PORTLAND, Maine – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) throughout Maine airports is prepared for a busy summer travel season. TSA anticipates passenger volumes in Maine could match and possibly exceed those of 2019.
Nationwide TSA officers are currently screening approximately 2.1 million people daily, which is an increase from May 2021, when TSA screened about 1.7 million daily.
TSA officers at Portland Jetport (PWM) are currently screening anywhere from 2,400 to 3,200 people a day, however, TSA expects that number to rise as we proceed into summer. Last summer at PWM, the month of August saw daily screening numbers exceed 5,000. At Bangor International (BGR) TSA is currently screening anywhere from 1,000 to 1,300 people a day and expects that number to rise as well. Last summer TSA officers at BGR screened about 600 people a day.
The continued recovery from the low travel volumes during the pandemic may require more patience and planning than was necessary before 2019. Checkpoint environments and procedures have changed. PWM will soon expand their security checkpoint area to five screening lanes. The 5th lane will help meet expected summer travel demand. The new equipment is slated for installation next week.
“Daily passenger volumes at TSA checkpoints throughout Maine are getting busier every week. Our Maine airport security checkpoints have highly-trained security professionals and new technologies that enhance security and reduce physical contact,” said Bob Allison, TSA Federal Security Director for Maine. “To help expedite the screening process, we ask that passengers have their ID out and ready to either present to the TSA officer or to insert into the Credential Authentication Technology machine.”
Recent security enhancements at airport screening checkpoints include two new technologies. TSA deployed Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) and Computed Tomography (CT) scanners to improve identification verification, and in some airports, enable digital identification verification at the Travel Document Checker podium and the scanning capabilities for carry-on bags. Both of these technologies enhance security and reduce physical contact within the checkpoints.
To date, TSA has deployed 1,621 CAT units to 176 airports, including two machines at BGR and three at PWM. TSA has also deployed 387 CT units to 158 airports nationwide, including one at BGR.
The CT units provide TSA officers the ability to review a 3D image of passengers’ bags and reduce the need to search the bag’s contents. Passengers screened in security lanes with CT units do not need to remove their 3-1-1 bag or electronics.
Passengers play an important role in the security process. By being prepared, they can simplify their travel experience. Here are some helpful TSA tools and travel tips:
Tip 1: Pack smart; start with empty bags. Airline passengers who pack for travel with empty bags are less likely to bring prohibited items through a TSA checkpoint. Technology and modifications help reduce the need for physical contact with TSA officers, but those who take time to come prepared for the TSA checkpoint are far more likely to avoid delay and physical contact. Check for prohibited items by using the “What Can I Bring?” page on TSA.gov.
Tip 2: Know before you go. Airports, like highways, have high traffic surges and construction delays. Plan to arrive at the airport in plenty of time to check in, check bags and complete security screening in time to avoid stressful sprints to the departure gate. At the TSA checkpoint, have a valid ID card readily available and follow the liquids rule of 3.4 ounces or less, with the exception of hand sanitizer, which has a temporary 12-ounce limit in carry-on baggage.
Tip 3: Face masks are optional, but recommended. The CDC recommends face masks for passengers aged two and older in indoor areas of public transportation and transportation hubs as an effective precaution for those who seek to avoid exposure to COVID in higher risk public spaces. CDC provides heath recommendations for domestic travel during COVID-19 and for international travel on its website at CDC.gov.
Tip 4: Contact TSA for help if there are questions or concerns. Travelers can get live assistance by tweeting questions and comments to @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EDT and weekends/holidays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST. You can also call the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673. TSA Cares, a helpline for travelers with disabilities, medical conditions and other special circumstances can be reached by calling TSA Cares at 855-787-2227, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and weekends/holidays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Tip 5: Enroll now in TSA PreCheck® to “Travel with Ease.” By enrolling in TSA PreCheck, airline passengers can avoid removing shoes, belts, liquids, food, laptops and light jackets at the TSA checkpoint. Most new enrollees receive their known traveler number within three to five days, and membership lasts for five years. In April, 94% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than 5 minutes.
Portland Jetport and TSA recommend arriving at their airline ticket counter 90 minutes before flight departure. Bangor International recommends arriving 2 hours prior to departure.
The summer travel season starts in late May and extends through and beyond Labor Day weekend.