BUFFALO, N.Y. – The number of passengers expected to fly out of Western New York this summer is expected to be the highest in years with 263 million passengers and crew projected to pass through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints nationwide between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend – Thursday, May 23, through Tuesday, September 3. Travelers flying from Buffalo-Niagara International Airport need to be well prepared and need to get to the checkpoint two hours before their scheduled flight as the airport will be active and congested.
During the same summer timeframe last year, TSA screened more than 253 million passengers and crew. Last summer from the Thursday before Memorial Day through the Tuesday after Labor Day, TSA officers at Buffalo Niagara International Airport screened 887,278 passengers and crew members, which ranked 58 out of 427 airports.
TSA expects to screen over 4% - or 10 million - more passengers than last summer and has already set a new record for the highest number of passengers and crew screened in a single day. TSA experienced its busiest day ever on May 24, 2019, the Friday before Memorial Day, screening a total 2,792,525 passengers and crew members and anticipates having other record breaking days throughout the summer.
“Travelers are urged to be prepared for the screening process and listen to the guidance that the TSA officers are providing at the checkpoint,” said TSA’s Upstate New York Federal Security Director Bart R. Johnson. “TSA officers will be very focused on the security of travelers and in doing so, they will offer helpful guidance to passengers as they proceed through the screening process.”
Travelers should arrive early to the airport. It is recommended that passengers arrive two hours in advance of a domestic flight to ensure that they have ample time to account for traffic, parking and navigating through the airport. It is advisable to check-in for a flight ahead of time, either on the air carrier’s website or mobile app, to allow even more time to get through security and relax at the gate.
This summer is also the perfect time to get a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license because beginning October 1, 2020, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the United States. REAL ID-compliant cards are marked with a star in the upper portion of the card. New York also offers an enhanced driver’s license, which will also be accepted at airport checkpoints.
“From our perspective at TSA, REAL ID gives us another important tool in our security tool box,” Johnson said. “It improves the reliability and accuracy of state-issued identification documents and most importantly prevents and deters terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulent identification.”
“Do yourself a favor and apply for a REAL ID this summer, because next year you’re more likely to be caught up in the rush to get a REAL ID that could result in long lines at the DMV,” Johnson said.
Some additional security-focused travel tips to keep in mind:
- Apply for TSA Pre✓® or other trusted travel programs like Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI. To find the trusted traveler program that best suits your travel needs, use the DHS trusted traveler comparison tool. These programs help improve security and provide a more convenient travel experience by affording travelers access to TSA Pre✓® expedited screening lanes. Travelers using the TSA Pre✓® lane do not need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets if flying on more than 60 participating airlines departing 200 U.S. airports. To learn more about TSA Pre✓® visit the TSA Pre✓® page or the TSA Pre✓® Frequently Asked Questions page. For more information on the Department of Homeland Security’s four trusted traveler programs – including Global Entry and NEXUS – all of which provide TSA Pre✓® eligibility, visit dhs.gov.
- Issues receiving TSA Pre✓® on your boarding pass? Unsure if an item is allowed through security? Get live assistance by tweeting your questions and comments to @AskTSA or on Facebook Messenger on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on weekends/holidays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can also call the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673 from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekends/holidays; and an automated service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and/or medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll free at 855-787-2227 at least 72 hours prior to flying with any questions about screening policies, procedures and to find out what to expect at the security checkpoint as well as arrange for assistance at the checkpoint.