WASHINGTON — 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 Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), TSA typically sees approximately 33,500 passengers per day come through the checkpoint, but during the peak summer travel days this year, up to 41,000 passengers per day are expected to be screened. At Washington Dulles International Airport, TSA typically screens 25,000 passengers at checkpoints on a daily basis, yet this year during the peak summer travel days, up to 35,000 travelers are expected through the checkpoints.
Some of the busiest days this summer are expected to be the days leading up to and immediately after major holidays such as the Fourth of July and Labor Day, however most days between now and Labor Day Weekend will seem like holiday time with the increase in passengers expected throughout the summer. As a result, the checkpoints at DC-area airports are fully-staffed for the busy summer travel season.
Travelers are requested 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. Travelers should expect a line at the check-in counter, at the car rental desks and at the checkpoint during the summer season.
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, which saw more than 3.77 million passengers than the same period last year. In addition to spring break, many airport single-day screening records have already been broken in the first few months of the year.
Last year TSA announced the roll-out of enhanced security screening procedures at all airports, that requires travelers to remove all personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone (laptops, e-readers, tablets, cameras) from their carry-on bags to place in checkpoint bins, and for many travelers, this summer may be the first time that they are experiencing this new protocol.
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 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.