The TSA is projecting that 263 million travelers will pass through airport security checkpoints between the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day weekend in September, a record amount of passengers that could swamp airports nationwide.
If those numbers hold up, it would be a 4% increase over last year's record-breaking summer travel season, when 253 travelers and airline crews moved through airports. Nine of the top 10 busiest weeks in TSA history were recorded in the summer of 2018 – and 2019 is poised to get worse.
“This summer we're expecting to screen over 2.7 million travelers on peak days,” TSA's acting deputy administrator Patricia Cogswell said in a statement. “Our dedicated transportation security officers, inspectors, air marshals, and support personnel are working around the clock to ensure traveler security during this record-breaking travel season.”
To that end, the TSA is going all out to speed things up at airports. The security agency has installed more than 170 automated screening systems – with bins that move across a belt system – at 16 airports and counting.
A potentially hectic summer travel season comes on the heels of a tough winter for the TSA and travelers. Due to a prolonged government shutdown from December into January, wait times at airport security outposts nationwide spiked.
How to Beat the Crowds
There are a few great ways to get ahead of the curve and make sure you're not stuck in long airport lines this summer.
- Get Global Entry or TSA PreCheck! PreCheck gets you through security faster, while Global Entry is a fast-track through immigration when arriving back in the U.S. And as a bonus, a Global Entry membership includes PreCheck. These trusted traveler programs cost up to $100 for a five-year membership, but several credit cards offer credits that will cover that cost.
- Check in on wait times at your airport ahead of your flight with the MyTSA app to make sure you give yourself enough time to get through security.
- Don't wait until you get to the security checkpoint to empty your pockets or organize your belongings! Take off your watch and jewelry before you arrive, and put your liquids and electronics at the top of your bag so they're easy to take out.
- Need an oasis from the hectic airport terminal? Check out some of the best credit cards that will get you into airport lounges for free.
The TSA is getting prepared for its busiest travel season yet. If you're taking to the skies, you should get ready, too.
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