The Transportation Security Administration has been quietly testing a new screening procedure that more closely examines electronic devices in carry-on bags at LAX and nine other airports.
Under the test screening process, passengers passing through TSA security checkpoints are asked to take out electronic devices larger than a cellphone from carry-on bags and place the devices in a separate bin for X-ray screening. Passengers will be asked not to stack the devices.
The new approach started in March at Los Angeles International Airport, McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Logan International Airport in Boston and seven other airports.
TSA officials say the new procedure is not connected to the restrictions the agency imposed in March forbidding passengers from bringing electronic devices such as laptops into airplane cabins for flights from eight Middle Eastern and African countries. U.S. officials are considering extending the so-called laptop ban to flights from Europe to the U.S.
Security officials have refused to discuss whether specific threats led to the enhanced screening or the laptop restrictions.
"As part of our counterterrorism efforts, TSA continuously enhances and adjusts security screening procedures to stay ahead of evolving threats," said Darby LaJoye, TSA assistant administrator for security operations.
The 10 airports were selected to represent a variety of sizes, locations and equipment. The agency said it may roll out the new procedure at other airports nationwide.
The new screening process comes as Americans prepare for a summer travel season that is expected to set new air travel records.
An airline trade group predicted last month that a record 234.1 million passengers are expected to fly on U.S.-based carriers this summer, a 4% increase over the same period last year. The group, Airlines for America, attributed the increase to improving economic conditions, higher household net worth and lower airfares.