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Flying for turkey day? TSA’s top 10 Thanksgiving travel tips

Posted at 12:56 PM, Nov 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-21 12:56:28-05

Passengers wait in a security line at JFK airport on January 17, 2019 in New York City. (JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

NEW YORK — Are you one of the millions of travelers expected to jam into airports over the Thanksgiving break?

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said last week that it expects to screen more than 26.8 million passengers and airline crew members between Nov. 22 and Dec. 2 – a 4% increase from last year.

Holiday travel can be stressful, but a little patience and these travel tips from the TSA could help you get to your Thanksgiving dinner faster – or at least in a more festive mood.

See the TSA’s holiday travel tips below:

1. Get to the airport early—two hours prior to a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight. Only a turkey gets to the airport in the last minute during the Thanksgiving travel period. Don’t be a turkey!

2. Which food can travel in your carry-on bag: Pies, cakes, stuffing mix, casseroles, are all good in a carry-on bag because they are solid food items.

3. Which foods should go into a checked bag: Gravy, cranberry sauce, wine, jam, preserves, should all go into a checked bag. Why? They are not solids. Basically if you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it, (say that three times fast) then it’s not a solid and should be packed in a checked bag.

4. Wear slip-on shoes. Shoe laces and zip-up boots take extra time to remove and put back on. Wearing slip-ons just saves you time. But admittedly, it’s fun to watch someone else hop around on one foot as they try to remove a boot.

5. Place your electronic carving knife (or your non-electric knife) in your checked bag. Should be a no-brainer, wouldn’t you think?

6. Pack smart. Don’t bring along any prohibited items. If you are not sure if an item should go in a carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither, don’t be shy, just tweet your question to @AskTSA or ask via Facebook Messenger.

7. Download the free MyTSA app. The best thing about it is the “Can I bring” feature. Type in an item and it lets you know immediately if you should pack it in a checked or carry-on bag. It also can let you know if there is an airport delay and whether TSA Precheck lanes are available. Super helpful. And if you get bored during the holiday, you can use it to play a game with your relatives by asking them to guess if an item should be packed in a checked or carry-on bag and using the app to provide the correct answer.

8. Use your time in the checkpoint line wisely. It’s the perfect time to take items out of your pockets and place them in your carry-on bag and to get your ID and boarding pass ready to hand to the TSA officer.

9. Enroll in TSA Precheck–if not before Thanksgiving, then before your next trip. It allows you to leave on your shoes, lightweight jacket and belt when you go through the checkpoint. Plus, you can leave your electronics and your one-quart-size liquids bag in your carry-on bag instead of removing it at the checkpoint. It’s like driving in the fast lane.

10. Pay attention to the guidance that the TSA officers are providing at the checkpoint. They may be directing you to a shorter line or guiding you around someone who is moving slowly. And they may be giving you some advice that will lessen the likelihood that you’ll need a pat-down.