The TSA will now require separate screenings for all electronics ‘larger than a cell phone’ – The Verge

The Transportation Security Administration, the only line of defense between us and an influx of Satanic fidget spinners, just announced new airport screening policies that are designed to make your life a living hell.

The TSA will now require “all electronics larger than a cell phone” to be removed from carry-on bags and placed in their own separate bin for X-ray screening with nothing on top or below, similar to how laptops have been screened for years. So if you’ve ever gone through security and thought, “Gee, just my laptop, shoes, belt, and coat? I wish I had to remove more items for separate screening,” you’re in luck!

The TSA has been piloting (no pun intended) the new screening policies at 10 airports, and is now ready to expand them to all US airports in the weeks and months ahead. In standard screening lanes, TSA agents will be stationed in front of X-ray machines to verbally assist passengers with the new screening procedures.

So what sort of electronics is the TSA singling out with this new policy? According to acting administrator Huban Gowadia, the following electronics will now need to ride down the conveyor belt solo: laptops, tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles. Noticeably absent from the list? Those idiosyncratic gadgets that seem to fall somewhere between phone and tablet that we annoyingly call phablets.

The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the TSA, didn’t have a good answer on phablets back in March when it announced a ban on carry-on laptops and tablets on direct flights from eight Muslim-majority countries. The department referred questions about phablets to the airlines, who were unable to comment. A spokesperson for the TSA did not immediately respond to a question about phablets.

Fortunately, the TSA isn’t satisfied to just torture domestic passengers. Last week, Homeland Security announced that the “first round” of enhanced airport screenings would be going into effect for foreign travelers, with a particular focus on electronics.

Of course, those enrolled in the TSA’s Precheck program will not have to remove their oversized electronics, due to their willingness to trade their fingerprints (and $85) for speedier screening. The TSA notes that Precheck is now available at 200 airports nationwide, up from 180 at the start of the year.

So what’s the end goal? Gowadia claims that the TSA is “committed to raising the baseline for aviation security by strengthening the overall security of our commercial aviation network to keep flying as a safe option for everyone.” What’s missing from his statement? Anything having to do with minimizing the hassle of flying, for one. Security and efficiency do not have to be mutually exclusive.

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