We are entering one of the busiest times of the year for travel, which means the security lines at the airport will also be busy. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says it expects this increase in travel to continue through Nov. 27.
“We expect to be busier this year than last year at this time, and likely 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 could exceed pre-pandemic levels. The TSA says it could screen up to 2.5 million passengers at checkpoints across the country on Nov. 23, and could be more than 2.5 million on Nov. 27.
All of these people could add to a frustrating time at the airport. But it doesn’t have to. There are some things you can do before you take off that will save everyone a lot of headaches.
We’ve put together a list of eight TSA tips for Thanksgiving travel that you can use throughout the year.
1. Pack smart
Know what can and cannot go in your hand luggage. Some foods must be in a checked bag. The TSA has a great way to remember this: if you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it, or pour it, it’s a liquid and should be packed in your checked bag. Review this list of items before packing your bag.
2. Do not bring a gun to a checkpoint
You are not allowed to put a firearm in your hand luggage. This also applies to other weapons. You can travel with a firearm, but it must be unloaded, packed in a locked hard case, declared at the airline ticket counter and placed in your checked baggage. All ammunition must be in its original container and locked in the hard case. If you have any questions, check the TSA’s website for more information. It’s not just about keeping the lines moving, bringing a gun to a TSA checkpoint can result in a $14,000 penalty.
3. Bring the right ID
Sounds easy enough, but make sure you have acceptable ID before you leave your house. This is your driver’s license or passport, but other forms are also accepted. Check the list so that when you are prompted for the security check, you are good to go. Some people who live in states like Arizona, Colorado, and Maryland can use their Apple phone to store their ID card and use it at certain airports. At many airports, you will be asked to insert your ID into one of the new credential authentication technology units. Check the list before you go.
4. Get TSA PreCheck
If you’re really tired of security lines at the airport, sign up for the TSA PreCheck program. This allows you to get through screening faster because you don’t have to take off your shoes, belts or jackets, and you can keep your laptops and approved liquids in your hand luggage. Subscription fees have been reduced from $85 to $78 for a 5-year subscription. You will need to complete an online application and bring certain documents to a TSA location in person. You will then receive a known traveler number if you are accepted. The process usually takes 3-5 days.
5. Request passenger assistance
If you are traveling with someone with a disability or medical condition, you can call the TSA Cares Helpline at least 72 hours before your flight to get answers to your questions about screening procedures. You can also get help at the checkpoint for travelers with special needs.
6. See something. Say something.
This saying has become quite common to all of us, but it is an important part of keeping travelers safe. Reporting suspicious activity keeps people safe while on the go.
7. Ask the TSA before you arrive
If you have any questions, ask the TSA before you arrive at the airport. You can do this on social media @AskTSA on Facebook or Twitter. A virtual assistant is available 24/7 and staff can help you from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST every day, including holidays and weekends. The TSA contact center can be reached on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and on weekends/holidays from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
8. Be nice
It’s the holiday season after all! Be nice to TSA employees, flight attendants, or airport employees who are there to make your vacation trip safe and easy. Traveling can be frustrating, but showing gratitude to those who help get you to your destination safely will go a long way.
To read more articles on making travel easier, check out: