SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — Thanksgiving is still a week away, but airports in the Bay Area are managing their busiest travel day on Friday.
San Francisco International Airport and San Jose International Airport both report that the Friday before is actually when the most travelers flood their lines to get out of town for Thanksgiving.
At SFO, this is evident by long lines at drop-off and at TSA as early as 5 a.m.
Many school districts have started giving students the entire week off for Thanksgiving, rather than a half week. This has led families to take the opportunity to kick off travel sooner.
By the time the holiday week is over, TSA says it expects to screen about 20 million total passengers across U.S. airports between Nov. 19 and Nov. 28.
“We anticipate that travel may be very close to pre-pandemic levels this holiday, and we are staffed and prepared for the holiday travelers. We have deployed technologies that enhance detection capabilities and reduce physical contact, and it’s equally important that passengers are prepared with travel tips for the most efficient checkpoint experience,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “With overall vaccination rates improving nationwide and greater confidence in healthy travel, there will be more people traveling so plan ahead, remain vigilant and practice kindness.”
Here are some TSA travel tips to make the bustle a bit smoother:
- Wear a mask. Travelers, TSA personnel, and other aviation workers are required to wear a mask as prescribed by the federal mask mandate. Everyone in airports, bus and rail stations, on passenger aircraft, public transportation, passenger railroads, and over-the-road buses operating on scheduled fixed-routes must wear a mask. If a traveler did not bring a mask, a TSA officer will offer a mask to that individual at the screening checkpoint.
- Pack smart. Prepare for security when packing and ensure that there are no prohibited items in baggage. Know which foods should go into a checked bag. Gravy, cranberry sauce, wine, jam, and preserves should all go into a checked bag, because they are not solids. If you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it, then it’s not a solid and should be packed in a checked bag. As always, passengers can bring solid foods such as cakes and other baked goods through the checkpoints.
- It’s okay to bring hand sanitizer. TSA is currently 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 all containers larger 3.4 ounces will need to be screened separately, which will add some time to their checkpoint experience. Travelers also are permitted to bring alcohol wipes or anti-bacterial wipes in carry-on, checked luggage, or both.
- Enroll in or renew your TSA PreCheck® membership. Individuals who obtained TSA PreCheck five years ago are now able to renew their membership online at a discount. Individuals who do not have TSA PreCheck should enroll now to get TSA PreCheck benefits, available at more than 200 U.S. airports. Travelers enrolled in a trusted traveler program, like TSA PreCheck, do not need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets.
- Request passenger support. 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. TSA Cares also arranges assistance at the checkpoint.
- Get your questions answered before you head to the airport. Ask TSA. Travelers can get assistance in real time by submitting their questions and comments to @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger. Travelers can also reach the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673. Staff is available from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends/holidays; and an automated service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Ensure you have proper ID. Before heading to the airport, travelers should make sure they have acceptable identification. Identity verification is an important step in the security screening process.