One of the worst parts of air travel on a busy holiday weekend is going through security. How busy will it be this Memorial Day weekend? TSA projects they’ll screen about 2.6 million passengers just on Friday, May 26. Fortunately, the agency is taking steps to alleviate some of the congestion this weekend and throughout the summer.
First up is staffing. At a recent press conference, TSA administrator David Pekoske stated “Our staffing levels are better and this is largely due to better pay for all TSA employees.” Recruiting and retention has improved, and more TSA agents mean a better experience for travelers.
The agency also announced a new benefit to TSA PreCheck membership. Teens aged 13-17 can now accompany TSA PreCheck enrolled parents or guardians through TSA PreCheck screening when traveling on the same reservation and when the TSA PreCheck indicator appears on the teen's boarding pass. Children 12 and under may still accompany an enrolled parent or guardian when traveling through the TSA PreCheck lanes.
New screening technology is popping up in airports around the country. Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) units can confirm your identity, flight info and TSA Pre status without a boarding pass. The second generation of CAT, called CAT-2, in use at several airports nationwide, is also equipped with a camera that can get you through to the screening even faster with photo facial matching. While photos captured by the units are never stored or used for any other purpose, you can opt out of the facial matching process in favor of the traditional method without losing your place in line.
In addition to new ID screening technology, airports will see new state-of-the-art Computed Tomography (CT) units for better and faster bag screening. TSA agents can get a 3D image of contents without having to physically search bags. Even better, if you’re going through a line with one of these units, you won’t have to remove your liquids or laptops, even if you don’t have TSA Pre.
While this new technology will help speed up the security screening process, TSA reminds all travelers that there are steps you can take to make travel more efficient: make sure your Known Traveler Number (KTN) is in your reservation (for TSA Pre), pack an empty bag and ditch the contraband, allow plenty of time to get to your gate, be aware of scanning technology, follow TSA guidance, have acceptable ID and, most of all, be nice! TSA understands your pain.