November 21st, 2007 09:28 EST
SimpliFLY for Smooth Thanksgiving Travel
Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. This week promises to be challenging, as the Air Transport Association has predicted a four percent rise in Thanksgiving passenger levels from last year, when 23.6 million people went through the country’s commercial airports. It’s a stressful time for air travelers with lines at the sky cap, lines at the check-in counter, lines for coffee and snacks, and lines at the checkpoint.
We can’t do anything to speed up the other lines, but I can assure you that we are doing everything we can at TSA to make your holiday security experience an efficient and smooth one. Our Thanksgiving operations strategy involves running checkpoints throughout the country at full capacity, with extended hours, to accommodate the holiday travel crowds. Our National Deployment Officers, a mobile force that provides additional screening support nationwide, will be deployed to eight of the nation’s busiest airports, including Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport, Chicago O’Hare Airport and Washington-Dulles International Airport – and they can be redeployed to another airport at a moments’ notice if the need arises.
We’ve authorized the maximum overtime usage for Transportation Security Officers, who will be missing holiday time with their families so they can assist you in making it safely to see yours. TSA headquarters and local airport administrative staff will also be volunteering throughout the holiday weekend to assist passengers.
Lastly, TSA will be in contact with the Federal Aviation Administration and our stakeholders to monitor any issues, including weather, that could cause problems in the aviation system. Our Federal Security Directors, who manage security on-site in airports, have already met with their airport partners and appreciate their active participation in efforts to keep the security process moving.
We’re doing all we can, but we need your help as well for this holiday travel season to be a success. What can you do? Help us quickly diagnose that you’re not a threat by packing and dressing security-smart. It will get you through the checkpoint faster and help us keep wait times down.
Lots of common, harmless items can look like threats in an x-ray image, especially if they are hidden by lots of clutter. To help you prepare for your next flight, TSA has launched an awareness campaign called SimpliFLY. Here are some quick tips to SimpliFLY your trip:
- Pack an organized carry-on bag using layers – a layer of clothes, then electronics, more clothes, and then a layer of other items like toiletries. This will help security officers see what’s in your bag.
- Have your boarding pass and ID ready for inspection when you get to the checkpoint.
- Remove your shoes, suit jacket, coat and bulky sweaters and place them in a bin for the x-ray machine. If the officer can get an unobstructed view, there’s less of a chance you’ll get held up with additional screening. Don’t wear complicated lace-up shoes or boots that are difficult to remove and put back on.
- Place any oversized electronics (laptops, full-size video game consoles, DVD players and video cameras that use cassettes) in a separate bin. iPods and other smaller electronics can stay in your carry-on bag.
- Follow the 3-1-1 rule for liquids and put your one quart baggie in the bin to be x-rayed. Even better, put all your liquids in your checked bag.
- If you’re not sure about whether you can bring an item through the checkpoint, put it in your checked bag or leave it at home. Click here to see the list of prohibited items.
- Specifically for the holidays, remember that food and gift items (liquor, perfume, antique weapons) can fall under the 3-1-1 rules or be on the prohibited items list.
By following these simple rules, you can play a critical role in security by letting us focus on the real threats. Thank you for your efforts to make this Thanksgiving travel season a safe one.