Airline officials preparing for summer travel season as COVID vaccinations progress

Coronavirus Local Impact

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Transportation Security Administration announced plans for summer travel ahead of Memorial Day weekend and throughout the summer.

According to a news release from TSA, the summer travel season begins in late May through Labor Day weekend. Airport check points are expecting an increase in travel throughout the summer as more people are getting COVID-19 vaccines.

The TSA has new screening systems since the coronavirus pandemic that reduces physical contact. The Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) allows passengers to scan their own ID that eliminates the need to hand it to a TSA officer. Computed Tomography (CT) is used to provide a 3D image of the passengers’ bags to reduce the TSA need to search its contents. TSA deployed 501 CAT units to 88 airports and 323 CT units to 141 airports nationwide.

As we head into a summer where we hope to see a tremendous reemergence of domestic travel and the economic prosperity that travel brings, I’d like to highlight the incredible work of the men and women of TSA, who have been working on the front lines throughout the challenging pandemic,” said Secretary Mayorkas. “I also want to commend our industry partners with whom we have a tremendous working relationship. We are all in this together to make sure that the American public can travel across the country safely and securely.

“As passenger volumes continue to rise, TSA is ready for their return to airports across the country, equipped with enhanced airport security checkpoints, over 46,000 highly-trained security professionals, and valuable partnerships with stakeholders and industry, all to ensure a secure and seamless travel experience,” said Darby LaJoye, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the TSA Administrator. “For those passengers returning to travel for the first time since 2019, be aware that some processes at the checkpoint have changed and some, like removing your shoes, remain in place. Additionally, during high volume months, travelers should plan to arrive early at the airport to complete the airport screening process and arrive timely at their departure gate.”  

TIPS: TSA checkpoint

Tip 1: Wear a face mask. Face masks remain mandatory for employees and passengers, regardless of vaccination status, throughout all domestic transportation modes, including airport security screening checkpoints. Since the implementation of the face mask mandate for travelers on Feb 2, there has been near-total voluntary compliance throughout the entire transportation system.

Tip 2: Pack smart; start with empty bags. Those airline passengers who begin packing for travel with empty bags are less likely to bring prohibited items through a TSA checkpoint. Technology and modifications help reduce the need for physical contact with TSA officers, but those who take time to come prepared for the TSA checkpoint are far more likely to avoidphysical contact. Check for prohibited items by using the “What Can I Bring?” page on TSA.gov.

Tip 3: Consider other ways that might help avoid physical contact at the checkpoint. Prior to entering the line for the TSA checkpoint, take a few minutes to prepare. Place jewelry, keys and other pocketed items into your carry-on bag so they might be scanned with need for fewer bins at the conveyor belt.Have a valid ID card readily available and follow the liquids rule of 3.4 ounces or less, with the exception of hand sanitizer, which has a temporary 12-ounce limit in carry-on baggage.

Tip 4: Contact TSA for help if there are questions or concerns. Those who are preparing to travel and may have special circumstances, considerations or general questions about airport screening can get live assistance by tweeting questions and comments to @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST and weekends/holidays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST. You can also call the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673.

Tip 5: Enroll now in TSA PreCheck® to “Travel with Ease.” By enrolling in TSA PreCheck, airline passengers can avoid removing shoes, belts, liquids, food, laptops and light jackets at the TSA checkpoint. Most new enrollees receive their known traveler number within five days, and membership lasts for five years.  

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