CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The number of passengers expected to fly this summer out of Charlottesville and airports across the nation 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. Travelers flying from Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport need to be well prepared and need to get to the checkpoint at least 90 minutes before their domestic flight and 2 1/2 hours prior to their international flight as the airport will be active and congested.
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 July 7, 2019, the Sunday after the Independence Day holiday, screening a total of 2,795,014 passengers and crew members and anticipates having other record breaking days throughout the summer.
“Travelers need to come to the airport prepared for the screening process,” said TSA’s Southern Virginia Federal Security Director Robin “Chuck” Burke. “I recommend that passengers listen to the helpful guidance that the TSA officers are providing at the checkpoint to help ensure a smooth checkpoint experience.
“It is also a good idea for travelers to check that they do not have any prohibited items in their carry-on bags. If someone is unsure if an item should go in a checked or carry-on bag, they can tweet their question to @AskTSA or use Facebook Messenger,” he added.
Travelers should arrive early to the airport to ensure that they have ample time to account for traffic, parking and navigating through the terminal. 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 for Virginia residents to get a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license. 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. Virginia REAL ID-compliant cards are marked with a star in the upper right-hand portion of the card.
“Although REAL ID is optional in Virginia, we know that a lot of Virginians rely on their state-issued identification to travel and will want to obtain a REAL ID between now and October 2020,” said Richard D. Holcomb, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. “Coming to DMV with the right documents is the most important step in the process. Prepare yourself by visiting dmvNOW.com/REALID prior to your visit and you’ll have a successful trip to DMV.”
Some additional security-focused travel tips to keep in mind this summer:
- 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. Travelers can apply for TSA Pre✓® at many participating locations, including the Charlottesville DMV Customer Service Center. 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.