Thanks to a more common-sense approach, the 20 to 30 Elvis snow globes that go through passenger screening each month are now safe from confiscation by security officers at Memphis International Airport.
Transportation Security Administration and Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority officials joined forces Thursday to preview the holiday travel season, highlight changes in screening procedures and show off an expanded B Checkpoint.
Kevin McCarthy, TSA federal security director at
Memphis, said the $8.5
million expansion of the airport's busiest checkpoint has relieved a strain on
passengers and TSA officers alike and should mean smoother operation during the
holiday push that begins Friday.
John Greaud, airport vice president of operations, said the B Checkpoint expansion, more than two years in the making, is about 97 percent completed.
It has space for up to eight screening lines, twice as many as before; it allows passengers to queue up inside the checkpoint, not spilling out into the terminal lobby; and it has natural light from clerestory windows in a raised roof structure featuring the airport's martini-glass design motif.
For passengers leaving the airport, B Checkpoint added an escalator that leads down to baggage claim, bypassing the terminal lobby completely.
The airport, which typically puts 8,000 to 10,000 people a day through three security checkpoints, expects peaks of 10,000 to 12,000 a day Wednesday and the Sunday after Thanksgiving, officials said.
McCarthy said travelers should allow about 90 minutes to get checked in, through security and situated at their gates. TSA aims to keep screening waits to 20 minutes or less, he said.
Travelers should know some rules haven't changed, like a prohibition on bottles with more than 3 ounces of liquids, gels or aerosols. But others have been relaxed as part of TSA's risk-based security initiative.
Children 12 and under and people 75 and older face modified screening procedures, including not having to remove shoes and light jackets, McCarthy said.
The "snow globe" rule, in effect for about two months, says such items that contain less than 3.4 ounces (roughly equal to or smaller than a tennis ball) can be stored inside a resealable one-quart plastic bag with other liquids and placed in carry-on luggage.
TSA advises against putting wrapped gifts in carry-on luggage, because officers may have to unwrap them to check for threats. Food items such as cakes and pies can be carried on, but also may require closer inspection.
The agency has a toll-free hotline, TSA Cares, at 855-787-2227, to provide information to passengers with disabilities and medical conditions. Information can also be found at tsa.gov.