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TSA at Syracuse airport prepares for busy summer travel season

By Eric Reinhardt (ereinhardt@cnybj.com)

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A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer looks on as a traveler inserts his own ID into the credential authentication technology unit at the checkpoint. (Photo credit: Transportation Security Administration)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) expects to see an uptick in the number of travelers who will be flying out of Syracuse Hancock International Airport as the summer travel season approaches.

“TSA is prepared to handle the increased travel volume while remaining committed to supporting a healthy and secure environment for airline passengers, TSA employees and airport personnel,” Bart Johnson, TSA’s federal security director for upstate New York, said. “However, travelers need to know that the checkpoint experience will look different to passengers who have not flown since the start of or during the early days of the pandemic, and individuals flying out of Syracuse should be prepared for those changes.”

Everyone in the airport, regardless of vaccination status, is required to continue to wear a mask as prescribed by the federal mask mandate when they are in airports, bus stations, and rail stations, the TSA said. It also applies while on passenger aircraft, public transportation, passenger railroads, and over-the-road buses operating on scheduled fixed-routes.

It means that all travelers must be wearing a mask at TSA airport-screening checkpoints and throughout the airport and during their flights. If a traveler does not have a mask, a TSA officer will offer a mask to that individual at the checkpoint.

“We have what I call a ‘new normal’ at airport-security checkpoints since the start of the pandemic,” Johnson said.

He pointed out that travelers and TSA officers will be wearing masks and there will be reminders to socially distance posted at the checkpoint. When approaching the travel-document checking podium, passengers will see an acrylic barrier that has been installed to reduce opportunities for cross-contamination.

The TSA will ask travelers to remove their masks for a few seconds so that the officer can match individuals’ faces to the photos on their ID cards. Travelers will place their own ID into the credential-authentication technology scanner, thus reducing a touchpoint.

TSA officers will change their gloves between each pat down and travelers may request that a TSA officer put on a new pair of gloves at any time, Johnson also noted. TSA officers also will be using a fresh swab for each passenger when testing for possible explosive material.

TSA employees will be conducting routine cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces and security screening equipment at the checkpoints.

Nationwide, TSA officers are screening about 1.6 million people daily, which is a large increase from last year, but “still down significantly” from 2019, when closer to 2.5 million people were screened daily during the busiest summer days. Due to the increase in the number of travelers since the start of the pandemic, travelers should arrive at the checkpoint 90 minutes before their flight, the TSA said.

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