SANTA BARBARA, California - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is alerting travelers who have plans to fly out of Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA) in the coming days and weeks, to allow plenty of time for security screening and arrive at the security checkpoint prepared. This advisement is being given because current travel projections for the summer indicate that the number of travelers departing the airport will equal, and likely exceed, volumes seen in 2019, which was one of the busiest on record for TSA operations.
“Santa Barbara is a prime destination for travelers year round, and this summer is no exception. The recent reopening of the country and easing of pandemic restrictions, combined with the public’s desire to travel, has resulted in a significant uptick in the number of people departing SBA,” said TSA Federal Security Director Anita Minaei who oversees TSA operations at SBA. “Because we anticipate that the volume of travelers will remain high throughout the summer, we are asking passengers to arrive at the airport early. Coming prepared will help TSA deliver the most effective security in the most efficient manner.”
National passenger throughput trends over the past few months have shown sustained travel volumes. In the month of April and May, TSA screened at least 1 million departing travelers at airports nationwide every day. That number continued to steadily increase in June when TSA screened more than 2 million travelers on multiple days. Over the five-day, Fourth of July holiday weekend, TSA screened 10.1 million people at airports across the country.
Passenger screening volumes at SBA are currently more than 125% of 2019 volumes, and are expected to increase throughout the summer months. When compared to other airports across the country, SBA’s current recovery rate ranks 16th nationwide.
The busiest times at the TSA security checkpoint at SBA are 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The busiest days to travel are Thursdays and Fridays as well as Sundays and Mondays.
These peaks are driven by the flight departure schedules determined by the airlines. When there is a concentrated number of flight departures over a short period of time, there will be intervals when the number of departing passengers could exceed the capacity of the TSA security checkpoint at SBA.
Additionally, new airlines are providing service out of SBA and legacy airlines have increased the number of departing flights. In addition, some airlines are flying larger aircraft on some routes, increasing the number of travelers who need to be screened during peak times. This is why it is essential that travelers allow plenty of time and arrive prepared to allow for completion of every step of the travel process from curb to gate.
Due to the recovery of air travel, TSA continues to recruit security screening officers to work at SBA and nationwide to ensure checkpoint lanes are fully staffed to screen the ever increasing number of travelers. As an incentive to join the agency, TSA will pay newly-hired security screening officers $500 upon starting with the agency and another $500 after one year of service with TSA. To qualify for the recruitment incentive, the employee must come onboard with TSA between now and September 30, 2021. To view open positions, visit https://jobs.tsa.gov. In the “Search TSA jobs” box, enter “TSO” in the search box to the left and “Santa Barbara, CA” in the “location” search box to the right.
To assist with the application and hiring process, TSA will hold a recruitment event on Tuesday, July 20 and Wednesday, July 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. It will be held at the Hilton Santa Barbara located at 633 E. Cabrillo Boulevard in Santa Barbara. No appointment is necessary.
When travelers arrive at the security checkpoint, they can expect to see the following:
- All security officers continuing to wear face masks and gloves during the screening process. Security officers will change their gloves after each screening position rotation, after a pat-down or upon a passenger’s request.
- All travelers wearing a mask in the airport and at TSA airport screening checkpoints. The federal requirement to wear a mask has been extended until September 13, 2021. Face coverings need to cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides of the face without gaps. A TSA officer will ask travelers to briefly adjust their mask for ID verification purposes. Travelers without a mask may be denied entry, boarding, or continued transport. Failure to comply with the mask requirement can result in civil penalties.
- Increased frequency and intensity of cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in the security checkpoint including bins. This is no substitute for practicing good hygiene while traveling. Travelers are encouraged to wash their hands before and after going through the checkpoint.
Here are some additional tips to remember during the summer travel season:
Step 1: Pack smart
Travelers should be aware of the contents of their carry-on bags and make sure they are not bringing prohibited items to the security checkpoint. Any type of prohibited item in a carry-on slows down the screening process for everyone, leading to delays in the security checkpoint.
To determine whether an item is allowed or prohibited in carry-on luggage, download the MyTSA app and use the “Can I Bring?” feature. By planning ahead, travelers can avoid a bag check and reduce the potential for cross-contamination. Another option is to contact @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger to get answers to your travel questions.
Step 2: Secure items in your carry-on
When removing items from pockets such as phones, wallets, keys or loose change, secure them in their carry-on bags instead of placing them directly in bins, which are a common use item. This will prevent travelers from inadvertently leaving these important items behind at the security checkpoint. In addition, as an added benefit, this reduces the number of touchpoints among travelers.
Step 3: Traveling with hand sanitizer
TSA is allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on bags. Passengers may also bring hand wipes of any size or quantity through security checkpoints.
Step 4: Leave bear spray and camping fuel behind
Don’t let your enthusiasm for outdoor activities result in your bringing bear spray, camping fuel or other items that are prohibited in carry-on and checked luggage. Not sure if you can travel with certain items? Review TSA’s travel advice website.
Step 5: Enroll in TSA PreCheck® today
People can “Travel with Ease” and experience a smoother screening process by enrolling in TSA PreCheck®. Eligible travelers do not need to remove shoes, belts, light outerwear, laptops, electronics larger than a cell phone or travel-size liquids from carry-on luggage.
The closest enrollment center is located in Oxnard at 300 E Esplanade Drive, Suite 460. It is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. In June 2021, 97% of travelers eligible for TSA PreCheck waited five minutes or less to be screened at airports nationwide. Another benefit of the program is that children 12 and under are permitted to use the TSA PreCheck lane when traveling with an eligible parent or guardian on the same itinerary.