As the Memorial Day weekend looms, Americans across the nation are eagerly preparing for a much-needed vacation. Amidst the buzz of anticipation, air travel is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels — and crowded terminals and potential flight delays are on every traveler's mind.
Friday is expected to be the busiest day of the long weekend, with approximately 2.6 million passengers. As we all scramble to finalize our plans, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is also preparing for the high influx of passengers. But how can travelers efficiently navigate these bustling terminals?
The agency recommends planning your journey to the airport in advance. Take into consideration all necessary steps - parking or returning your rental car, checking in your bags, and, of course, the security lines. During peak times, these processes may be time-consuming.
TSA offers a helpful tip: save time by transferring items from your pockets into your carry-on bag, instead of directly into the bins, which takes longer to screen. Furthermore, it's crucial to be aware of the items you're allowed to carry on the plane. Familiarize yourself with TSA's rules for liquids and their travel size to prevent any potential hold-ups at security checkpoints. Not understanding these rules could lead to significant delays for yourself and others.
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In addition, TSA recently announced a significant change benefiting teenagers. Now, teenagers aged 13 to 17 can use TSA PreCheck if their parent or guardian is enrolled in the program. This arrangement applies when they're traveling on the same reservation, and if the TSA PreCheck indicator is on the teen's boarding pass.
"It’s a really important change if you have a teenager, you're a PreCheck member, your teenager can travel with you through PreCheck and just double check to make sure that the PreCheck or symbol is on their boarding pass electronic or paper," said TSA Administrator David Pekoske.
Children aged 12 and under can continue to use the TSA PreCheck without restrictions if their parent or guardian is a part of the program.
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TSA is also rolling out new technology across U.S. airports. This will enable the verification of a passenger's ID and flight details without the need for a boarding pass. The system involves a camera taking real-time photos and comparing them with the ID photo to confirm the person's identity. Passengers have the option to opt out of this facial matching process. TSA says those changes will help get passengers from the ticket counter to their gate a lot faster.