WASHINGTON - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today urged air travelers to plan ahead for air travel security procedures this holiday season. The agency expects heavy passenger volume throughout the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays.
To minimize delays, TSA has created a Holiday Checklist so passengers can prepare for the screening process. By following a few simple guidelines, travelers can help make passenger screening as efficient as possible.
"TSA's security officers' primary focus is ensuring the security of the traveling public," said Assistant Secretary Kip Hawley. "We're asking the traveling public to contribute to the effort and the Holiday Checklist is a great resource to use in planning your next trip."
Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) also emphasizes preparedness as the key to successful holiday travel.
"The typical busy travel seasons means passengers should be prepared and security-ready when they arrive at the airport," said ACI-NA president Greg Principato. "Passengers will have a better experience if they have important travel documents out, coats and jackets off, and carry-on items ready for inspection prior to reaching the security checkpoints."
A few other important items to note:
- TSA's checkpoint protocols require all passengers to remove outer coats and jackets for X-ray before proceeding through the metal detectors. That includes suit and sport coats, athletic warm-up jackets and blazers. If a jacket or blazer is being worn as the innermost garment – not over a blouse or sweater, for example – it does not have to come off.
- Passengers who attempt to take firearms and ammunition through the checkpoint in their carry-on luggage continue to be a problem. More than 3,000 firearms had been intercepted since TSA assumed responsibility for security at the nation's 450 airports in February 2002. Nationwide, ammunition is intercepted more than 2,000 times each month. All firearms and ammunition must be declared to airline ticket agents and properly stored in checked baggage.
- When traveling with children, a discussion in advance of airport security may be helpful. At the checkpoint, children will need to temporarily part with such things as blankets and stuffed animals, and older children need to know that any comment suggesting a threat to an aircraft or its passengers is taken seriously by TSA security officers.
Air travelers can help ensure the security process is smooth by following the Holiday Checklist available at www.tsa.gov. The website has a prohibited items list, advice for packing, and information on what types of jewelry, shoes or clothing may set off a metal detector. TSA has also partnered with airlines and airports to make the checklist available at airport ticket counters and on airline websites.
Other important TSA travel tips include:
- Travel with unwrapped gifts. If a wrapped gift sets off an alarm, TSA security officers will need to unwrap the gift to resolve the alarm.
- To minimize the risk of damage or loss, don't pack fragile or valuable items in checked baggage. Take them with you in carry-on baggage, or ship them to your destination instead.
- Put undeveloped film in carry-on baggage because equipment used to screen checked baggage will damage film. Also, high-speed and specialty film should not be put through X-ray machines, so passengers may ask security officers at the checkpoint to physically inspect film.
- Remember to put identification tags in and on all baggage including laptops.
- Everyone, even frequent fliers, should double check the contents of their pockets and bags, particularly carry-on luggage, to ensure no prohibited items were inadvertently packed.
- Don't over pack bags. If security officers have to open them, closing overstuffed bags can be difficult and may result in that checked bag being delayed until a later flight.
- If TSA security officers need to open a locked bag for inspection, they may have to break the lock. If you choose to lock your bag, we recommend using a TSA-approved lock, which has a locking system that enables security officers to open and relock the bag.