hands-on inspection.
The procedures also apply to any electronics larger than cellphones.
It's a move that isn't likely to be received with much excitement. After all, it does seem like it'll only make airport lines longer, adding to the stress of the overall flying experience. But apparently, that's not the case at all; the separate screenings are actually intended to combat long lines.
According to a report on the procedures by ABC News, "Everyday items can appear similar to explosives on an X-ray machine — which slows down lines because officers must manually inspect a large number of bags." By screening those items on their own and having fewer "confusing" items in each bag, the TSA will be able to cut down on many manual inspections, which will, in turn, speed up lines. That means there's no specific threat inherent in specific foods; the standards are less about security and more about efficiency.
"Although passengers may experience more bag checks, we are testing quicker and more targeted procedures at these locations," the TSA said in a statement.
As for PreCheck passengers, there's nothing to worry about; the new standards will only apply to the general security lines. And they're not so "new," anyway; the TSA began testing them a year ago at four airports, subsequently adding six more, among them: Los Angeles International Airport, Boston Logan International Airport, and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.
There's also a new machine being tested in four airports beginning this week that will verify travelers' IDs. "Travelers will walk up to a machine and hand their ID to an officer, who will scan its bar code, and the machine will match them to airlines' passenger lists," ABC reports. "Boarding passes will not be required."