Tips for holiday air travel from TSA
Busiest days this holiday season are expected to be Dec. 22 and Dec. 30
Ahead of the holidays and some of the busiest travel days of the year, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has put out tips to help fliers.
The TSA said Monday it was prepared to handle holiday air travel volumes that it predicts would be "close to pre-pandemic levels." This holiday season, Thursday, Dec. 22, and Friday, Dec. 30, are expected to be the busiest, according to the agency’s press release.
AAA recently projected that between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, some 112.7 million people will travel at least 50 miles from their homes, including almost 7.2 million by plane.
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Guidance the TSA has put out amid its preparations for the upcoming busy travel days include holiday-specific and general travel tips.
For travelers flying with presents, the TSA recommends keeping them unwrapped so that officers won’t have to do so if they need inspection at the airport security checkpoint. A potential alternative could be using a gift bag.
The agency also warned in a tweet that clothing "with a high number of sequins, beads or metallic threads" can set off security equipment alarms, so holding off on wearing certain festive or high-metal content garb may help "reduce the chance of a pat-down."
Travelers intending to fly with holiday foods and drinks should be mindful of what they can and cannot bring in a carry-on bag. In a Tuesday press release, the TSA said, "If you can spread it, spill it, pump it or pour it AND the quantity exceeds 3.4 ounces (which is 100ml), pack it in a checked bag."
"For example, jams, jellies, sauces and wines in quantities larger than 3.4 ounces should go in a checked bag," the TSA said in the release. "Cakes, pies, cookies and breads can travel in carry-on luggage in any quantity, but may require some additional screening."
"While it’s not required, consider removing your food from your carry-on bags and placing it in a separate bin to expedite the screening process," the agency said in a post about holiday travel tips.
When it comes to flying with alcoholic beverages, holiday travelers should be aware that if it has more than 70% alcohol content, it is not allowed in either carry-on or checked bags. Beverages with alcohol content below that are subject to the 3.4-ounce limit for carry-ons.
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In checked backs, fliers should keep alcohol in its "original unopened packaging and make sure to only bring 5 liters or less" per person "if it’s the stuff that makes Santa and his reindeer sway (contains 24-70% alcohol)," according to the TSA.
Additional information about traveling with food and beverages can be found on the agency’s website.
Pets flying with you for the holidays should never get put through the airport X-ray machine.
Owners should take their small pet out of its carrier "just prior to the beginning of the screening process" and feed the carrier through the X-ray machine, according to the TSA. Then, they should carry their furry friend – or walk it on a leash – through the screening process. The owner’s hands will get swabbed by an officer for explosive residue and then, once the screening is over, the pet should get put back in its carrier, the TSA said in a release.
In two recent incidents, TSA officers respectively discovered an orange cat and a small dog in bags that went through X-ray machines. Neither of the pets were harmed.
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The TSA has also issued reminders about not bringing firearms or other items like knives, razors and explosives to security checkpoints.
Other tips include arriving at the airport with ample time for screening, remembering to bring an acceptable form of ID, practicing "good cybersecurity habits" and expressing gratitude to transportation frontline workers.