TSA anticipates surge in air travel through December holidays, here's how you can prepare

Acrylic barriers installed at ID checkpoints at Kennedy Airport in New York. (Transportation Security Administration photo)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is anticipating a spike in air travel through the December holidays, according to an agency news release. 

The prediction comes after over 21 million travelers were screened during the 10-day Thanksgiving break, the TSA said.

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TSA officials are encouraging holiday travelers to sign up for their PreCheck service. Travelers who are members of the PreCheck program can avoid the hassle of removing their personal items including shoes, belts, and jackets during the security screening process, the news release continued. 

Last month, approximately 94% of travelers enrolled in the program and waited less than five minutes. The TSA says anyone who applies for the program likely can have their application accepted within five days.

The application process requires two steps, the agency explained. Applicants can apply online and set up an appointment at over 400 TSA enrollment centers. Applicants can also attend an in-person appointment that includes fingerprinting for a background check plus an $85 fee to buy a five-year membership.

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The TSA provides helpful tips for travelers this holiday season to ensure airport screening lanes move quickly:

  • Be flexible. Airports have rush hours too. If you want to avoid normal airport rush hours, which are normally between 5-7 a.m. or 4-6 p.m., consider booking your flight outside those hours.
  • Pack smart by contacting TSA or visiting the agency’s "What Can I Bring" page before leaving home.
  • Arrive early at the security checkpoint: Two hours early for domestic and three hours early for international flights.
  • Follow signs and verbal directions provided by Transportation Security Officers (TSO) to help keep airport screening lanes moving.
  • Be patient and considerate of others.
  • Avoid fines by properly packing your gun. TSA officials say guns are not allowed at checkpoints and in carry-on luggage.

This story was reported from Washington, D.C.