Skip to content

Answering the TSA questions you could have for Thanksgiving journey

It is simple to let the thoughts wander whereas ready in line to move by means of safety on the airport. From people-watching to micromanaging logistics for bettering the stream of the road, there’s a lot to contemplate whereas within the queue.

Typically questions come up: Why cannot I pet the TSA canine? Why do not I present each my boarding move and ID to the gate agent anymore? Will I’ve to take away my liquids to scan my bag?

TSA has made a number of changes to its course of because the begin of the pandemic, and that is a simple information to answering all of these questions.

That is not TSA at SFO

This is a enjoyable incontrovertible fact that nobody requested for: At San Francisco Worldwide Airport, the parents screening you and your baggage on the safety strains will not be technically TSA. The blue-shirted officers at SFO characteristic the acronym “CAS” on their shoulders versus “TSA.”

The Transportation Safety Administration manages the checkpoint employees they usually comply with all the identical guidelines as instructed by the TSA, however these people are literally employed by Covenant Aviation Safety.

CAS has a contract with SFO to produce ID checkers and bag handlers. CAS has persistently received the contract to work with SFO because the formation of TSA in 2001 following the Sept. 11 assaults. Different airports throughout the nation, embody the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, additionally contract with a third-party suppliers as a substitute of working straight with TSA.

A Covenant Aviation Safety officer verifies an ID at SFO on Nov. 16, 2022.

Lance Yamamoto/SFGATE

When the Division of Homeland Safety rolled out screening at airports following 9/11, there was a provision that permitted contract screens like CAS to conduct duties with the oversight of TSA. Some airports examined it out — corresponding to SFO — and have determined to maintain the system in place.

The Covenant Aviation Safety employees are employed and educated identical to TSA, they usually share the identical oversight. The largest distinction is that employees from CAS will not be paid by means of TSA. And that their shoulder stripes say “CAS.”

Why you do not present your boarding move with ID anymore

TSA calls its new Credential Authentication Expertise (CAT) “a safety sport changer.”

The Credential Authentication Technology machine at SFO in San Francisco on Nov. 16, 2022.

The Credential Authentication Expertise machine at SFO in San Francisco on Nov. 16, 2022.

Lance Yamamoto/SFGATE

The machine is an ID authenticator that eliminates the necessity to current your boarding move and ID playing cards to TSA earlier than processing your baggage.

Previous to the pandemic, these TSA officers needed to cross-reference names and knowledge between boarding passes and IDs, which may result in errors. Over the previous couple of years, TSA has developed its know-how, and the CAT machine simplifies your complete course of.

All it is advisable to do now’s current your photograph ID or passport for the officer to scan. CAT is linked to the Safe Flight database, which confirms a traveler’s flight info inside a 24-hour interval to make sure that the traveler is ticketed to journey that day.

The vetting takes a number of seconds. Within the occasion there is a faux ID or concern with the traveler, a high-pitched noise alerts the officer.

When to maintain electronics and liquids contained in the bag

One other technological improve the TSA instituted is the computed tomography (CT) used to scan baggage.

Traditionally, the machines created a 2-D X-ray picture of the contents of the carry-on bag. These machines are nonetheless lively, however TSA has begun rolling out 300 Smiths Detection machines — which appear as if massive Apple iPhone wall chargers — which are capable of 3-D X-ray photographs. Each SFO and Oakland Worldwide Airport are utilizing the know-how.

An SFO officer checks carry-on luggage at SFO on Nov. 16, 2022

An SFO officer checks carry-on baggage at SFO on Nov. 16, 2022

Lance Yamamoto/SFGATE

The brand new computed tomography machines permit TSA officers to generate a 3-D picture of the bags and contents. This permits them to control the picture and improve their readings of the content material. In essence, the 2-D machines provide visibility, whereas the 3-D machines provide an enhanced visibility.

“It is not about velocity however what they’ll see,” mentioned Lorie Dankers, spokesperson for the TSA.

Probably the most thrilling characteristic of those new machines is that when a carry-on bag is screened by means of the CT scanner, vacationers are allowed to go away every part of their carry-on bag. Meaning protecting your electronics bigger than a cellphone and travel-size liquids inside your bag as a substitute of eradicating them.

The Smiths Detection machines are related to Automated Screening Lanes, which streamline the method of inserting your baggage on the belt for scanning. The roles of TSA are slowly automating.

As seen in European airports corresponding to Amsterdam, these lanes take away the necessity for a TSA officer to return bins after they’ve rolled by means of to the opposite facet. The machine is self-sufficient and routinely returns them to new vacationers.



Vacationers stroll as much as certainly one of six particular person areas the place they’re supplied with massive white bins to carry all of their belongings. Luggage and baggage can not roll on the conveyor belt and must be inside a bin. The bins are coded in order that if a TSA officer detects something, one other officer can simply pull the bin and discover the exact part within the bag that spurred the alert.

Quick employees means lengthy delays

TSA echoes a sentiment heard from companies throughout the nation: hiring new employees is a problem.

“Individuals do not wish to work,” mentioned Kevin Sprouse, the assistant federal safety director of screening for TSA. “We’re struggling just a little bit to fulfill the operational wants.”

A traveler walks through screening at SFO on Nov. 16, 2022

A traveler walks by means of screening at SFO on Nov. 16, 2022

Lance Yamamoto/SFGATE

At a nationwide stage, TSA is actively working to draw new hires. Dankers mentioned they’ve elevated the wage between $1,000 to $5,000 to lure new workers. At Denver Worldwide Airport, which is struggling to search out employees, that wage bump equates to creating about $55,000 a yr.

At Oakland Worldwide Airport on the Thursday night time every week earlier than Thanksgiving, the safety line moved at a snail’s tempo whereas a TSA officer discovered the ropes for scanning baggage. One bag at a time.

Curiously, the trainee was studying tips on how to function the 2-D computed tomography, which might sooner or later develop into out of date because the 3-D know-how continues to roll out.

A traveler looks for their bag at the Automated Screening Lanes at SFO in San Francisco on Nov. 16, 2022.

A traveler appears for his or her bag on the Automated Screening Lanes at SFO in San Francisco on Nov. 16, 2022.

Lance Yamamoto/SFGATE

Disgruntled passengers bemoaned the wait at OAK, and one other TSA officer defined to SFGATE that he believed the difficulty was on account of an absence of stuffed administration positions.

Do not contact the bomb-sniffing canines

Mala the canine finds proof of explosives every single day on the job at SFO — although hardly ever from unhealthy actors.

The hound is the primary line of protection on the airport, and to maintain her snout sharp, her handlers plant a bit of explosive supplies on themselves for her to search out.

When Mala detects the supplies, she’s educated to not accost or bounce on the individual, fairly, deliberately comply with them in order that her handler is aware of to drag that individual apart with out making a scene.

TSA says this routine is usually so flawless that the common passenger could by no means understand {that a} bomb menace was simply neutralized proper in entrance of them.

Mala works alongside her handler Lexi at SFO in San Francisco on Nov. 16, 2022.

Mala works alongside her handler Lexi at SFO in San Francisco on Nov. 16, 2022.

Lance Yamamoto/SFGATE

For her deal with after efficiently detecting the decoy, Mala will get to chew on a lime inexperienced tennis ball. She’s rewarded with affection — which is why TSA asks vacationers to keep away from petting the canines, in order to not distract them or confuse their reward system.

The TSA’s canine unit has 350 canines which are incessantly handed round from airports to main occasions just like the Tremendous Bowl or San Francisco’s Satisfaction Parade. Each time an airport expects to see a rise in vacationers, TSA sends in canine reinforcement. There have been three canines despatched to SFO forward of the Thanksgiving rush this yr.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *