The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is preparing for another record-breaking travel season this summer, as 243 million passengers and crew are projected to come through security checkpoints nationwide between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Last summer, TSA screened more than 239 million passengers and crew during the summer travel period, which included four of the top 10 busiest days in the agency’s history. It’s likely that some travel days this year may also break into the top 10 list.
At Newark Liberty International Airport, TSA sees approximately 58,000 passengers per day come through the checkpoint, but during the peak summer travel days this year, 75,000 passengers are expected to be screened. At John F. Kennedy International Airport TSA officers will screen more than 100,000 passengers and at LaGuardia Airport more than 50,000 passengers will go through the checkpoints on a busy summer day. Thus, the number one travel tip is to arrive at the airport two hours before a scheduled flight, says TSA’s New Jersey Federal Security Director Thomas Carter, who anticipates that there will be some record-setting travel days at Newark this summer.
Some of the busiest days this summer are expected to be the days leading up to and immediately after major holidays such as July 4th and Labor Day, but “most days between now and Labor Day Weekend will seem like holiday time with the increase in passengers expected throughout the summer,” Carter said. As a result, the checkpoints at Newark are fully-staffed for the busy summer travel season.
Travelers are requested to come prepared to go through the security screening process and to listen to the guidance that the TSA officers are providing as passengers enter the checkpoint. “Travelers should expect a line at the check-in counter, at the car rental desks and at the checkpoint during the summer season,” Carter says. “Please keep in mind that our goal is to get you to your destination safely and home safely, which is why we have our security protocols in place.”
TSA began planning with airline and airport partners to increase screening capabilities early this year. Several airports nationwide implemented additional resources during the 2018 spring break travel period, which saw more than 3.77 million passengers than the same period last year.
In addition to spring break, many airport single-day screening records have already been broken in the first few months of the year.
Last year TSA announced the roll-out of enhanced security screening procedures at all airports, that requires travelers to remove all personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone (laptops, e-readers, tablets, cameras) from their carry-on bags to place in checkpoint bins, and for many travelers, this summer may be the first time that they are experiencing this new protocol.
As a reminder, there are a few things that passengers can do to assist TSA with keeping wait times to a minimum this summer:
- Always check personal belongings/carry-ons for prohibited items before going to the airport.
- Arrive to the airport two hours prior to scheduled departure time if flying domestically; three hours for international flights.
- Listen carefully for TSA officer instructions on how to prepare for screening inside the TSA security checkpoint.