TSA, airport officials provide Thanksgiving travel outlook for SLC

Local Press Release
Tuesday, November 19, 2019

SALT LAKE CITY – Officials with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) announced Tuesday that they are prepared for an 8% increase in travelers departing SLC in the days leading up to and immediately following the Thanksgiving holiday.

At airports across the country, TSA projects it will screen a record breaking number of flyers this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday travel period. An estimated 26.8 million people will go through security checkpoints from Friday, Nov. 22 through Monday, Dec. 2. This is a four percent increase over 2018 Thanksgiving holiday travel volumes.

For the past few years, TSA nationally has noticed a marked change in Thanksgiving travel patterns and that trend is expected to continue this year. Instead of waiting for the day before Thanksgiving to travel, people are beginning their travels the week prior to Thanksgiving and many people have planned their return travel on the Sunday or Monday after Thanksgiving.  

The travel pattern at SLC is no different. TSA projects that the holiday rush will begin Friday, Nov. 22 when more than 25,000 departing travelers will be screened through the security checkpoints that day. The next surge in travelers will occur Wednesday, Nov 27 when TSA estimates 29,000 people will depart SLC.

The busiest day of the Thanksgiving travel season will be Sunday, Dec. 1 when TSA projects more than 30,000 travelers will be screened through the security checkpoint. Current projections suggest that more than 25,000 people will depart on Monday, Dec. 2. The lightest travel day of the period will be Thanksgiving Day when fewer than 14,000 people are expected to depart SLC. On average throughout the year, approximately 25,000 departing travelers are screened each day at SLC.

While TSA concentrates on aviation security operations, travelers can assist by coming to the airport prepared. Here are some helpful travel tips to make the security checkpoint experience go smoothly during the holidays – and throughout the year:

  • Know what to expect at the airport. The busiest times at the security checkpoints at SLC are 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. with highest volume of passengers expected from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and again 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. There is usually an afternoon rush from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Arrive early. During the peak holiday travel rush, arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to your flight departure to ensure adequate time to be screened through the security checkpoint. By arriving early, you should arrive at your gate with time to spare.
  • Dress for security screening. Simplify your experience by avoiding bulky jewelry, scarves, hair accessories and large belt buckles since these types of items are likely to require additional screening. Remember to remove all items from your pockets and secure them in your carry-on bag before being screened at the security checkpoint.
  • Use gift bags instead of wrapping paper. Wrapped items are screened just like any other item. If a wrapped item alarms the security screening technology in carry-on or checked luggage, a TSA officer may have to unwrap it to determine what the item is. Consider traveling with unwrapped items or placing them in a gift bag for easy access and resolution.
  • Traveling with foods. Baked goods and other solid foods are allowed in carry-on luggage. This includes breads, cookies, candies and meats. However, jams, jellies, sauces, gravies or other liquids need to be in quantities of 3.4 ounces (100 ml) or less to travel in your carry-on. Anything over 3.4 ounces needs to be placed in a checked bag.
  • Organize your carry-on bag. Electronics larger than a cell phone should be easily and quickly accessible. For non-TSA PreCheck passengers, 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.
  • Travel-size liquids reminder. Remove travel-size liquids, gels and aerosols (3.4 ounces or less) from carry-on luggage. Ensure they can be quickly and easily accessed. Any quantities larger than 3.4 ounces should be placed in checked baggage.
  • AskTSA on social media. Question about what you can bring through the security checkpoint? Tweet or Message AskTSA weekdays from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. MST and weekends and holidays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. MST.
  • 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.

As a reminder, public awareness is a critical element of our security efforts. Travelers are encouraged to report suspicious activities. Remember: “If You See Something, Say Something™.”