COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado - Officials with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Colorado Springs Airport (COS) on Tuesday shared that current travel projections for the remainder of the summer indicate that the number of travelers departing the airport will equal and likely exceed volumes seen in 2019, which was the busiest on record for TSA operations.
“Colorado Springs is known for its proximity to world class outdoor recreational opportunities and is a prime vacation destination,” said TSA Federal Security Director Larry Nau who oversees security operations for the state of Colorado. “Because we anticipate that the volume of travelers will remain high throughout the summer, we are asking travelers to come to the airport early and prepared to help TSA deliver the most effective security in the most efficient manner.”
“As travel continues to increase, COS will continue to partner with TSA to ensure all travelers have a stress-free experience at Colorado’s small airport,” said Director of Aviation Greg Phillips at Colorado Springs Airport.
Annually, the start of the summer travel season coincides with Memorial Day weekend. National passenger throughput trends over the past few months have shown sustained travel volumes. In the months of April and May, TSA screened at least 1 million departing travelers at airports nationwide every day and that number continues to steadily increase. Since June, TSA has screened more than 2 million travelers on multiple days, consistently setting new post-pandemic records.
Passengers screening volumes at COS are currently more than 125% of 2019 volumes and are expected to increase for the remainder of the summer. Last week, TSA screened more than 26,700 during a seven-day period. During the same week in 2019, TSA screened slightly more than 21,300. When compared to other airports across the country, COS’s air travel recovery rate ranks 12th nationwide.
The busiest times at the TSA security checkpoint at COS are 5 a.m. to 7 a.m.; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 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 will make the TSA security checkpoint at COS very busy.
Additionally, new airlines are providing service out of COS 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 arrive early and prepared to allow for completion of every step of the travel process from curb to gate.
Travelers departing COS may see a computed tomography (CT) scanner in use to screen travelers’ carry-on luggage in the checkpoint. The CT unit applies a sophisticated algorithm as it generates a 3-D image of the contents of the bag. A TSA officer can manipulate the 3-D X-ray image on-screen to allow for a better view of the bag’s contents, ultimately reducing the number of bag checks that are required. In addition, travelers can leave everything in their carry-on bag, including electronics and food, when it is screened through a CT scanner.
Due to the recovery of air travel, TSA is hiring additional security screening officers at COS to ensure checkpoint lanes are fully staffed to screen the ever-increasing number of travelers. This is part of a national hiring effort that is ongoing at many airports across the country.
Over the past year, TSA modified its procedures as part of its “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure.” campaign. Travelers can expect to see:
- All security officers wearing 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 located in Colorado Springs at 5051 N. Academy Boulevard. It is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. It is also open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 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.