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57th Presidential Inauguration Travel Tips

Significant Travel Days

Visitors from around the country will come together in Washington, D.C. Monday, January 21 for the public swearing-in ceremony of President Barack Obama. An inaugural parade and a number other events will follow to honor the elected President of the United States.

Inaugural events throughout the four-day weekend will draw huge crowds. Getting around the region will be especially challenging as the Presidential Inauguration falls on the weekend of scheduled events celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.   

All event attendees will be subject to thorough security screening. TSA will deploy metal detectors and 675 Transportation Security Officers to screen attendees for inaugural venues. Please allow for additional time and be aware of prohibited items. TSA canine teams will also supplement security for event attendees traveling by mass transit.

Heightened Security

Airport security at Washington, D.C. regional airports — Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) — will be heightened during inaugural festivities. 

The Department of Homeland Security’s If You See Something, Say Something campaign encourages passengers to report suspicious behaviors and packages to proper law enforcement authorities.  

Increased Passenger Volume

TSA is staffed to meet the need of increased passenger volume at checkpoints without compromising security for this national event. Travelers should especially be prepared for crowds and congestion on Tuesday, January 22, the day following the Presidential Inauguration.

Before You Head to the Airport

  • Check in for your flight online and print your boarding pass before coming to the airport.
  • Before checking out and departing your hotel, check with your airline to ensure your flight is on schedule. Some hotels may offer extended check-out times at no additional charge.
  • Rebooking flights will be easier to do on the phone or online versus waiting in line at the airport ticket counter. This is especially true during inclement weather.
  • Arrive at the airport between two and four hours before your flight. Arriving too early could contribute to unnecessary crowding, while arriving too late could jeopardize your flight plans.

Getting Through Security Faster

TSA Pre✓™: This program prescreens individuals – traveling on participating airlines out of select airports – who volunteer information about themselves prior to flying in order to potentially expedite the screening experience. At the checkpoint, participants may receive screening benefits including leaving on shoes, light jackets and belts.

Here are ways you may be eligible to participate:

  • Certain airline's frequent travelers may login to their airline's online profile to opt-in to TSA Pre✓™. Check with your airline to confirm eligibility.
  • Active members of the U.S. Military may present their "CAC" card at the checkpoint for access to the TSA Pre✓™ screening lane. No special enrollment is required.
  • Passengers participating in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) "Global Entry” are also eligible. Simply enter your trusted traveler PASS ID information when booking airline travel. Click here to learn more and to apply.

Screening for Passengers 12 and Under and 75 and Older: TSA has standard screening procedures that reduce, though not eliminate, pat-downs for passengers 12 and under and 75 and older to resolve alarms. Passengers in these age groups are also able to leave their shoes on through security checkpoints.

TSA Cares Helpline: Travelers with disabilities or medical conditions may call 1-855-787-2227 toll free with questions about screening policies and procedures, as well as, what to expect at the security checkpoint. When a passenger calls TSA Cares, a representative will provide assistance either with information that is relevant to the passenger’s specific need or the passenger may be referred to disability experts at TSA.

The 3-1-1 Policy for Liquids, Gels, and Aerosols: Liquid explosives still pose a threat and for that reason TSA limits the amount of liquids passengers can safely carry through security checkpoints. This limitation applies only to carry-on bags. Larger quantities of liquids, gels, and aerosols can be safely packed in checked baggage.

Here are the rules:

  • 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less for all liquids, gels and aerosols; placed in a
  • 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag to hold all small bottles;
  • 1 bag per passenger placed in a screening bin

Larger quantities of breast milk/baby formula and medically necessary liquids are permitted but must be presented to an officer for further inspection. For more information on traveling with medically necessary liquids, click here.

Items that are purchased after the security checkpoint have been prescreened and can be taken on the plane.

Traveling with Food or Gifts: Not sure if you can bring that souvenir through the checkpoint? You should put liquid, aerosol and gel items in your checked bag, ship ahead, or leave at home if they are above the permitted 3.4 oz.

While wrapped gifts are not prohibited, if a bag alarms our security officers may have to unwrap a gift to take a closer look inside. We recommend passengers wrap gifts after their flight or ship them ahead of time, to avoid the possibility of having to open them during the screening process.

Please note that items purchased after the security checkpoint have been prescreened and can be taken on the plane.

Latest revision: 16 January 2013