The #1 tip: Get to the airport early
NEW YORK — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) normally screens nearly 2 million passengers daily. With passenger volumes up more than 7 percent over the same time period last year, TSA expects passenger volumes to drastically increase throughout the remainder of March as spring breakers take to the skies to visit climates conducive to taking in a spring training game, lounging on a sandy beach, visiting a theme park or heading north for some spring skiing. The number one travel tip this spring is to get to the airport early—two hours before a domestic flight or three hours prior to an international departure.
Passenger preparedness can have a significant impact on wait times at security checkpoints nationwide. To facilitate the security screening process, TSA is reminding travelers to follow these tips:
- Arrive early to the airport to allow enough time to park, get your boarding pass, check your baggage, and go through the checkpoint. We recommend arriving at U.S. airports up to three hours prior to international flights and up to two hours prior to domestic flights if not enrolled in TSA Pre✓®.
- Print out your boarding passes prior to arriving at the airport.
- Know what is in your bag. Passengers who bring prohibited items to the checkpoint slow the screening process for themselves and everyone behind them. If in doubt about an item, use the “When I fly can I bring my…” tool on tsa.gov to make sure your item is permitted in carry-on and/or checked baggage.
- Pack your liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes in compliance with the 3-1-1 liquids rule. Passengers who violate this rule will also cause delays for themselves and everyone behind them.
- Remove all items from your pockets and put the items into your carry-on bag or into a bin when you get to the checkpoint. You may save time if you remove everything from your pockets before you get to the checkpoint.
- Reduce the amount of congestion in your carry-on bag. Doing so will enable it to move through screening faster.
- Avoid wearing large metal jewelry or clothing with large metal embellishments to reduce the possibility of alarming the screening machine.
- Pay close attention to the instructions that the TSA officers provide at the checkpoint. This helps the process move along efficiently.
- Follow @AskTSA on Twitter. We’re responding to your questions in real time on Twitter from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern Time.
Travelers who have medical conditions or disabilities are encouraged to call the TSA Cares toll-free helpline in advance of their trip at 1-855-787-2227 to ask about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the checkpoint. It is recommended to call 72 hours in advance of the trip.
Small TSA Tips that Can Make a Big Difference
- Don’t get burned—Suntan lotion: If your favorite brand of suntan lotion is larger than 3.4 ounces, put it in your checked bag. If you’re only traveling with a carry-on bag, consider purchasing the suntan lotion when you reach your destination to avoid paying a checked baggage fee.
- Thirsty flyers—Bottled water: You can’t bring a bottle of water through the checkpoint, but you can bring an empty bottle through the checkpoint and then fill it up once you’re through security. That will even save you a few bucks.
- Flip flop—Footwear: You’ll need to remove your shoes at the checkpoint, so wear footwear that is easy to slip on-off. Flip-flops perhaps?
- Hold onto your hat—Lost & Found: People leave items in the checkpoint bins all the time. If you think you may have lost one of your belongings at a checkpoint, visit TSA’s website (www.tsa.gov) and search under “Lost and Found” for a list of contacts at TSA lost and found offices to reclaim your item.
- Stay connected—If you are traveling with a laptop or other large electronic items, tape a business card or other identification on it so that if you leave it at a checkpoint, TSA can contact you to make sure you get it back.
Questions about TSA travel procedures can be addressed to the TSA Contact Center at 1-866-289-9673.