HONOLULU (KHON2) — Traveling for the holidays is as much a part of the festivities as any other part of the occasions.
According to the Transportation Security Administration (TS), approximately 24.5 million flights were taken during the week of Thanksgiving 2023 from Nov. 17 through Nov. 27.
Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You
The TSA has also asked that travelers be mindful of the large numbers of passengers that will be making their way to destinations as Thanksgiving travel ramps up over the next couple of weeks.
“We expect this holiday season to be our busiest ever. In 2023, we have already seen seven of the top 10 busiest travel days in TSA’s history,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske.
Some of the most important things that we need to be mindful of while we travel are the security checkpoints that we must go through to get to our flights.
These security checkpoints are densely crowded and filled with passengers that don’t want to have to go through this part of the travel process. So, be mindful that you are surrounded by people who feel the same way as you do.
We will also do our best to maintain wait time standards of under 10 minutes for TSA PreCheck® lanes and under 30 minutes for standard screening lanes,” promised Pekoske.
TSA said that there are more than 17.6 million passengers who are enrolled in their TSA PreCheck® program. This is the largest number of registered participants in their program since it began. This is also representative of the move of 3.9 million more people to sign up in 2023 as compared to 2022.
Although airlines and airport security are doing what they can to mitigate delays, cancelations and annoyances, there are many things that we can do as travelers to make our experiences and the experiences of our fellow passengers less stressful.
“I am grateful for our dedicated employees who continue to remain vigilant and focused on the mission during this holiday travel season and beyond,” added Pekoske.
So, let’s take a look at some of the ways the TSA has identified that we can do.
1. Begin your journey by packing empty bags
Pack smart. TSA recommends that people begin with an empty bag when packing for air travel. Often times, when we pack bags that already have items in them, we forget that there may be prohibited items in those bags.
As we know since the 9/11 tragedies, there are many things that we cannot bring on flights. After 22 years of dealing with these restrictions, there continue to be travelers who do not understand what we cannot bring on a flight.
Since it’s time for Thanksgiving, travelers are reminded that certain foods, such as gravy, cranberry sauce, wine, jam and preserves must be packed in a checked luggage since these items are considered to be liquids or gels.
2. Don’t forget proper ID + have it ready for TSA agents to check
You can use a state issued identification card which includes state IDs and drivers’ licenses. You can also use government issued passports. TSA is also utilizing what they call Credential Authentication Technology, or CATs for short, at many airport checkpoints.
Although you will have lots of things hanging onto you, possibly including children, while you are going through the line, you can make your ID check experience less stressful for everyone if you have your ID out and ready before you enter the line.
3. Go to the airport early
Arriving early may seem overly cautious, but it is the best way to ensure that you have enough time to do everything you need to do in order to get into that boarding line.
Giving yourself ample time to deal with all the stresses related to air travel can make the experience much less hectic and maddening.
4. Firearm rules
For those of us who live in a bit more fear than the average person, be sure to know all the rules and regulations for firearms, ammunition, knives and other implements considered to be weapons.
TSA said that “passengers are prohibited from packing firearms in carry-on luggage and bringing them to the airport security checkpoint and onboard aircraft.” They levy a $15,000 civil penalty for bringing a firearm to a TSA checkpoint. Click here for complete details on TSA rules for firearms and other weapons.
Not abiding by firearms rules can also have your TSA PreCheck eligibility cancelled for up to five years.
5. Know that there will be checkpoint screening technology
TSA checkpoints employ a few different screening technology apparatuses. These include new state-of-the-art Computed Tomography (CT) scanners for carryon bags. When you place your carryon items, shoes, coats, etc… on the conveyor belt, they will be run through the CT scanners.
These scanners provide a three-dimensional (3-D) view of your entire cache. They reduce physical searches. Remember that all items, including phones, laptops, shoes, backpacks, liquids and food purchases in the airport and nearly everything else with which you will be traveling must be placed into the bins that go through the scanners. So, be prepared.
6. TSA PreCheck program
The first step to ensuring that you can take advantage of your TSA PreCheck abilities is to be sure you have the TSA PreCheck mark on your boarding pass.
This program has 90 participating airlines, is available at more than 200 airports and has two authorized enrollment providers. The program allows you to enlist for five years at a time at the cost of $78 with renewals costing $70. You can click here to access the application process. You can click here for detailed information about the program.
Don’t forget that first time applicants must schedule an appointment at any of their more than 500 enrollment centers after which most applicants will receive their Known Traveler Number (KTN) within three to five days of the visit.
7. Passenger support services will require a pre-emptive phone call
You can call TSA Cares helpline toll-free at 855-787-2227 or go online for help at the airport. These calls must be placed at least 72-hours before your arrival for travel.
8. TSA virtual helpdesk
You can text your question to #275-872 (“AskTSA”) or through @AskTSA on X (formerly known as Twitter) or Facebook Messenger. This service is provided to answer any questions you may have before your planned travel experience.
This automated system is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but you’ll need to contact them between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. EST to speak to someone directly. You can also take advantage of the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673. This is staffed with personnel from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends and holidays.
9. If you see something, say something
This old adage came about for safe traveling during the post-9/11 years under President George W. Bush. Be aware as you travel through airports and report anything that appears to be suspicious.
10. Be nice
Traveling is a hectic and stressful time, especially for families. But don’t forget that everyone traveling is your the same boat, per se. And more importantly, TSA and other airport workers deal with travelers in this state on a near constant basis.
So, be nice and show a bit of gratitude as you make your way through the schedules and demands of travel.
Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8
Well, that’s all folks. Don’t forget while you’re traveling that you are still a part of a collective society that relies on adherence to rules and common courtesies.