WASHINGTON, D.C., (WWLP) – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) anticipates airport security checkpoints will be busier than ever this holiday travel season after a recent screening of passengers.

According to a news release from TSA, during Thanksgiving travel from November 17th through November 28th, they expect to screen 30 million passengers.

The three busiest travel days have been, historically, the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the Sunday afterward. TSA estimated that they will screen 2.6 million passengers on Tuesday, 2.7 million on Wednesday, and 2.9 million on Sunday, the busiest travel day.

“We expect this holiday season to be our busiest ever. In 2023, we have already seen seven of the top 10 busiest travel days in TSA’s history,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “We are ready for the anticipated volumes and are working closely with our airline and airport partners to make sure we are prepared for this busy holiday travel season. We will also do our best to maintain wait time standards of under 10 minutes for TSA PreCheck® lanes and under 30 minutes for standard screening lanes. I am grateful for our dedicated employees who continue to remain vigilant and focused on the mission during this holiday travel season and beyond.”

The day that has the heaviest passenger screening volume in TSA history was this year on June 30th, and multiple days in 2023 had more than 2.8 million passengers screened so far. There are also more than 17.6 million passengers that are enrolled in TSA PreCheck®. This is the highest amount that has ever been recorded and represents 3.9 million more TSA PreCheck members than there were this time last year.

TSA recommends the following tips to keep in mind before arriving at the airport this holiday season:

  1. Pack smart; start with empty bags. Passengers who start with an empty bag while packing are less likely to bring prohibited items through the checkpoint. Foods like gravy, cranberry sauce, wine, jam, and preserves must be packed in a checked bag because they are considered to be liquids or gels. If you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it, or pour it, then it is a liquid and must be packed in your checked bag.
  2. Bring an acceptable ID and have it out in the screening lane. Before heading to the airport, travelers must make sure they have acceptable identification.
  3. Arrive early. The airport will be busy during the holidays, so arrive two hours before your scheduled flight to allow for adequate time to park your car or arrive by public transit or rideshare, check bags, and go through security screening before arriving at the gate.
  4. If you plan to travel with a firearm, you must properly pack the firearm in a hard-sided, locked case in your checked bag and declare it with the airline at the ticket counter when checking in. Passengers are prohibited from packing firearms in carry-on luggage and bringing them to the airport security checkpoint and onboard aircraft. Bringing a firearm to a TSA checkpoint is expensive and time-consuming and can cause delays.
  5. Be aware of new checkpoint screening technology. TSA uses different security methods and technologies to help secure their transportation systems. Screening protocols are different from airport to airport, depending on available technology and the current threat environment. Some airports have installed new state-of-the-art Computed Tomography (CT) scanners which significantly improve threat detection capabilities for carry-on bags and reduce physical searches of bag contents for prohibited items. CT units give TSOs the ability to review 3-D images of passengers’ bags, so passengers screened in security lanes with CT units do not need to remove their 3-1-1 liquids or laptops. With CT units, all travelers must place every carry-on item, including bags, into a bin for screening.
  6. Travel with ease with TSA PreCheck and ensure you have the TSA PreCheck mark on your boarding pass. Those enrolled enjoy the benefits of faster checkpoint screening. Most TSA PreCheck members wait less than five minutes at the checkpoint. Children 12 and younger may join TSA PreCheck family members in the TSA PreCheck screening lanes. Children 13-17 may join enrolled adults in the dedicated lanes when traveling on the same reservation and if the TSA PreCheck indicator appears on the child’s boarding pass. TSA PreCheck passengers must ensure that their KTN, along with the correct date of birth, is in their airline reservation.
  7. Call ahead to request passenger support. Travelers or families of passengers who need assistance may call the TSA Cares helpline at least 72 hours prior to travel with any questions about screening procedures and to find out what to expect at the security checkpoint.
  8. Remain aware. Travelers should report suspicious activities.
  9. Show gratitude to frontline workers. Thank a TSO, a gate agent, a flight attendant, or someone who serves on the transportation frontlines.
  10. Text or direct message us @ AskTSA. Get your questions answered before you head to the airport.

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