Holiday travel: TSA offers some pointers for traveling safely and efficiently
The Transportation Safety Administration is preparing for a very busy holiday travel season.
Newark Liberty International Airport was operating smoothly on Wednesday. But travel experts say that this can all change as Christmas gets closer.
“As we get close to Christmas the New Year holiday, we will see numbers pick up dramatically,” says Jim Gill, general manager of New Jersey airports for the Port Authority.
TSA officials say at its busiest, Newark Liberty will see 70,000 people pass through checkpoints per day. With COVID-19 restrictions lifting and fears easing, many will be flying for the first time in two years.
The Port Authority and TSA are offering reminders for how travelers can fly safely and efficiently.
“Arrive here early. Give yourself plenty of time,” says Thomas Carter, TSA federal security director. “If you do bring gifts to checkpoints, don’t wrap them. Keep them in a gift bag or box so they can be more easily checked and we don’t have to act like a Grinch and open your gift. Or the other option is to put it in your checked bag.”
Officials also say to make sure that banned items do not end up in carry-on bags, even by accident. They say that every bottle of water detected in a bag adds three minutes to the security line.
“So, there’s tremendous influence the passenger has over the wait time, just by packing correctly,” Carter says.
Travelers should also have everything they need out and ready to go before it’s their turn at security. They should also remember to wear masks – they are required for airports and planes.
Travelers can also sign up for TSA Pre-Check, which allows members to skip some steps. A similar option at Newark Liberty is named CLEAR. And at Terminal A only, there is a free app to allow passengers to reserve a spot in the security line ahead of time.
The TSA recommends that travelers get to the airport at least two hours before a domestic flight and three hours for international.