PHOENIX — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is prepared to handle an increase in the number of travelers who will be flying out of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) as well as other airports across Arizona as travel volume picks up this month and into the summer.
Typically, from late May through Labor Day Weekend, TSA sees a sustained period of increased checkpoint volume. During the global pandemic, passenger volume fell dramatically. This year, TSA expects to see the travel volume making a recovery with leisure, business and international travel showing signs of recovery. TSA officers across the country are currently screening approximately 2.2 million people daily, which is a significant increase from last year.
“We have started to see increased traveler volume at airport security checkpoints,” said Jerry Agnew, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Arizona. “Travel volume here at PHX has surpassed pre-pandemic levels and statewide it is on par with what we saw in 2019. Nationally we expect to see travel rebound to near or above pre-pandemic levels this summer. It is likely that airports in Arizona will be busier than we’ve seen in a long time.”
Due to the increase in passenger volume, “my advice is to get to the airport two hours before your scheduled flight,” Agnew said. “Keep in mind that many individuals have not flown in a very long time and people have forgotten many of our security protocols, which means it is taking somewhat longer to screen travelers.”
As travelers fly out of PHX Airport and from other locations, they may come across new state-of-the-art technologies installed such as credential authentication technology, which verifies the validity of someone’s ID and computed tomography 3-D scanners that give TSA officers a clear 360-degree X-ray image of the contents of someone’s carry-on bags. “Travelers who are unfamiliar with these technologies should listen to the guidance that TSA officers are providing because they may be helping you navigate through the latest state-of-the-art technologies that are new to you,” Agnew said.
TSA is no longer requiring travelers to wear masks, however they remain optional and a TSA officer will ask a traveler with a mask to remove it momentarily to verify that the person’s face matches the face on their ID.
Due to the on-going pandemic, the agency is still allowing travelers to bring one liquid hand sanitizer container up to 12 ounces per passenger in carry-on bags until further notice. Passengers can expect that these containers larger than the standard allowance of 3.4 ounces of liquids permitted through a checkpoint will need to be screened separately, which will add some time to their checkpoint experience.
TSA’s Top Summer Travel Tips
- Arrive at the airport early and be prepared to see a long line. Travel this summer is expected to be the busiest on record. Plan to be at the airport two hours prior to your scheduled flight.
- While standing in a checkpoint line, use the time in line wisely. Remove items from pockets such as wallets, keys, lip balm, tissues and cell phones and place them into carry-on bags instead of putting items from pockets directly into bins. It’s also the best time to have ID and boarding passes in hand prior to walking up to the travel document checking podium.
- Enroll in TSA PreCheck®. The popular expedited screening program allows travelers to leave on shoes, jackets, belts and enables them to keep their electronics and 3-1-1 bags in their carry-on bags. Due to these benefits, the TSA PreCheck lanes move the quickest.
- Know before you go! Know what can and cannot go in a carry-on bag from firearms to oversize liquids. Prohibited items result in checkpoint delays. Unsure if an item should be packed in a carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither? Download the free myTSA app, which has a handy “What can I bring?” feature that allows you to type in the item to find out if it can fly. Or ask us on Twitter or Facebook Messenger at @AskTSA.
- Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and/or medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll free at 855-787-2227 at least 72 hours prior to flying with any questions about screening policies, procedures and to find out what to expect at the security checkpoint as well as arrange for assistance at the checkpoint.
- Get your REAL ID-compliant ID this summer. Travelers will need a REAL ID-compliant credential to board a flight after May 3, 2023. Don’t wait, get it this year.
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