If you can spill, spread, pump or pour it, then check it. TSA tips for smooth holiday travel

Ahead of Thanksgiving, representatives from the Transportation Security Administration gathered at Reagan National Airport to share tips on how passengers can travel smoothly this holiday.

The 12-day-period for Thanksgiving travel begins Friday, Nov. 17 and concludes Tuesday, Nov. 28. During that time, the TSA anticipates 30 million passengers will come through its checkpoints.

“We expect this holiday season to be our busiest ever,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement.

John Busch, TSA’s federal security director, said the busiest days usually are the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday following.

“Let me assure you that the TSA here at Reagan Airport, and across the nation, is ready for the busy season,” said Busch. “We’ve got excellent staffing, excellent technology; and we are going to do everything we can to make sure all of our travelers get through safely and efficiently. I think the best tip we can offer is to ask everyone to arrive early for your flights.”

The recommendation is to arrive two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights.

The TSA also advised travelers to pack starting with an empty bag to avoid bringing prohibited items with you. Another way to save some time is to keep your ID handy and empty items out of your pockets as you approach the checkpoint.

“Here at Reagan National and several other airports around the country, we do offer mobile ID to come through our checkpoint,” Busch said. It can be loaded on a cellphone, which helps speed up going through a travel document checking station.

Most food can be carried through a TSA checkpoint, but there are some items that will need to be packed in checked luggage. So before you agree to bring your specialty dish to Thanksgiving, it’s important to think about how to pack it!

“We have a fun rule here at TSA to help you remember this — if you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it; it’s a liquid or it’s an aerosol, and it should go in your check baggage,” Busch said.

Food items also usually need additional screening, so it is best to place those items in a location that is easy to access.

If you’re unsure where an item should be packed, you can download the free myTSA app, message @ASKTSA on social media, or text “Travel” to AskTSA (275-872).

Cheyenne Corin

Cheyenne Corin is a part-time reporter for WTOP News. She has worked in the Washington, D.C. area since 2020. Before joining WTOP, she worked as a WDVM/DC News Now Montgomery County Bureau Reporter, TheJasmineBrand Entertainment Correspondent and PHL 17 Reporter.

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