TSA advises public to be prepared for busiest summer travel season on record at San Diego International Airport

Local Press Release
Wednesday, June 19, 2019

SAN DIEGO - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in San Diego is prepared for what is projected to be the busiest summer travel season ever when a record number of passengers will depart San Diego International Airport (SAN) between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

TSA continues to advise passengers departing SAN to arrive at least two hours prior to their scheduled flight departure in order to have time to park, check luggage, complete the security screening process and arrive at their gate. Since airlines routinely begin boarding flights 40 minutes prior to departure time, arriving early is key.

Nationally, TSA is projecting a 4% year-over-year increase in the number of travelers screened between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. TSA has already experienced its busiest day ever on Friday, May 24, 2019, when it screened 2,795,000 travelers. It anticipates setting additional single day records throughout the summer. Nine of the top 10 busiest weeks in TSA’s history occurred during the 2018 summer season.

Locally, TSA projects it will screen more than 4.1 million people this summer, a 7% increase over 2018 summer levels when 3.8 million people were screened at SAN. Last summer, TSA’s passenger screening volume at SAN ranked 18th out of 427 airports nationwide.

Two of TSA’s busiest days ever at SAN occurred last week. On Thursday, June 13, 2019, TSA screened a record 45,377 individuals.  The second busiest day ever was the next day, Friday, June 14,2019, when TSA screened 45,253 individuals. TSA at SAN expects to continue to set records throughout the summer with the busiest period expected to be in mid-July around Comic Con and continuing through mid-August.

The busiest days for TSA at SAN are projected to be Fridays and Mondays followed by Thursdays and Sundays. The busiest times each day will be 5 a.m. to 11 a.m., with the highest volume of travelers coming to the security checkpoint from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. and again 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. This is due to a concentrated number of flight departures during this period. Mid-afternoons and evenings will be busy, too.

The increase in the number of departing travelers is driven by an increased number of flights, new destinations and larger aircraft for some flights. San Diego has also become a favorite tourist destination for both domestic and international travelers.

To prepare for the summer travel season, TSA will utilize overtime to extend the shifts of TSOs and it has converted existing part-time employees to full-time status. TSA SAN will make every effort to staff all lanes in the security checkpoints during peak departure times in an effort to reduce security wait times. However, there may be time when the number of departing travelers exceeds the capacity of the checkpoints even with all lanes open, making it essential that travelers arrive early and prepared.

TSA will continue to use Passenger Screening Canines in and around security checkpoints as an additional layer of security. The canines are trained to detect explosives, which are the greatest threat to commercial aviation. TSA constantly evaluates its security posture and makes modifications to procedures to address an evolving threat and keep the traveling public secure.

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 in carry-on luggage. This includes knives; stun guns; self-defense and martial arts items. Use the “What Can I Bring” feature at TSA.gov 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 wearing slip-on shoes and avoid bulky jewelry and clothing, scarves, hair accessories and large belt buckles. These types of items may require additional screening. 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. Common examples of these devices include laptops, tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles. Also, in the standard screening lanes, remove your bag of travel-size liquids, gels and aerosols.
  • TSA Pre✓® screening preparation. TSA operates dedicated TSA Pre✓® lanes at checkpoints in Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. When screened through a TSA Pre✓® lane, there is no need to remove any items from your carry-on luggage. In addition, you do not need to remove your shoes, belts and light jackets.
  • 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. Need another reason to enroll? In May 2019, 92% of travelers screened through a TSA Pre✓® lane waited five minutes or less to be screened through the security checkpoint. There are three enrollment centers in the San Diego area - including one on-site at the airport. 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.