With spring break about to kick in across the U.S. and airfare discounts still to be had, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says it’s geared up for a spike in travel volume that will surpass 90% of pre-pandemic levels until the end of the month.
“TSA’s collaboration with industry and federal partners has been instrumental throughout this pandemic, and now we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel as demonstrated by the rapid recovery of the travel industry,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske.
Pekoske said travelers who haven’t ventured out on an airplane lately might be in for a pleasant surprise.
“We are doing our part to ensure the traveling public is safe and secure by continuing to deploy new technologies within the checkpoint that enhance security, reduce physical contact and improve the traveling experience,” he said.
Pekoske also asks travelers to do their part by being respectful of other travelers and airline workers. Those who don't risk being arrested for unruly behavior.
TSA’s tips for travel in 2022
The TSA laid out a set of 10 tips that should help give travelers a hassle-free spring break trip:
Tip 1: Continue to wear a face mask. The travel mask requirement remains in place, and the TSA will continue to assess the duration of the requirement in consultation with the CDC.
Tip 2: Follow the rule that limits liquids. Gels and aerosols are limited to 3.4 ounces or less in carry-on baggage. There is an exception for hand sanitizer, which has a temporary 12-ounce limit. The general definition for this rule is that if you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it, or pour it, then the carry-on quantity is limited.
Tip 3: Pack food in a clear plastic bag. If you plan to travel with food, make sure you pack your items in a clear plastic bag and put it in your carry-on bag. When you get to the security checkpoint, remove and place the clear bag containing your food into the bin to reduce the opportunity for cross-contamination between the food and bins.
Tip 4: Leave prohibited items at home. To reduce the likelihood of physical contact with TSA officers at the checkpoint, be familiar with the TSA prohibited items list for carry-on bags. Travelers can check for prohibited items by using the “What Can I Bring?” page on TSA.gov and by downloading the free MyTSA app, which has a helpful “What Can I Bring?” feature.
Tip 5: Do not bring your firearm to a security checkpoint. Airline passengers can fly with firearms only in checked baggage. All firearms must be properly packed and declared with your airline at check-in. Consumers can contact their airline for additional guidance.
Tip 6: Give yourself plenty of time. Travel volumes are expected to be higher than they have been, and some passengers may be traveling for the first time in quite a while. Extra time may be needed for parking, rental car and airline check-in counters, and at the checkpoint.
Tip 7: Empty your pockets when you get to the checkpoint. Place items you would keep on your person inside your carry-on bag instead of in a bin to reduce touchpoints and to ensure that you don't leave anything behind.
Tip 8: Listen for guidance from TSA officers. They may be providing information on new technologies that help reduce touchpoints and make for a more streamlined and convenient passenger experience.
Tip 9: Contact TSA with your questions. Tweet your questions and comments to @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (EST). You can also call the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673 from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. (EST) or 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends and holidays.
Tip 10: Enroll now in TSA PreCheck. Enrolling in TSA PreCheck allows travelers to avoid removing shoes, belts, liquids, laptops, and light jackets. Most new enrollees receive a Known Traveler Number within five days, and membership lasts for five years.
Going somewhere outside the U.S.?
The TSA’s list is great for travelers staying inside the U.S., but anyone traveling abroad needs to do some extra homework, says Scott Keyes of Scott’s Cheap Flights.
“Many countries have begun to lift their Covid entry restrictions; in fact, in many parts of the world, life is almost back to normal,” Keyes said. However, he reminds international travelers that they should also check on restrictions, vaccination rates, and hospital resources in the place they’re visiting.
Travel consultant Wendy Perrin spoke to the ever-changing vaccination situation, telling ConsumerAffairs that Belize, Ecuador, the Maldives, Israel, and Italy have recently changed their vaccination requirements. To help ConsumerAffairs wanderlusters, Perrin offered a list of all the countries with no vaccination restrictions.