The busiest travel days for Americans is just about to get a little more frustrating (than usual) throughout all airports across the United States. In light of the recent attacks on Paris, security will be tightened; add this to the fact that 2015 Thanksgiving travelers have increased, making it the highest number since 2007, and things will be more than a little backed up.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) states it has also ‘doubled down’ on airport security; which has resulted in an increase in wait times. Though, Jeh Johnson, homeland security secretary, notes that the wait times have not dramatically increased.
According to AAA Travel, the Thanksgiving holiday travel period is reflected from the Wednesday (November 25th) to the Sunday (November 29). From AAA Travel’s numbers, approximately 46.9 million people within the U.S. will travel a minimum of 50 miles (or more) during this time; showing an increase of 300,000 from 2014, and the largest number of travellers since 2007. A large number of these travellers (about 42 million), will choose to drive. Meaning, an estimated 3.6 million travellers are flying the friendly skies to get to their final Thanksgiving destination; showing a 0.1% increase from 2014.
TSA will not state the additional security measures in place during this time. John Pistole, former TSA head, notes that travellers can be prepared for increased hand swabbing for explosive residue at random, checking of laptops, bomb-sniffing dogs, and shoe removals. As he states, the idea is to be unpredictable.
CNN reports lower levels of TSA airport staff may enhance wait times. In October, there were approximately 40,600 full-time airport personnel, dedicated to screening; over 5,000 less than four years ago at this time. TSA did not comment when asked how they plan to move forward when it comes to this decrease in staffing levels.
Some tips while flying this year to try and avoid wait: refrain from bringing any liquids or food (your mom’s pumpkin will have to wait again until Christmas) with you on your carry-ons. This will further slow down the already long line ups. Also, for those planning on dropping off holiday gifts early, save the wrapping for when you get to your destination spot. Wrapped gifts will most likely be unwrapped by security. This will save you and airport personnel any time and hassle.