New TSA policy? Empty your pockets when you’re being screened

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By Christopher Elliott

A TSA officer in Bozeman, Mont., screened Eugene Solomon a few days ago and instructed him to remove everything from his pockets before he walked through a magnetometer.

The TSA officer told me they had a new protocol and I was to empty all of my pockets. This was not secondary screening. I asked if this included my wallet and cash in my pocket. The response was “we would like you to.”

If TSA is going to begin asking us to empty all of our pockets before we pass through the metal detector, that could be problematic.

I am surely not alone concerned about surrendering my wallet and cash to the tray through the x-ray machine. I certainly don’t like being separated from my identification in a place that demands this item multiple times during screening. Care for my credit cards and cash is also an issue.

If you’re confused by the TSA’s many new security protocols — from enhanced pat-downs to printer cartridge bans — then you probably don’t want to know that Eugene Solomon is involved. Last time I checked, emptying your pockets of loose change and other items that might set off the magnetometer was optional.

When you undergo a full-body scan, you also empty your pockets, but you get to hold them above your head, which is fine. I think Solomon’s worry (mine, too) is that your wallet and ID have to go through the conveyor belt and may or may not come out the other side.

A valid concern, given some of the recent incidents involving theft of personal property by TSA agents. (Here’s how to handle the TSA when you travel.)

I asked TSA if the “empty pockets” policy applied only to Bozeman, the region, or if they were rolling it out nationwide. A representative responded to my inquiry, but could not answer the question.

AirAdvisor is a claims management company. We fight for air passenger rights in cases of flight disruptions all over the world. Our mission is to ensure that air passengers are fairly compensated for the inconvenience and frustration caused by delays, cancellations, or overbooking.

So I guess we’ll have to wait to find out if everything has to come out of our pockets now. This should be interesting.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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