Traveling for Spring Break? Keep These TSA Tips in Mind
It's officially spring, meaning the spring break travel season is well underway, with folks flocking to sunnier skies and rejuvenating retreats. Are your groups heading somewhere warm and relaxing this season? If so, keep these tips—shared by the TSA—in mind for a smooth, stress-free and successful trip to the airport.
The TSA expects an increase in passenger volume, potentially exceeding pre-pandemic levels, and recommends the following top six travel tips to help spring break travelers arrive prepared for the most efficient TSA checkpoint experience:
TIP 1: PACK SMART
Start with an empty bag and ensure you don't have any prohibited items. Of course, don't attempt to bring a firearm through a TSA checkpoint (passengers who attempt to bring a firearm through a checkpoint will receive a civil penalty and fines as high as $15,000, in addition to losing eligibility for TSA PreCheck). Other prohibited items include explosives, flammables, knives, razors, replica weapons and more. To avoid delays, passengers should view TSA's "What Can I Bring?" page and begin packing with a bag that is empty.
TIP 2: REMEMBER THE 3-1-1 LIQUIDS RULE
Passengers may bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes through the checkpoint, as long as each item is 3.4 ounces or less. Liquids over 3.4 ounces must be packed in a checked bag. Sunscreen in a container larger than 3.4 ounces is commonly available, but is not considered to be medically necessary as a carry-on item. Larger quantities of sunscreen are allowed in checked bags. Any liquid, aerosol, gel, cream or paste that alarms during screening will require additional screening.
Alcoholic beverages with more than 24% but not more than 70% alcohol are limited in checked bags to five liters (1.3 gallons) per passenger and must be in unopened retail packaging. Alcoholic beverages with 24% alcohol or less are not subject to limitations in checked bags. For carry-on bags, passengers are limited to containers of 3.4 ounces or less that can fit comfortably in one quart-sized, clear, zip-top bag. FAA regulations prohibit travelers from consuming alcohol on an aircraft unless served by a flight attendant. Additionally, flight attendants are not permitted to serve a passenger who appears to be intoxicated.
Medically necessary liquids, gels and aerosols over 3.4 ounces are allowed in reasonable quantities, but they must be declared at the checkpoint for inspection. Remember: TSA allows one liquid hand sanitizer container up to 12 ounces per passenger in carry-on bags until further notice. These containers will need to be screened separately, which will add some time to the checkpoint screening experience.
TIP 3: ENROLL IN TSA PRECHECK
In January 2023, 92% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than five minutes at TSA checkpoints nationwide. Traveling with the kids? Children 12 and under may join a parent/guardian with TSA PreCheck in the dedicated lanes. Most new enrollees receive a Known Traveler Number (commonly referred to as "KTN") within five days, and membership lasts for five years. The enrollment fee for five years is $78; online renewals are $70.
TIP 4: ASK TSA BEFORE YOU TRAVEL
Contact TSA's travel security experts over social media by sending a message to @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger. Passengers may also send a text directly to 275-872 ("AskTSA") on any mobile device. An automated virtual assistant is available 24/7 to answer common questions and AskTSA staff is available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST daily, including holidays and weekends for more complicated questions. Travelers may also reach the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673 from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST on weekends/holidays. An automated service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
TIP 5: ARRIVE EARLY AND CARRY ON KINDLY
Spring break travelers should give themselves plenty of time to account for traffic, parking, rental car returns, airline check-in, security and making any airport purchases before boarding a flight. Avoid consuming excessive amounts of alcohol prior to boarding, as flight attendants and gate agents may deny boarding to intoxicated passengers. Passengers who engage in unruly behavior at the checkpoint or inflight may face substantial penalties and possible prosecution on criminal charges.
TIP 6: BE CHECKPOINT READY
Arrive at the checkpoint lane with a mobile or printed boarding pass and valid ID readily available. When approaching the screening area, remember to empty pockets and place the contents in a bin or carry-on bag. Those without TSA PreCheck must remove large electronics and 3-1-1 liquids from carry-ons. All travelers will be asked to remove outerwear prior to screening. Listen closely and follow instructions of the TSA officer for guidance through the screening process.
Those traveling abroad for spring break should also check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Know Before You Go page to learn about required documentation.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.