TSA gives families a break for Christmas

The Transportation Security Administration is expanding the "family lane" concept to every airport security checkpoint in the country, and will direct not only families to those lanes, but also people who have "medically necessary" liquids and gels in excess of current 3-ounce limits.

The changes will be completed by November 20 – just in time for the busy Thanksgiving travel season, the TSA said Monday.

Currently, 48 airports have "diamond" or "green" lanes, intended for travelers who are unfamiliar with checkpoint procedures, or families who want to go through security at their own pace.



Expanding these lanes to every airport "increases passenger convenience and security," said TSA Administrator Kip Hawley.

The TSA said officers staffing the family lanes will work with passengers to quickly complete the screening process. Passengers traveling with liquids, gels and aerosols like baby formula, insulin, cough syrup, contact lens solution and prescription medications will undergo additional screening that will usually take less than two minutes, the agency said.

The TSA imposed the restrictions on liquids in August 2006 after a plot was uncovered to use liquid explosives to destroy planes headed from London to the United States. The TSA says liquid explosives remain a security concern, but the new procedures will allow screeners to check liquids.

Individuals traveling with liquids within the 3-1-1 limits (3-ounce containers in a 1-quart size, plastic zip-lock bag, with one bag per passenger) will experience no change to their screening procedures.

Technological innovations are expected to further ease liquid restrictions by the fall of 2009, the TSA said.

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