Tips for Thanksgiving Travelers

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is expecting another record Thanksgiving holiday travel season this year, with more than 25 million people forecasted to travel between Nov. 16-26, a nearly seven percent increase over 2017.

“The busiest travel days will still be the Tuesday and Wednesday leading up to Thanksgiving and the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The Sunday after Thanksgiving is projected to break into TSA’s top 10 busiest days ever,” the TSA wrote in a release this week.

With that kind of traffic coming through airports, the TSA has released a number of tips and guidelines that it says will help both its agents and travelers. The organization said, “The best way to ensure a quick trip through the security screening process is to prepare, prepare, prepare.”

Here are five of the tips from the TSA:

1. Be ready when heading through security
When entering security checkpoints, be ready by having your ID and boarding pass in hand to give to the officer and be prepared to place electronics larger than a cell phone in a separate bin. Travelers can avoid this second step by enrolling in the TSA’s Pre® program, which allows for electronics to be kept in bags.

The TSA also says that minimizing what you wear to the airport — including accessories like bulky jewelry, scarves, hair accessories, and large belts — will help reduce the likeliness of additional screening. “Remove all items from your pockets and put them into one of your carry-on bags so you won’t lose them,” the department writes.

2. Use the AskTSA
Through the TSA-run social accounts and the My TSA app, travelers can access AskTSA, the department’s question-and-answer system that is operated through Facebook Messenger and Twitter, where travelers can typically get a quick response to their questions.

The service is available on Twitter at @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on weekends/holidays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

3. Pack smart
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 for those who are travelling to sunny destinations, and of course turkey gravy. 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 as those can be screened separately. Consult AskTSA for any other items that may fall into the gray area.

The TSA also recommends that you remove powders from your bag, so they can be more easily screened. With the new rules, if the TSA finds powder in a bag, it is cause for a bag check that can keep you at security even longer. “Removing the powder items is likely to reduce the need for a bag check at the checkpoint,” the TSA writes.

4. Be conscious on your way out of security
Breathing a sigh of relief that you’ve made it past security without any major hiccups is fine, but forgetting that your laptop was screened separately or leaving a wallet or cellphone at the bottom of a jam-backed bin is not.

It’s most important to remember to grab everything, even if it means taking a little more time at security. Not having to circle back to TSA to ask an agent for something you may have forgotten will save you and other travelers time in the long run.

5. Enroll in TSA PreCheck
The TSA is constantly pushing programs like Pre®, Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI because not only do they make their agents’ jobs easier, but these programs also save travelers time and stress as they pass through security.

People using the trusted traveler programs can move through security without having to take off shoes or light jackets, and without having to pull laptops and liquids from their bags. More than 200 airports around the U.S. participate in the Pre® program. For more information, click here.

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