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SPOKANE, Washington – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) anticipates a high number of people will be screened through the security checkpoints at Spokane International Airport (GEG) this Thanksgiving holiday travel season, likely equaling or surpassing 2019 volumes.
Since Nov. 1, 2022, TSA nationally has screened an average of 2.13 million people per day at airports nationwide. With this sustained high volume of travelers, TSA anticipates that security checkpoints across the country will be increasingly busy during the Thanksgiving travel season, which kicked off Friday, Nov. 18 and continues through Sunday, Nov. 27.
The three busiest days during the Thanksgiving travel period nationally are typically Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving and Sunday after the holiday. TSA could screen as many as 2.5 million passengers at checkpoints nationwide on Wednesday, Nov. 23, and may surpass 2.5 million passengers on Sunday, Nov. 27.
Locally at GEG, the busiest days leading up to Thanksgiving are projected to be Tuesday, Nov. 22 and Wednesday, Nov. 23 when more than 6,300 and 7,100 passengers respectively will be screened by TSA. The post-holiday rush at GEG will see more than 6,600 travelers screened on Saturday, Nov. 26 and more than 7,400 on Sunday, Nov. 27. The fewest travelers are projected to depart GEG on Thanksgiving when approximately 4,500 will be screened.
“With high travel volumes projected nationally and locally leading up to and after Thanksgiving, the best piece piece of advice I have for passengers is arrive at the airport early and arrive prepared. Every step of the travel process takes longer during peak travel times. This holiday season is no exception,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Washington Greg Hawko. “TSA diligently monitors our operations and makes needed adjustments throughout the day. Whether it is reallocating our staff to checkpoints within the airport or extending the shifts of our employees, we remain committed to delivering the highest level of security to the traveling public.”
The security checkpoints at GEG open at 3:30 a.m. daily. Due to several flights departing early in the morning, travelers can expect to encounter large numbers of people who need to be screened first thing in the morning. Passengers can expect to encounter security lines during peak times when the number of passengers who need to be screened may exceed the capacity of the checkpoint.
TSA at GEG strives to staff the security checkpoints based on the number of travelers projected to depart the airport at various times during the day. The busiest times at GEG by checkpoint are:
Delta Air Lines
Sun Country Airlines
4 a.m. to 6 a.m.
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
4 a.m. to 8 a.m.
12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
TSA strives to get travelers through the general security screening process in less than 30 minutes and through TSA PreCheck® screening in less than 10 minutes. In October 2022, 91% of TSA PreCheck passengers nationwide waiting less than five minutes to be screened.
In 2019, TSA screened the highest number of passengers in its history on the Sunday following Thanksgiving when nearly 2.9 million people nationwide. On the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2021, TSA screened approximately 2.5 million people nationwide.
TSA continues to ask travelers to arrive early and prepared for the screening experience to allow for timely completion of every step of the travel process. To help things go smoothly, please follow these tips:
#1: Pack smart.
Prepare for security when packing and ensure that there are no prohibited items in carry-on luggage. Bringing prohibited item to the security checkpoint will result in a bag check, slowing the screening process for you and all travelers behind you. Also, your carry-on is not a turkey, so please don’t overstuff it. A cluttered carry-on can lead to a TSA officer having to conduct a bag check.
#2: Empty your pockets prior to arriving in the checkpoint. Place wallets, phones, keys and coins from your pockets inside your carry-on bag instead of placing them in a bin. This will ensure personal items are not left behind.
#3: Know how to travel with special holiday foods and drinks.
We know that many passengers like to travel with special foods and drinks to share with friends and families during the holidays. Remember that not all foods can be transported in carry-on luggage. If you can spread it, spill it, pump it or pour it AND the quantity exceeds 3.4 ounces (which is 100 ml), pack it in a checked bag. For example, jams jellies, sauces and wines in quantities larger than 3.4 ounces should go in a checked bag. Cakes, pies, cookies and breads can travel in carry-on luggage in any quantity, but may require some additional screening.
#4: Use gift bags instead of wrapping paper.
Wrapped items are screened just like any other item. If a wrapped item alarms the security screening technology whether in carry-on or checked luggage, a TSA officer may have to unwrap it to determine what the item is and confirm it does not pose a security threat. Consider traveling with unwrapped items or placing them in a gift bag for easy access and resolution.
# 5: Download the free myTSA app and follow TSA on social media.
The myTSA app is a trusted source for last-minute travel questions, providing travelers with 24-hour access to the most frequently requested airport security information. It also features a searchable “Can I Bring” database where you can enter the name of an item and find out if you should pack it in your checked or carry-on bag. The app is available from the App Store or Google Play. Travelers can also Tweet or Message AskTSA to get answers to last-minute questions. Live assistance is available daily including weekends and holidays from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. PT.
#6: Listen for guidance from TSA officers.
Some people may not have traveled recently, so it is important to listen to the direction provided in the security checkpoint. There may be information on new technologies that help reduce touchpoints and make for a more streamlined and convenient passenger experience, so listen up!
#7: Give yourself plenty of time at the airport. Extra time may be needed for parking, checking a bag at the airline check-in counters and in the security checkpoint. There is no substitute for arriving early and prepared.
TSA hiring TSOs at GEG
Finally, TSA has immediate openings for Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) to work at GEG. The starting hourly rate is $18.59. As an incentive to join the agency, TSA will pay newly-hired TSOs at GEG $2,500 upon starting with the agency and $2,500 after one year of service with the TSA.
Benefits for TSOs include paid training, annual and sick leave, health care plans for full- and part-time employees and a generous 401k retirement plan. TSOs are also eligible for up to $5,000 per year in college tuition reimbursement. TSA does not prorate benefits for part-time workers, and veteran’s preference is not required to join the agency.
TSOs screen hundreds of airline travelers daily, ensuring that travelers arrive at their destinations safely and securely. Applicants do not need previous experience working in security or law enforcement fields. Newly-hired TSOs will attend a two-weeks standardized training with other recently hired TSOs from around the country as well as receive ongoing on-the-job training.
After six months, TSOs are eligible for pay increases and those who work early mornings, evenings and Sundays receive a shift differential. Overtime opportunities, which are paid at time and a half, are frequently available.
“TSA is focused on recruiting and hiring dozens of people from the local community to ensure that we are fully staffed to screen travelers departing GEG. The entire Inland Northwest benefits when we are able to run our security operations in the most efficient and effective manner,” said TSA’s Greg Hawko. “We invite those who are interested in joining an established team of security professionals to consider TSA as your next career move. The benefits and opportunities are second to none.”
To begin the application process, visit https://jobs.tsa.gov. In the “Search TSA jobs” box, enter “TSO” in the search box to the left and “Spokane” in the “location” search box to the right.
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