The upcoming weeks are well-known for being a busy time for air travel, and the Transport Security Administration (TSA) predicts that airports will be even busier this year compared to last. While TSA Administrator David Pekoske assures that the TSA is prepared to handle the surge in passengers during the winter holiday season, there are steps that travelers can take to ensure a smoother journey for everyone. To expedite the airport security process and reduce travel stress, the TSA has provided a list of guidelines for travelers to follow. While some of these points may seem obvious to experienced travelers, it is always worth checking for the latest advice as things can change rapidly.
Before heading to the airport, it is recommended to start packing with an empty bag to avoid accidentally bringing prohibited items. It is also beneficial to review the “What Can I Bring?” section of the TSA website to ensure that everything in the bag complies with regulations. Arriving earlier than usual at the airport, especially during busy times, can significantly reduce travel stress. The TSA advises passengers to arrive at least two hours before their flight, but arriving even earlier can be advantageous if time permits.
Having identification ready is crucial to avoid delays and fumbling around at the front of the queue. The correct ID should be easily accessible when in the screening line. When traveling with gifts, it is advisable to transport them unwrapped or in gift bags or boxes that can be easily opened for inspection if necessary.
If traveling with a firearm, it is important to ensure that it is unloaded and packed in an appropriate lockable hard case. Additionally, the firearm must be declared at the ticket counter. Security screening technology varies from airport to airport, and new technology is constantly being implemented. The latest technology, Computed Tomography (CT) scanners, can view bags in 3D and eliminate the need to remove liquids or laptops from bags. Passengers should be aware of the designated lane and the technology being used.
Consider enrolling in TSA PreCheck for a faster and more streamlined security screening experience. TSA PreCheck allows passengers to wait for five minutes or less at the airport checkpoint. The program costs $70 for a five-year duration and has gained popularity among travelers, with 15 million members and counting.
Travelers with disabilities or those traveling with someone who has a disability can call the TSA Cares helpline to arrange for additional assistance. It is recommended to call at least 72 hours before the journey. If there are any uncertainties regarding the flight, contacting the TSA directly is the best course of action. Questions can be texted to 275-872 or directed to @AskTSA on social media platforms such as X and Facebook Messenger.
It is essential to follow the guidance of Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) and comply with their requests. These rules and regulations are in place to ensure the safety of travelers. It is important to remember that TSOs are human beings doing their jobs, so a smile and understanding can go a long way, especially during the holiday season.