With TSA's New Bag Scanners, You Won't Need to Remove Liquids or Electronics to Get Through Security
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With TSA's New Bag Scanners, You Won't Need to Remove Liquids or Electronics to Get Through Security

Jun 06, 2023

By Jessica Puckett

Waiting in an airport security line is enough to stress out the average flier—especially when it comes to the X-ray conveyor belt, where each passenger is forced to comb through their carry-on bags and remove large electronics and travel-size liquids.

But at dozens of U.S. airports, that process is getting simpler. The TSA is spending $1.3 billion to roll out hundreds more of the latest high-tech baggage scanners, beginning this summer.

The scanners use computed tomography technology to produce a 3D, rotatable image of luggage contents, giving security officers a clearer idea of what's inside each bag. It's similar to technology that hospitals use in their CT scanners. Because the images are so much more detailed than a traditional X-ray, travelers will not need to remove as many items from their bags.

In fact, passengers at checkpoints with the CT scanners will be able to leave most things inside their carry-ons, including laptops and other large electronics, their travel-sized liquids, and most food items.

Those improvements, though seemingly small, will add up to a lot of saved time for fliers, especially when considering how many people are planning to travel this summer. According to a new survey from The Vacationer, more than 54 percent of American adults say they intend to fly at least once this summer, which equates to more than 139 million people. That's 8 million more people than those who planned to hop on a plane last summer.

"Deploying these units across our security checkpoints as expeditiously as possible will also improve checkpoint efficiency and the passenger experience," David Pekoske, TSA Administrator, said in a recent release.

Many larger US airports—like New York's John F. Kennedy, Chicago's O’Hare, and Los Angeles's LAX—have already had this equipment for years. Now the TSA is adding the CT scanners at smaller airports around the country, like Tweed New Haven Airport in Connecticut; Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas; TF Green Airport in Providence, Rhode Island; and Adirondack Regional Airport in upstate New York, along with dozens of others.

The scanners are the same type of equipment being installed in airports across the UK, where officials are beginning to allow full-size liquids in carry-on bags, thanks to the scanners’ 3D images. (Although the CT scanners are becoming widespread in the US as well, TSA says it will be at least several more years until American officials would potentially nix travel-sized liquid rules.)

For an even more streamlined security experience, passengers can purchase TSA PreCheck or Clear membership, which also allows them to keep on shoes and light jackets at security. Depending on the airport, there could also be an opportunity for passengers to book a free appointment for the security line and be escorted to the front—essentially a complimentary fast lane for those who plan ahead.