TSA in the Bay Area prepared for busiest summer travel season on record

Local Press Release
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

SAN JOSE, Calif. - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the Bay Area predicts summer 2019 will be the busiest on record with a 4% year-over-year increase in the number of departing travelers screened at the three local airports. The 4% increase locally mirrors what TSA is projecting nationwide between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

TSA works closely with airlines to develop projected passenger volumes. Based on those projections, TSA schedules staffing and other security resources accordingly to ensure that operations are efficient and can meet the needs of the traveling public.

“This summer we’re expecting to screen more than 2.7 million travelers nationwide on peak days,” said TSA Acting Deputy Administrator Patricia Cogswell. “Our dedicated transportation security officers, inspectors, air marshals, and support personnel will be working around the clock to ensure traveler security during this record breaking travel season.”

Currently, TSA estimates that among the three Bay Area airports, approximately 13.3 million departing passengers will be screened during the summer months, averaging 129,000 people per day. Last summer, 12.8 million, or an average of 124,000 people per day, were screened.

TSA estimates that an average of more than 84,500 travelers will be screened each day at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). At Mineta San Jose International Airport, TSA projects that an average of 23,500 travelers a day will be screened while at Oakland International Airport, an average of 22,000 travelers a day are predicted to be screened. Passenger volumes will build leading up to the Fourth of July holiday weekend and continue to increase through the second week of August.  

The busiest days for TSA at all local airports are projected to be Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. In general, the busiest times at all security checkpoints will be mornings from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and again mid-afternoons from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. At SFO, late night departures to international and domestic destinations will keep operations busy well into the evening and early morning hours.

During the summer months, TSA nationally expects to set new records for the highest number of travelers screened in a single day and in a single week. Nine of the top 10 busiest weeks in TSA’s history occurred during the 2018 summer season. Local airports could also set records based on current projections.

To support the summer surge, TSA has increased airport security staffing levels nationwide by more than 2,000 officers to meet operational demands; provided a 20% increase in overtime funds to allow greater scheduling flexibility during the busiest peak travel periods; and deployed additional passenger screening canine teams.

Due to the high volume of travelers this summer, TSA strongly advises people to arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to a domestic flight departure to ensure there is plenty of time to complete each step of the airport arrival, check-in, security screening, boarding 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 this summer 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; stun guns; self-defense items 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, large belt buckles and boots 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 – including cell phones - 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.
  • Enroll in TSA Pre✓®. It is not too late to enroll in TSA Pre✓® and enjoy the benefits of a streamlined security process at airports nationwide this summer. Travelers eligible for TSA Pre✓® can leave on their shoes, light outer wear and belt. They can also leave laptops and travel-size liquids, gels and aerosols in their carry-on bag for screening. Need another reason to enroll? In April 2019, 93% of travelers screened through a TSA Pre✓® lane waited five minutes or less to be screened through the security checkpoint. There are eight enrollment centers in the greater Bay Area. Learn more at tsa.gov/precheck.
  • AskTSA on social media. Question about what you can bring through the security checkpoint? Tweet or Message AskTSA weekdays from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PDT and weekends and holidays from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. PDT.