TSA sets new travel safety guidelines ahead of Memorial Day weekend

Due to the coronavirus crisis, many are choosing to stay home or have sought alternatives for air travel over Memorial Day weekend.

With closed borders and mandatory quarantines in place, officials at Los Angeles International Airport reported an 85% decline of passengers from last year. 

LAX, which often ranks as one of the busiest airports in the world, is now one of the hardest hit. It is now one of the world's top three airports that has lost the highest number of passengers. 

Memorial Day weekend has historically served as an unofficial start to summer, with lots of travelers usually packing the roads and airports.

But with the coronavirus pandemic, having crowded airports poses a major health risk.

Earlier this week, the Transportation Safety Administration introduced new safety guidelines.

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“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 news release.

At LAX, passengers are required to wear face coverings. Airport officials are also asking passengers to maintain social distancing.

As stay-at-home orders became the norm across the country, airports saw fewer travelers boarding flights. Now, TSA said they’ve seen a steady growth of travelers returning to the sky in recent weeks.

If you haven’t flown since before the pandemic, the TSA said you’ll notice things like officers wearing masks and changing gloves after each pat-down, as well as routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.

Plastic shielding has been installed at many locations and security lane usage might be reduced due to the reduction in passenger volume.

“We continue to evaluate our security measures with an eye towards making smart, timely decisions benefiting health and safety, as well as the traveler experience,” Pekoske said.

TSA’s new guidelines are as follows:

Boarding pass

Instead of handing their boarding pass to a TSA officer, travelers will be allowed to place their boarding pass (paper or electronic) on the scanner reader themselves, then show it to the officer for inspection.


Carry-on food items should be placed in a clear plastic bag. That bag should also be placed into a bin.


Smart packing can prevent alarms and reduce the chances security would have to touch the contents of your baggage. Bags with prohibited items may require the passenger to return to the divestiture table outside of security.

Items like laptops and other large electronics should be placed in a bin before being submitted for screening.

Typically, liquids and gels are not permitted in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces. But due to the health concern, TSA will permit a single bottle of hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces.It must be removed from the carry-on bag before it’s submitted for screening.

Keys, belts, wallets and phones would normally be placed in a bin, but TSA is asking passengers to place them inside carry-on bags before screening.

Social distancing

TSA will place markers on the floor that maintain a safe distance between travelers standing in line. Lanes will be staggered for added safety.

Face covering

TSA workers are wearing facial protections at checkpoints. Travelers are asked to do the same, though they may be required to adjust the covering during screening.

FOX 11's Kelli Johnson contributed to this report.