I have had a few hundred people travel since COVID, naturally a much lower volume than I normally handle. Everyone has come home truly pleased with their experiences and SO glad they traveled. Right now, the easiest destinations to go to are Mexico and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Other destinations require COVID tests a few days before you leave the US plus online forms you need to complete and upload your negative test result.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) to make some changes to the security process to further protect flyers and TSA officers. And as destinations, hotels, resorts and theme parks are starting to open up and welcome visitors again, it's no doubt that air traffic will continue to get a bit busier.
"In the interest of TSA frontline workers and traveler health, TSA is committed to making prudent changes to our screening processes to limit physical contact and increase physical distance as much as possible," TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a recent press release.
If you're flying somewhere and haven't been through a TSA security checkpoint since before the pandemic, here are five new things you should expect:
1. Face Coverings are required and you will no longer hand your boarding pass to a TSA officer. Whether it's on paper or electronic (on your smartphone), you will place it on the boarding pass reader to scan it, then show it to the TSA officer.
2. Put all food items in a clear plastic bag and remove it from your carry-on before screening. Though this rule has been in place for a while, it wasn't often enforced - but it will be now. Travelers with TSA Precheck are exempt from this one.
3. You'll need to pack even smarter than before because if a prohibited item (like liquids over 3.4 ounces) is found during screening, you may be told to go back outside of the security area to remove and have to start all over again. This is to prevent TSA officers from touching passengers' bags as frequently as they used to. Quick reminder: You can now bring up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer through security, but it must be removed from your bag before screening.
4. You should practice social distancing. Yes, some societal rules go out the window when you're at the airport (A cocktail at 9:00 am? Paying $15 for a beer? Sure!), but social distancing is not one of them. It's going to be part of our normal life for a while so just get used to it and give people at least six feet of space.
5. It's highly encouraged to wear face protection. You can leave your face covering (mask, bandana, etc.) on when you go through screening but you'll still need to remove the standard items: your belt, your shoes and anything in your pockets.
In a recent press release, TSA shared a few more things flyers today should be aware of: