TSA prepared for December holiday travel volume out of Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport

What travelers need to know about holiday travel through TSA checkpoints
Local Press Release
Wednesday, December 13, 2023


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico –  The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is expecting a busy end of year holiday season at airports throughout Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). This year’s end of year holiday travel period will be Monday, Dec. 18 through Monday, January 8. TSA expects the busiest days to be Thursday, Dec. 21 and Friday, January 5.      

“I want to thank our Transportation Security Officers throughout Puerto Rico and the USVI who met the travel volume demand during the Thanksgiving holiday season.” said Mariely Loperena Moure, TSA Federal Security Director for Puerto Rico and the USVI. “They kept airport screening lanes efficiently moving to ensure more than 315,000 people arrived at their destinations safely, and I expect more of the same for the end of year holidays.”

Travelers can also help keep screening wait times down by remembering these top tips 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. Use gift bags to avoid TSA officers having to unwrap presents if an item alarms during security screening. 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 airports will be busy, so arrive two and half hours prior to your scheduled flight out of Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) and two hours prior if flying out of Rafael Hernandez International (BQN), Mercedita International (PSE) or Cyril E. King airport (STT). This allows 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. Passengers flying out of SJU in the TSA PreCheck line will encounter TSA’s Credential Authentication Technology (CAT-2) unit. CAT-2 compares the traveler’s photo on the identification credential against the in-person, real-time photo. Once the CAT-2 confirms the match, a TSA officer will verify and the traveler can proceed to security screening, without ever exchanging a boarding pass. TSA officers can perform additional passenger verification if needed. Follow signs and verbal direction provided by our Transportation Security Officers (TSO) to help keep screening lanes moving.

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.