MADISON, Wis. — Officials with the Transportation Safety Administration have one major piece of advice for travelers as millions of Americans get ready to visit loved ones on Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season: “Give yourself plenty of time.”
TSA spokesperson Jessica Mayle said the most common issue travelers run into is not giving themselves enough time for the entire process beyond just TSA check-in.
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In order to make it a smooth experience across the board, Mayle recommended thinking about the whole journey. That means accounting for parking, checking your bag, getting from the TSA check to your gate, and other unexpected delays.
That’s especially true during the holiday season when more people are expected to flock to airports around the country.
“You might be coming to the airport expecting some of those smaller crowds we’ve seen, and that’s not going to be the case this week,” Mayle said. “So give yourself plenty of time, more time than you normally would when you’re traveling.”
Mayle also said travelers should pack smartly to make getting through TSA’s checkpoint as easy as possible. That means starting off with an empty bag, which makes it less likely that you’ll accidentally bring a restricted item that was already packed. If you’re unsure if an item is okay to bring, check TSA.gov to use their “What Can I Bring” list.
When it comes to Thanksgiving foods travelers might bring with them, it’s important to remember the TSA’s restrictions on bringing liquids through the security checkpoint.
“A turkey is fine to travel with through the checkpoint; baked goods, cookies, pies, cakes, anything solid is fine. But when we get into those gravies, cranberry sauce, a bottle of wine, anything like that, it’s not going to make it through the checkpoint,” Mayle said. “We know you’ll be disappointed if you have to abandon it, so go ahead either don’t bring it at all or put it in your checked bag.”
On average, Mayle said, travelers will see wait times of roughly 30 minutes, though extended delays are possible and could impact times.
While the TSA is experiencing worker shortages like many fields within the transportation industry, Mayle said workers are more than prepared to handle any travel spikes in the coming days and weeks. All the TSA asks is travelers be patient if and when they encounter extended waits.
“Coming in with a kind attitude and some respect makes the day so much smoother for yourself and for our workers who are working really hard on a really important mission to keep everyone safe,” Mayle said.
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