LINTHICUM, Md. (WJZ) — If you’re flying out of Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshal Airport for the Thanksgiving holiday, experts say you need to get to the airport early.
The Transportation Security Administration is expecting a record-breaking amount of travelers this holiday weekend, with 26.8 million passengers and crew traveling through airport security checkpoints nationwide.
“TSA expects to screen probably in the neighborhood of 27 million people nationwide,” TSA Spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said.
The TSA suggests people arrive two hours before their domestic flights and three hours prior for international flights between Nov.22 and Dec. 2.
TSA agents normally screen 32,000 passengers on an average day at BWI, but on the busiest days they could screen up to 40,000. Travelers should account for time for traffic and parking as well.
“You see people, they see the long line and they automatically think this is going to take me forever,” TSA Agent Evan Hatley said. “But if you work through those points, you work effectively and efficiently, we’re going to get you through that line as quick as possible.”
Here are some tips to get through security checkpoints efficiently:
- Unpack your bag before you pack it – at home. By unpacking your bag fully and re-packing it before coming to the airport, travelers will avoid bringing items to the airport that are prohibited past the security checkpoint. This includes knives, power tools and tools over seven inches in length; stun guns; martial arts weapons and more.
- Make sure electronics are accessible. Travelers can organize their carry-on bag so electronics larger than a cell phone can be quickly and easily accessed when at the security checkpoint. All personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone should be placed in bins for X-ray screening with nothing on top or below, to allow for a clear X-ray image, similar to how laptops have been screened for several years.
- Contact TSA to find out what can go in a checked or carry-on bag. Reach out to @AskTSA on social media. Questions about what can be carried through a security checkpoint can be answered if the question is tweeted to @AskTSA or sent via Facebook Messenger AskTSA weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET and weekends and holidays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. Or visit www.tsa.gov any time of the day or night to access the “What Can I Bring?” feature on the top right-hand corner of the web page. Travelers can also download the free myTSA app, which also has the “What Can I Bring?” feature right at your fingertips.
- Call TSA Cares. Travelers or families of travelers with disabilities and/or medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll free at 855-787-2227 with any questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint as well as to arrange for assistance at the checkpoint. It is recommended to call at least 72 hours prior to traveling.
TSA will be fully staffed and use layers of security both seen and unseen by the traveling public.
The TSA also suggests that people get REAL ID-compliant because anyone 18 and older will need a REAL ID to travel after October 2020.