If you’re planning to fly somewhere for the upcoming holidays, you may want to allow some extra time for security screening. While this is of course generally good advice, this year, the United States Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is warning anyone with a flight in the next week to be extra prepared for record-breaking lines at airports.
Between Thursday, Dec. 20 and Jan. 6, 2019, the TSA projects 41 million flyers will pass through airport security checkpoints, up 6% from this time last year, according to a statement from the TSA. That’s an increase of roughly 126,000 passengers each day, and it’s expected that will equal a daily average of more than 2.5 million people traveling each day in the upcoming weeks, according to the Washington Post.
Even though air travel continues to become more expensive, the number of passengers traveling through the nation’s airports every holiday season keeps setting new records. Thanksgiving 2018 was the busiest Thanksgiving travel period on record, and another record was set this summer on a popular travel day in June.
For the upcoming Christmas holiday travel season, the TSA offers some fairly obvious guidelines that are nevertheless extra important for maintaining some sanity and keeping stress levels low for passengers and airline workers alike. Allow as much time as you can to make it through screening to your gate. Also, keeping your carry-on bag organized is not only helpful for when you finally sit down in your seat, security lines move faster if TSA agent questions don’t send passengers fumbling to remove items, such as powders or foods, which may obscure an X-ray or otherwise make it difficult to screen a piece of hand luggage.
If you have some extra flexibility in your holiday air travel plans, you may also want to consider that the lightest travel days will be Christmas Eve (Dec. 24), Christmas Day (Dec. 25), and Jan. 5, 2019 and look into any remaining travel deals for those dates.