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TSA expects a busy summer at area airports

ARLINGTON — This summer travel season could be one for the record books at the region’s airports.

During the busiest travel days, the Transportation Security Administration says, about 25 percent more passengers than usual are expected at checkpoints at Reagan National Airport and 40 percent more than usual are expected at Dulles International Airport.

On an average day at Reagan National, 33,000 passengers go through the checkpoints, but 41,000 passengers are expected during the busiest summer days. Dulles is expected to see 35,000 passengers on the busiest days, up from an average of 25,000.

“We don’t have additional screening lanes that we can open up. They’re all in use. We’re fully staffed,” said TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein. “But we’re basically going to be trying to cram in another 10,000 people in the same amount of checkpoints.”

Some of the busiest days are expected to come around Independence Day and Labor Day.

Nationwide, 243 million passengers and crew are expected to be screened between Memorial Day and Labor Day, up from 239 million last year.

“If we could offer one tip … it would be definitely to get to the airport two hours early,” Farbstein said.

The TSA also hopes passengers will get a better understanding of why the screening process might take longer by showing how explosives could be hidden in a laptop, a baseball hat, a tube of toothpaste or a pair of sandals.

“We know that those who want to cause harm are very skilled at concealing explosive devices in everyday items,” Farbstein said.

The TSA also recently said it will subject powdered substances in carry-on bags from international flights to additional screening. The agency says the increased scrutiny of powders, such as baby formula powder, talcum powder, spices and protein shake mix, has already been implemented at U.S. airports nationwide. The move affects powder packages that hold more than 12 ounces, which is the size of a soda can.