From the looks of NoVA airport check-in lines, the Thanksgiving getaway appears to already be underway. If you’re traveling, take a deep breath, smile, and realize everybody is trying to get somewhere just like you.
This year, the Transportation Security Administration predicts record travel crowds at airports, including Dulles International Airport and Reagan National.
“We expect this holiday season to be our busiest ever. In 2023, we have already seen seven of the top 10 busiest travel days in TSA’s history,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske, in a news release.
TSA expects to screen 30 million passengers between Friday, November 17 and Tuesday, November 28. The season officially kicks off on November 17.
“We expect this holiday season to be our busiest ever. In 2023, we have already seen seven of the top 10 busiest travel days in TSA’s history,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske.
Tuesday, November 21 and Wednesday, November 22 will be the biggest travel days. TSA projects it will screen 2.6 million passengers on the Tuesday before turkey day and 2.7 million on the Wednesday. Sunday, November 26 is expected to be the biggest travel day with 2.9 million passengers, TSA said.
The top 10 travel days this year have ranged from 2,782,146 passengers to 2,884,783, TSA said.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates Dulles and Reagan National, recommends arriving two hours in advance for domestic flights and three hours ahead of time for international flights.
Travelers may want to use Metro to get to both airports.
“Dulles International Airport is working diligently to ensure a seamless holiday travel season,” said Richard Golinowski, vice president and airport manager. “As the fastest growing international gateway in the United States, we are dedicated to enhancing the travel experience for all passengers. Getting to Dulles is now more convenient than ever with Silver Line Metrorail service to the airport.”
Prepare for Security
Know ahead of time what you can bring on your flight. Here’s the TSA’s list of what’s allowed and what’s not.
TSA recommends you use the TSA PreCheck screening program. More than 17.6 million are enrolled in it, 3.9 million more than last year. It costs $78 for five years.
You’ll find a dedicated PreCheck screening area on the departures level at Dulles. At Reagan National, PreCheck lanes are at each TSA checkpoint.
Have your ID ready when you are in the screening lane.
Here are some additional recommendations from the Metropolitan Airports Authority:
- At Reagan National, those flying out of Terminal 1 should utilize the Terminal 1 security checkpoint. Both checkpoints inside Regan National’s Terminal 2 and Dulles International’s main terminal let you choose whichever checkpoint is more convenient.
- Check the live security wait time information for all screening checkpoints at Reagan National. You’ll find it posted on signs near each checkpoint, online, and on the DC Airports mobile app.
Of course, remain situationally aware and report anything suspicious.
And finally, be nice to the gate agents, flight attendants, and others working at the airports. They have no control over whether your flight is on time. This is the season for gratitude and giving thanks.
Feature image by Colleen Kelleher
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