WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration is expecting a record breaking number of flyers this Thanksgiving holiday with more than 25 million passengers traveling through security screening checkpoints nationwide Nov. 16 through Nov. 26, an increase of 5 percent from 2017.
TSA officials will deploy new technology, add more canine teams and more than 1,200 TSA officers to help process the volume of passengers, the TSA said in a news release.
“As Thanksgiving and the holiday travel seasons arrive, ensuring the safety and security of the millions of passengers traveling daily remains TSA’s top priority,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske in the news release.
The busiest travel days leading up to Thanksgiving will be the Friday and Wednesday before the holiday, with 2.6 million passengers and crew expected on each of those days, the TSA said. On Nov. 25, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, more than 2.7 million travelers are expected to be flying home. On a typical weekday, TSA screens about 2.1 million passengers.
This year travelers may encounter new technologies that improve both security and the traveler experience. More than a dozen of the nation’s largest airports have automated screening lanes, 16 have computed tomography X-ray scanners that enhance threat detection capabilities at checkpoints and Atlanta is using new biometrics technology to verify the identity of passengers.
The best way to ensure a quick trip through the security screening process is to arrive early and be prepared. TSA recommends getting to the terminal at least one hour early for domestic travel and at least two hours for international travel.
Additionally, travelers should keep these top three tips in mind:
- Pack smart. Prepare for security when packing and ensure that there are no prohibited items in baggage. As always, passengers can bring pies, cakes and other baked goods through the checkpoints; however, liquids such as eggnog and maple syrup, and gels such as preserves and jellies, should go into checked bags. Liquids in carry-on must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule. Download the MyTSA app or use the “What can I bring?” tool on tsa.gov. This allows you to type in an item to find out if you can bring it in your carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither.
- Renew your TSA Pre? membership. People who obtained TSA Pre? five years ago are now able to renew their TSA Pre? membership online. People who do not have TSA Pre? should enroll now to get TSA Pre? benefits, available at more than 200 U.S. airports, in time for their holiday travel. Travelers enrolled in a trusted traveler program, like TSA Pre?, do not need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets. To find the trusted traveler program that best suits your travel needs, use the DHS trusted traveler comparison tool.
- Ask for passenger support. Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and/or medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll free at 855-787-2227 at least 72 hours prior to flying with any questions about screening policies, procedures and to find out what to expect at the security checkpoint. TSA Cares also arranges assistance at the checkpoint.