As of January 1, 2003, travellers entering the United States should be aware that the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, has mandated all US airports to implement new security measures.
The new procedures require that all checked baggage arriving into the
United States from international destinations, including Canada, and connecting to other flights or continuing on the same flight must be screened in the U.S. by TSA employees prior to being loaded onto another flight or prior to the same flight continuing its journey.
In addition to valid ticket, E-ticket receipt, or airline voucher, travellers must show a valid government-issued picture ID (i.e. driver’s license, passport, etc.) at check-in, through security checkpoints and at the boarding gates. Passports should be valid for at least six months beyond the expected date of return when travelling to and from the United States.
Canadians who are also U.S. citizens should identify themselves as U.S. citizens when entering the United States. For information on dual nationality, consult the “Dual Nationality” section of the American Citizen Information Services Web site (http://www.amcits.com) or contact the U.S. consulate serving your area in Canada.
New Pilot Program - The TSA is currently running a pilot program in 42 airports that requires passengers to have a boarding pass and government-issued photo ID before they reach their checkpoint. This means that E-ticket receipts, itineraries and airline vouchers no longer provide access through the security checkpoints. Boarding passes can be obtained at ticket counters, through airline check-in kiosks, or at skycap curbside stations where available.
For a list of airports affected by this pilot program see http://www.tsa.dot.gov/public/display?theme=87&content=458
CHECKED BAG SCREENING PROCESSES
You will encounter one of the processes described below at the airport. Please be aware that you will not be able to access your bags after they are screened no matter which process you encounter. Therefore, you should remove everything that you want to take on the plane with you before you hand over your checked bag for screening.
No change -- You check in at the ticket counter or with the skycaps as you have in the past. The new screening equipment will be out of your view and the screening of your checked baggage will occur behind the scenes.
Ticket counter first -- You will still check-in at the ticket counter or with the skycap as you have in the past, but you will next proceed to a new baggage screening area nearby. At most airports, you will next take your checked bag to the checked baggage screening area, where it will be screened there and afterwards delivered directly to your airline for loading. At some airports, someone will take your checked baggage from you at the ticket counter and deliver it to the screening area. In a growing number of airports, you will have the option to drop off your bags at the screening area and proceed directly to your gate without waiting for your bags to be screened.
Baggage screening first -- You will go first to the checked baggage screening area in the airport lobby. After baggage screening, the screener will direct you to the ticket counter and an authorized person will bring your bag from the screening area to the ticket counter for you to complete the check-in process.
Please watch for signs and other instructions that will direct you to the correct line. Unless you see signs directing you otherwise, go to the ticket counter to check-in with your airline.
Several methods are being used to screen 100% of checked baggage. The most common methods that you will encounter involve electronic screening, either by an Explosives Detection System (EDS) or Explosives Trace Detection (ETD) device.
The EDS machines are the large machines that can be over 20 feet long and weigh up three tons. Your baggage will be loaded on a conveyor belt of the EDS machine by a screener for screening. If your bag requires further inspection, it may be brought to an ETD machine.
The ETD machine is a much smaller machine, and is the primary machine used in many airports. When your bag is screened with an ETD machine, the screener will take a swab of your bag and then place the swab into the ETD machine for analysis.
There are other methods that may be used at airports to ensure that 100% of all bags are screened. Regardless of which system is used, all checked bags will be screened before they are loaded onto the plane.
Unlocking Checked Bags
TSA suggests that you help prevent the need to break your locks by keeping your bags unlocked. In some cases, screeners will have to open your baggage as part of the screening process. If your bag is unlocked, then TSA will simply open the bag and screen the bag. However, if the bag is locked and TSA needs to open your bag, then locks may have to be broken. You may keep your bag locked if you choose, but TSA is not liable for damage caused to locked bags that must be opened for security purposes. If you are transporting a firearm, please refer to the on "Transporting Firearms and Ammunition" section at the bottom of this page for directions on locking your bag.
If TSA screeners open your bag during the screening procedure, they will close it with a tamper evident seal and place a notice in your bag alerting you to the fact that TSA screeners opened your bag for inspection.
In the near future, TSA will provide seals at the airport for you to use to secure your bags as an alternative to locks. Until that time, you may want to consider purchasing standard "cable ties," which can be found at your local hardware store. The 4 to 5 inch variety cable ties generally work best since they are the easiest to remove at your destination and can be used to close almost every bag with zippers. If TSA needs to inspect your bag, the screeners will cut off the seal and replace it with another seal.
PASSENGER SECURITY CHECKPOINTS
You must pass through this checkpoint to access your departure gate. Security screeners will screen you and your carry-on baggage. You should find this screening process familiar; although enhanced security measures are in place.
The passenger checkpoint includes 3 primary steps you may want to become familiar with:
Step 1. X-ray machine
At the passenger security checkpoint, you will place all carry-on baggage and any items you are carrying with you on the belt of the X-ray machine. You will need to lay all items flat.
Laptop computers must be removed from their carrying cases and placed in one of the bins provided. You will also need to remove your outer coat or jacket and place it in one of the bins. These items go through the X-ray machine.
"IN - OUT - OFF"
· Place all metal items IN your carry-on baggage before you reach the front of the line.
· Take your computer OUT of its carrying case and place it in one of the bins provided.
· Take OFF your outer coat or jacket so that it can go through the X-ray machine (you do not need to remove your suit jacket, sport coat, or blazer unless you are asked to do so by one of the passenger screeners.)
Step 2. Walk-through metal detector
You will next walk through a metal detector, (or you may request a pat-down inspection instead). Objects on your clothing or person containing metal may set off the alarm on the metal detector.
You will undergo a secondary screening if you set off the alarm on the metal detector, or if you are chosen for additional screening. (See below)
TIP: Pack all metal items, including the contents of your pockets, in your carry-on baggage. Mobile phones, pagers, keys, lighters, and loose change are examples of items containing metal.
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.
Step 3. Secondary screening
Secondary screening occurs when an individual sets off the alarm on the metal detector, or if he or she is selected for additional screening. This screening includes a hand-wand inspection in conjunction with a pat-down inspection.
If you must go through a secondary screening, the screener will direct you from the metal detector to a screening station where he or she will brief 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 will conduct your secondary screening. You may request that your search be conducted in private.
While you will be separated from your carry-on baggage during this process, every effort will be made to help you maintain visual contact with your carry-on.
The hand-wand inspection helps the screener to identify what may have set off the alarm on the metal detector. During the wanding procedure, you will be asked to stand with your feet apart and the screener will pass the wand over your entire body without actually touching you with the wand. Every effort will be taken to do this as discretely as possible. Please take note of the following:
· Areas of the body that have body piercings, thick hair, hats, and other items may require a pat-down inspection.
· You may ask to remove your body piercing in private as an alternative to the pat-down search.
· The screener may ask you to open your belt buckle as part of the process.
· The screener may ask you to remove your shoes, and your shoes may be X-rayed separately.
TIP: It is recommended (but not a requirement) that individual with a pacemaker, or other device that is likely to alarm the metal detector, bring identification verifying the condition. This may help to expedite the screening process.
Your carry-on baggage
If your bag is selected for secondary screening, it may be opened and examined on a table in your presence. Please DO NOT attempt to assist the screener during the search, and do not attempt to retrieve the item before the screener has advised you that the search is complete and your baggage is cleared.
Your baggage might also be inspected with an Explosive Trace Detection machine (ETD), which is separate from the X-ray machine.
A pat-down inspection complements the hand-wand inspection. In order to ensure security, this inspection may include sensitive areas of the body. Screeners are rigorously trained to maintain the highest levels of professionalism.
You may request that your pat-down inspection be conducted in private.
· Carry-on baggage is limited to one carry-on bag plus one personal item. Personal items include laptops, purses, small backpacks, briefcases, or camera cases. Remember 1+1.
· Have removed prohibited items such as pocketknives, metal scissors with pointed tips (metal or plastic scissors with blunt tips are permitted), and tools from your carry-on baggage. Click http://www.tsa.gov/public/display?theme=12 for a complete prohibited items list.
· Do not put film in your checked baggage. Some of the new checked baggage screening equipment will damage undeveloped film.
· Avoid packing food and drink items in checked baggage.
· Avoid over-packing your bag. This will make it easier for the screener to reseal your bag if it is opened for inspection. If possible, spread your contents over several bags. Check with your airline or travel agent for maximum weight limitations and any fees that may apply.
· Don't forget to place identification tags with your name, address and phone number on all of your baggage, including your laptop computer. It is a good idea to place an identification tag inside your baggage as well.
· Spread out books and documents within your baggage; do not stack them on top of each other.
· Consider putting personal belongings in clear plastic bags. This will reduce the chance that a TSA screener will have to handle them.
· Wait to wrap your gifts. Be aware that wrapped gifts may need to be opened for inspection. This applies to both carry-on and checked baggage.
Boarding Pass and Photo ID Required To Get to Your Gate
In TSA's on-going commitment to enhance security and improve customer service, TSA is consolidating passenger screening to the passenger security checkpoints. Selectee and most random searches will now be conducted at the checkpoints where TSA staff and screening equipment are concentrated.
To access these new checkpoints, you will be required to present a BOARDING PASS and PHOTO IDENTIFICATION. Tickets and ticket confirmations (such as a travel agent or airline itineraries) will no longer be accepted at these checkpoints.
There are four ways to obtain a boarding pass:
1. Go to your airline's ticket counter at the airport
2. Use curbside check-in
3. Use your airline's self-service ticket kiosk in the airport lobby (if available)
4. Print the boarding pass from your airline's website (not all airlines provide this option)
Note: Persons with parental, official, medical, business, or similar reasons may be able to access the checkpoint but should check with their airline for required documentation.
Please check with your travel agent, airline or with U.S. authorities when preparing a trip to the United States and prior to travel.
Or click www.tsa.dot.gov for full informations.