DULLES, Va. – The number of passengers expected to fly this summer season is expected to be the highest in years with more than 2.5 million passengers per day expected to pass through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints through Labor Day.
The past two consecutive weeks have seen the number of passengers and crew members screened set records nationwide. The week of June 25 to July 1 set the all-time high record of 17,089,533 passengers and crew members screened. It bested the previous week of June 18 to 24, 2017, when 16,598,058 passengers were screened at checkpoints nationwide. So now the two previous weeks rank numbers one and two in the number of passengers and crew members screened in the history of TSA.
TSA is prepared for the summer travel season, with peak travel period having kicked off on the Memorial Day holiday and extending through August. So far the busiest travel day of the summer was on June 30, the Friday before Independence Day, when TSA experienced its third busiest day ever, with 2,647,714 passengers and crew screened. This year all summer days will seem like holiday time with the increase in passengers expected throughout the summer.
Last week, TSA at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport screened 240,862 passengers and crew; Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport screened 256,226; and Washington Dulles International Airport screened 240,621 passengers and crew. That’s nearly three-quarters of a million people who flew out of the three main airports in the region in one week.
Through the TSA Airport Operations Center and in coordination with airport and airline partners, TSA aims to maintain effective and efficient security operations at checkpoints nationwide during the busy travel season. The center tracks daily screening operations, rapidly addresses any issues that arise, and deploys personnel, canine teams and technology where needed. This summer, nationwide, 50 more passenger canine teams are in use compared to last summer, and 2,000 more TSA officers are working this year compared to last year.
“As we hit the summer season, securing the travel of millions of passengers daily remains our top priority,” said TSA Acting Administrator Huban A. Gowadia. “It is well known that terrorists continue to focus on aviation, which is why TSA continues to focus on providing robust security screening. TSA takes many security measures, seen and unseen, while working closely with industry partners such as airlines and airports to enhance the traveling experience and ensure every passenger arrives to their destination safely.
“TSA is tasked with a complex, critical security mission that can only be accomplished through close collaboration with stakeholders and partners. We will not compromise our security mission of protecting air travelers as we face an evolving threat by a determined enemy,” she said.
The best way to ensure a quick trip through the security screening process is to prepare, prepare, prepare because there will be tens of thousands of people flying out of the Washington region daily.
Passenger preparedness can have a significant impact on wait times at security checkpoints nationwide. To facilitate the security screening process, travelers should arrive at the airport early. It is recommended that travelers arrive two hours in advance of their domestic flight and three hours prior to an international flight to ensure that they have time to park their cars or return rental cars, check their bags with their airline, get their boarding pass and hit the restroom—all before heading to the security checkpoint.
Some helpful tools and travel tips for the airport security checkpoint include:
- Apply for TSA Pre✓® or other trusted travel programs like Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI. To find the trusted traveler program that best suits your travel needs, use the DHS trusted traveler comparison tool. These programs help improve security and provide a more convenient travel experience by affording travelers access to TSA Pre✓® expedited screening lanes. Travelers using the TSA Pre✓® lane do not need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets at more than 180 U.S. airports. Find the program that best suits your travel needs. To get additional information about TSA Pre✓®, visit the frequently asked questions page on the TSA website.
- Tweet or Message AskTSA. Issues receiving TSA Pre✓® on your boarding pass? Unsure if an item is allowed through security? Get live assistance by tweeting your questions and comments to @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on weekends/holidays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can also reach the Contact Center at 866-289-9673.
- Prepare for security when packing. Put large liquids, gels, creams and aerosols such as shampoo, conditioner, suntan lotion, shaving cream and anti-perspirant into checked bags. If you’ve only got a carry-on bag, make sure all of your liquids follow the 3-1-1 rule outlined below. And it’s important to make sure that you’ve got no prohibited items in your luggage. Check TSA’s website feature “What can I bring?” at www.tsa.gov. Type in an item and find out immediately if you can bring it in your carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither.
- Follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule for your carry-on bag. When packing a carry-on bag, it is important to remember that liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces or less and all bottles must fit in a single quart size plastic bag and be placed in a bin for screening. This includes sun block and tanning sprays. Let the TSA officer know right away if you’re traveling with larger quantities of medically necessary liquid medications or breast milk or formula for an infant.
- Be ready when you enter the checkpoint line: Have an acceptable ID and boarding pass out of your wallet and ready to hand to the TSA officer. Once you get to the divesting tables, remove large electronics including laptops and the 3-1-1 compliant liquids bag from carry-on baggage.
- Consider minimizing items that you wear to the airport such as bulky jewelry, scarves, hair accessories, large belts and other bulky items as these articles are likely to require additional screening. Remove all items from your pockets and put them into one of your carry-on bags so you won’t lose them.
- Check the bins: Equally important, travelers are reminded to check the bins when collecting all belongings after going through screening and before leaving the checkpoint screening area. Often, travelers leave behind laptops, cameras, phones and loose change.
- The TSA Contact Center is available to answer questions by email and phone at 866-289-9673. Staff is available from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekends/holidays; and an automated service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Call TSA Cares. Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and/or medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll free at 855-787-2227 at least 72 hours prior to flying with any questions about screening policies, procedures and to find out what to expect at the security checkpoint as well as arrange for assistance at the checkpoint.
As a reminder, public awareness is key for supporting TSA’s security efforts. Travelers are encouraged to report suspicious activities, and remember, If You See Something, Say Something™. For individuals traveling abroad, please check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Know Before You Go page to learn about required documentation.