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TSA Issues Alert on 6 Things You Must Do Ahead of Record-Breaking Travel Rush

The agency is offering tips to help make for a "perfect spring break getaway."

Spring is right around the corner, and so are many of our long-awaited vacations. With that in mind, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued a press release on March 5 alerting travelers to a likely very busy spring travel season. Per the release, the agency is expecting a record-breaking rush between March 7 and March 25.

"TSA screened a record number of passengers in 2023, and we expect that trend to continue this year," TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement.

The highest single day for travel during the spring travel season last year was on March 19, when TSA screened 2,608,462 passengers at checkpoints across the U.S.

"So far in 2024, travel volumes are trending at nearly 6 percent above the same period in 2023," Pekoske shared. "We always work closely with our airline and airport partners to plan for and meet the increasing travel demand while doing our best to maintain our wait times of 30 minutes or less in standard lanes and 10 minutes or less in TSA PreCheck lanes."

Knowing that "travelers put a lot of time and effort into planning the perfect spring break getaway," the agency is working to help make things run smoothly. Read on to discover six things the TSA says you must do amid the spring travel rush.

RELATED: TSA Officers Just Revealed the 6 Things They "Never Do When Flying."

Pack smart.


The best way to pack for your trip is to "start with an empty bag," according to TSA. This way you can more easily avoid putting in anything that you're prohibited from bringing through security.

With many spring break travelers heading to the beach and bringing sunscreen, the agency says it is also important to remember the 3-1-1 rule: You are only allowed to bring liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes in your carry-on bag as long as each item is 3.4 ounces or less, and fits along with the others in a quart-sized bag.

"Each passenger is limited to one quart-size bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes," TSA reiterated in its release. "Any liquids, sunscreen containers and alcohol over 3.4 ounces must be packed in a checked bag."

Another thing you can't take in your carry-on are firearms.

"Unloaded firearms must be packed in a locked, hard-sided case in checked baggage only and must be declared to the airline," the agency added. "Travelers who bring firearms or other weapons to the security checkpoint face consequences."

RELATED: TSA Issues New Alert on the "Quick Question" That Will Keep You Out of Trouble.

Be checkpoint ready.

Two travelers putting their bags on the belt at airport security while a female TSA agent helps them.
AzmanJaka / iStock

Once you get to the airport, it's crucial to "be checkpoint ready," according to TSA.

"Arrive at the checkpoint with a mobile or printed boarding pass and readily available valid ID," the agency stated. "Listen closely to and follow instructions from TSA officers for guidance through the screening process."

In its latest alert, TSA explained that many of its checkpoints will ask you to insert your physical ID into a Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) unit, and you won't end up needing your boarding pass. But you should still have it available just in case.

"Nearly 30 airports have a second generation of CAT, called CAT-2, which adds a camera with optional facial recognition technology and smartphone reader," the agency added. "This technology better detects fraudulent IDs."

Those who don't want to have their photo taken by this technology can ask a TSA officer for a manual ID check "without losing their place in line."

Enroll in TSA PreCheck.

global entry vs. tsa precheck: tsa precheck line at the airport
David Tran / iStock

If you want to get through security even faster, the agency says you should look into getting a TSA PreCheck membership.

"Most new enrollees receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) within five days, and membership lasts for five years," TSA said in its release.

This program starts at $78 for a five-year membership, and you can renew your membership online for $70. If you're traveling with kids, they may be able to go through PreCheck checkpoints with you as well.

"Teenagers aged 17 and under may accompany TSA PreCheck-enrolled parents or guardians through TSA PreCheck screening lanes when traveling on the same reservation and when the TSA PreCheck indicator appears on the teen's boarding pass," the agency explained. "Children 12 and under may still accompany an enrolled parent or guardian through the TSA PreCheck lanes any time, without restriction."

RELATED: TSA Will Let You Skip Showing Your ID and Boarding Pass With PreCheck—Here's Where.

Arrive early.


Whether you're traveling with PreCheck or not, TSA is encouraging all travelers to get to the airport early during the likely record-breaking spring travel rush.

"Spring break travelers should give themselves plenty of time to account for traffic, parking, rental car returns, airline check-in, security screening and making any airport purchases before boarding a flight," the agency stated.

At the same time, TSA is asking travelers to be patient amid what can be a "stressful" airport environment.

"Remain patient, and remember everyone around you is also on their own journey," the agency cautioned. "Passengers who engage in unruly behavior at the checkpoint, the gate area or inflight may face substantial penalties and possible prosecution on criminal charges."

Call ahead for passenger support.

Woman Making Requests on the Phone

If you or someone in your party is traveling with disabilities or medical conditions, TSA says you should consider calling ahead for support. The toll-free TSA Cares helpline (855-787-2227) can answer any question you might have about screening procedures, and help you figure out what to expect at your security checkpoint.

"If you call at least 72 hours prior to travel, TSA Cares also arranges assistance at the checkpoint for travelers with specific needs," the agency noted.

Ask TSA before you travel.

Woman working from home on laptop at desk with plant
ImYanis / Shutterstock

If you have any more questions or concerns ahead of your trip, TSA suggests reaching out to its customer service department beforehand in order to ensure smooth spring travel. In fact, there are many different ways you can "ask TSA before you travel."

One option is to contact the agency through social media by sending a message to @AskTSA on X (formerly known as Twitter) or on Facebook Messenger. You can also send a text directly to "AskTSA" on any mobile device by texting 275-872.

"An automated virtual assistant is available 24/7 to answer commonly asked questions, and AskTSA staff are available 365 days a year from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET for more complicated questions," the agency stated in its new alert.

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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