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Safety during busy holiday rush top of mind for TSA

From screening people at checkpoints to confiscating weapons— the agency is prepared for the busy travel days ahead of the holidays.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — AAA expects nearly 5 million people to fly during Thanksgiving this year— but the biggest thing TSA told us is that there will be people getting out who haven't traveled since the start of the pandemic.

Because of that, many have forgotten some of the basic procedures that occur at security checkpoints.

"This is our Super Bowl. We train for this all year," said Arkansas TSA media spokesperson Patricia Mancha.

Thanksgiving is an all-hands-on-deck operation for the officers.

"Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the Sunday after Thanksgiving will likely be the busiest travel days," Mancha said.

That is why she said TSA's main goal is to get travelers past security quickly and safely.

"Have your documents ready, your passport, your photo issued ID, your ticket, all of that information when you get to the checkpoint," Mancha explained.

Little Rock TSA officers are prepared to handle pre-pandemic levels.

"Little Rock does have enough officers to meet the needs of the traveling public," Mancha said.

She said staff undergoes training throughout the year and are constantly working to make sure everyone knows how to use the technology designed to keep travelers out of harm's way.

"We have a unit at headquarters that all they do is look at new technology, and see how we can apply it to the greater transportation system," Mancha said.

At checkpoints, she added that TSA continues to see several guns.

Guns and bullets, for example, are prohibited inside carry-on luggage. However, you can still lawfully fly with a firearm in your checked luggage which sits away from passengers.

"It must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided container, and locked and declared to the airline," Mancha said.

Cast iron skillets, knives, and blenders, for example, are among some things that can cause bodily harm.

Her best advice was to leave them at home, as anything that causes bodily harm is prohibited on the plane.

As a traveler, it is your responsibility to know these basic rules— and TSA is relying on you to do your part.

"Every time that we have to double check a bag, do a pat down [and] additional inspection of property or people, it slows down the line for everybody in line," Mancha said.

The busiest times at the Clinton National Airport on holidays, she said, are between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. 


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