Security measures at the Springfield-Branson National Airport are becoming more stringent next week, which could increase wait times for boarding passengers.
Mark Howell, spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, said a new policy requiring all electronic devices larger than a cellphone to be X-rayed individually launched in July at 10 airports across the nation. It will be implemented in Springfield on Oct 1.
“It is causing some backups,” he said.
According to the rule, all tablets, laptops and other devices must be removed from baggage and placed in their own plastic bin for scanning.
“That allows us to get a clearer image on the X-ray machine,” Howell said, noting cables, clothing and other clutter in the baggage impede the ability of TSA agents to identify potentially hazardous materials.
This does increase the number of bins that need to be scanned, Howell said, but it’s the people who don’t remove their electronic items that tend to hold up the security line, since their bags must be searched by hand.
“If we’re doing more bag searches, it’s going to make those wait times go up,” he said.
Airport spokesman Kent Boyd said the TSA checkpoint may take as little as 15 minutes, but he recommends travelers arrive 90 minutes before their flights to account for check-in times and unexpected delays.
“People in this market have a really bad habit of getting here as late as possible, which is understandable because generally the crowds are not that big and it’s pretty easy to get through security,” he said. “What people don’t think about is, even without these new security procedures, if anything goes wrong – let’s suppose the X-ray machine breaks down or there’s a problem with ID or your ticket – if you get there at the last minute and you run into a problem, you’re probably going to miss your flight.”
The new security measure does not apply to passengers enrolled in TSA’s PreCheck program. PreCheck members do not need to remove shoes, small liquids, laptops, electronics, light outerwear or belts. To become a member, passengers must fill out an application and attend an in-person background check that includes fingerprinting, according to TSA’s website.
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