TSA offers advice to air travelers departing Charleston International Airport this summer

Local Press Release
Wednesday, June 15, 2022

CHARLESTON, South Carolina - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) anticipates a record number of people will be screened through the security checkpoints at Charleston International Airport (CHS) this summer, surpassing 2019 volumes.

Since June 1, TSA has screened an average of 2.2 million people per day nationwide. From Jan. 1 to May 31, 2022, TSA has screened more than 1.1 million people departing CHS. This represents a month over month increase from 2019 of approximately 10%.  

In order to ensure the most efficient security screening operation and the best passenger experience at CHS, TSA has added national staff to work alongside local Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) during the summer months. TSA continues to staff the security checkpoints based on the number of travelers projected to depart the airport at various times during the day.

“TSA is committed to providing first class security coupled with a touch of southern hospitality for travelers departing CHS. We will make sure that we have the appropriate staffing in place to meet the peak times at the security checkpoint. I encourage all passengers to follow the “3-2-1” model when departing CHS throughout the summer months: three hours prior to flight, check out of hotel; two hours prior to flight, complete check in with the airline; and one hour prior to flight, be through checkpoint. This will ensure you make your flight and allow ample time to have a more relaxing, less stressful time at the airport,” said TSA Federal Security Director for South Carolina David McMahon. “The busiest travel days at CHS are Sunday, Monday, Thursday and Friday and using the 3-2-1 model on those days will help ensure every traveler has a great experience as they depart Charleston.”

The busiest times at the checkpoint at CHS are 4 a.m. to 7 a.m., 11am. to noon and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Due to high departing travel volumes at CHS, there will be periods during the day when the number of passengers who need to be screened exceeds the capacity of the checkpoint. At these times, travelers may see TSA administrative and other non-certified staff assisting with non-security functions. That allows security-certified officers to screen and process passengers efficiently and as quickly as possible.

TSA strives to get travelers through the general security screening process in less than 30 minutes and through TSA PreCheck screening in less than 10 minutes. Recent data shows that 80% of travelers departing CHS waited 15 minutes or less to be screened.

Travel advice
TSA continues to ask travelers to arrive early and prepared for the screening experience to allow for timely completion of every step of the travel process. To help things go smoothly, please follow these tips:

Listen for guidance from TSA officers. Some people may not have traveled recently, so it is important to listen to the direction provided in the security checkpoint. There may be information on new technologies that help reduce touchpoints and make for a more streamlined and convenient passenger experience, so listen up!

Empty your pockets prior to arriving in the checkpoint. Place wallets, phones, keys, sunglasses and other loose items from your pockets inside your carry-on bag instead of placing them in a bin. This will ensure personal items are not left behind.

Follow the rule for traveling with liquids. Gels, liquids and aerosols are limited to 3.4 ounces (100 ml) or less in carry-on luggage. The general definition for this rule is that if you can spill it, spray it, pump it or pour it, then it is subject to the liquids restriction rule. Anything in quantities larger than 3.4 ounces should travel in checked baggage.

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. To determine whether an item is allowed or prohibited in carry-on luggage, download the MyTSA app and use the “Can I Bring?” feature. Another option is to contact @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger to get answers to your travel questions.

Firearms. If you are a concealed carry permit holder or you own a firearm, please double-check the contents of your carry-on bags several times to ensure you do not bring a firearm to the security checkpoint. TSA continues to encounter passengers with firearms in carry-on luggage with a total of 11 discovered at the CHS checkpoint so far this year.

Enroll in TSA PreCheck®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 Charleston at 1485 N Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant.  It is open Tuesday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. or you can contact the Universal Enrollment Call Center at 1-855-347-8371. In May 2022, 93% 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.

Give yourself plenty of time at the airport. Extra time may be needed for parking, at airline check-in counters and in the security checkpoint. There is no substitute for arriving early and prepared.

TSA hiring TSOs at CHS
Finally, TSA has immediate openings for TSOs to work at CHS. The starting hourly rate is $16.90. As an incentive to join the agency, TSA will pay newly-hired TSOs at CHS $500 upon starting with the agency and $500 after one year of service with the TSA.

Benefits for TSOs include paid training, annual and sick leave, health care plans for full- and part-time employees and a generous 401k retirement plan. TSOs are also eligible for up to $5,000 per year in college tuition reimbursement. TSA does not prorate benefits for part-time workers, and veteran’s preference is not required to join the agency. We encourage college students to apply as we will work around your class schedule.

After six months, TSOs are eligible for pay increases and those who work early mornings, evenings and Sundays receive a shift differential. Overtime opportunities, which are paid at time and a half, are frequently available.

To begin the application process, visit https://jobs.tsa.gov.  In the “Search TSA jobs” box, enter “TSO” in the search box to the left and “Charleston, SC” in the “location” search box to the right.