The Transportation Security Administration nationally expects to screen a record number of people during the 2018 Thanksgiving season. TSA projects it will screen more than 25 million travelers between Friday, November 16 and Monday, November 26, making it one of TSA’s busiest Thanksgivings on record. This represents a 5 percent increase compared to this same period last year.
At Portland International Airport (PDX), the local travel trend will mirror the national trend. Thanksgiving travel volumes pick up starting Friday, Nov. 16 when TSA expects to screen more than 27,000 travelers through the security checkpoints at PDX. On Saturday, Nov. 17, TSA expects more than 23,700 travelers. The lightest travel day will be Thanksgiving.
To help travelers plan ahead, the busiest times at the PDX security checkpoints are usually 4:30 a.m. to 6:15 a.m. and again from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. There is often a mid-afternoon rush around 3:00 p.m. and again at 10:00 p.m.
Last year, TSA noticed a marked change in Thanksgiving travel patterns and that pattern is expected to continue this year. Instead of waiting for the day before Thanksgiving to travel, people are beginning their travels on the Friday before Thanksgiving. Many passengers have planned their return travel on the Sunday or Monday after Thanksgiving. In fact, nationally, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is projected to break into TSA’s top 10 busiest days ever.
While TSA concentrates on aviation security, passengers can assist by coming to the airport prepared. Here are some helpful travel tips to make the security checkpoint experience go smoothly during the holidays – and throughout the year:
- During the peak holiday travel rush, arrive at the airport two hours prior to your flight departure to ensure adequate time to be screened through the security checkpoint. By arriving early, you will arrive at your gate with time to spare.
- Dress for security screening. Simplify your experience by avoiding bulky jewelry, scarves, hair accessories and large belts since these types of items are likely to require additional screening. Remember to remove all items from your pockets and secure them in your carry-on bag.
- Organize your carry-on bag so electronics larger than a cell phone can be quickly and easily accessed when at the security checkpoint. All electronic devices larger than a cell phone should be placed in bins for x-ray screening with nothing on top or below, similar to how laptops have been screened for several years.
- Remove travel-size liquids, gels and aerosols (3.4 ounces or less) from carry-on luggage. Ensure they can be quickly and easily accessed. Any quantities larger than 3.4 ounces should be placed in checked baggage.
- Question about what you can bring through the security checkpoint? Tweet or Message AskTSA weekdays from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST and weekends and holidays from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. PST.
As a reminder, public awareness is a critical element of our security efforts. Travelers are encouraged to report suspicious activities, and remember If You See Something, Say Something™.