BALTIMORE – The number of passengers expected to fly this summer is expected to exceed last year’s record-breaking numbers with more than 2.5 million passengers per day expected to pass through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints through Labor Day.
The summer travel season is on the horizon with peak travel period kicking off on the Memorial Day holiday and extending through August. Some of the busiest days of the summer are expected to be the days leading up to and immediately after major holidays such as July 4th and Labor Day, but most summer days will seem like holiday time with the increase in passengers expected throughout the summer.
This summer passengers at Baltimore Washington International Airport may notice dogs at the security checkpoints. The dogs will be working with their handlers as they screen passengers for explosives in the busy airport terminal. The explosives detection methodology relies on the canine’s ability to process air currents and recognize odors that it is trained to detect, whether the person is moving or still; or whether the person is present or has recently passed through the area. Because the dogs are trained to detect explosives on travelers, they are referred to as Passenger Screening Canines.
Canine teams are one of the most efficient and effective means of detecting explosive materials. The TSA canine teams are capable of being rapidly deployed anywhere in the terminal to provide reliable explosives detection capabilities. They are trained to detect dozens of explosives scents. They are not trained for drug interdiction or patrol duties.
Travelers are urged to come prepared to go through the screening process and to listen to the guidance that the TSA officers are providing once passengers enter the checkpoint. Given the current threat environment, the TSA officers are very focused on the security of travelers and in doing so, they offer helpful guidance as passengers go through the screening process.
TSA will continue to screen personal electronic devices separately, including laptops, tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles. Additionally, TSA officers may instruct travelers to separate other items from carry-on bags such as foods, powders, and any materials that can clutter bags and obstruct clear images on the X-ray machine. Food and liquid items that comply with the 3-1-1 liquids rule, electronics, and books continue to be allowed in carry-on baggage. However, TSA officers may ask travelers to separate dense foods, powders and other items to allow TSA officers to obtain a clear X-ray image for security purposes.
While it is possible that passengers may experience more bag checks and additional screening of some items, TSA officers conduct screening with quicker and more targeted procedures to secure passengers and their carry-on baggage. As always, travelers with privacy concerns can request private screening.
Travelers enrolled in TSA Pre✓® will continue to experience expedited screening by not having to remove shoes, the 3-1-1 liquids bag, laptops, light outerwear jackets or belts. The program is available for eligible individuals who have been identified as low-risk, trusted travelers. As directed by TSA officers, some of these procedures apply to eligible passengers using TSA Pre✓® lanes. The best way to ensure a quick trip through the security screening process is to prepare, prepare, prepare because there will be thousands of people flying out of the Baltimore area daily.
Passenger preparedness can have a significant impact on wait times at security checkpoints nationwide. To facilitate the security screening process, travelers should arrive early to BWI Airport. It is recommended that travelers arrive two hours in advance of their domestic flight and three hours prior to an international flight to ensure that they have time to park their cars or return rental cars, check their bags with their airline, get their boarding passes and hit the restroom—all before heading to the security checkpoint.
Some helpful tools and travel tips for the airport security checkpoint include:
Apply for TSA Pre✓® or other trusted travel programs like Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI. To find the trusted traveler program that best suits your travel needs, use the DHS trusted traveler comparison tool. These programs help improve security and provide a more convenient travel experience by affording travelers access to TSA Pre✓® expedited screening lanes. Travelers using the TSA Pre✓® lane do not need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets at more than 180 U.S. airports.
Tweet or Message @AskTSA. Issues receiving TSA Pre✓® on your boarding pass? Unsure if an item is allowed through security? Get live assistance by tweeting your questions and comments to @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can also reach the Contact Center at 866-289-9673.
Prepare for security when packing. Put large liquids, gels, creams and aerosols, into checked bags such as shampoo, conditioner, suntan lotion, shaving cream and anti-perspirant. If you’ve only got a carry-on bag, make sure all of your liquids follow the 3-1-1 rule outlined below. And it’s important to make sure that you’ve got no prohibited items in your luggage. Check TSA’s web site feature “Can I bring my ________?” at www.tsa.gov. Type in an item and find out immediately if you can bring it in your carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither.
Follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule for your carry-on bag. When packing a carry-on bag, it is important to remember that liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces or less and all bottles must fit in a single quart size plastic bag and placed in a bin for screening. This includes sun block and tanning sprays. Let the TSA officer know right away if you’re traveling with larger quantities of medically-necessary liquid medications or breast milk or formula for an infant.
Be ready when you enter the checkpoint line: Have an acceptable ID and boarding pass out of your wallet and ready to hand to the TSA officer. Once you get to the divesting tables, remove large electronics including laptops and the 3-1-1 compliant liquids bag, from carry-on baggage.
Consider minimizing items that you wear to the airport such as bulky jewelry, scarves, hair accessories, large belts and other bulky items as these articles are likely to require additional screening. Remove all items from your pockets and put them into one of your carry-on bags so you won’t lose them.
Check the bins: Equally important, travelers are reminded to check the bins when collecting all belongings after going through screening and before leaving the checkpoint screening area. Often, travelers leave behind laptops, cameras, phones and loose change.
The TSA Contact Center is available to answer questions by email and phone at 1-866-289-9673. Staff is available from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekends/holidays; and an automated service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Call TSA Cares. Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and/or medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll free at 855-787-2227 at least 72 hours prior to flying with any questions about screening policies, procedures and to find out what to expect at the security checkpoint as well as arrange for assistance at the checkpoint.
As a reminder, public awareness is key for supporting TSA’s security efforts. Travelers are encouraged to report suspicious activities, and remember, If You See Something, Say Something™. For individuals traveling abroad, please check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Know Before You Go page to learn about required documentation.