Airports Are Going to Be Even Busier This Spring - 4 Tips to Speed Through Security

Time to make your packing list!
Updated April 9, 2024
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suitcases at airport lounge window

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Travel season is here! Spring Break is right around the corner, and everyone is booking their vacation travel. It promises to be a busy travel season — the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is gearing up for another year of busy airport traffic. In fact, airports are projected to be busier this year than last year, when everyone was shaking off the COVID travel restrictions and getting back out there.

"TSA screened a record number of passengers in 2023, and we expect that trend to continue this year," said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. "So far in 2024, travel volumes are trending at nearly 6% above the same period in 2023.”

To help you navigate airport chaos with ease, we’ve put together tips and tricks that will have you speeding through your next security screening like a million miler. After all, no one wants to start their vacation with a rough airport experience.

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Plan for early arrival

pressmaster/Adobe multi ethnic people waiting at airport

From traffic to long lines at check-in, plenty of possible hiccups might delay your arrival. Make sure to account for these by allowing additional time to arrive at your boarding gate.

Also, remember that everyone is trying to reach their own destination on time, too. It can be easy to grow impatient during extended lines and delays, so packing a little extra patience can go a long way in keeping yourself level-headed and the rest of the process running smoothly.

Enroll in TSA PreCheck

pressmaster/Adobe female airport security scanning businessman

You can skip the long lines and get through security faster when you sign up for a TSA PreCheck membership.

“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,” said Pekoske.

If members are traveling with kids ages 17 and under, they can bring them along in the PreCheck line as long as they have the same flight reservation.

When signing up, new members can receive their Known Traveler Number (KTN) in as little as five days. Membership fees start at $78 and renewals are $70. The membership expires in five years.

Be mindful of luggage security regulations

JacobLund/Adobe family with luggage trolley at airport

It can be easy to forget what items are prohibited in your luggage. For instance, liquids over 3.4 ounces are only allowed in checked baggage. Items like creams and pastes, liquids, and aerosols can only be packed in carry-on suitcases if they weigh 3.4 ounces or less and can fit in one quart-sized bag.

Other items, such as weaponry, are also prohibited. Firearms must be checked, never packed in a carry-on, and should remain unloaded and packed in a locked, hard-sided case.

Don’t forget required documents

Yakobchuk Olena/Adobe Couple checking travel documents at airport.

When you approach security checkpoints, you must have your boarding pass, either mobile or printed, and a physical copy of your valid government-issued ID. If one of these items is missing, you may not be able to board your flight. Many airports are also moving to facial recognition checkpoints to detect fraudulent IDs before boarding.

One thing to note is that ID requirements are expected to change on May 7, 2025. When flying within the U.S., every U.S. passenger 18 years or older will be required to have a REAL-ID driver’s license. The REAL ID is a new document standard enacted by Congress as part of the Real ID Act in 2005. If passengers don’t have the upgraded ID, then another valid form of identification, like a passport, will be required.

Bottom line

Chalabala/Adobe man waiting for flight at airport

Make sure your trip starts smoothly and your airport experience doesn’t turn into the stuff of nightmares by following all TSA regulations. To ensure you are packing items that are allowed on your flight, check out TSA’s “What Can I Bring” webpage for more information.

You can also review all acceptable forms of ID to board U.S. domestic flights here.

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Author Details

Taylor Bushey Taylor Bushey is a professional writer with a background in the banking industry. She also covers topics including home, wellness, lifestyle, fashion, and beauty.

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