by Alison Fox - A Travel + Leisure contributor - Published on August 31, 2023
More than 14 million passengers are expected to pass through airports across the United States over the Labor Day holiday weekend, with Friday forecasted to be the busiest day.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) expects to screen an incredibly high volume of travelers from Friday, Sept. 1, through Wednesday, Sept. 6, following a record-breaking summer. On Friday alone, the TSA anticipates more than 2.7 million travelers will pass through security checkpoints.
In fact, TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement he anticipates passenger numbers will be nearly 11 percent higher than the same time last year, and even higher than 2019.
“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,” Pekoske said. “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.”
To make getting through the airport a smoother process, there are a few proactive steps travelers can take. The first is to give yourself plenty of time so the likely long lines aren’t as stressful as they could be otherwise. Most airlines recommend arriving at the airport two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight (since they typically board earlier).
Of course, getting through security tends to be faster for travelers with TSA PreCheck, the agency’s expedited security program that allows travelers to leave their shoes, belts, and light jackets on and leave their laptops and liquids in their bags.
That said, the TSA recommends travelers know what they can and can’t bring through security ahead of time to speed up the process for everyone. Travelers can check the agency’s online “What Can I Bring?” tool or ask the TSA by tweeting “@AskTSA” or sending a Facebook message to “AskTSA.” Officers are available in real-time from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.
The TSA has also been rolling out new technology like the Credential Authentication Technology (CAT), which allows travelers to get through security without having to show a boarding pass or, in some cases, even a physical ID.
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