TSA at GEG prepared for high volume of travelers and busy Thanksgiving travel season

Local Press Release
Monday, November 20, 2023

SPOKANE, Washington - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) anticipates a record number of people will be screened through the security checkpoints at Spokane International Airport (GEG) this Thanksgiving holiday season.

The official Thanksgiving travel period started on Friday, November 17 and will continue through Tuesday, November 28. During this 12-day period, TSA at GEG projects it will screen more than 73,000 travelers. Nationwide, TSA projects it will screen 30 million travelers at airports across the country during this same time.

“TSA has been preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday travel period for the past several months. We have worked closely with the airlines and airport to ensure that we have a comprehensive staffing and operational plan that ensures we will be ready for the increase in departing passengers at GEG who will be traveling for the holidays,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Washington Greg Hawko. “With sustained high passenger volumes, we are encouraging everyone to plan ahead, arrive at the airport and ensure that you are prepared for every step of the travel process.”

The four busiest days at GEG during the Thanksgiving travel period are projected to be the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving and the Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving. On Tuesday, November 21, TSA projects it will screen approximately 6,300 departing travelers at GEG; on Wednesday, November 22, TSA projects an increase to 7,400. On Sunday, November 26, TSA projects it will screen more than 7,400 departing travelers at GEG, which will make it the busiest day of the holiday travel period. TSA projects Monday, November 27 will also be busy when more than 6,500 people are projected to be screened through the security checkpoints at GEG.

Nationally, TSA is projecting to screen 2.5 million passengers on Tuesday, Nov. 21; 2.69 million passengers on Wednesday, Nov. 22 and 2.9 million passengers on Sunday, Nov. 26, which will likely be the busiest travel day for TSA since its inception in 2001.

With sustained high passenger volumes locally and nationwide, TSA officials are encouraging travelers to plan ahead and be prepared every step of the air travel experience.

Security checkpoint info
The busiest times at GEG’s security checkpoints are 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Due to several flights that departing in the late afternoon, travelers can expect an increase in the number of people who need to be screened between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

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. General screening and TSA PreCheck® lanes are available at the AB and C security checkpoints.

Five things travelers can do today to be prepared for Thanksgiving travel
Unpack your bag before you pack it. To avoid bringing prohibited items in carry-on luggage, start with an empty bag or suitcase. If you aren’t sure how to travel with an item, download the MyTSA app and use the “What Can I Bring?” feature. Another option is to snap a picture of an item and send it to @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger for real-time assistance. Travelers can also send a question by texting “Travel” to AskTSA (275-872).

Confirm your Known Traveler Number (KTN) in your airline reservation. Make sure your KTN and correct date of birth are in your airline reservation so you will be eligible for TSA PreCheck screening. There are more than 90 airlines that participate in TSA PreCheck and TSA offers the TSA PreCheck experience at every airport nationwide. Children 12 and can use the TSA PreCheck lane when traveling with an eligible parent or guardian on the same itinerary. This holiday season, teenagers ages 13-17 can accompany TSA PreCheck-enrolled parents or guardians through TSA PreCheck screening when traveling on the same reservation and when the TSA PreCheck indicator appears on the teen’s boarding pass.

Make a plan for traveling with holiday foods. Most foods can be carried through the TSA checkpoint, but there are some items that will need to be transported in checked baggage.

Here’s some food for thought: if it’s a solid item, then it can go through a checkpoint in a carry-on. However, if you can spread it, spill it, pump it or pour it - and it’s larger than 3.4 ounces (100 ml) -  then it should travel in a checked bag.

Food items often need some additional security screening, so TSA recommends placing those items in a clear plastic bag or other container when packing them at home and then removing those items from your carry-on bag and placing them in a bin for screening at the checkpoint. 

Here are examples of the most commonly asked questions about which food items are permissible through a checkpoint and which ones need to be placed in checked baggage.

Foods that can be carried through a TSA checkpoint

Okay to carry on photo
  • Baked goods. Pies, breads, cakes, cookies, brownies and other sweet treats. 
  • Meats. Ham, turkey, chicken, steak. Frozen, cooked or uncooked.                    
  • Stuffing. Cooked, uncooked, in a box or in a bag.
  • Casseroles. Dishes like Mac ‘n Cheese can be prepared and ready to be warmed at your destination.
  • Fresh vegetables. Potatoes, yams, broccoli, green beans, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, beets, radishes, carrots, squash and greens. 
  • Fresh fruit. Apples, pears, pineapple, lemons, limes, cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and bananas.
  • Chocolates and other candies. Yes!
  • Spices and powdered mixes.

Foods that should be carefully packed with your checked baggage (if more than 3.4 oz)

Items to be checked photo
  • Sauces. Any type of home cooked or canned sauces are spreadable, so check them.
  • Gravy. Homemade or in a jar/can.
  • Drinks. Wine, champagne, spirits and sparkling cider.
  • Canned fruits or vegetables. It’s got liquid in the can, so they need to be checked.
  • Preserves, jams and jellies. They are spreadable, so best to check them.
  • Soups and syrups.

Plan 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.

Plan to arrive at the airport early and prepared for every step of the travel process. There is no substitute for packing your patience and arriving early. TSA will be staffed and ready for the high volume of travelers expected to depart GEG during the holidays.