A TSO from the Transportation Security Administration checks a passenger’s identification at security checkpoint. TSA/File Photo
WASHINGTON — Travel season is about to get busy.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is preparing for what is likely to be the agency’s busiest travel season ever, as 263 million passengers and crew are projected to pass through security checkpoints nationwide between from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
This busy season takes place from May 23 to September 3.
TSA expects to screen over 4 percent, or 10 million more passengers than last summer and will likely set new records for the highest number of passengers and crew screened in a single day and single week.
During the same period last year, TSA screened more than 253 million passengers and crew, which included nine of the top 10 busiest weeks in its history during the summer season.
“This summer we’re expecting to screen over 2.7 million travelers on peak days,” said TSA Acting Deputy Administrator Patricia Cogswell.
“Our dedicated transportation security officers, inspectors, air marshals and support personnel are working around the clock to ensure traveler security during this record breaking travel season.”
Passengers are encouraged to enroll in TSA Pre✓® or another DHS trusted traveler program, such as Global Entry. These programs allow passengers to speed through security without removing shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets.
In April, 93 percent of TSA Pre✓® passengers waited less than five minutes in line.
Many individuals who apply directly through the TSA Pre✓® application program are approved several days after completing the in-person appointment and receive their Known Traveler Number online.
TSA continues to deploy new technologies and explore new ways to increase efficiency and security effectiveness, including at airports where capacity is limited.
Depending on the departing airport, travelers may see or experience:
- Automated screening lanes: TSA has installed more than 170 new bin and belt systems at 16 airports to enhance carry-on bag processing, with more lanes being added. These lanes automate many functions of bag processing, allowing as many as five individuals to place their items in trays simultaneously and submit them for screening.
- Computed tomography: CT, which is the most technically advanced carry-on baggage screening technology available today, provides TSA the ability to rapidly and accurately identify prohibited items. Travelers who go through lanes equipped with this technology will not be required to remove their laptops. TSA is focused on testing, procuring and deploying CT systems in airports as soon as possible.
- Credential authentication technology: This technology verifies and validates a passenger’s flight reservation and security screening status in near-real time. It detects IDs that are fraudulent, expired, and/or show evidence of tampering. These units are deployed at 14 airports, with more units planned for purchase and deployment in FY20.
“Passengers can help by arriving early and prepared for the security screening process, packing carry-on bags so they can be easily screened, and ensuring that neither they nor their bags contain prohibited items,” said Cogswell.
Passengers can help keep security lines moving by arriving prepared. In particular, TSA strongly encourages passengers to:
- Fully empty their bags prior to packing to ensure that they don’t accidentally bring something they shouldn’t to the airport, which may result in a delay due to the need to conduct additional screening;
- Arrive early – up to two hours in advance of flight departure time for domestic travel and three hours for international flights.
Public awareness is key in overall security efforts. Travelers are encouraged to report suspicious activities, and remember If You See Something, Say Something®.
For individuals traveling abroad, check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Know Before You Go page to learn about required documentation.