At PHL and other airports: new screening requirements for personal electronics

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Passengers at all U.S. airports face new measures for screening electronic devices bigger than a cellphone. Security officers will ask travelers in regular lanes to take all larger devices out of their bag and put them in a bin by themselves. These are passengers in San Francisco. The change won’t apply to Precheck lanes.

New tougher screening measures for personal electronics is being rolled out at U.S. airports, including Philadelphia International, by the Transportation Security Administration to thwart would-be terrorists who may try to conceal explosives in a tablet, e-reader, or camera.

Since earlier this month, passengers going through standard airport security lanes at PHL have been asked to place all electronics larger than a cellphone in separate bins for X-ray screening.

The security requirements, announced by the Department of Homeland Security in late June after testing in 10 airports, will be required in 280 airports in more than 100 countries due to an increased threat to aviation security, TSA said.

Travelers are being asked to remove electronics from their carry-on bags and place them in a bin with nothing on top or below, similar to how laptops have been screened for years. Each device has to be placed in a separate bin. The step helps TSA screeners see a clearer X-ray image, the agency said.

The new measures do not apply to vetted passengers enrolled in and use TSA Pre-Check lanes. Those passengers do not need to remove shoes, liquids, laptops, light outerwear, or belts.

The new procedures for standard screening lanes aim to allow TSA to focus resources on passengers who may pose a high risk to security, while providing expedited screening to those who have been vetted and identified as low risk.

There are no changes to what travelers can bring through the checkpoint: food and liquids that comply with the 3-1-1 liquids rule, electronics, and books in carry-on bags.

TSA spokesman Michael England said that passengers previously took their laptop out. “Now, in addition, you will take out any piece of electronics that’s bigger than a cellphone, basically tablets and e-readers.

“We’ve learned from intelligence that terrorists have tried to alter tablets, e-readers, and laptops to put explosives in them,” England said. “Putting them in separate bins makes it easier for us to screen them in the X-ray.”

TSA said it was working with airports and airlines to adjust security measures to stay ahead of evolving threats.

“By separating personal electronic items such as laptops, tablets, e-readers, and handheld game consoles for screening, TSA officers can more closely focus on resolving alarms and stopping terror threats,” said TSA acting administrator Huban A. Gowadia.