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TSA says Labor Day screenings could exceed 30 minutes

TSA officers provided six tips to make getting through security this weekend easier for everyone.
TSA precheck line at airport.
Posted at 12:54 PM, Aug 31, 2023

The Transportation Security Administration this summer has marked the busiest ever for its checkpoints throughout the U.S. To date, TSA has screened 11% more passengers than in 2019, the previous busiest summer travel season on record. 

That summer travel is not expected to let up this weekend as TSA expects to screen 14 million passengers from Sept. 1-6, with Friday marking the busiest projected day of the weekend. TSA expects to screen 2.7 million travelers on Friday alone. 

TSA leaders say they hope to maintain wait times below 30 minutes this weekend, but there might be some airports where wait times may be longer. 

“We are prepared for the increase in travel volumes and are working closely with our airline and airport partners to make sure we are maintaining our wait time standards of 30 minutes and under for standard screening lanes, and 10 minutes and under for TSA PreCheck lanes," said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. "There are occasions where wait times may be longer, so we encourage you to arrive early, pack your patience and reach out to us before arriving to the airport if you have any questions on our security procedures or items you may bring. I applaud our frontline employees who have done an excellent job throughout the busy travel season to facilitate secure travel for millions of passengers, all while we continue to deploy new checkpoint technology that enhances security effectiveness, efficiency and the passenger experience.”

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TSA is encouraging passengers to arrive a minimum of two hours before their scheduled departure. They are also encouraging passengers to have proper ID ready and to know what they can pack in order to speed the check-in line. 

If you want to check wait times, TSA's app lists the estimated wait for several U.S. airports.

TSA officers shared six tips they tell their friends about getting through security:

1. When purchasing a ticket online, enter your full name as it appears on your ID. Do not enter your nickname, even if it’s what your besties use. The name on your boarding pass should match the name on your ID.

2. Enroll in TSA PreCheck. It is hands-down the best way to travel through a security checkpoint because you can leave on your shoes, belt and light outerwear jacket. It’s typically the lane with travelers who are most familiar with the screening process and so the lane moves quickly.

3. Download the free myTSA app. The app has a handy “What can I bring?” feature that will let you know where to pack an item. It will let you know the estimated wait time at a checkpoint. It lets you know if there are flight delays at your airport; and it will let you know if the TSA PreCheck lane is open.

4. Wear shoes that are easy to remove and put back on. Shoes or that lace up your calf will slow you down. Slip-on shoes are best. And do yourself a favor, wear socks!

5. If you find yourself in a checkpoint line, use that time wisely. Remove all items from your pockets and place them into your carry-on bag. Empty your pockets completely. That means everything, even non-metallic items from tissues to breath mints. This helps avoid pat-downs. We know that travelers don’t like to receive pat-downs. TSA officers aren’t too keen on needing to conduct pat-downs either.

6. Place your mobile phone inside your carry-on bag at the checkpoint. Don’t put it in a bin where other people have placed their shoes. You don’t want to put your phone in a bin and then hold it up to your face. Yuck.