NEW YORK – The number of passengers expected to fly this holiday through LaGuardia, Newark Liberty International and John F. Kennedy International Airports is expected to be high and those travelers need to be well-prepared for arrival at the airport. Travelers are advised to arrive at the security checkpoint two hours before their domestic flight because the terminals will be active and congested.
Typically, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screens approximately 43,000 passengers on an average day at LaGuardia Airport. But on the busiest days leading up to and immediately after Christmas and New Year’s, TSA expects to screen upwards of 50,000 passengers and crew a day from the airport. For JFK International Airport, a typical day sees nearly 100,000 passengers and crew pass through the checkpoints, but on the busiest holiday travel days, that number will surpass 100,000; and at Newark Liberty International Airport, a typical weekday has 60,000 passengers and crew members screened, but nearly 70,000 are likely to come to the airport during the busy holiday season. This is exactly why it is important for passengers to arrive early and 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.
TSA checkpoints across the country will be fully staffed and TSA officers will continue to deploy layers of security, both seen and unseen, to ensure the safety of the traveling public.
The TSA Modernization Act, enacted by Congress, requires TSA to limit the use of TSA Pre✓® lanes to only individuals with “known traveler numbers.” As such, passengers who are not enrolled in TSA Pre✓® are less likely to have a TSA Pre✓® indication on their boarding pass and will not receive the benefits of the program.
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 more than 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.
- Passengers traveling with gifts should use gift bags or plan to wrap the gifts upon arrival instead of tr
aveling with pre-wrapped gifts. If TSA officials are unable to determine that the contents of a wrapped gift are safe for a flight, the wrapping paper will need to be removed. Placing presents in gift bags make it much easier to peek inside to ensure that there is nothing prohibited being brought onto an airplane.
- 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 “What Can I Bring?” feature on the top right-hand corner of the web page.
- Download the free MyTSA app. The best thing about it is the “Can I bring” feature. Type in an item and it lets you know immediately if you should pack it in a checked or carry-on bag. It also can let you know if there is an airport delay and whether TSA Pre✓® lanes are available.
- Contact 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 December 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 Department of Motor Vehicles offices.