The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is anticipating that security checkpoints nationwide will be busy during the upcoming holiday travel season. In order to have an airport and flying experience that’s as stress-free as possible, we’ve gathered some practical and useful tips.
Of course, before you do anything, be sure you’ve scoped out the most current COVID-19 guidelines for your arrival destination, as regulations can vary per state, city, county and individual establishment. You wouldn’t want groups to miss out on a highly-anticipated stop on their itinerary because they were unprepared. Here are five things travelers can do now to be prepared for the screening experience during the holidays, according to TSA.
1. COVID-19 protocols are still in place, so don’t forget to wear a mask.
The federal requirement to wear a mask anywhere in the nation’s transportation system remains in effect through January 2022. Travelers are required to wear a mask anywhere in the airport and while onboard an aircraft. Travelers will be asked to momentarily adjust their masks to verify their identity when providing their photo ID and boarding pass at the entrance to the checkpoint. TSA recommends packing a few extra masks in the event in case a mask gets dirty during the trip.
2. Enroll in TSA PreCheck® now to expedite security screening and reduce touchpoints.
Travelers who are enrolled in TSA PreCheck don’t have to remove their shoes, belts, lightweight jackets, electronics larger than a cell phone or their bag of travel-size liquids and gels during screening. Not only is that convenient, but it also reduces touchpoints when transiting the security checkpoint. If you enroll by mid-November, you will likely be eligible for TSA PreCheck by Thanksgiving.
3. Use gift bags instead of wrapping paper.
Wrapped items are screened just like any other item. If a wrapped item alarms the security screening technology—whether in carry-on or checked luggage—a TSA officer may have to unwrap it to determine what the item is and confirm it does not pose a security threat. Consider traveling with unwrapped items or placing them in a gift bag for easy access and resolution.
4. Make a plan for traveling with special holiday foods and drinks.
Many passengers like to travel with special foods and drinks to share with friends and families during the holidays. Remember: not all foods can be transported in carry-on luggage. If you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it AND the quantity exceeds 3.4 ounces (100 ml), pack it in a checked bag. For example, cranberry sauce, jams and jellies as well as gravy and wine in quantities larger than 3.4 ounces should go in a checked bag. Cakes, pies and casseroles can travel in carry-on luggage, but may require some additional screening.
5. Download the free myTSA app and follow TSA on social media.
The free, downloadable myTSA app is a trusted source for last-minute travel questions. It provides travelers with 24-hour access to the most frequently requested airport security information. It also features a searchable “Can I Bring” database where you can type in the name of an item and the app will let you know if you should pack it in your checked or carry-on bag. The app is available from the App Store or Google Play.
For additional timely and helpful travel tips, follow @TSA on Twitter. The account, which is updated multiple times per day, is the easiest way to become a savvy traveler during the holiday travel season and year-round. Remember: you can even tweet or message TSA for a specific question.
Note that due to the continued spread of COVID-19, TSA is permitting travelers to bring one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per traveler, in carry-on luggage.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.