NORFOLK, Va. – This is shaping up to be the busiest summer travel season ever for the high volume of passengers and crew members screened at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints nationwide. With that in mind, TSA Officer Christine DaSilveira from Norfolk International Airport, who has worked for the agency since 2007, is sharing some tips on what TSA officers want travelers to know about going through a checkpoint.
For starters, DaSilveira recommends travelers know what they can and cannot bring in their carry-on and checked bags before they leave home. “Some items are allowed in a checked bag, but not permitted in a carry-on bag because items in a checked bag are not accessible to passengers during flights.” For example, a pocket knife is allowed in a checked bag, but not in a carry-on bag. She recommends that travelers take advantage of several methods of finding out if an item is permitted in a checked bag, carry-on bag, either or neither, which includes the “Can I bring?” feature on www.tsa.gov, the same feature on the free downloadable “MyTSA” app, or via social media by seeking the answer via Twitter at @AskTSA and via Facebook Messenger. “These extra tools, especially the web site and the MyTSA app, are an excellent resource to get answers to most questions that passengers may have about their travel.”
DaSilveira recommends passengers arrive at the airport two hours prior to a scheduled domestic flight or three hours prior to an international flight. “This allows enough time to park your car or return a rental car, then wait in line to print a boarding pass and check a bag before you even get into the checkpoint line.”
Once individuals arrive at the airport for their flight, they should “know what concourse you are flying out of because otherwise, you may find yourself waiting in a checkpoint line only to be told that you need to go to a different concourse and stand in that line.” DaSilveira reminds travelers to read the signs that are posted at checkpoints to make sure they are in the TSA Pre✓® lane if they are enrolled in TSA Pre✓®.
In addition to reading the checkpoint signs, DaSilveira reminds travelers that it is important to listen to the instructions and guidance provided by the TSA officers who are at the checkpoint. “We are often providing people with reminders, or sometimes we spot an item in a passenger’s pocket that they have forgotten to remove. If we can point that out before they alarm the scanner, then we may eliminate the need to conduct a pat-down.”
DaSilveira also stresses the importance of being prepared when travelers reach the TSA ticket document checking podium. Have the boarding pass and ID in hand when stepping up to the podium. That’s not the time to fumble for a wallet to pull out an ID. It should be out and ready to hand to the TSA officer, she says. DaSilveira also points out that if traveling with a mobile boarding pass, it is important to keep in mind that sometimes the Wi-Fi signal at a checkpoint isn’t strong enough to call up the mobile boarding pass on the phone, so she suggests getting the electronic boarding pass on the phone’s screen prior to entering the checkpoint queue. She also points out that it is often helpful to print out a copy of the boarding pass, even if planning to use the mobile pass so you’ve got an additional back-up copy.
All personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone need to be removed from carry-on bags to allow for a good clear x-ray image to ensure that nobody has tampered with the device to conceal something inside. This includes laptops, tablets (i.e., iPads), e-readers (i.e., Kindles and Nooks), Bluetooth speakers and camera bodies. Failing to do so will mean that the carry-on bag being pulled for a bag search will extend the time travelers spend at the checkpoint. She adds another tip: “When removing electronics from carry-on bags, there should be nothing above or below each one when placed in the bin so we can get a good clear x-ray image to make sure there is nothing hidden inside,” she says.
Individuals who are enrolled in TSA Pre✓® should be sure that they have provided their known traveler number to their airline, she says. It’s important to check that the TSA Pre✓® indication is printed on the boarding pass. If not, travelers should go to the airline check-in counter to ensure that the airline has their known traveler number associated with the TSA Pre✓® membership in the computer system so the indicator will be printed on the boarding pass.
Lastly, DaSilveira recommends that travelers with a health condition, medical device or other reason who don’t know what to expect at the checkpoint may want to call the TSA Cares Line 72-hours in advance of their flight at 855-787-2227 to ask some specific questions about their specific situation. Travelers also can request assistance from a TSA Passenger Support Specialist who can connect with the individual to guide him/her through the checkpoint, she says.