As summer travel volumes continue to rise and the Fourth of July holiday weekend approaches, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) remains prepared to ensure a secure screening process at airports nationwide.
On Sunday, June 27, TSA screened 2,167,380 people through airport security checkpoints, which was the highest checkpoint volume the agency has seen since the beginning of the pandemic. TSA expects that number to be outpaced over the holiday weekend and advises passengers to arrive at the airport with plenty of time for ticketing, checking baggage, and security screening.
Many airports across the country are seeing passenger travel at pre-pandemic levels, especially in the mornings when flight schedules are compressed. Some airports are already exceeding 2019 travel volumes, including popular summer travel destinations, such as Nashville International Airport and Myrtle Beach International Airport; while others, like Orlando International Airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport are already close to pre-pandemic volumes ahead of the high-traffic holiday weekend.
“It’s heartening to see the country taking to travel again and travelling to enjoy the weekend and celebrate our nation’s independence,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “We continue to remind passengers to pack their patience and remain calm through the security checkpoint and onboard aircraft. TSA will not tolerate aggressive actions toward our officers; please help us make travel safe, secure and pleasant on this holiday weekend.”
The federal face mask mandate remains in effect on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Face masks are not required in outdoor areas of conveyances (if such outdoor areas exist on the conveyance) or while outdoors at transportation hubs.
Some helpful reminders for the airport security checkpoint include:
- Arrive early. TSA expects to see the increasing summer travel volumes to continue to rise into the holiday weekend. Although nationally our travel volume remains around 75% of pre-pandemic levels, some airports around the country have already surpassed volumes from 2019. Please arrive at the airport in plenty of time for ticketing, checking baggage, security screening, etc.
- Wear a face mask. Face masks remain mandatory for employees and passengers, regardless of vaccination status, throughout all domestic transportation modes, including airport security screening checkpoints. Since the implementation of the face mask mandate for travelers on Feb 2, there has been near-total voluntary compliance throughout the entire transportation system.
- Enroll now in TSA PreCheck® to “Travel with Ease.” By enrolling in TSA PreCheck, airline passengers can avoid removing shoes, belts, liquids, food, laptops and light jackets at the TSA checkpoint. Most new enrollees receive their known traveler number within five days, and membership lasts for five years.
- Pack smart; start with empty bags. Those airline passengers who begin packing for travel with empty bags are less likely to bring prohibited items through a TSA checkpoint. Technology and modifications help reduce the need for physical contact with TSA officers, but those who take time to come prepared for the TSA checkpoint are far more likely to avoid physical contact. Check for prohibited items by using the “What Can I Bring?” page on TSA.gov.
- Consider other ways that might help avoid physical contact at the checkpoint. Prior to entering the line for the TSA checkpoint, take a few minutes to prepare. Place jewelry, keys and other pocketed items into your carry-on bag so they might be scanned with need for fewer bins at the conveyor belt. Have a valid ID card readily available and follow the liquids rule of 3.4 ounces or less, with the exception of hand sanitizer, which has a temporary 12-ounce limit in carry-on baggage.
- Traveling with Firearms. Unloaded firearms may be transported in a locked, hard-sided container in checked baggage only. Declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter. The container must completely secure the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted. Be aware that the container the firearm was in when purchased may not adequately secure the firearm when it is transported in checked baggage.
- Contact TSA for help if there are questions or concerns. Passengers with questions about checkpoint procedures and how to prepare for TSA security screening, or who need additional assistance during the security screening process should contact TSA Cares in advance of their travel: (855) 787-2227 (Federal Relay 711). Additionally, they can submit questions to @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on weekends/holidays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. Information is also available at TSA.gov. If you have any concerns or questions during screening at a TSA checkpoint, or have a disability, medical condition or require additional assistance, please ask for a Supervisor or Passenger Support Specialist.