The next few weeks are notorious for being one of the busiest times of the year when it comes to air travel – and experts at the Transport Security Administration (TSA) are predicting airports to be even busier this year than last.
While TSA Administrator David Pekoske says the TSA is prepared to handle the surge in passengers during the winter holiday season, there are plenty of things we as travelers can do to help everyone’s journey run more smoothly.
In a bid to speed up the airport security experience and reduce traveling stress, the TSA has released a list of 10 steps travelers should follow.
While some points may seem obvious to seasoned travelers, it’s always worth checking in to see what the latest advice is because things can change quickly.
Before you get anywhere near the airport, you need to pack.
The TSA recommends beginning your packing with an empty bag so you don’t end up accidentally bringing items you didn’t intend to.
It also pays to check the “What Can I Bring?” section of the TSA website to make sure your bag is all good.
Get To The Airport Earlier Than Usual
This may seem super obvious, but you’d be amazed how you can reduce traveling stress by arriving earlier than you normally would when the airport is busy.
The TSA’s official advice is to arrive 2 hours before your flight, but there’s no harm in getting there a bit before that if you can spare it.
Have Your ID Ready
No one wants to be that person fumbling around in their bag or pockets for their ID when they finally get to the front of the queue.
Make sure you have the correct ID for your journey and have it in your hand when you’re in the screening line, says the TSA.
Advice On Wrapped Gifts
Got that snow globe for your Great Aunty Irma? How about the latest footballer’s autobiography for Dad? Traveling with gifts is super common at this time of year.
Sometimes, those items may need to be inspected, so you can make life easier for yourself by transporting any gifts unwrapped or by having them in gift bags or boxes that can easily be opened to be checked if required.
If you are traveling with a firearm, you must ensure it is unloaded and packed in the correct kind of lockable hard case.
You must also declare the firearm at the ticket counter.
New Screening Technology
How you are screened varies from airport to airport, with new technology being implemented all the time.
The latest technology is Computed Tomography (CT) scanners, which can view your bags in 3D.
The main benefit of CT is that you don’t need to remove liquids or laptops from bags – so be aware of which lane you’re in and what technology is being used.
Time To Consider TSA PreCheck
Imagine waiting for just five minutes or less at the airport checkpoint.
That dream can be a reality if you sign up for TSA PreCheck – a system that allows you a much faster checking experience at the airport and costs just $70 for a five-year duration.
The PreCheck is becoming more popular with travelers and has 15 million members and counting.
Call Ahead If You Need Support
If you have a disability or you’re traveling with someone who does, you can call the TSA Cares helpline to help cater for any additional needs.
The number is 855-787-2227, but make sure you call at least 72 hours before your journey.
If In Doubt, Ask TSA
If you are unsure about anything to do with your flight, the best thing to do is contact the TSA directly.
You can text a question to 275-872 or contact them via the handle @AskTSA on X (formerly Twitter) or on Facebook Messenger.
Follow TSO Guidance
It might seem like a lot of rules, but they all exist to help keep us safe while traveling.
Listen to Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) and obey their requests.
And remember, that no matter how stressed you are, TSOs are human beings just trying to do their jobs – give ‘em a smile, it’s the holidays!
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com