The federal Transportation Security Administration is projecting record numbers of people traveling for Thanksgiving this year. Nationwide, TSA is expecting to screen 25 million travelers between Friday, Nov. 16, and Monday, Nov. 26, making it one of the busiest Thanksgivings on record. At Friedman Memorial Airport, passengers can expect full flights and a busy terminal, as well.
During these peak flight periods, TSA asks that passengers heed the suggestions by the airport authorities to arrive at the airport two hours before their time of departure, in order to allow for a smoother process through security.
As for TSA, “we will be fully staffed and use overtime as needed,” according to Public Affairs Manager Lori Dankers.
“We expect the passengers to be partners in security,” Dankers said, emphasizing that a prepared passenger is a great passenger.
Dankers encouraged passengers to re-familiarize themselves with the most up-to-date TSA procedures and to go to the airport prepared, with electronics, liquids and aerosols available to be easily removed from luggage, and to arrive early to allow time to go through what are expected to be longer lines.
In Hailey, TSA PreCheck passengers can continue to leave their shoes, light jacket and belts on, but they will be asked to remove their laptops, electronic book readers and similar electronics from their bags to go through the screening system.
Passengers can also use social media such as Facebook Messenger to ask TSA questions when they’re preparing for travel, to double-check what can and can’t be in carry-on luggage. Dankers said the response time is about 30 minutes. Most importantly, TSA agents can only check roughly 150 passengers in an hour, so arriving two hours prior to a departure time is paramount to minimizing a frustrating holiday travel experience, she said.
Plans for the future
The Friedman Memorial Airport Authority discussed at their monthly meeting on Tuesday night the possibility of expanding the security checkpoint at the airport to allow for shorter wait times, particularly during peak seasons in the valley.
Airport Manager Chris Pomeroy told the Airport Authority that he has already put in an application for funding from the Federal Aviation Administration requesting $1.7 million dollars for the project. Pomeroy is hopeful that the airport will receive funding from the FAA because the project meets all the of criteria in that funding category. That being said, as of Tuesday, roughly 400 other airports had put in applications for for the same funding from the FAA.
Pomeroy told the Airport Authority that Friedman should hear back from the FAA by mid-December.
In other airport news, work to add a fourth spot to park commercial aircraft on the north side of the terminal is complete. According to T-O Engineers consultant Dave Mitchell, the project was completed nearly a week early and roughly $300,000 below budget, due to over-projections of materials costs.