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Security and Screening

What identification do I need to travel with an e-ticket?

Travelers with e-tickets must hold one of the following documents indicating a flight departure for a current date:

  • boarding pass or paper ticket
  • receipt for an electronic ticket (e-ticket)
  • itinerary generated by an airline or travel agency

What should I expect from heightened airport security checks?

Arrive at least 2 hours early for domestic travel and 3 hours for international travel-and be cooperative! If you refuse to be screened at any point during the screening process, the screener must deny you entry beyond the screening area. You will not be able to fly.

At the passenger checkpoint, there is an X-ray machine. Place all carry-on baggage and any other items you are carrying flat on the conveyor belt or in a bin. Next, walk through the metal detector. Objects in or on you or your clothing or shoes containing metal may set off the alarm on the metal detector, in which case you may undergo additional screening.

Do I have the right to refuse additional screening?

Even without setting off the metal detector, you can be chosen for additional screening due to suspicious behaviors observed by a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employee. Or, you can be randomly chosen. In either case you must comply. Additional screening is assured when an individual sets off the alarm on a metal detector.

If you must go through additional screening, the screener directs you away from the metal detector to a screening station where he briefs you on the next steps. At this time, you should let the screener know of any personal needs you may have due to a religious or cultural consideration, disability or other medical concern. Except in extraordinary circumstances, a screener of your gender conducts the additional screening. The screening begins with a hand wand inspection, as well as a pat-down search. The hand wand is used to help the screener identify the object that may have set off the alarm on the metal detector. The pat-down inspection includes the torso, and, in order to ensure security, this inspection may include sensitive areas of the body. You may request that your pat-down inspection be conducted in private.

TIP: To facilitate the security screening process:

  • Bring your tickets, passport and insurance documents, and keep them where they are secure, yet easily accessible.
  • Allow ample time before take-off. There may be thorough searches of airports and airplanes prior to passengers being permitted to enter and board aircraft.
  • Do not check any baggage at an off-airport site. You may still use these sites to obtain boarding passes and seat assignments, but luggage must be checked at the airport. Make sure that you have acceptable photo identification.
  • Airlines prefer you keep electronics, such as tape recorders and cameras in your carry-on luggage.
  • Keep any type of sharp object (even a small scissors) in your checked baggage.

What is the procedure for screening checked baggage?

For your convenience, you should have everything that you want to take on the plane with you before you hand over your bag for screening. After your baggage is subjected to screening, you will not be able to access your bags.

Several methods are used to screen checked baggage. The most common methods involve electronic screening either by an Explosives Detection System (EDS) or Explosives Trace Detection (ETD) device. Your baggage will be loaded on the conveyor belt of an EDS machine by a screener. If your bag requires further inspection it may be brought to an ETD machine. When your bag is screened with an ETD machine the screener takes a swab of your bag and then places the swab into the ETD machine for analysis. In some cases, screeners have to open your baggage as part of the screening process. If you have locked your checked baggage, the locks may have to be broken.

What if my baggage is lost during the screening process?

If any of your luggage or personal items is lost in the screening process, report it to the TSA as soon as possible.

What are the rights during the security check for a disabled person or myself?

If you are disabled and a personal search is required, you may choose to remain in the public area or go to a private area for your screening. If a pat-down inspection requires the removal or lifting of clothing and/or display of a covered medical device, you should be offered a private screening area before the inspection begins.

Your companion or assistant may accompany you during the private screening to provide you with assistance. You may ask for a chair if you need to sit down. If you have a disability, condition or implant that you would like to remain private and confidential, ask the screener to be discreet when assisting you through the screening process.

You also have the right to ask a screener to change her gloves during the physical inspection of your accessible property, before performing a physical search or any time a screener handles your footwear.

Medication and related supplies that are carried through a checkpoint are normally X-rayed. In order to prevent contamination or damage to medication and associated supplies and/or fragile medical materials, you are asked at the security checkpoint to display, handle and repack your own medication and supplies during the visual inspection. Any medication and associated supplies that cannot be cleared visually must be submitted for X-ray screening. If you refuse, you will not be permitted to carry your medications and related supplies beyond the checkpoint.

Can children who have disabilities be subject to a search?

Parents or guardians of children who have disabilities should inform the screener if the child has any special needs or medical devices. You should also inform the screener if you think your child may become upset during the screening process as a result of his disability, as well as offer suggestions on how to best accomplish the screening to minimize an outburst.

Keep in mind that at no time during the screening process will you be separated from your child. If a private screening is required, you should escort and remain with your child during the screening process. Make sure to inform the screener of your child’s abilities.

At no time should the screener remove your child from his mobility aid (e.g., wheelchair or scooter). You are responsible for removing your child from his equipment at your discretion to accomplish screening. If your child is unable to walk or stand, the screener may conduct a pat-down search of your child while he remains in his mobility aid, as well as a visual and physical inspection of the equipment.

Can a service animal be subject to a search?

If you have a service animal, you should inform the screener that the animal accompanying you is a service animal and not a pet-and you should have appropriate documentation for the animal. You may have an opportunity to move to the front of the screening line since the screener may need to spend more time with you.

The screener should ask permission before touching your service animal or its belongings. Advise the screener how you and your service animal can best achieve screening when going through the metal detector as a team (i.e., whether walking together or with the animal walking in front of or behind you and with the use of a leash and/or harness.

The animal’s harness is likely to set off the alarm on the metal detector. In such cases, the screener performs a hand inspection of the animal and its belongings (collar, harness, leash, backpack, vest, etc.) These belongings are not removed from your animal at any time. At no time during the screening process are you required to be separated from your service animal. Screeners have been trained not to communicate, distract, interact, play, feed or pet service animals.