TSA prepared for Thanksgiving travel out of Patrick Leahy Burlington International Airport

Local Press Release
Thursday, November 16, 2023

BURLINGTON, Vt. – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) usually sees passenger numbers increase during the holidays and the TSA team at Burlington International (BTV) has been proactively preparing for the increase in holiday travel volume.

Holiday travelers should expect to see higher passenger volume from Friday, November 17 through Tuesday, November 28. Typically, the busiest days during the Thanksgiving travel period are the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving and the Sunday afterward.

Transportation Security Officers (TSO’s) at BTV are currently screening 1,900 people per day on average this month. Travelers through BTV should expect that number to be closer to 2,500 during this year’s Thanksgiving travel period.

“We recommend travelers arrive at the terminal two hours prior to their scheduled flight,” said Chuck Woyat, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Vermont. “We also ask travelers to come prepared to the airport for security screening.” The TSA web site has a lot of helpful information on preparing for a flight.

When travelers approach the travel document checking podium, they will be asked to provide the officer with their ID and in some cases their boarding pass, electronic or paper.

To help speed up the security screening process, TSA recommends travelers place items from their pockets such as wallets, keys, lip balm, tissues and cell phones into their carry-on bags to be screened instead of putting items from their pockets directly into bins. This also reduces the chance that travelers will leave something behind in a bin.

“Our TSA officers are professionals and are very good at their jobs, so when you get to the checkpoint, please listen to the guidance that they are offering. That guidance is intended to make sure you have a smooth checkpoint experience,” Woyat said.

Travelers whose items trigger an alarm at the checkpoint and have their carry-on bags flagged for a search typically state that they did not realize that they had the item with them. “Prohibited items, especially firearms, can slow down the security screening process for everyone in that lane,” Woyat said. He added, to help reduce the likelihood that a carry-on bag will require a search, travelers should start with an empty bag before they begin to pack.

Passengers need to keep in mind that they cannot carry firearms with them into an aircraft cabin, but they can check their firearm by following a few rules. Visit TSA’s Transporting Firearms and Ammunition page to see how to properly travel with a firearm.   

Travelers should keep these top tips in mind before arriving at the airport:

1. Pack smart; start with empty bags. Passengers who start with an empty bag while packing are less likely to bring prohibited items through the checkpoint. Certain foods, such as gravy, cranberry sauce, wine, jam and preserves must be packed in a checked bag because they are considered to be liquids or gels. If you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it, then it is a liquid and must be packed in your checked bag. As always, passengers may bring solid foods such as cakes and other baked goods through the TSA checkpoint. Check for prohibited items by using the “What Can I Bring?” page on TSA.gov. or just ask @AskTSA.

2. Bring an acceptable ID and have it out in the screening lane. Before heading to the airport, travelers must make sure they have acceptable identification. Identity verification is an important step in the security screening process. At many checkpoints, the TSO may ask you to insert your physical ID into one of our Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) units, where a boarding pass is not needed.

3. Arrive early. The airport will be busy this week, so arrive two hours prior to your scheduled flight to allow for adequate time to park your car or arrive via public transit or rideshare, check bags and go through security screening before arriving at the gate.

4. If you plan to travel with a firearm, you must properly pack the firearm in a hard-sided, locked case in your checked bag and declare it with the airline at the ticket counter when checking in. Passengers are prohibited from packing firearms in carry-on luggage and bringing them to the airport security checkpoint and onboard aircraft. Bringing a firearm to a TSA checkpoint is expensive and time-consuming and can cause delays. The maximum civil penalty for bringing a firearm to a TSA checkpoint is nearly $15,000. Additionally, it will result in the loss of TSA PreCheck eligibility for up to five years. For more information on transporting firearms, visit: www.tsa.gov/travel/transporting-firearms-and-ammunition.

5. Be aware of new checkpoint screening technology. TSA uses a variety of security methods and technologies to secure our transportation systems. Screening protocols vary from airport to airport, depending on available technology and the current threat environment. Some airports have installed new state-of-the-art Computed Tomography (CT) scanners which significantly improve threat detection capabilities for carry-on bags and reduce physical searches of bag contents for prohibited items. CT units give TSOs the ability to review 3-D images of passengers’ bags, so passengers screened in security lanes with CT units do not need to remove their 3-1-1 liquids or laptops. With CT units, all travelers must place every carry-on item, including bags, into a bin for screening.

6. Travel with ease with TSA PreCheck and ensure you have the TSA PreCheck mark on your boarding pass. TSA’s trusted traveler program now has more than 90 participating airlines, is available at more than 200 airports and has two authorized enrollment providers. Those enrolled enjoy the benefits of faster checkpoint screening. The five-year membership costs just $78. After submitting an online application, which takes just five minutes, applicants must schedule an appointment at any of the 500-plus enrollment centers. After a successful enrollment center visit, most new enrollees will receive their Known Traveler Number (KTN) within three to five days. Members may renew their membership online up to six months prior to expiration for another five-year term for $70.

Most TSA PreCheck members wait less than five minutes at the checkpoint. Children 12 and younger may join TSA PreCheck family members in the TSA PreCheck screening lanes. Children 13-17 may join enrolled adults in the dedicated lanes when traveling on the same reservation and if the TSA PreCheck indicator appears on the child’s boarding pass. TSA PreCheck passengers must ensure that their KTN, along with correct date of birth, is in their airline reservation. For more information about becoming a member of the TSA PreCheck program, visit: www.TSA.gov/precheck.

7. Call ahead to request passenger support. Travelers or families of passengers who need assistance may call the TSA Cares helpline toll-free at 855-787-2227 at least 72 hours prior to travel with any questions about screening procedures and to find out what to expect at the security checkpoint. TSA Cares also arranges assistance at the checkpoint for travelers with specific needs.

8. Text or direct message us @ AskTSA. Get your questions answered before you head to the airport. Travelers can get assistance in real time by texting their question to #275-872 (“AskTSA”) or through @AskTSA on X (formerly known as Twitter) or Facebook Messenger. An automated virtual assistant is available 24/7, while staff is available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET daily, including holidays and weekends. Travelers may also reach the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673. Staff is available from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends/holidays; and an automated service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

9. Remain aware. Travelers should report suspicious activities, and remember: If You See Something, Say Something™.

10. Show gratitude to frontline workers. Thank a TSO, a gate agent, a flight attendant or someone who serves on the transportation frontlines. TSOs complete about 200 hours of training to become certified and are committed to transportation security while ensuring all travelers are treated with respect and courtesy. Pack an extra dose of patience, especially during higher passenger volume travel days, and show gratitude to those who are working diligently over the holidays and every day to get everyone to their destinations safely.