IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reminded travelers Friday to be fully aware of the contents of their carry-on luggage prior to arrival at the security checkpoint. This advice follows TSA’s discovery of a loaded firearm in the carry-on bag of a male passenger ticketed for travel from Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA) to Salt Lake City International Airport earlier this afternoon.
During the routine screening of carry-on luggage, a TSA officer spotted the image of a handgun on the X-ray screen. TSA immediately notified airport law enforcement and they responded to the security checkpoint. Law enforcement questioned the traveler who was allowed to continue on his flight.
This is the fourth firearm discovered by TSA in carry-on luggage at IDA in 2021. In all of 2020, TSA found six firearms in travelers’ carry-on luggage at the IDA security checkpoint.
“TSA is seeing more travelers at Idaho Falls Regional Airport than ever before and along with that, we are also seeing an increase in the number of undeclared or improperly packed firearms like the one today,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Idaho Andy Coose. “We want to remind everyone planning to fly out of Idaho Falls to carefully inspect your bag before you pack it and head to the airport. This simple act could save you lots of time and money, along with the embarrassment of having a long talk with law enforcement. So, remember to pack light and pack right!”
TSA reviews the circumstances of each incident and levies a civil penalty of up to $10,000 against each passenger who brings a firearm to the security checkpoint.
Firearms can be transported on a commercial aircraft only if they are unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided case, declared to the airline and placed in checked baggage. Ammunition, firearm parts and any type of replica firearm are also prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be checked.
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 IDA are currently more than 130% of 2019 volumes and are expected to remain steady throughout the summer months. Nationwide, TSA is screening about 83% of 2019 volumes daily.
The busiest times at the TSA security checkpoint at IDA are 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 3 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 exceeds the capacity of the TSA security checkpoint at IDA. This is why it is essential that travelers arrive well ahead of their flight departure to allow for completion of every step of the travel process from curb to gate.
Additionally, new airlines are providing service to new cities from IDA 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.
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.
There is an enrollment center in Idaho Falls located at 461 May Street. It is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3:30 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.