Here’s why you may not have to remove your laptop at TSA checkpoints this summer


imageIf you’re tired of removing your laptop from your bag at airport security checkpoints, there’s good news.The TSA recently approved a multi-million dollar contract that will bring hundreds of three-dimensional scanners to airport checkpoints across the country.

The $781.2 million contract awarded by the agency earlier this month will bring just shy of 1,000 Computed Tomography (CT) x-ray scanners to TSA checkpoints.The machines, which will be used to scan carry-on baggage, should start appearing in airports by this summer.

For travelers, this means more convenience and peace of mind, the TSA said.

“It brings a whole other level of security to checkpoints,” TSA southeast spokesperson Mark Howell told TPG in an interview Friday.“It’s much like the CT scan machines you see at the hospital.And the difference in security is really [like] the difference between a map and a globe.”

(Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images) The new technology also means travelers — including those without TSA PreCheck — would no longer have to remove items like liquids and electronic devices from carry-on baggage before they enter the scanner.

According to the TSA, the new scanners use “sophisticated algorithms” to detect prohibited items like guns, explosives and other items passengers are not allowed to carry on the plane.

The technology creates 3D images of the items in a bag, and allows officers to not just view, but also rotate the image to analyze potential threats.

Related: Why you should get TSA PreCheck and Clear

This move represents the latest step by the TSA as part of an effort TPG has reported on for years to modernize and upgrade checkpoint technology.Just last summer, the agency announced a nearly $200 million contract for CT X-ray systems of a different size.The agency says those machines are in the process of being installed at checkpoints across the country.

(Photo courtesy of the TSA) With this larger number of scanners expected at airports this summer, Howell anticipates more opportunities for travelers to leave electronics like laptops in their carry-on luggage.

Related: Back to the future for TSA luggage screening?

It’s a change that he anticipates will not be immediate.

“It’s going to take some time, obviously, [for] a deployment of that size,” he said.But ultimately he expects the new technology will speed up security lines, too.

As the machines begin to roll out to airports, Howell suggests passengers pay close attention to what agents tell them as they wait in line.If their checkpoint has the new technology, he pointed out, “You may not have to remove your stuff.”

It’s important to note, the new technology does not change how passengers themselves are screened.That means those without TSA PreCheck would still have to remove their shoes, belts and outerwear in some cases.

Featured photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.


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