TSA offers summer travel tips for smooth sailing at airport security

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Summer travel season is upon us. And the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) wants to make sure you know the rules of the road before you take to the skies.

At Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, 2017 is expected to be another very busy year for air travel, kicking off with Memorial Day weekend. So to make your airport check-in go smoothly, the TSA is offering tips for travelers.

TSA spokesman Nico Melendez tells us it's all about being prepared before you leave for the airport, and keeping your carry-on as clutter-free as possible. That will make your trip through security much easier.

"It's an effort to ask passengers to help us declutter their bags," Melendez said. "Take your larger electronic items out. We might ask you take a couple of items out so it declutters the bag and makes it easier for our people to do their job and let passengers through the line quicker."

Melendez showed us a pile of prohibited items recently confiscated at Phoenix security checkpoints.

Those included "a pair or scissors to a big, huge cutting knife." We saw brass knuckles, tools, logs and toy baseball bats. One item seized was a seemingly-innocent snow globe!

Phoenix is also consistently in the top 10 airports for "gun finds" at security.

"Last year we found more than 3,000 guns at airports across the country. Depending on where you're flying, if a gun is found at a security checkpoint, you could be arrested, you could be cited, or you could be told to go put the gun in your car," said Meledez. "It's important to note that you can travel with a gun. You have to put it in the proper carrying case. It has to be locked. It has to be unloaded. And the gun needs to be declared to the airline. There's a way to get it from Point A to Point B. But more than 3,000 times last year people didn't follow directions and their travel was disrupted."

There is some good news for travelers. You might not face such long lines at security checkpoints this summer.

"We are back to our normal staffing numbers," said Melendez. "We haven't had significant line issues this year. We're working with the airline and the airport to make sure all of the positions are staffed appropriately, and passengers are getting through."

The TSA offers some general guidelines for the airport security checkpoint:

  • An uncluttered carry-on bag helps TSA officers better screen items with greater efficiency. Neatly coil charger cables and electrical cords help the TSA officer get a clear look at your bag on the X-ray screen. Adhering to the airline’s “1+1” carry-on policy is also important.
  • Partner with TSA to make the screening process more efficient by bringing fewer bags to the security checkpoint and checking prohibited items carry-on luggage. Not sure what is prohibited? Use the myTSA app to determine whether an item is permitted in carry-on baggage, checked baggage or not at all. You can download the myTSA app on iTunes or Google Play. The same information can also be accessed online.
  • Preparation is key when going through the security checkpoint. Delays of even a few seconds per passenger multiplied by the number of passengers screened everyday can create unnecessary slowdowns in the process.
  • Apply for TSA Pre?®, which allows flyers to leave on their shoes, light jacket and belt. At some airports, travelers can keep their laptop and 3-1-1 compliant liquids, gels and aerosols in a carry-on bag. Travelers who want to enjoy the benefits of TSA Pre?® this summer are encouraged to enroll now. For specific hours and more information, visit tsa.gov.
  • Issues receiving TSA Pre?® on your boarding pass? Unsure if an item is allowed through security? Get live assistance by tweeting your questions and comments to @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger, weekdays, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. CT and weekends/holidays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT. You can also call the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673.
  • Call TSA Cares. Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and/or medical conditions may call TSA Cares helpline toll free at 855-787-2227 at least 72 hours prior to flying with any questions about screening policies, procedures and to find out what to expect at the security checkpoint as well as arrange for assistance at the checkpoint
  • Remember that security is TSA’s focus and we will not compromise security to move travelers more quickly through the security checkpoint.

Again, the TSA wants to encourage travelers to use social media to learn more about TSA rules. TSA has a Twitter account, an Instagram account and a Facebook presence. Melendez says if you have a question about whether you can carry on a certain item, just send a tweet and TSA will respond.

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