The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is gearing up for what it expects will be its busiest holiday travel season ever while a potential government shutdown may be days away. Although TSA employees and federal air traffic controllers will be required to work without pay during a shutdown, there could be more “out sick” calls than usual – as there were during the 2019 shutdown. This will lead to longer screening times, flight delays, and cancellations for travelers.
The TSA has some tips for holiday travelers:
- Pack Smart. Avoid putting prohibited items in carry-ons. “If you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it, then it is liquid and must be packed in a checked bag.” In other words, gravy, cranberry sauce, wine, and the like cannot go in carry-ons, but cakes and other baked goods can.
- Bring Acceptable Photo ID. Check your wallet before you leave your house. There are various photo IDs that are acceptable, but travelers typically bring driver’s licenses or passports.
- Arrival. Arrive at least two hours prior to your scheduled flight.
- Traveling With Firearms. If you are traveling with firearms, those items must be packed in a hard-sided, locked case in a checked bag and declared at the ticket counter when checking in. The maximum penalty for bringing a firearm to a TSA checkpoint is nearly $15,000. Moreover, bringing a firearm to a TSA checkpoint will result in delays and the loss of TSA PreCheck eligibility for up to five years.
- New Screening Technologies. Stay aware of new checkpoint screening technologies – watch the signs. Screening technologies vary from airport to airport. In some airports, you may not have to remove 3-1-1 liquids or laptops from your bags, but you will have to put everything into a bin for screening.
- TSA PreCheck. Use it if you can. The online application takes just a few minutes. You will need to schedule an appointment at an enrollment center, and you will receive your membership in three to five days. If you want it, there still may be time before your holiday travel. It costs $78.00 for a five-year membership.
- Passenger Support. Call ahead for TSA passenger support if you or your family members need special assistance. Call the TSA Cares helpline toll-free at 855-787-2227.
- Questions? If you have questions, text TSA at #275-872 (“AskTSA”) or, on X (formerly known as Twitter) or Facebook, use @AskTSA. An automated virtual assistant is available 24/7, and staff is available from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. ET on weekdays and 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET on weekends and holidays.
- Awareness. Remain aware of your surroundings and report suspicious activity. “If you see something, say something.”
- Courtesy. Be courteous and show gratitude to the frontline workers who are trying to deal with the holiday volume. In other words, be patient during high volume days and times. Pack your patience!
Enjoy the holidays!