Busy travel days setting records at TSA checkpoints

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Six days this year break into TSA’s top 10 list
Local Press Release
Tuesday, July 3, 2018

WASHINGTON – The Friday before the Independence Day holiday was the second busiest day in the history of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) with more than 2.67 million travelers and crew members screened at checkpoints nationwide on June 29.

The week of June 24 to 30 was the single busiest week ever and the past three weeks combined to be the busiest 21-day stretch on record. So far this year, six days have broken into TSA’s top 10 busiest travel days of screening passengers and crew members at checkpoints nationwide with five of the six days recorded in June and the sixth coming in May.

TSA’s top 10 list of busiest days screening passengers at checkpoints nationwide

RankDatePassengers + Crew ScreeningCircumstances
1Nov. 28, 20042,713,864Sunday after Thanksgiving
2June 29, 20182,677,144Friday before  Fourth of July
3June 22, 20182,668,474It was a high-volume Friday
4Nov. 19, 20042,652,347Friday of the week before Thanksgiving
5June 30, 20172,647,852Friday of Fourth of July Weekend
6June 25, 20182,643,635It was a high-volume Monday
7Nov. 29, 20042,642,566Monday after Thanksgiving
8June 24, 20182,642,506It was a high-volume Sunday
9June 21, 20182,639,988It was a high-volume Thursday
10May 25, 20182,632,505Friday before Memorial Day Weekend

So this summer, after you snag a good online airfare and before you get buckled into that middle seat on the aircraft, you and your belongings are going to need to get through TSA’s security screening process. Below are the top five tips to make your summer trip through the checkpoint go smoothly.

TSA Tip #1: Get to the airport early.

It’s one of the most popular times of the year for air travel, and there is likely to be more traffic on the roads surrounding the airport, so it will take longer to get to the terminal. It will take longer to park a car and longer to return a rental car. The lines will be longer at airline check-in counters. And of course, the lines will be longer at the checkpoints because airplanes are fully booked and more people are looking to get away for their summer vacations. It’s one of the peak travel seasons and it’s important to remember that you aren’t the only one who wants to fly during the summer. Plan to arrive two hours before a domestic flight and three hours prior to an international flight out of a major airport.

TSA Tip #2: Use your time in the checkpoint line wisely.

While in the checkpoint line, finish your beverage. Consider bringing the empty bottle through the checkpoint to fill at a water fountain or water filling station on the secure side of the terminal.  Doing so will save you a few dollars on bottled water once you head toward your departure gate.

While in the checkpoint line, get out your boarding pass and ID. Have them in hand when stepping up to the podium and have each person in your travel group present her/his own boarding pass and ID. When traveling with small children, the parent or guardian should present her/his own boarding pass and ID and afterward present the boarding pass for each child.

While in the checkpoint line, start to empty everything from your pockets and put those items inside your carry-on bag so that when you step up to the conveyor belt to divest your belongings into bins, you will have a head start before stepping into the scanner. The Advanced Imaging Technology scanners detect both metallic and non-metallic items between the clothing and skin. That means the machines can detect non-metallic items tucked inside pockets such as tissues, wallets, mints, driver’s licenses and passports. So be sure to remove everything from your pockets.

Remember, there is a new security checkpoint protocol that is in place. It requires that you remove all personal electronic devices larger than your cell phone to be placed in a checkpoint bin with nothing above it or below it so that TSA can get a clear X-ray image of these items (e.g., laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, etc.). So while you are in line, prepare to remove large personal electronic devices from your carry-on bags.

Transportation Security Officer

TSA Tip #3: Pack smart—don’t bring along any prohibited items.

If you are unsure whether an item can be carried through a checkpoint, there are several ways to find out. You can:

  • Visit www.tsa.gov and in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage, click on “What can I bring?” Type in the item and you will find out immediately if it should be packed in a carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither.
  • Download the free MyTSA app, which also has the same “What can I bring?” feature.
  • Tweet a photo of the item or the name of the item to @AskTSA. TSA’s Twitter team will let you know if the item should go in a carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither. Live assistance is available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET daily.
  • Use Facebook Messenger to ask about an item at fb.com/AskTSA. Live assistance is available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET daily.
  • Call the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673. Automated information is available anytime in several languages. Representatives are available 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET weekdays; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekends and holidays.
This is a box of prohibited items that have been detected at an airport checkpoint.

TSA Tip #4: Remember that there is a limit on the size of liquids, gels and aerosols permitted to be carried through a checkpoint, known as the 3-1-1 rule.

Each passenger may carry liquids, gels and aerosols in travel-size containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less. Each passenger is limited to one quart-size bag of liquids, gels and aerosols. So the 3-1-1 rule stands for 3.4 ounces, one quart-size bag, one bag per person. So make sure that your suntan lotion is 3.4 ounces or smaller if you want to bring it through a checkpoint. Larger liquids, gels and aerosols can still fly as long as they are placed in a checked bag. If you are unsure if an item is defined as a liquid, gel or aerosol, the basic rule of thumb is that if you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it, then it needs to comply with the 3-1-1 rule.

TSA’s 3-1-1 rule means liquids, gels and aerosols must be 3.4 ounces or less and fit in a one-quart size bag, one bag per person.

TSA Tip #5: Remove all personal electronic items larger than a cell phone from your carry-on bag and place them in a bin.

Terrorists know how to artfully conceal explosive devices inside electronics, so to enable TSA to get a clear X-ray image of electronics, please remove all personal electronic items larger than a cell phone from your carry-on bag and place them in a bin with nothing above them and nothing below them. This allows for a better X-ray image of the items and also allows for a better X-ray image of everything else that is in the carry-on bag.

BONUS Tip #6:  If you left something behind at the checkpoint, don’t panic. TSA has a Lost & Found Program.

It is not uncommon for travelers to accidentally leave personal items at checkpoints. If you think you may have left an item at the checkpoint, log onto TSA’s website and type in the airport name or code. You will be provided with a telephone number to leave a detailed message to include your name, contact information, the date you traveled, the terminal (if you know it), your flight information and of course a detailed description of the lost item. TSA will contact you to let you know if your item was turned in and if so, how to get it back. Items can be picked up or shipped. If you think you may have left your item in the airport terminal, contact the airport. Or if you think you left it on an airplane, contact the airline.