SPOKANE, Washington – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) anticipates a large number of people going through security at Spokane International Airport (GEG) this holiday season. Thanksgiving holiday travel, likely matching or exceeding 2019 volumes.
As of November 1, 2022, TSA nationwide has screened an average of 2.13 million people per day at airports across the country. With this sustained high volume of travelers, the TSA anticipates that security checkpoints across the country will become increasingly busy during the Thanksgiving travel season, which began on Friday, November 18 and continues through the Sunday November 27.
The three busiest days during the nationwide Thanksgiving travel period are usually the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after the holiday. The TSA could screen up to 2.5 million passengers at checkpoints across the country on Wednesday, November 23, and could exceed 2.5 million passengers on Sunday, November 27.
Locally at GEG, the busiest days leading up to Thanksgiving are anticipated to be Tuesday, November 22 and Wednesday, November 23, when TSA will screen more than 6,300 and 7,100 passengers, respectively. The post-holiday rush at GEG will see more than 6,600 travelers screened on Saturday, November 26, and more than 7,400 on Sunday, November 27. The fewest travelers are expected to leave GEG on Thanksgiving Day, when approximately 4,500 will be tested.
“With large volumes of travel projected nationally and locally before and after Thanksgiving, the best advice I have for passengers is to get to the airport early and be prepared. Each step of the travel process takes longer during peak travel times. This holiday season is no exception,” said Greg Hawko, TSA federal security director for Washington. “TSA diligently monitors our operations and makes necessary adjustments throughout the day. Whether it’s reassigning our staff to on-airport checkpoints or extending our employee shifts, we remain committed to providing the highest level of security for the traveling public.”
GEG security checks open at 3:30 am every day. Because many flights leave early in the morning, travelers can expect to encounter a large number of people who need to be screened first thing in the morning. Passengers can expect to encounter security lines during peak hours when the number of passengers to be checked may exceed the checkpoint’s capacity.
TSA at GEG strives to staff security checkpoints based on the number of travelers projected to leave the airport at various times throughout the day. The moments of greatest activity in GEG by control point are:
4 a.m. to 6 a.m.
4 a.m. to 8 a.m.
TSA strives to get travelers through general security screening in less than 30 minutes and through TSA PreCheck® in less than 10 minutes. As of October 2022, 91% of TSA PreCheck passengers nationwide waited less than five minutes to be screened.
In 2019, the TSA screened the most passengers in its history on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, when nearly 2.9 million people across the country. On the Sunday after Thanksgiving 2021, the TSA tested approximately 2.5 million people across the country.
The TSA continues to ask travelers to arrive early and prepared for the screening experience to allow timely completion of each step of the travel process. To help keep things running smoothly, follow these tips:
#1: Pack smart.
Prepare for safety when packing and make sure there are no prohibited items in your carry-on bag. Bringing a prohibited item to the security checkpoint will result in a baggage check, slowing down the screening process for you and all travelers following you. Also, your carry-on isn’t a turkey, so don’t pack it too much. A messy carry-on can lead to a TSA officer having to perform a bag check.
#2: Empty your pockets before reaching the checkpoint. Put wallets, phones, keys, and change from your pockets inside your carry-on bag instead of putting them in a bin. This will ensure that personal items are not left behind.
#3: Know how to travel with special holiday food and drinks.
We know that many passengers like to travel with special food and drinks to share with friends and family during the holidays. Remember that not all food can be transported in hand luggage. If you can spread, spill, pump, or pour it AND the quantity exceeds 3.4 ounces (which is 100 ml), pack it in a registered bag. For example, jams, jellies, sauces, and wines in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces must go in a checked bag. Cakes, pies, cookies and breads may travel in carry-on baggage in any quantity, but may require additional screening.
#4: Use gift bags instead of wrapping paper.
Wrapped items are inspected like any other item. If a wrapped item triggers an alarm at security screening technology, whether in carry-on or checked baggage, a TSA officer may need to unwrap it to determine which item it is and confirm that 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, giving travelers 24-hour access to the most frequently requested airport security information. It also has a “Can I Carry” lookup database where you can enter the name of an item and find out if you should pack it in your checked or carry-on baggage. The app is available on the App Store or Google Play. Travelers can also tweet or message AskTSA for answers to last-minute questions. Live support is available every day, including weekends and holidays, from 5 am to 3 pm PT.
#6: Listen to guidance from TSA officers.
Some people may not have traveled recently, so it is important to listen to the instructions given at the security check. There may be information about new technologies that help reduce touch points and make the passenger experience easier and more convenient, so pay attention!
#7: Give yourself plenty of time at the airport. Additional time may be required for parking, checking a bag at the airline check-in counters, and security. There is no substitute for arriving early and prepared.
TSA Hires TSO 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 $2,500 from GEG upon starting with the agency and $2,500 after one year of service with 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 to receive up to $5,000 per year in college tuition reimbursement. The TSA does not prorate benefits for part-time workers and veteran preference is not required to join the agency.
TSOs screen hundreds of airline travelers daily, ensuring travelers reach their destinations safely. Applicants do not need prior experience working in security or law enforcement fields. Newly hired TSOs will attend a two-week standardized training with other newly hired TSOs from across the country and receive ongoing on-the-job training.
After six months, TSOs are eligible for pay increases and those who work early morning, afternoon and Sunday receive a shift differential. Overtime opportunities, 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 we are fully staffed to screen travelers leaving GEG. The entire Inland Northwest benefits when we can 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 their next career step. 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 on the left and “Spokane” in the “location” search box on the right.