HARRISBURG – The number of passengers expected to fly this Thanksgiving holiday is expected to be record-breaking with more than 26.8 million passengers and crew members traveling through security screening checkpoints nationwide from Nov. 22 through Dec. 2. Travelers flying from Harrisburg 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.
TSA expects to screen up to 2,700 passengers per day at Harrisburg International Airport on the busiest days leading up to Thanksgiving. Typically, TSA screens closer to 2,000 passengers in an average day at Harrisburg. Within the last year, TSA screened an increase of 105,000 passengers from the previous year, which is why it is important for passengers to arrive two hours in advance of a domestic flight and three hours prior to an international 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.
TSA checkpoints at Harrisburg International Airport will be fully staffed and will continue to use layers of security, both seen and unseen by the traveling public.
While TSA concentrates on aviation security, passengers can assist by coming to the airport prepared. Below are some 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, travelers will avoid bringing items to the airport that are prohibited past the security checkpoint. This includes knives, power tools and tools over seven inches in length; stun guns; martial arts weapons and more.
- Make sure electronics are accessible. Travelers can organize their carry-on bag so electronics larger than a cell phone can be quickly and easily accessed when at the security checkpoint. All personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone should be placed in bins for X-ray screening with nothing on top or below, to allow for a clear X-ray image, similar to how laptops have been screened for several years.
- Contact TSA to find out what can go in a checked or carry-on bag. Reach out to @AskTSA on social media. Questions about what can be carried through a security checkpoint can be answered if the question is tweeted to @AskTSA or sent via Facebook Messenger AskTSA weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET and weekends and holidays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. Or visit www.tsa.gov any time of the day or night to access the “What Can I Bring?” feature on the top right-hand corner of the web page. Travelers can also download the free myTSA app, which also has the “What Can I Bring?” feature right at your fingertips.
- Call TSA Cares. Travelers or families of travelers with disabilities and/or medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll free at 855-787-2227 with any questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint as well as to arrange for assistance at the checkpoint. It is recommended to call at least 72 hours prior to traveling.
This fall is also the perfect time to get a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license because beginning October of 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.
Travelers are encouraged to get their REAL ID before the end of the year, because next year people are more likely to be caught up in the rush to get a REAL ID that could result in long lines at the DMV offices.
Pennsylvania residents have the option to upgrade to a REAL ID-compliant license or stick with a standard driver’s license when they get a new license at a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) office. However, a standard credential—without the star—will not be valid to board a domestic flight or to access secure federal facilities, including military bases and some federal offices.
Unsure if a REAL ID is right for you? PennDOT has an online tool that will help determine if a real ID is what you need.
To get the REAL ID star, individuals will need to visit their local PennDOT office in person and bring certain documents to prove U.S. citizenship and Pennsylvania residency. Required documents include one proof of identity, one proof of legal presence, two proofs of Pennsylvania residency, a social security card and a current driver’s license if you are applying to exchange one issued by another U.S. state. If you received your first Pennsylvania driver’s license, learner’s permit, or photo ID card after September 1, 2003, PennDOT may already have your REAL ID documentation on file. To find out if your required REAL ID documents are on file with PennDOT, apply for REAL ID pre-verification online. If PennDOT confirms that your documents are on file, you can order your REAL ID online without a need to visit a driver’s license center.
TSA has posted signs at airports nationwide to remind people that REAL ID-compliant licenses or other acceptable forms of ID, such as a valid passport, federal government PIV card or U.S. military ID, will be mandatory for air travel beginning on October 1, 2020. Critically important, on October 1, 2020, individuals who are unable to verify their identity will not be permitted to enter the TSA checkpoint and will not be allowed to fly.
For more information and details about how to obtain a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card in Pennsylvania, visit the PennDOT web site.