02 December 2005

TSA unveils enhanced security screening procedures and changes to the prohibited items list

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Airline travelers can expect to see more random screenings, fewer prohibited items and a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workforce more dedicated to detecting and defeating more serious threats, such as explosives.

The changes, effective from December 22, are part of an update to security procedures announced by Assistant Secretary Kip Hawley to address the ever-evolving threat to commercial aviation.

The changes include more additional screenings of passengers and their bags using a variety of methods selected at random, and passengers will once again be able to carry small tools and scissors on-board aircrafts.

“It is paramount to the security of our aviation system that terrorists not be able to know with certainty what screening procedures they will encounter at airports around the nation,” said Mr Hawley. “By incorporating unpredictability into our procedures and eliminating low-threat items, we can better focus our efforts on stopping individuals that wish to do us harm.”

Passengers will continue to walk through a metal detector and have their carry-on and checked baggage screened. However, these measures may now include a brief additional search of their person or their property. Examples of this additional screening include: explosive screening of shoes, hand-wanding of passengers, enhanced pat down searches and inspections of carry-on bags.

Scissors with a cutting edge of four inches or less and tools such as screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers smaller than seven inches will be permitted on board. Lighters will continue to be banned from the cabin of aircraft and in checked baggage.

In addition to these changes, the agency’s 43,000 Transportation Security Screeners have been re-classified as Transportation Security Officers (TSOs). This new classification illustrates that TSOs will be more empowered than ever before to use their knowledge and training to detect and defeat terrorists and to focus their attention to areas where the threat is greatest.

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