5 Tips From the TSA to Make Traveling During the 2020 Holiday Season a Little Easier

TSA at Chicago O'Hare Airport

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) released a list of winter travel tips on Monday, helping Americans navigate flying during the COVID-19 pandemic, just in time for a potential holiday rush.

With advice from mask-wearing and reducing contact, to more familiar tips surrounding how to wrap gifts for loved ones, the agency focused on how to expedite the security process. The tips come as the agency screened a record more than 3 million passengers at airports around Thanksgiving, despite experts saying people shouldn’t travel.

And of course, the tips will help travelers “ensure that you avoid Santa’s ‘Naughty’ list when you get to a [TSA] security checkpoint at the airport," the advice read.

“TSA is well aware that many people haven’t traveled in several months, here is what you need to do now to be prepared this holiday season — whether you’re traveling for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or to celebrate the New Year,” the agency added.

These are the TSA’s tips for flying during the holidays this year.

Tip 1: Don’t wait: download the free myTSA app

The agency suggested people download its app before heading to the airport to clear up any confusion about what they can and can’t bring, as well as get information on flight delays and where to find TSA PreCheck lanes. For any last-minute questions, the TSA recommends checking out their Twitter page.

Tip 2: Enroll in TSA PreCheck now

The agency said its PreCheck program will expedite travelers through security and create fewer touchpoints as participants do not have to remove their shoes, belts, and some jackets, and don’t have to take their liquids or electronics out of their bags.

Tip 3: Pack those gifts, but don’t use wrapping paper

While most winter travel tips concerning how to protect travelers and others from the coronavirus, the agency also reminded fliers in time for the holidays thatt they should leave the wrapping paper behind. Instead, the TSA recommended people choose a gift bag or even a festive bow. 

“Because if a wrapped gift triggers an alarm, it will need to be unwrapped to determine whether the contents of the wrapped item present a security threat,” the agency wrote. “TSA’s officer-elves don’t want to take on the role of Scrooge and unwrap someone else’s gift. However, they will have to if the item triggers a security alarm.”

Tip 4: Please don’t forget your mask

Along with other things that have changed since COVID-19 starting sweeping across the country, masks are required in airports and on airplanes. Passengers will be asked to remove it quickly so an officer can verify their identity and can expect to social distance while in line.

The agency has installed acrylic barriers and officers may be wearing eye protection or a face shield in addition to a mask and gloves, the agency noted. 

Tip 5: Pack the essentials

In addition to masks, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer have also become must-have items for flying. In fact, travelers are allowed to bring up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer, which they have to remove from their luggage during the screening (all other liquids are still limited to 3.4 ounces). 

Beyond cleaning supplies, the TSA said passengers should bring their photo ID’s (even if they expired on or after March 1 and they haven’t been able to renew it), as well as some extra masks, just in case.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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