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TSA Debuts Coronavirus-Related Security Upgrades At San Diego International Airport

Passengers checking in at the Alaska Airlines counter at the San Diego Intern...

Photo by Mike Damron

Above: Passengers checking in at the Alaska Airlines counter at the San Diego International Airport on Nov. 19, 2020.

There was some stark advice from the C-D-C Thursday. The agency said people shouldn’t travel for the Thanksgiving holiday.

But if you do plan to be on an airplane, you’ll see changes in how the Transportation Security Administration is screening passengers at San Diego International Airport.

Listen to this story by John Carroll.

The hassles of huge crowds may not be such a big concern. AAA predicts at least a 10% drop on the roads, and the same is true for air travel. The auto club said fewer than 2.5 million people will fly somewhere over the four-day Thanksgiving holiday period.

If you are hopping on an airplane, you’ll see some coronavirus-influenced security changes at San Diego International Airport.

TSA has taken steps to help protect travelers as well as our own employees,” TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said.

One of those steps is how an agent determines that you are who you say you are. Now you’ll just put your ID into a special scanner.

“Our TSA officer does not need to touch your ID, you’re gonna be asked to insert your own photo ID into the unit and in doing so, there’s no cross-contamination,” Dankers said.

RELATED: San Diego International Airport Announces Implementation of COVID-19 Protocols

Reported by John Carroll , Video by Mike Damron

Also new is one of those things that used to exist only in the world of sci-fi and comic books. Think Superman’s x-ray vision: TSA officers now have a machine that gives them a 3-D image of what’s inside your carry-on luggage.

“Our officers are able to manipulate that image onscreen and in doing so, they’re able to get a better view of the bag and that reduces the number of bag checks that passengers will have to undergo,” said Dankers.

Fewer bag checks mean fewer touchpoints and that means fewer chances of cross-contamination.

Another addition to keep travelers and TSA officers safe isn’t high tech at all, in fact, you see them everywhere in this pandemic, acrylic barriers.

“[They are] anywhere where the traveler and the TSA officer come in close contact," according to Dankers.

The airport has also issued travel tips, but nothing too surprising. Just a reminder to adhere to all the COVID preventative measures that are so familiar 9 months into the pandemic: masking, distancing, frequent hand-washing.

They also said everyone should be familiar with the requirements of their particular airline and COVID-19 regulations in place at their destination.

On a related note, an interesting read on how Americans are feeling about flying these days from the data analytics firm J.D. Power.

It reports that only 10% of people said they’re concerned about COVID-19 when it comes to airport security.

Thirty-seven percent of the people say the biggest worry they have is time spent in the airplane.

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John Carroll
General Assignment Reporter & Anchor

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI'm a general assignment reporter and Saturday morning radio anchor for KPBS. I love coming up with story ideas that aren't being covered elsewhere, but I'm also ready to cover the breaking news of the day. In addition, I bring you the local news headlines on Saturday mornings during NPR's Weekend Edition.

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