BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is prepared for the influx of travelers who will be flying out of Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) as passenger volume picks up ahead of the Independence Day holiday weekend and into the remainder of the summer.
“We have already started to see an increase in checkpoint volume here at Buffalo,” said Bart R. Johnson, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Upstate New York. “Travel volume here is at about 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels and by the Fourth of July weekend it is possible that we may see the checkpoint as busy as or exceeding pre-pandemic levels.”
To ensure the most efficient security screening operation and a good passenger experience at BUF, TSA recommends that travelers be inside the airport terminal at least 90 minutes before their scheduled flight.
The busiest times at the security checkpoint are daily from 4 to 7 a.m. and again from 4 to 7 p.m. Travelers should expect to encounter a line at the security checkpoint during those times. The busiest travel days are Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays.
As more people have gotten vaccinated and have received booster shots to help keep COVID-19 at bay, the pent-up demand for travel has resulted in crowded airports, which means busy security checkpoints. With that in mind, due to the increase in travel volume, this summer may require more patience and planning than was necessary before the pandemic.
TSA recently installed eight new state-of-the-art advanced technology computed tomography (CT) scanners that provide 3-D imaging at the airport.
“The new equipment provides advanced explosives detection capabilities for screening carry-on items and at the same time is more convenient for travelers because the technology allows passengers to leave their laptops and other electronic devices in their carry-on bags,” Johnson said.
Travelers play an important role in ensuring a smooth and efficient security checkpoint screening experience, which starts with knowing what a traveler should and should not pack in a carry-on bag.
Advance planning and packing properly is key to a smooth security checkpoint experience. “We ask travelers to do their part by getting to the airport well before the flight is scheduled to leave and ensuring they follow the rules TSA provides by making certain they do not have any prohibited items with them at the checkpoint,” Johnson said.
The most common prohibited items that travelers bring to checkpoints are liquids, gels and aerosols that are larger than the acceptable limit of 3.4 ounces—shampoo, toothpaste, beverages, sun block, hand lotion, face cream, shaving cream, mouthwash and other toiletries. Each passenger may carry liquids, gels and aerosols that are 3.4 ounces (100 ml) or less through a checkpoint as long as those items fit into a one quart-sized, resealable bag. This is known as the 3-1-1 bag. Larger containers of liquids, gels and aerosols can be transported in checked baggage.
TSA officers are seeing travelers arrive at the checkpoint with bottles of water, juice, energy drinks, coffee and soda. The officers will give passengers the choice to exit the security checkpoint to drink their beverages in the terminal or allow TSA to dispose of it. Travelers may bring empty bottles or insulated containers through checkpoints and fill them on the secure side of the checkpoint.
The exception to the 3-1-1 rule is that due to the pandemic, TSA is permitting travelers to bring up to one 12-ounce container of liquid hand sanitizer per passenger in carry-on bags until further notice. Passengers can expect that these large liquid hand sanitizers will need to be screened separately, which will add some time to their checkpoint experience.
TSA continues to ask travelers to arrive early and prepared for the screening experience to allow for timely completion of every step of the travel process. To help things go smoothly, please follow these tips:
Listen for guidance from TSA officers. Some people may not have traveled recently, so it is important to listen to the direction provided in the security checkpoint. The officer may be sharing information on the latest technology that will get you through the checkpoint more efficiently.
If you’re in a line at the checkpoint, use that time wisely. Remove items from your pockets and place them inside your carry-on bag instead of placing them in a bin to reduce touchpoints and help ensure personal items are not left behind.
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.
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. There is a TSA PreCheck enrollment center located in nearby West Seneca, NY, inside the IdentoGO office located at 1500 Union Road, Suite 100 on the fourth floor, West Seneca, NY 14224. It is across the driveway from the paint center.
Get medical questions answered. 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.
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