7 TSA Tips for Surviving the Holiday Travel Season

TSA Holiday Travel Tips for a busy season

For an easier holiday travel experience, make sure to check that list once – and check it twice, because the airports are expected to be just as busy as ever this season. That’s why we’ve got some TSA holiday travel tips for you.

“TSA expects to screen between 2.3 and 2.4 million passengers nationwide every day,” said Lorie Dankers, a public affairs manager for TSA.

To make your travel experience easier, we’ve gathered up 7 basic tips from the TSA that may be easy to overlook this holiday season while you’re rushing to get to your gatherings.

TSA Holiday TRAVEL TIP No. 1: Don’t Wrap Those Gifts

It may seem easier to have all those gifts wrapped before traveling, but there’s a good chance there may be something in one of those holiday gifts that sets off the security alerts, which will requires the gift get an extra look from a TSA agent. Instead of having to unwrap that gift at security (wasting time and risk missing your flight), it’s advised to wait to wrap all gifts until they are through the security checkpoint.

TSA Holiday TRAVEL TIP No. 2: Watch Those Liquids and Pastes

For those wanting to bring home their favorite pies or baked goods to their families this holiday season, those are allowed. But remember, jars of cranberry sauces, jams and jellies, syrups, oils and vinegars (if over 3.4 ounce) are not permitted in a carry-on bag as they fall into the liquid/paste category. For those wanting to bring those items, they must be securely stored in a checked back — or risk being tossed out at the security checkpoint. And obviously, those bottles of wine and beer aren’t making it through so buy those after security (duty-free!).

TSA Holiday TRAVEL TIP No. 3: Remember the Electronics Rule

You might be bringing your niece or nephew a new game console or a new laptop. This could also create another headache at the security gate if you choose to carry on these items. Because these types of electronics must be scanned alone, and in their own bin, make sure you have them ready to go and out of their boxes before you get to the security gate. Otherwise you may get some dirty looks from the travelers in line who aren’t so enthused when you’re unpacking boxes at the checkpoint.

TSA Holiday TRAVEL TIP No. 4:  Leverage Technology

Have a question you’d like TSA to answer? TSA operates a Twitter handle @AskTSA during their hours (8am-10pm ET weekdays; 9am-7pm weekends/holidays) and they promise to get back to your question as soon as possible. Or if you’re just looking for some entertainment on what travelers ask about bringing, check out the thread. Spoiler alert: one woman asked if she could travel with a family heirloom rifle, while another asked about an expired ID for his grandma. And then there was the traveler who wanted to bring through prepared mashed potatoes (hint: not allowed).

TSA Holiday TRAVEL TIP No. 5: Don’t Risk Being Late

Not only will the security lines be longer, the parking garages will be more full and the lines will be longer to pick up and return those rental cars. Build in an extra buffer for travel time around the holidays to eliminate the stress of missing that flight. The security checkpoints are also going to be longer and are more likely to move slower since travelers often forget what they can and cannot bring on airlines (see tips 1-3). The two hour before domestic flight arrival time suggestion applies during this season.

TSA Holiday TRAVEL TIP No. 6: Don’t Waste Time At Checkpoint Lines

Not only will you get the side eye from fellow travelers and the TSA agents, you’ll risk causing delays to your own travels. That means, ditch those full water bottles and have that boarding pass and ID ready. If your boarding pass is on an app, have it open and ready to scan. If you’re traveling with children, remember to present your credentials first and then show your children’s boarding pass and ID. Don’t forget that those pockets need to be cleared of everything and all large metal objects that might set of the detector should be removed. Finally, remove those bulky jackets and scarves to avoid being asked twice.

TSA TRAVEL TIP No. 7: Forget Something? Don’t Panic

Yes, there is a TSA lost and found program. So if you were in such a rush running to your terminal that you may have actually forgot to grab that bag at the security checkpoint, there is a way to get that bag back. To do so, travelers can log onto TSA’s lost and found webpage and type in the airport name or code. TSA will be in touch and let you know if the item was found and how you can retrieve this item. Items can be picked up or shipped. Or, if you left an item on a flight, be sure to contact that airline’s customer service and they can provide you with ways to check for lost items.