COLONIE, N.Y. — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is preparing for another record-breaking travel season this summer, as 243 million passengers and crew are projected to come through security checkpoints nationwide between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Last summer, TSA screened more than 239 million passengers and crew during the summer travel period, which included four of the top 10 busiest days in the agency’s history. It’s likely that some travel days this year may also break into the top 10 list.
At Albany International Airport, TSA sees approximately 4,500 passengers per day come through the checkpoint, but during the busiest summer travel days this year, 10 percent more passengers are expected to be screened with peak days exceeding 5,000 passengers. Thus, the top travel tip is to arrive at the airport 90 minutes to two hours before a scheduled flight, says TSA’s upstate New York Federal Security Director Bart R. Johnson.
“Some of the busiest days of the summer are expected to be the days leading up to and immediately after major holidays such as July Fourth and Labor Day, but most summer days will seem like holiday time with the increase in passengers expected throughout the summer,” Johnson said. As a result, the checkpoints at Albany are fully-staffed for the busy summer travel season.
“We ask that travelers to come prepared to go through the security screening process and to listen to the guidance that the TSA officers are providing as passengers enter the checkpoint,” he said. “The terror threat is real. We know that to a terrorist who wants to do harm, targeting airports and airlines is their gold standard. We need to stay ahead of that threat and our TSA officers will be very focused on the security of our travelers. Our goal is to get you to your destination safely and home safely, which is why we have our security protocols in place.”
TSA began planning with airline and airport partners to increase screening capabilities early this year. Several airports nationwide implemented additional resources during the 2018 spring break travel period. During spring break this year, several airports saw 3.77 million more passengers than last year during the same time period.
In addition to spring break, many airport single-day screening records have already been broken in the first few months of the year.
Even as TSA announced the roll-out of enhanced screening procedures at all airports, the TSA Airport Operations Center will continue to monitor wait times at checkpoints and identify trends to maintain effective and efficient security operations nationwide during the busy travel season. The center tracks daily screening operations, rapidly addresses any issues that arise, and deploys additional personnel, canine teams and technology where needed.
As a reminder, there are a few things that passengers can do to assist TSA with keeping wait times to a minimum this summer:
- Always check personal belongings/carry-ons for prohibited items before going to the airport.
- Arrive to the airport two hours prior to scheduled departure time if flying domestically; three hours for international flights.
- Listen carefully for TSA officer instructions on how to prepare for screening inside the TSA 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. These programs help improve security and provide an easier, 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 200 U.S. airports when traveling on 53 participating airlines.
- 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, weekdays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. You can also reach the Contact Center at 866-289-9673.
- Prepare for security. Have a valid ID and boarding pass readily available, and remove personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone (laptops, e-readers, tablets, cameras) and the liquids bag from your carry-on baggage. Avoid over packing your carry-on bag. Consider checking bags when feasible.
- Follow the liquids rule. Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces or less and all containers must fit inside a single quart-size plastic bag and be placed in a bin for carry-on baggage screening. This includes sun block and tanning lotions.
- 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.