SALT LAKE CITY – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is anticipating that security checkpoints locally and nationwide will be busy during the Thanksgiving holiday travel season, which officially kicks off tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 19 and continues through Sunday, Nov. 28.
TSA at Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) is currently screening about 93% of 2019 pre-pandemic passenger volumes. Over the next 10 days, TSA projects that passenger volumes will increase slightly with the busiest days being Tuesday, Nov. 23, Wednesday, Nov. 24 and Sunday, Nov. 28. For travelers departing SLC, the busiest times of day at the TSA security checkpoint are from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“We are prepared to handle the expected surge in the number of people who will be departing SLC during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Utah Matt Davis. “This will include ensuring the security checkpoint is fully staffed and ready to screen travelers. We encourage everyone to do their part to ensure a smooth checkpoint experience, whether you are a seasoned traveler or haven’t traveled by air recently.”
With the projected increase in the number of people traveling by air around the holiday, TSA highly recommends arriving at the airport early, to allow plenty of time to complete all steps of the travel process from curb to gate.
While TSA concentrates on security, travelers can assist by following the helpful tips below.
#1: COVID-19 protocols are still in place, so don’t forget your mask.
TSA continues to modify its screening procedures in the security checkpoint to reduce the potential for cross-contamination among travelers and TSA employees. Passengers can expect to see:
- TSA officers wearing masks and gloves at the checkpoint.
- All travelers wearing masks. Travelers will be asked to momentarily adjust their masks to verify their identity when providing their photo ID and boarding pass at the entrance to the checkpoint. It never hurts to pack an extra mask or two for use during your air travels.
- Acrylic shielding installed at various locations throughout the TSA checkpoint.
- Increased cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched checkpoint surfaces and screening equipment, including bins.
- TSA officers changing gloves after each pat-down and at the request of any passenger.
- Ability to bring one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on luggage. Be prepared to remove it from the carry-on during the screening process.
#2: Pack smart.
Prepare for security when packing and ensure that there are no prohibited items in carry-on luggage. Bringing prohibited item to the security checkpoint will result in a bag check, slowing the screening process for you and all travelers behind you. Also, don’t overstuff your bag. This, too, can lead to a TSA officer having to conduct a bag check.
#3: Know how to travel with special holiday foods and drinks.
We know that many passengers like to travel with special foods and drinks to share with friends and families during the holidays. Remember that not all foods can be transported in carry-on luggage. If you can spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it AND the quantity exceeds 3.4 ounces (which is 100 ml), pack it in a checked bag. For example, cranberry sauce, jams and jellies as well as gravy and wines in quantities larger than 3.4 ounces should go in a checked bag. Cakes, pies, cookies, breads and casseroles can travel in carry-on luggage in any quantity, but may require some additional screening.
#4: 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 whether in carry-on or checked luggage, a TSA officer may have to unwrap it to determine what the item is and confirm it does not pose a security threat. Consider traveling with unwrapped items or placing them in a gift bag for easy access and resolution.
# 5: Download the free myTSA app and follow TSA on social media.
The myTSA app is a trusted source for last-minute travel questions. It provides travelers with 24-hour access to the most frequently requested airport security information. It also features a searchable “Can I Bring” database where you can type in the name of an item and the app will let you know if you should pack it in your checked or carry-on bag. The app is available from the App Store or Google Play. Travelers can also Tweet or Message AskTSA to get answers to last-minute questions. Live assistance is available daily including weekends and holidays from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. MT.