US Summer Travel Boom: Be Prepared for Busy Airport Security

TSA security checkpoint at a US airport.
Michael Ball, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The travel industry is bracing for a record-breaking summer season, with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) anticipating a surge in passenger volumes at airports nationwide.

This year, Memorial Day weekend kicks off the travel rush, with Friday, May 24th predicted to be the busiest day for security screenings.

From May 23rd to May 29th, TSA expects to screen over 18 million passengers and crew, a significant 6.4% increase compared to the same period in 2023.

This translates to potentially longer lines and busier security checkpoints throughout the summer.

TSA Gears Up for US Summer Travel Record

TSA Administrator David Pekoske reassures travelers that the agency is well-prepared for the influx. “We’re working hand-in-hand with airports, airlines, and travel partners to ensure a smooth experience for everyone,” he states.

“We’ve also invested in cutting-edge technology to enhance security effectiveness and increase passenger throughput.”

“Additionally, our staffing levels are the highest they’ve ever been, ensuring we have the manpower to handle the anticipated surge.”

Passengers in an airport terminal at dusk
Photo Credit: Denner Trindade via Pexels

Travelers can expect to encounter some exciting new advancements at security checkpoints this summer. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Next-Generation Credential Authentication Technology (CAT-2): This technology improves security by verifying your ID and flight details electronically.

CAT-2 offers an optional facial recognition scan to match your photo on your ID. Passengers who prefer not to participate can opt for a traditional manual ID check.

  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scanners: These state-of-the-art scanners provide 3D X-ray images of carry-on luggage, potentially reducing the need for physical bag searches.

Passengers using CT lanes can keep their electronics and liquids in their bags for screening, but all carry-on items still need to be placed in bins for inspection.

formulanone from Huntsville, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Essential Travel Tips

Being proactive and informed can significantly improve your security checkpoint experience during the busy US summer travel season. Here are some key tips to remember:

Stay Informed on New Technology:

Familiarize yourself with the functionalities of CAT-2 and CT scanners. This will help you navigate the security process more efficiently.

Know Firearm Travel Regulations:

Firearms are strictly prohibited in carry-on luggage. Always declare firearms to your airline and pack them securely in a checked bag, unloaded, locked in a hard-sided case.

Pack Smart with the 3-1-1 Rule:

Pack liquids, gels, aerosols, creams, and pastes in containers 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less, all
stored in a single quart-sized, clear, plastic bag.

Remember, larger containers or exceeding the limit will require them to be checked in.

Check the TSA ‘What Can I Bring’ page for more information.
Interior of airport terminal departures area.
Photo Credit: Matthew Turner via Pexels

REAL ID Requirement Reminder:

As of May 7, 2025, adult travelers will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or other
acceptable form of identification for domestic flights.

Check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to verify if your ID meets the REAL ID standard.

Expedite Your Screening with TSA PreCheck®:

TSA PreCheck® offers expedited security screening with fewer restrictions. PreCheck members can typically leave their shoes, belts, laptops, and liquids in their bags during
the screening process.

Consider enrolling in TSA PreCheck if you value a smoother and faster checkpoint experience.

Allow Ample Time:

Be prepared for busier airports and longer lines during the US summer travel period. Factor in extra time for parking, check-in, and security screening to avoid missing your flight.

Be Respectful:

Treat TSA officers and other airport staff with courtesy. Remember, they are working hard to ensure a safe and efficient travel experience for everyone. Violence and disruptive
behavior are unacceptable and can cause delays for all travelers.

A view of an airport terminal interior with air travellers.
Markus Winkler via Pexels.

Contact TSA for Assistance:

Get help with questions or concerns by texting AskTSA at 275-872 (“AskTSA”) or
messaging @AskTSA on social media or Facebook Messenger.

Staff are available 24/7 for basic inquiries and year-round from 8 AM to 6 PM ET for more complex issues. You can also call the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673 (automated
service available 24/7).

Beyond these tips, there are additional ways to streamline your security checkpoint experience.

Consider downloading the free TSA mobile app for real-time wait times at specific airports, handy packing checklists, and updates on travel advisories.

Additionally, ensure you have your boarding pass readily available, either printed or digitally stored on your mobile device.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 6 Min Read
6 Min Read
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