TSA prepared for busy spring break travel season in the Puget Sound region

Local Press Release
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

SEATTLE - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and Paine Field Airport (PAE) is prepared for a busy spring break travel season. Departing passenger volumes are projected to increase starting later this week with security checkpoint operations remaining busy through late April.

Nationwide, TSA projects to see a three percent increase in the number of passengers screened through its security checkpoints during the traditional spring break travel period. In order to handle the increased passenger volume on peak travel days, TSA locally and nationwide will be fully staffed, offering additional hours and overtime to TSA officers.

The increase in the number of departing passengers coincides with local school districts’ spring break vacation periods as well as a general increase the number of departing travelers. At SEA, to help travelers plan ahead, the busiest days are projected to be Thursdays and Fridays as well as Sundays and Mondays for the next month when the average number of departing passengers will be around 60,000 per day.

The busiest day of the 2019 spring break travel season at SEA this year is projected to be Friday, April 5 when TSA expects to screen more than 62,000 departing travelers. The busiest time blocks daily at all of SEA’s security checkpoints are projected to be:

4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m.

10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

TSA advises passengers to arrive at the airport two hours prior to a domestic flight departure and three hours prior to an international flight departure. During busy travel periods, each step of the airline travel process from parking, checking in and checking a bag, clearing security and arriving at the departure takes extra time. Airlines are routinely boarding domestic flights 40 minutes prior to flight departure, so planning ahead is key.

At PAE in Everett, Wash., the daily number of departing flights will increase to 24 on Sunday, March 31 when United Airlines starts commercial air service. TSA will be fully staffed and prepared to screen the increased number of travelers departing PAE.

Passengers play an important role in the security process. TSA has a variety of resources to help travelers simplify their travel experience and prepare for a smooth trip through the security checkpoint. Here are some helpful TSA tools and travel tips:

Unpack your bag before you pack it. By unpacking your bag fully at home, you will avoid bringing items to the airport that are not allowed past the security checkpoint. The most common prohibited items TSA officers see in carry-on luggage include items with a blade and liquids and gels in excess of 3.4 ounces or 100 ml.

Remove electronics larger than a cell phone from carry-on bag. Carry-on baggage screening procedures are in place in general screening lanes at all airports across the country including SEA. The procedures require travelers to place all electronic devices larger than a cell phone - including tablets, e-readers and camera - in bins for x-ray screening. The electronics should be placed in a bin with nothing on top or below, similar to how laptops have been screened for several years.

Remove 3-1-1 bag from carry-on. Travelers should remove their one-quart bag of travel-size liquids from their carry-on bag. Place the bag in a bin by itself for X-ray screening.

Eligible for TSA Pre✓®? At SEA, travelers can get to any gate from any security checkpoint. However, before heading to a security checkpoint, check your boarding pass to see if the words “TSA PreCheck” or “TSA PRE” are printed on it.  TSA operates dedicated TSA PreCheck lanes at security checkpoints 1 (south end of the airport) and 4 (located behind the Alaska Airlines ticketing area). TSA does not operate a dedicated TSA Pre✓® lane at PAE. However, eligible travelers will be allowed to leave on their shoes, belt and light outerwear during the security checkpoint screening process.

Tweet or Message “AskTSA.” Issues with receiving TSA Pre✓®? Unsure if an item is allowed through security in a carry-on bag? Get real-time assistance by contacting TSA on social media. Message or tweet questions or comments to AskTSA weekdays from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST and weekends from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. PST.

Call TSA Cares. Travelers or families of travelers with disabilities and/or medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll free at 855-787-2227 with any questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint as well as to arrange for assistance at the checkpoint. It is recommended to call at least 72 hours prior to traveling.

TSA has additional resources available to help travelers transport items on its website TSA.gov. Travelers can use the popular “Can I Bring?” feature on the TSA mobile app, myTSA, or visit tsa.gov.