We’re entering one of the busiest times of the year for travel, which means security lines at the airport will be busy as well. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says to expect this uptick in travel to continue through November 27th.
“We expect to be busier this year than last year at this time, and probably very close to pre-pandemic levels,” TSA administrator David Pekoske said in a statement.
In fact, the number of people traveling so far this year may exceed pre-pandemic levels. The TSA says it could screen as many as 2.5 million passengers at checkpoints across the country on November 23, and it could be more than 2.5 million on November 27.
All of those people could add up to a frustrating time at the airport. But it doesn’t have to be. There are some things you can do before you take off that will save everyone a lot of headaches.
We put together a list of eight TSA tips for Thanksgiving travel that you can use all year long.
1. Pack Smart
Know what can and cannot go in your carry-on luggage. There are certain foods that must be in a checked bag. TSA has a great way to remember this: 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. Review this list of items before you pack your bag.
2. Do Not Bring A Firearm To A Checkpoint
You are not allowed to pack a firearm in your carry-on bag. This goes for other weapons as well. You can travel with a firearm, but it needs to be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided locked case, declared at the airline ticket counter, and packed in your checked baggage. Any ammunition must be in its original container and locked in the hard-sided case. If you have questions, check out the TSA website to learn more. It’s not just about keeping the lines moving, bringing a firearm to a TSA checkpoint can lead to a $14,000 penalty.
3. Bring The Correct Identification
This seems easy enough, but make sure you have acceptable identification before you leave your house. This is your driver’s license or your passport, but there are other forms that are accepted as well. Check the list so when you’re asked at the security screening, you are ready to go. Some people who live in states like Arizona, Colorado, and Maryland can use their Apple phones to store their ID and use it at certain airports. At many airports, you’ll be asked to insert your ID into one of the new Credential Authentication Technology units. Double-check the list before you go.
4. Get TSA PreCheck
If you’re really sick of the security lines at the airport, enroll in the TSA PreCheck program. It gets you through the screening quicker because you don’t have to take off your shoes, belts, or jackets, and you can keep your laptops and approved liquids in your carry-on. The enrollment fee dropped from $85 to $78 for a 5-year membership. You’ll have to fill out an application online and bring certain documents to a TSA location in person. You will then receive a known traveler number if you’re accepted. The process usually takes 3–5 days.
5. Request Passenger Support
If you’re traveling with someone with a disability or a medical condition, you can call the TSA Cares helpline at least 72 hours before you fly to get your questions answered about screening procedures. You can also get assistance at the checkpoint for travelers with specific needs.
6. See Something. Say Something.
This saying has become pretty standard for all of us, but this is an important part of keeping travelers safe. Reporting suspicious activity keeps people moving safely as they travel.
7. Ask TSA Before You Arrive
If you have questions, ask the TSA before you get to the airport. You can do so on social media @AskTSA on Facebook or Twitter. A virtual assistant is available 24/7 and staff can help you from 8 a.m.–6 p.m. EST every day, including holidays and weekends. The TSA Contact Center can be reached on weekdays from 8 a.m.–11 p.m. and weekends/holidays from 9 a.m.–8 p.m.
8. Be Kind
It is the holiday season after all! Be kind to the TSA workers, flight attendants, or airport employees who are there to make your holiday travel safe and easy. Travel can be frustrating, but showing some gratitude to those helping get you to your destination safely will go a long way.
To read other articles about how to make travel easier, check out: