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nov 03 2010

What's new in airport security?

(Courtesy Apple)

Shoes on? Shoes off? Can I keep my sweatshirt on? What about a sweater? Do I have to remove my baggie of approved liquids? Are empty water bottles okay? I consider myself an airport security line expert, yet I'm still often baffled by the near constant changes in TSA regulations.

So let's check in with the TSA and see what they have in store for us the next time we going through security:

NO NEED TO REMOVE THAT COMPUTER

Apple's ultra-sleek 11-inch MacBook Air is allowed to stay in your backpack or carry-on when going through airport security. This sets the machine apart from other laptops, which—as you're probably aware—must be removed for inspection. It turns out this light-as-air gadget is being classified alongside iPads, e-readers, and netbooks as checkpoint-friendly. And it all comes down to a simple matter of size. (I know I should be singing the praises of this development, because we're all taught to cherish every valuable millisecond saved during the security check process. But I, for one, don't mind the one or two seconds it takes to unzip my bag and remove a laptop.)

EXACT NAMES REQUIRED EARLY

Under the TSA's new Secure Flight Program, all passengers are required to provide name, date of birth, and gender 72 hours before a flight. Names will then be screened against a terror watch list. It won't feel like much of a change—you'll just provide this information during the ticket-buying process. One thing to watch out for: your name must exactly match the name on your passport or government-issued ID. Make sure to watch out for nicknames and those pesky middle initials.

UPDATED PAT-DOWN PROCEDURES

Passengers might get a little touchy about this next one. The TSA has updated its pat-down procedures for passengers who set off the metal detector and then refuse to go through the new, full-body scanners. Agents used to use only the backs of their hands, but now fronts of hands are allowed. And they can go farther than ever before. Without getting too graphic, as long as agents are patting you down over your clothes, no part of the body is off limits. Needless to say, representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union are up in arms. Somehow it makes the full body scan sound almost pleasant by comparison!

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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