NORFOLK, Va. - Michael Bolton and his family brushed up on the latest information before he dropped his off loved ones at the Norfolk International Airport on Wednesday.
“We researched everything before this trip, so we’re clear with what we need to do,” Bolton said.
Macy Margherio was another traveler flying out of Norfolk to her home in Chicago. She said she is also aware of the latest Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requirements.
"I would say just keep remembering what the TSA says,” Margherio said. “What you can bring or not bring - make sure you get yourself acclimated with that."
In fact, she said she has traveled during the pandemic.
"I’ve got a Navy boyfriend,” Margherio said. “I’ve got to go visit him every now and then."
But not everyone has done their homework. That is why representatives from the TSA were at the airport to keep travelers up to date on the latest changes and what they can expect.
Lisa Farbstein, strategic communications and public affairs officer with the TSA, demonstrated some of the changes.
"TSA officers will be changing their gloves every pat-down. At any time, you can ask them to change their gloves,” Farbstein explained as she spoke of protocols as a result of the pandemic. “We’re still in a mask mandate. We recommend you bring more than one mask, because what if you sneeze and you soil your mask or whatever as you’re arriving at your destination and want a fresh one?"
As for those toiletries, “We’re seeing a lot of people bringing oversized liquids and gels and aerosols,” Farbstein said. “We want to remind them that they can only have the smaller toiletries."
Those toiletries must be in bottles of no more than 3.4 oz. and must fit in a quart-size clear plastic ziplock bag. There are exceptions, however, Farbstein explained.
“The only exception to that is up to one 12 oz. container of hand sanitizer,” Farbstein said. "Bring all the hand wipes you want, even the jumbo jar [of disinfectant wipes].”
Robin Burke, federal security director with the TSA, said wait times at the Norfolk International Airport checkpoints are roughly 10 to 15 minutes. Even with a surge of passengers in recent weeks, Burke said they have the staff to accommodate that surge.
Just like attacks on flight crews that have been reported recently, Burke explained the same has happened to TSA agents.
“We have had some incidents across the country,” Burke said. “The penalty is that they can be prosecuted federally with a felony for hitting a federal officer."
Travelers will still need their government-issued ID with their boarding pass. Burke advised travelers to arrive roughly 90 minutes before their domestic departure or two hours for an international departure.
“For unknown, unfamiliar and inexperienced travelers, if they cannot understand,” Burke explained, “that’s why it’s good to get on the TSA website."