Stop Us If You've Heard This Before...
Security Administration (TSA) is moving to duplicate, over the
upcoming Holiday Season, the short wait times at security
checkpoints that air travelers experienced over Thanksgiving. Data
collected by TSA over the Thanksgiving Holiday showed an average
passenger wait time of 12 minutes during peak travel periods, with
overall wait times averaging less than four minutes. Year-end
holiday travel typically is not as concentrated as Thanksgiving,
but offers other challenges including families traveling together
and the need to move gifts through security systems.
Rear Adm. David M. Stone, USN (Ret.), Assistant Secretary of
Homeland Security for TSA, emphasized the need for travelers and
families to be prepared for security screening, and requested that
passengers not go to the airport with wrapped packages. He also
reminded passengers not to take firearms and ammunition through the
checkpoint in their carry-on luggage.
"TSA's success this Holiday Season depends upon our continued
partnership with the traveling public and aviation stakeholders,"
he said. "TSA pledges to do all it can to ensure security and
provide excellent customer service. Passengers need to prepare
themselves and their families ahead of time for the airport
security process, and not bring any prohibited items like firearms
and ammunition to the checkpoint."
When traveling with
children, being ready to go through the checkpoint can be a huge
timesaver. If alarms are set off, additional screening takes
approximately three minutes per person, on average. A conversation
with children in advance of airport security may also be helpful.
At the checkpoint, children will need to temporarily part with such
things as blankets and stuffed animals, and older children need to
know that any comment suggesting a threat to an aircraft or its
passengers is taken seriously by TSA screeners.
The security environment essentially remains unchanged since
September 2004 when TSA announced it was increasing the use of
explosives trace detectors, expanding the use of manual pat-down
searches, and referring more passengers for additional screening
based on visual observations by screeners, even if an alarm has not
gone off. As always, passengers have the right to a private
TSA's checkpoint protocols now require all passengers to remove
outer coats and jackets for X-ray before proceeding through the
metal detectors. That includes suit and sport coats, athletic
warm-up jackets and blazers. If a sports coat or blazer is being
worn as the innermost garment – not over a blouse or sweater,
for example – it does not have to come off.
Other important TSA travel tips to help travelers and their
families be prepared for the security process include:
- As you wait in line at
the security checkpoint, place all metal items in a carry-on bag
and take laptops and video cameras out of their cases.
- To minimize the risk of damage or loss, don't pack fragile or
valuable items in checked baggage. Take them with you in carry-on
baggage, or ship them to your destination instead.
- Put undeveloped film in carry-on baggage because equipment used
to screen checked baggage will damage film. Also, high-speed and
specialty film should not be put through X-ray machines, so
passengers may ask screeners at the checkpoint to physically
- You are NOT REQUIRED to remove your shoes before you enter the
walk-through metal detector. However, TSA screeners encourage you
to remove them because many types of footwear – including
boots, platform shoes, and footwear containing metal or having a
thick sole or heel – will require additional screening even
if the metal detector DOES NOT alarm.
- Do not wear jewelry, shoes or clothing that may set off metal
- Get to the airport in plenty of time.
- Remember to put identification tags in and on all baggage
- Everyone, even frequent fliers, should double check the
contents of their pockets and bags, particularly carry-on luggage,
to ensure no prohibited items were inadvertently packed.
- Passengers selected for additional screening have the right to
request that it is done in a private location.
- Do not overpack bags. If screeners have to open them, closing
overstuffed bags can be difficult and may result in that checked
bag being delayed until a later flight.
If TSA screeners need to open a locked bag for inspection, they
may have to break the lock. There are now products on the market
that have uniform locking systems that enable screeners to open and
relock a bag. Passengers without such devices may still want to
consider leaving bags unlocked.