TSA prepares for 200 million passengers during busiest summer travel season on record

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National Press Release
Wednesday, May 24, 2006

WASHINGTON — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today announced it has prepared its workforce and airport operations to ensure the highest levels of security and customer service for travelers this busy summer travel season. TSA also reminds travelers to plan ahead, using the resources available at www.tsa.gov, including travel tips, airport-by-airport wait times during peak hours, and a detailed list of prohibited items.

Officials from TSA, airports and major airlines anticipate 200 million air travelers nationwide during the peak summer travel period between the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. TSA is prepared for the summer travel season and is working with aviation industry partners to ensure passengers have a positive travel experience.

“This will be one of the busiest travel seasons on record and TSA will be ready,” said Kip Hawley, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for TSA. “Our team has been preparing for the summer and our Security Officers look forward to adding a friendly but serious level of security for summer travelers.”

Passenger preparedness for the security process has a significant impact at the checkpoint. TSA Security Officers intercept more than 1.2 million prohibited items each month, including approximately 30,000 lighters a day, the volume of which results in delays for every passenger at the security checkpoint. Eighty percent of prohibited items surrendered at security checkpoints are lighters.

“Summer travel is a team sport, involving TSA, airlines, airports and passengers,” said Hawley. “Working together, we will anticipate peak traffic and be ready for the traveling public. Travelers can save time by leaving prohibited items such as lighters at home.”

Despite increased summer air travel, peak wait times at the busiest airports in the country generally remain consistent during summer months. TSA’s mission is security, and the agency intends to maintain reasonable wait times without compromising security. TSA is aggressively staffing for the summer travel season and transitioning from centralized to local hiring to give airports more flexibility to prepare for summer travel volumes.

TSA reminds passengers to:

Handle prohibited items properly. Remember that lighters, firearms, ammunition and knives are prohibited at the passenger checkpoint. Pocketknives and self-defense sprays and other potential weapons also are prohibited. Go to the TSA Web site at www.tsa.gov for a complete list of prohibited items.

Fireworks. All fireworks are explosive materials and are dangerous and they are not permitted in checked or carry-on baggage.

Be prepared for screening. To maximize efficiency at the security checkpoint avoid wearing clothing or shoes with metal and stow all metal items in your carry-on luggage. Travelers may also consider if shoes are time-consuming to remove when getting ready to travel.

Bring a small bag to be placed in your carry-on luggage for your loose change, jewelry, cell phone and anything else that may alarm the metal detector.

When approaching the checkpoint at most airports, an airline employee or contractor will ask passengers for a boarding pass and a government-issued identification. Please keep the boarding pass out and available throughout screening, although you can put your id away.

Be flexible. Not all trips through the checkpoint will be exactly the same because of TSA’s layered screening approach, which includes an element of unpredictability that is easy for passengers to navigate but difficult for terrorists to manipulate. Remember, screener activities are designed to protect you, your family and loved ones, and are not meant to be inconvenient.

Security is serious. Belligerence, inappropriate jokes and threats are not tolerated. Jokes and/or comments about threats to passengers or the aircraft will be taken seriously and can result in criminal or civil penalties for the passenger.

Prepare before leaving for the airport. Travel tips for parents, persons with special needs and the general public, lists of prohibited items and much more can be found on the TSA Web site at www.tsa.gov. You may be surprised at how much easier the airport experience is if you know what to expect.

For more information on TSA, please see our Web site at www.tsa.gov.