Published on : Tuesday, November 21, 2017
The number of passengers expected to be screened at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints across the country this Thanksgiving season is expected to be extremely high. From last Friday, November 17th through Monday, November 28th, more than 24 million travelers—one of TSA’s busiest Thanksgivings on record–will be screened at airport checkpoints during the holiday travel period, a 6 percent increase compared to last year.
TSA is seeing a change in travel patterns for this holiday. Instead of waiting for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to travel, TSA started to see the increase in passenger volume start last Friday. That trend will extend through this Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, with passengers returning home on both the Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving.
The busiest travel days will still be the Tuesday and Wednesday leading up to Thanksgiving and the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The Sunday after Thanksgiving is projected to break into TSA’s top five busiest days ever, with more than 2.6 million passengers and crew members expected to be screened on that day alone.
Through the TSA Airport Operations Center and in coordination with airport and airline partners, TSA maintains effective and efficient security operations at checkpoints nationwide during the busy Thanksgiving holiday travel season. The center tracks daily screening operations, rapidly addresses any issues that arise, and deploys personnel, canine teams and technology where needed.
As Thanksgiving and the holiday travel seasons arrive, securing the travel of millions of passengers daily remains TSA’s top priority. It is well known that terrorists continue to focus on aviation, which is why TSA continues to focus on providing robust security screening. TSA takes many security measures, seen and unseen, while working closely with industry partners such as airlines and airports to enhance the traveling experience and ensure every passenger arrives to their destination safely.
The best way to ensure a quick trip through the security screening process is to prepare, prepare, prepare.
Passenger preparedness can have a significant impact on wait times at security checkpoints nationwide. To facilitate the security screening process, travelers should arrive at the airport early. It is recommended that travelers arrive two hours in advance of their domestic flights at Newark Liberty International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and at John F. Kennedy International Airport and three hours prior to an international flight to ensure that they have time to park their cars or return rental cars, check their bags with their airline, get their boarding pass and hit the restroom—all before heading to the security checkpoint.
Some helpful tools and travel tips for the airport security checkpoint include:
Be ready when you enter the checkpoint line: Have an acceptable ID and boarding pass out of your wallet and ready to hand to the TSA officer. Once you get to the divesting tables, remove laptops, any electronics larger than a cell phone and the 3-1-1 compliant liquids bag, from carry-on baggage and place those items in a checkpoint bin.
Be prepared to remove all electronics larger than a cell phone from your carry-on bags and place them in a bin with nothing above or underneath them.
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Prepare for security when packing. Put large liquids, gels, creams and aerosols, into checked bags such as shampoo, conditioner, suntan lotion, shaving cream and anti-perspirant. If you’ve only got a carry-on bag, make sure all of your liquids follow the 3-1-1 rule outlined below. And it’s important to make sure that you’ve got no prohibited items in your luggage.
Follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule for your carry-on bag. When packing a carry-on bag, it is important to remember that liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces or less and all bottles must fit in a single quart size plastic bag and placed in a bin for screening. This includes sun block and tanning sprays for those who are travelling to sunny destinations. Let the TSA officer know right away if you’re traveling with larger quantities of medically-necessary liquid medications or breast milk or formula for an infant as those can be screened separately.
Consider minimizing items that you wear to the airport such as bulky jewelry, scarves, hair accessories, large belts and other bulky items as these articles are likely to require additional screening. Remove all items from your pockets and put them into one of your carry-on bags so you won’t lose them.
Check the bins: Equally important, travelers are reminded to check the bins when collecting all belongings after going through screening and before leaving the checkpoint screening area. Often, travelers leave behind laptops, wallets, ID, phones and loose change.