Bad news for frequent fliers: It may take you a little longer to get through airport security if you’re packing snacks. Food is still allowed in carry-on bags—so it’s not exactly time to panic yet—but The New York Times reports that TSA agents can ask passengers to remove their food and screen it separately, thus holding up the line.
The author of the article, Shivani Vora, wrote that she was recently delayed 15 minutes at Newark Liberty International Airport's security line when she overheard a TSA officer explaining the “new policy” to another passenger. She rifled through her two carry-on bags to find all of her snacks, placed them in a separate container, pushed them through the X-ray, and continued waiting while an officer inspected her food by hand.
Another passenger reported being delayed 15 minutes when the man in line ahead of her had to remove all of his Starbursts and bite-sized Twix, and similar complaints have been circulating in recent months. However, contrary to the TSA agent’s explanation and the apparent rise in cases such as these, the policy isn’t exactly new. It’s about a year old, and it gives TSA agents the power to screen food separately if they request it.
“There is no official policy which says that TSA agents must ask passengers to remove food from their bags,” TSA spokesman Mike England tells the Times. “Rather, the policy is that officers have the right to ask passengers to remove food if they feel that it’s necessary.”
The policy was reportedly enacted for safety reasons, because overstuffed bags can’t be screened as effectively, and some food items resemble explosives in an X-ray. If you’re not quite ready to give up your snacks, though, you can still save some time in the security line by applying for a TSA PreCheck.
[h/t The New York Times]