The Most Germ-Laden Spot In Any Airport Is The TSA Checkpoint, And Delta Has A Solution

This month Delta Air Lines is rolling out anti-microbial bins at security checkpoints in their terminals at Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Los Angeles, New York-LaGuardia and New York-JFK.

It seems odd they haven’t managed to add Detroit, Salt Lake City, or Seattle hubs to this list, or Boston, Raleigh, or Austin either. However the airline says they “will evaluate opportunities for expansion to other markets following the launch in these cities.”

TSA screening bins have more germs than the monkey in outbreak. Your fellow sick passengers touch the bins, they even put their dirty tissues and handkerchiefs in them before going through the nude-o-scope pockets empty. TSA provides their employees with blue gloves, not you. In fact these bins have the highest concentration of respiratory viruses anywhere in the airport, and “half of plastic airport security bins may carry viruses that cause respiratory infections.”

TSA instructs passengers to put food and snack items in these contaminated bins. Two years ago I wrote that these bins could accelerate a pandemic.

Solutions have abounded for years, but it took coronavirus for action to be taken. And it took Delta partnering with TSA rather than TSA itself to overcome inertia. For an agency charged with protecting us that’s disconcerting.

Three years ago I covered a bin material that used “mineral nano-crystals that react with light, the material creates a self-cleaning oxidation reaction…stronger than bleach and continuously is breaking down organic contaminants.” This was used in Akron three years ago:

United Airlines is using UVC technology to sanitize cockpits but should extend this to TSA checkpoints in terminals they control as well. That would do more than just sanitize bins – it could do something about floors travelers have to take off their shoes to walk on, too.

The actual flight is probably the safest part of the travel process. It’s good to see Delta investing more in end-to-end cleanliness. This benefits TSA, too, whose workforce has been heavily afflicted by the virus.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Your term “nude a scope” shows that you don’t understand much of the new machines or anything else about the TSA .
    The bins are gross but who brings food to the airport anymore since it has to be removed for inspection?

  2. To forgive them not doing the SLC hub, a whole new terminal – and therefore, security checkpoint – is being opened next week there to replace the 3 current terminals. I don’t think they want to do anything that could delay that opening, and doing it in the old terminals would be worse than useless.

  3. Why not just carry a supply of disposable shoe covers to put over your feet when walking through? What about putting all you take off to put through into a clear plastic bag like a laundry shirt bag? I guess if you need to travel right now there are ways around it.

  4. Wow you learn something new everyday. I never knew that TSA was in charge of protecting the traveling public from viruses. Thanks

  5. Could not agree more!! Previously when I traveled, I put my belongings in to my bag and will only ever touch those disgusting things if I absolutely have to. And the very second I do I sanitize immediately then find the nearest restroom and was my hands thoroughly. I’ll do all I can to never use those bins.

  6. You obviously need to do more research. Delta DOES NOT pay for, dictate or have anything at all to do with a federally regulated checkpoint. The new antimicrobial bins were 100% paid for by DHS aka the taxpayers money. Also, referring to the scanner as a “nude-o-scope” only exacerbates your ignorance. At no point whatsoever does the TSA see anything nude.

  7. United won’t spend any of their money on these bins. They will say it’s TSA’s responsibility. United is the industry leader in greed and horrible customer service.

  8. I recommend the public take road trips since it take the coronavirus to make you all wash your hands and pretend to be germaphobics. TSA is not responsible for protecting none of you from the virus all TSA is responsible for is making sure there’s not another 9/11 incident. Let’s speak facts. You all are so rude and disrespectful to TSA officers but expect them to protect you all. You all have the audacity to get upset that there not customer service friendly but you wage war on them when passing through there checkpoints. Some of you need Jesus others need a heart check!

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