TSA at GEG and nationally prepared for busy Memorial Day weekend of air travel

Local Press Release
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
The AB security checkpoint at Spokane International Airport Monday afternoon, May 20, 2024.

SPOKANE, Washington - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is prepared for high passenger volumes leading up to the Memorial Day weekend. TSA projects it will screen more than 34,000 departing travelers at Spokane International Airport (GEG) starting Thursday, May 23 through Tuesday, May 28. This is a 7.5% increase over 2023 volumes.

The single busiest day at GEG is projected to be Thursday, May 23 when more than 6,700 travelers are expected to be screened through the security checkpoints. Friday, May 24 will be busy as well when TSA expects to screen more than 6,400 people.

The busiest times at the checkpoint daily will be 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., so all travelers will need to arrive early and prepared for every step of the air travel experience.

“Memorial Day kicks off the summer travel season and planning has been underway at TSA for the past several months,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Washington Greg Hawko. “We look forward to delivering on our commitment to travelers by providing the highest level of security in the most efficient manner.”

Travelers may notice that security screening procedures can vary by airport. While TSA follows strict standardized screening protocols, those procedures are dependent upon the equipment and technologies in use at any given airport. Due to these variances, it is important for travelers to listen to guidance provided by TSA officers on-site.

Below are some examples of technologies in use at GEG that travelers may encounter and how those will impact the screening process.

Do I need to show a boarding pass to the TSA officer?
If Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) is in use at the entrance to the security checkpoint, no boarding pass is needed. Travelers will need to present only their photo ID.

CAT units are designed to scan a traveler’s photo identification and confirm the traveler’s identity on-screen for the TSA officer. Through a secure Internet connection, CAT is also able to verify that the traveler is ticketed for travel that day and indicate the type of screening status (such as TSA PreCheck®) that the traveler is eligible for.

Because travelers under age 18 are not required to present photo identification to the TSA officer, anyone 17 and younger will need to show a boarding pass to gain entry into the security checkpoint.

TSA does recommend all travelers have their boarding pass available in case the TSA officer needs to manually inspect it or CAT is not in use. TSA has more than 2,000 CAT units deployed nationwide at 228 airports including at both security checkpoints at GEG.

Do I have to get my picture taken when verifying my identity?
It is never required that a traveler have a photo taken during the travel document checking process.

The latest generation of CAT units (CAT-2) are equipped with a camera that captures a real-time photo of the traveler in addition to scanning their photo identification. CAT-2 is able to compare the traveler’s photo on the state-issued ID against the in-person, real-time photo. Once the unit confirms a match, a TSA officer verifies it and the traveler can proceed to security screening. TSA officers can perform additional passenger verification if needed.

Photos captured by a CAT-2 unit are never stored or used for any other purpose than immediate identity verification. Travelers who do not want to participate in the facial matching process can opt out in favor of an alternative identity verification process conducted by the TSA officer.

TSA is not using CAT-2 at GEG. However, it is in use at 84 airports across the country.

Do I need to remove electronics larger than a cell phone and travel size liquids from my carry-on?
That will be determined by the type of X-ray scanner in use. Some airports have computed tomography (CT) X-ray scanners installed and in use at the security checkpoint. TSA at GEG has one CT scanner located in the AB checkpoint.

The state-of-the-art CT scanners create a 3D image of the contents of the bag, giving the X-ray operator enhanced screening capabilities. If a CT scanner is in use, the TSA officer will advise people to leave their electronics and travel size liquids in their carry-on bags.

Some airports have X-ray units that provide traditional 2D X-ray images, which require electronics and liquids to be removed from carry-on bags to ensure the X-ray operator gets a clear view of them, ensuring they aren’t a potential security threat. There are currently 820 CT scanners in use at 236 airports nationwide.

Does my carry-on property have to go in a bin during screening?
Yes, if your carry-on is screened through the CT scanner located in the AB checkpoint, place all items in a bin. Every CT bin is equipped with an RFID tag that allows the traveler’s personal property and the associated X-ray image to be tracked throughout the screening process.

In all other lanes, your carry-on items can be placed directly on the conveyor belt. For smaller items, please secure them in your carry-on so they don’t inadvertently get left behind.

Do I need to take off my shoes?
TSA requires travelers in general screening lanes to remove their shoes during the screening process. However, travelers 12 and under as well as those 75 and older are always permitted to keep on their shoes during the security screening process.

TSA PreCheck®-eligible travelers can leave on their shoes as long as they do not alarm the security screening equipment. TSA operates dedicated TSA PreCheck lanes at GEG during some peak hours. During other times, TSA PreCheck-eligible travelers are screened through the general screening lanes, but receive the benefits of TSA PreCheck.

Can family members go through the TSA PreCheck lane with me?
Any traveler 17 years old and under can accompany a TSA PreCheck-eligible parent or guardian through TSA PreCheck screening when traveling on the same reservation and when the TSA PreCheck indicator appears on their boarding pass.

This benefit is another reason to join the more than 18 million people who have enrolled in TSA PreCheck. On average, 99% of TSA PreCheck-eligible travelers wait 10 minutes or less to be screened TSA PreCheck enrollment is now offered by three companies including Telos, CLEAR and Idemia. For more information on any of the enrollment providers or TSA PreCheck, visit www.tsa.gov/precheck.

Final advice from TSA and GEG
With 434 federalized, commercial airports nationwide, 685 security checkpoints and 2,412 security screening lanes, it can be challenging to know what to expect at any airport. Here are some tips to help all travelers have a smooth trip through the security checkpoint at any airport:

  1. Arrive at the airport at least two hours before scheduled boarding time of flight. Allow ample time to park, navigate to the terminal, check luggage and proceed through the TSA security screening checkpoint. Most flights board 30-45 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time.
  2. Review guidelines for traveling with children. Airlines can request proof of age documentation during check-in for children under age 12 traveling unaccompanied. Proof of age documentation must also be provided for children two years of age or younger planning to sit on an adult passenger’s lap. A birth certificate is acceptable proof of age. 
  3. Be prepared for any scenario. Have your photo identification and boarding pass ready just in case you are unexpectedly asked for it. This will keep you from slowing down the screening process for you and everyone behind you.
  4. Listen to directions provided by TSA officers. The advisements are specific to the type of screening you will experience. The information given will make your screening experience quicker and smoother.
  5. Pack smart. Always start with an empty bag to ensure you don’t inadvertently bring prohibited items to the security checkpoint. Place electronics larger than a cell phone and travel size liquids at the top of your carry-on so they can be easily access if you are required to remove them. Also, be sure that all liquids are 3.4 ounces (100 ml) or less if transporting them through the security checkpoint.
  6. Get assistance prior to traveling. Ensure that carry-ons do not contain prohibited items since they slow down the security screening process. To determine whether an item is allowed or prohibited in carry-on luggage, 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).
  7. Double-check your luggage. Many bags look alike. Prior to traveling, passengers should tag every piece of luggage with their name and address and include additional addresses inside each bag in the event the outside tag falls off. When retrieving luggage at baggage claim, it’s important for passengers to check these tags to ensure they’ve picked up the correct bag.