ORLANDO, Fla. – Shoes off, laptops out and masks on: these are just some of the things passengers going through Orlando International Airport (OIA) will see this holiday season. But those aren’t the only measures in place to protect travelers.
“We have been able to implement several procedures, all which have been done without compromising security, to make sure passengers get there safely and securely,” said Lorie Dankers, spokeswoman for the Transportation Security administration (TSA).
First, people may see new identification readers, designed so travelers will not have to hand their ID or passport to the TSA officer.
“No need to show their boarding pass [either],” said Dankers. “It is a touchless experience.”
Next, new acrylic barriers protect folks in possible, high-contact spaces. But the big, new piece of equipment? That would be OIA’s new X-ray machines.
“It produces a 3-D image. Our officers are able to get very clear images of the contents of the bag,” Dankers said.
Clearer images mean fewer bag checks.
“Fewer bag checks mean fewer potential for those touch points and also cross contamination,” Dankers said.
Travelers may also notice fewer fellow passengers, since TSA data shows airport travel is down 74% since May.
“We know a lot of travel right now is being booked last-minute, and part of our job is to be ready for whatever volume of travelers come through,” Dankers said.
Even with the new equipment, TSA says it starts with the traveler. Prohibited items are still not allowed in the new X-ray machines. Remember to put your keys and cellphone in the bins, and if you do need a pat down for whatever reason, you can always ask the TSA officer to change their gloves out.
“We know that exposure to the coronavirus is really based on two things: proximity and duration,” said Dankers. "Anything you can do to make sure you are moving the whole time through the check point is good for the traveler and it is good for our employees.
Even during the pandemic, OIA is still Florida’s busiest airport. Despite the busy-bee designation, OIA has had 88 TSA employees test positive for coronavirus, compared to 94 employees in Fort Lauderdale and 152 employees in Miami.
You can check out updated data online by clicking this link before you fly.
Dankers also recommends people sign up for TSA precheck so folks can leave on their shoes and keep laptops in their bags.
It takes about a week to get approved, so if you sign up soon, you should have that clearance in time for Thanksgiving.