TSA at Greater Rochester International Airport is prepared for busiest summer travel season ever

Local Press Release
Tuesday, July 2, 2024

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is prepared for high passenger volumes throughout the summer and especially during the Fourth of July travel period at airports nationwide including Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC). TSA is advising air travelers to arrive at the airport early and prepared for every step of the travel process.   

Since mid-May, TSA has seen multiple days break into the top 10 busiest days in the agency’s 22-year history. Typically, TSA had been screening approximately 2.5 million people per day nationwide, however since last month, the number of people screened has increased by several hundred thousand per day.

“Here in Rochester we also are seeing a spike in checkpoint volume,” said Bart R. Johnson, TSA’s Federal Security Director for 13 airports in Upstate New York. “Travel volume expected out of Rochester, as well as at other Upstate New York airports is expected to be high. Our teams have been in close coordination with airport, airline and travel partners, and we are more than ready to handle this summer’s increased travel volumes ahead of the July 4th holiday,” he said.

High travel volumes and busy security checkpoints have become the norm lately. Twelve of the agency’s Top 15 busiest travel days nationally have occurred since mid-May.

“Knowing that travel volume will be high is why it is vital to give yourself plenty of time to park or return a rental car, check in with your airline to check bags and prepare for the security checkpoint. If you find yourself in a checkpoint line, travelers can save time by removing items from their pockets and placing them in a carry-on bag, instead of putting items directly into bins at the conveyor belt,” Johnson said.

TSA is continuing to modernize airport security checkpoints across the country with a focus on enhanced detection methods to best secure the aviation system. If individuals have not flown since last summer, they are likely to encounter a second generation of credential authentication technology (CAT) units at our travel document checking podium so they will want to listen for guidance from our TSA officers.

These units ensure the authenticity of a passenger’s ID and match the face of the passenger with the face on the ID by snapping a photo of the person who is presenting the ID. After the CAT unit validates the ID, the photo is deleted and travelers who prefer not to have their photo taken may opt out and the TSA officer will validate the traveler’s ID without the use of a photo.

“The best advice that I can offer is to get to the airport well before your ticketed departure time,” said Johnson. “We ask that the travelling public do their part in efficient checkpoint screening by arriving to the airport two hours prior to their scheduled flight departure and know what they can – and cannot pack – in their carry-on luggage,” he said.

It is important for travelers to come to the airport prepared to go through the security screening process. Passengers need to make sure that there are no prohibited items among their carry-on items. Prohibited items will result in a need for our officers to open and inspect a bag to determine what triggered the alarm. This process takes a few minutes and will slow down someone’s trip through the checkpoint.

When packing, it is recommended to start to pack with an empty bag, so that travelers are well aware of the contents of their bags. Prior to packing that empty bag, individuals can check TSA’s “What Can I Bring?” tool to know what is prohibited. Individuals who are heading to the beach, may wonder how to pack their sunscreen. Any liquids, sunscreen containers and alcohol over 3.4 ounces must be packed in a checked bag. Liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes are allowed in carry-on bags as long as each item is 3.4 ounces or less and placed in one quart-sized bag. Each passenger is limited to one quart-size bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes.

It is important for individuals who own firearms to remember that they are prohibited to pass through security checkpoints, even if a passenger has a concealed carry permit or is in a constitutional carry jurisdiction. Passengers may travel with a firearm, but it must be secured in the passenger’s checked baggage; packed unloaded; locked in a hard-sided case; and declared to the airline when checking in at the airline ticket counter. If a passenger brings a firearm to the security checkpoint on their person or in their carry-on luggage, TSA will contact local law enforcement to safely unload and take possession of the firearm. Law enforcement may also arrest or cite the passenger, depending on local law. TSA may impose a civil penalty up to $15,000 when weapons are intercepted, and passengers will lose TSA PreCheck® eligibility.

TSA PreCheck® members should make sure that their known traveler number (KTN) is in their airline  reservation. It is essential that airline reservations have the passenger’s correct KTN, full name and date of birth so they can receive the program’s benefits. Those who fly with multiple airlines should ensure their KTN is updated in each of their airline profiles every time they travel. TSA PreCheck passengers are low-risk travelers who do not need to remove shoes, belts, 3-1-1 liquids, food, laptops and light jackets at the TSA checkpoint. TSA’s wait time standards for TSA PreCheck lanes are under 10 minutes and less than 30 minutes for standard lanes. Travelers may visit https://www.tsa.gov/precheck for more information about enrolling or renewing in TSA PreCheck and to find enrollment locations and pricing information for all TSA PreCheck enrollment providers.

“It is also important to remember that our security officers are working throughout the summer, including the upcoming July 4th holiday, so respect the security personnel as well as other frontline airport and airline employees,” Johnson said. “Our officers along with all frontline airport and airline employees and local law enforcement, are working together to ensure safe and secure travel. Consider offering them a kind word of thanks.” 

TSA also reminds travelers that starting on May 7, 2025, if you plan to use your state-issued ID or driver’s license to fly within the U.S., make sure you have a REAL ID or another acceptable form of ID. If you are not sure if you have a REAL ID, check with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. For questions on acceptable IDs, visit TSA’s web site. “Put REAL ID on your summer to do list,” Johnson recommended.

Travelers can contact TSA with questions may contact TSA by sending a text directly to 275-872 (“AskTSA”) on any mobile device or over social media by sending a message to @AskTSA on X or Facebook Messenger. An automated virtual assistant is available 24/7 to answer commonly asked questions, and AskTSA staff are available 365 days a year from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET for more complicated questions. Travelers may also reach the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673. An automated service is available 24/7.

Passengers who need additional assistance through security screening may request a TSA Passenger Support Specialist (PSS). A PSS is a TSA officer who has received specialized training, including how to effectively assist and communicate with individuals with disabilities, medical conditions or those who need additional screening assistance. Individuals should request passenger assistance at least 72 hours in advance by contacting our TSA Cares passenger support line at (855) 787-2227. Live assistance is available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET, or weekends and holidays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

TSA encourages all passengers to remain vigilant. If You See Something. Say Something®.