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How to Breeze Through TSA Checkpoints This Holiday Travel Season

With Thanksgiving just around the corner and the holiday season following shortly after, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be hopping onboard a U.S. airline in the coming days or weeks for a visit to friends and family. And with luggage filled with gifts and leftover pumpkin pies, you may have a few questions about the best way to travel during the holidays. Luckily, our member airlines and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are here to share their tips to make your airport experience as pleasant as possible this holiday season.

How early should I arrive for my flight?

With an estimated 28.5 million passengers projected to take to the skies this Thanksgiving period, and millions more following during the winter holiday travel period, airports and security lines will be busy! The TSA recommends arriving for your flight two hours ahead of your scheduled departure time to account for traffic, parking and security checkpoint lines. Be sure to check-in for your flight ahead of time, either on your carrier’s website or mobile app, to give yourself more time to clear security and find your gate.

Can I bring my Grandma’s famous mashed potatoes and gravy back through security with me?

Unfortunately, unless you plan on checking a bag, you may have to leave the mashed potatoes and gravy behind. Solid food items like pumpkin pie, however, are free to go through security with you, but be aware, you may be asked to remove them for additional inspection. If you need more clarification, visit the TSA’s What Can I Bring page or visit the @AskTSA Twitter account.

What about already-wrapped gifts?

While wrapped gifts are technically allowed, TSA recommends you save the wrapping paper and ribbons until you get to your destination. It’s possible a wrapped gift could need further screening, and if so, the last thing you’ll want to do is tear off that adorable Frosty the Snowman-themed paper in the middle of security.

I don’t want to get stuck in a long security line before my flight. How can I avoid that?

When it comes to holiday travel, the old adage rings true—proper preparation prevents poor performance. Before heading to the airport, make sure your liquids abide by the 3-1-1 rule and be conscious of what you wear to the airport. It may be best to pack your chunky belt and lace-up boots in your suitcase so you have fewer items you’ll need to remove at the checkpoint. Have your ID and boarding pass ready to go when you get to the front of the line so you don’t hold others up behind you and put your laptop and other large electronics at the top of your bag so they’re easy to find and place them in a separate bin. If you’re a member of TSA PreCheck, you won’t have to worry about wearing easy slip-on shoes or getting your laptop out of your bag. And if you’re not, apply now to start reaping the benefits in 2018!

If you’re one of the millions traveling by air to see loved ones this holiday season, be sure to follow these simple steps for a hassle-free TSA experience. For more information, visit TSA.gov.

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