KALISPELL, Mont. – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in Montana predicts that summer 2019 will be the busiest on record with an average increase of 9% in the number of travelers who will depart Montana’s four largest airports between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Based on departing passenger projections developed in conjunction with all of the airlines that provide commercial air service in Montana, Bozeman-Yellowstone International Airport will see the highest number of departing passengers with approximately 26,500 per week during the summer months. This is a projected increase of 9% over last summer’s volumes.
Missoula International Airport will screen an average of 16,800 departing passengers a week, an increase of 11%. Glacier Park International Airport expects to screen about 16,000 passengers per week for a 12% year-over-year increase and Billings International Airport will screen approximately 12,000 departing passengers a week for an increase of 4%.
So far in 2019, all of Montana’s airports have seen an average increase of 11% in departing passengers over last year. Over the past two years, dating to 2017, Montana’s airports have experienced a 21% increase in the number of departing passengers screened.
Montana is a popular destination for tourists during the summer months, leading airlines to utilize larger aircraft with increased passenger capacity in several Montana airports. In addition, airlines have added more flights to further meet the needs of travelers flying in and out of Montana.
To help travelers plan ahead, the busiest day of the week during the summer months at Montana’s airports is Saturday. The busiest time blocks at TSA security checkpoints in Montana are projected to be:
- 4:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m.
- 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
At all Montana airports, TSA opens airport security checkpoints no later than 4 a.m. TSA will ensure staff and security resources are in place to screen departing travelers. This will include utilizing overtime as needed to extend the shifts of checkpoint security staff to ensure passengers are screened as efficiently as possible.
Due to the high volume of travelers, TSA strongly advises people to arrive at the airport two hours prior to flight departure to ensure there is plenty of time to complete each step of the airport arrival, check-in, security process and flight departure process.
While TSA concentrates on aviation security, passengers can assist by coming to the airport prepared. Here are some helpful travel tips to make the security checkpoint experience go smoothly during the holidays – and throughout the year:
- Unpack your bag before you pack it – at home. By unpacking your bag fully and re-packing it before coming to the airport, you will avoid bringing items to the airport that are prohibited past the security checkpoint. This includes knives; firearms, firearm parts and ammunition; stun guns; and martial arts items. Use the “What Can I Bring” feature available on the TSA.gov website to help determine if an item is allowed in a carry-on bag or if it needs to be checked.
- Dress for security screening. Simplify your screening experience by avoiding bulky jewelry, scarves, hair accessories and large belt buckles since these types of items are likely to require additional screening. Wear slip-on shoes to save time. Remember to remove all items from your pockets and secure them in your carry-on bag.
- Standard screening preparation. In the standard screening lanes (non-TSA Pre✓® lanes), organize your carry-on bag so electronics larger than a cell phone can be quickly and easily accessed when at the security checkpoint. All electronic devices larger than a cell phone should be placed in bins for x-ray screening with nothing on top or below, similar to how laptops have been screened for several years. Also, in the standard screening lanes, remove the bag of travel-size liquids, gels and aerosols. Ensure they can also be accessed quickly and easily. When screened through a TSA Pre✓® lane, keep all of these items in your carry-on luggage.
- AskTSA on social media. Question about what you can bring through the security checkpoint? Tweet or Message AskTSA weekdays from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. MDT and weekends and holidays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. MDT.