TSA tests screening procedures as airports brace for busy travel weekend

Travelers at some U.S. airports are being asked to place electronic devices bigger than a cellphone in separate bins so that they can be examined more closely.

The Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday that it has been testing the procedure at 10 airports for more than a year, and it may be expanded nationwide.

TSA officials say overstuffed bags take longer to examine with X-ray machines. The pilot program is “an effort to de-clutter baggage,” said agency spokesman Michael England.

There are no changes to what is allowed in carry-on bags, and people enrolled in the Precheck program can still leave laptops in their bags during screening, he said.

Most travelers already must remove laptops from bags when they go through security checkpoints. In the test lanes at the 10 airports, they are no longer being allowed to lay machines on top of bags or with other electronic devices — each device must have its own bin.

Requiring travelers to spread their belongings among more bins could slow down the screening process. TSA said it is testing ways to make screening quicker and more targeted.

Unless the pilot program is expanded, most travelers will never experience it. Even if goes nationwide, it would be a far less dramatic change than the ban on laptops and tablets in the cabin of U.S.-bound planes from the Middle East and North Africa.

The TSA’s parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, is considering expanding that ban to flights from Europe to the U.S. but has run into opposition from business travelers, airlines and European governments that fear it will create chaos and delays.

The new screening measures are being tested at the following airports: Boise, Idaho; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Detroit Metropolitan Airport; Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida; Logan Airport in Boston; Los Angeles International Airport; Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport in Lubbock, Texas; Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico; McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas; and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

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