With the holiday weekend approaching, Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are providing travel tips and a description of recent changes the airport and federal agency have made to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
RDU has seen modest but steady growth in passenger traffic since the Memorial Day holiday as passengers begin to return to air travel. TSA has also experienced steady growth in travelers coming through airport checkpoints in recent weeks and is monitoring the growth closely for staffing and security purposes. Passengers processing through the security checkpoint at RDU can expect to see plastic shielding installed at the travel document checking podiums and bag search tables.
“TSA officers maintain an unwavering commitment to the security mission, and unparalleled service to the traveling public, even during extraordinary times such as these,” said Beth Walker, Federal Security Director for RDU and Eastern North Carolina.
RDU has enhanced its cleaning and disinfecting practices and has new health measures in place to protect passengers. Changes guests will notice in the terminals include more hand sanitizing stations, additional physical and digital signage to remind passengers to observe physical distancing, more stanchions to promote one-way traffic flow and new seat covers that encourage guests to maintain a six-foot distance in waiting areas.
“The health and safety of everyone at the airport is RDU’s top priority,” said Michael Landguth, president and CEO of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority. “We are pleased to partner with TSA in providing a safe experience to passengers who are ready to fly again.”
RDU and TSA offer the following security screening tips:
Keep possession of their boarding pass. Instead of handing their boarding pass to a TSA officer at the travel document podium, travelers should now place their boarding pass (paper or electronic) on the boarding pass reader. After scanning, travelers should show their boarding pass to the TSA officer to allow the officer to visually inspect it. This change reduces the TSA officer’s need to touch a passenger’s boarding pass and reduces potential for cross-contamination.
Separate food for x-ray screening. Passengers should place their carry-on food items into a clear plastic bag and place that bag into a bin because food items often trigger an alarm during the screening process. Separating the food from the carry-on bag lessens the likelihood that a TSA officer will need to open the carry-on bag and remove the food items for closer inspection. TSA PreCheck members do not need to remove items from their bags.
Pack smart. Passengers should take extra care to ensure that they do not have any prohibited items, such as liquids, gels or aerosols in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces, in their carry-on bags (ex: water bottles, shampoo). If a bag is found to contain a prohibited item, passengers may be directed to return to the divestiture table outside of security with their carry-on bags to remove the item and dispose of it. The passenger may also be directed to leave the secure area to remove items that should have originally been divested (such as laptops, liquids, gels, and aerosols, and large electronics) and resubmit their property for x-ray screening. Knives, tools greater than 7 inches and guns are not permitted in carry-on bags. Firearms may be transported in your checked bag if they are declared to the airline at check-in, unloaded and placed in a locked, hard-sided case. The traveler is responsible for complying with the gun laws of the departure and arrival states, as well as municipal laws, if applicable.
Hand sanitizer: In response to COVID-19, TSA is allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on bags. Passengers are required to remove the hand sanitizer from the carry-on bag before being submitted for X-ray screening.
Practice social distancing. Passengers should maintain six feet of distance, when possible, throughout the screening process to reduce direct contact between employees and travelers without compromising security. RDU has modified the queueing lines to promote distance between individuals as they enter the security checkpoint, placed floor stickers as visual reminders of appropriate distancing and will stagger the use of lanes where feasible.
Wear a face covering. Everyone at RDU, including TSA officers, are required to wear a face covering in accordance with N.C. Executive Order 147. Travelers may be asked by TSA officers to adjust their face covering during the screening process for identification purposes. Travelers are also encouraged to remove items such as belts, and items from their pockets, like wallets, keys and phones, and put them directly into their carry-on bags instead of into the bins to reduce touch-points during the screening process.
Travelers who have not flown since the pandemic are also likely to notice some other changes, including:
- Reduced security lane usage due to the reduction in passenger volume.
- TSA officers at checkpoints wearing masks and gloves.
- TSA officers may wear eye protection and clear plastic face shields at some locations.
- TSA officers changing gloves after each pat-down.
- Plastic shielding installed at many travel document checking podiums, divest, bag search and drop off locations.
- TSA officers practicing social distancing.
- Routine cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces in the security checkpoint area.
Travelers are encouraged to check with their airline prior to their trip for specific COVID-19 related guidance and arrive at the airport at least two hours early to allow ample time to check-in, clear security and arrive at the gate.
You can learn more about RDU’s new health and safety measures on our Fly Confident. Fly RDU. web page.
For more information on the TSA security screening process during the pandemic, visit www.tsa.gov/coronavirus.