TSA’s Holiday Travel Tips in Anticipation of the Holiday Rush
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) predicts that this year will be the busiest holiday travel season ever. This means your local airport will be extremely crowded, so plan extra time if you’re flying during the holidays.
In an official announcement, the TSA outlined the Thanksgiving travel window, spanning from Friday, November 17, to Tuesday, November 28. The agency foresees 30 million passengers navigating airports during this period. They pinpoint Sunday, November 26, as the busiest, with an estimated 2.9 million travelers. Wednesday, November 22, follows closely behind, expecting 2.7 million passengers. Meanwhile, Tuesday, November 21, rounds out the top three busiest days, projecting 2.6 million passengers passing through TSA security.
TSA guidelines ahead of the holiday rush.
Surpassing the previous record set on Friday, June 30, with nearly 2.9 million passengers screened nationwide, this year’s Thanksgiving travel period is poised to break new ground. In anticipation, the TSA has issued guidelines ahead of the holiday travel rush, beginning this Friday, November 17.
To prepare for your travel, the agency advises starting with an empty bag to reduce the likelihood of inadvertently carrying prohibited items. Additionally, travelers planning to bring Thanksgiving feast items should be aware that liquids, such as cranberry sauce, wine, gravy, jams, and preserves, are restricted.
Allow time at security checkpoints.
For those traveling with firearms, the TSA emphasizes the importance of stowing them in a hard-sided, locked case within checked luggage. Declaration of the firearm must occur at the airline’s ticket counter during check-in. Doing so helps to avoid costly delays and potential penalties, including a maximum civil penalty of $15,000 and a five-year loss of TSA PreCheck eligibility.
Given the anticipated surge in airport activity, the TSA recommends arriving approximately two hours before the scheduled flight. This approach allows for added time at security checkpoints, where passengers may encounter new screening technology.
Passengers are encouraged to have proper identification readily available. Some airports may utilize Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) units, prompting travelers to place their physical ID in the unit. If equipped with CAT-2 machines, passengers might also undergo a voluntary photo-taking process for real-time identity verification, with the TSA assuring that photos are not stored.
For those enrolled in TSA PreCheck, confirming that your Known Traveler Number (KTN) and date of birth on the airline reservation is important to prevent verification issues. In the event of inquiries or assistance needs, the TSA Cares helpline at 855-787-2227 is available, requiring a call at least 72 hours before the scheduled flight.
More information about preparing for holiday travel can be found here.