Last week we told you that travelers across the nation were reporting being asked to remove snacks from their bags at security checkpoints. There’s finally some concrete news on that front.
For weeks, the agency has denied that this was part of a new policy. But flyers from San Francisco to Newark to Lihue relayed that they had been required to remove food from carry ons to be screened separately.
Well, the TSA has finally acknowledged that this is part of some enhanced security measures for carry-on luggage at airports. In a release issued last week, the agency said it dovetails with a new directive on electronics that began last summer. That policy requires passengers to place electronics aside from cell phones in bins for X-ray screening. Travelers may also be required to “separate other items from carry-on bags such as foods, powders, and any materials that can clutter bags and obstruct clear images.”
The TSA says these measures “have been phased in over the past several months in standard lanes at airports across the country.” That squares with what we’ve heard from travelers. And it also matches what some passengers said they were told by TSA agents while being asked to take food out of their bags.
To be clear, the TSA is not confiscating food at security checkpoints. You can still bring snacks for your flight – they may just need an extra look. We recommend having them readily available to take out of your bag as this will just expedite the process.
It’s still not exactly clear if this new policy will be enforced across the board. The TSA’s statement says officers “may instruct” passengers to remove snacks, powders, and other carry-on clutter. If enforcement is sporadic and sudden, it’s a recipe for even longer lines at security checkpoints.
The TSA should make clear exactly what the security experience will look like, with plenty of notice. Until then, keep those snacks at the top of your bag for quick removal when asked.
Thrifty Tip: Want to avoid the lines and headaches at security? Get Global Entry or TSA Precheck.
We’re glad the TSA has finally come clean that this is part of a new policy. But the agency still should be more clear with travelers about how often this will occur. A clear and consistent policy is the key to getting through the airport faster.