Travel Leaders reports it is advising its clients nationally how to adequately prepare for the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) airport security screening during the busy holiday travel season. Travelers will need both time and patience, Travel Leaders said.
“Airport security screening is continually changing, so we’re advising everyone from our most frequent flyers to the infrequent flyers – who may not have traveled since last year’s holiday season – on what to expect once they’ve arrived at the airport,” explained Travel Leaders Franchise Group President Roger E. Block.
“Perhaps the biggest change over last year is the dramatic spike in the number of travelers who are eligible for TSA’s Precheck, which enables participants to breeze through the security screening without removing shoes, laptops and the one quart, clear plastic bag used to carry liquids and gels. We’re advising our clients that unless they specifically see ‘TSA Precheck’ on their boarding passes, they should avoid going to those designated screening lines. That way, they’ll save time and not be disappointed, while also providing a courtesy to their fellow passengers by preventing a logjam at the checkpoint itself," Block said.
Travel Leaders noted that it is expected that 100 U.S. airports will have TSA Precheck by the end of 2013 – up from just 40 earlier this year. According to TSA, more than 15 million passengers experienced Precheck between its October 2011 launch and September of this year.
Block also said that children 12 years and under, along with adults 75 and older, now can enjoy reduced screening procedures. Children 12 and under are not only allowed to keep their shoes on while passing through security, but they are allowed multiple passes through metal detectors and advanced imaging technology to clear any alarms on them.
For adults 75 or older, they are allowed to keep both their shoes and light jackets on through security checkpoints; they may also undergo an additional pass through Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) to clear any alarms detected. For both children and adults, TSA is equipped with trace detection technology to resolve alarms.
Block said Travel Leaders reminded consumers nationally of the 3-1-1 rule. “You are allowed to bring liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes if they’re no more than 3.4 ounces each, and as long as these small containers fit into one single one-quart sized clear zip bag,” noted Block. “Unless you are TSA Precheck-approved, you must remove this from your carry-on bag and place it in a bin at security screening.”
Other items that must be placed into bins at security screening include laptop computers (unless in a pre-approved bag) and other large electronic equipment, shoes, most belts, and anything made of metal that could potentially sound the alarm, such as jewelry and watches.
“If you’re approaching a screening station that includes a large imaging station, those in which passengers place their hands over their heads, then you’ll need to remove everything from your pockets and place them in a bin,” Block said. “My personal advice for speeding up the entire screening process is to come prepared and have your items ready to place into the bins before you approach the TSA checkpoint – this way, you won’t hold up throngs of passengers following you. ‘Be considerate’ is the watchword.”
Among the items that are not allowed through security screening are sharp items (including most scissors), firearms, ammunition, flammable or explosive materials, chemicals meant to disable someone (such as pepper spray), or any type of tool more than seven inches long in a carry-on bag.
Travel Leaders also advises clients to dress simply as they travel. “Unless you are TSA Precheck approved, try to wear shoes that easily slip on and off,” Block stated. “Remember that you’ll have to remove jackets, too. So if you’re traveling to someplace warm, you may opt to simply leave it at home.”
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Block concluded by noting that the days just before and after Thanksgiving, Hanukkah (which coincides with Thanksgiving this year), Christmas and New Year’s Eve are among the busiest travel days of the year.
“Don’t forget that parking areas tend to fill up quickly so you may want to consider alternative means of getting to the airport,” Block said. “Be sure to arrive at the airport at least two hours before your scheduled departure time – and three for international flights – and be sure to pack plenty of patience, too. That way, you’ll ‘Travel Better’ and get in the spirit of the holiday season.”