BNA, other airports across US prepared for influx of Labor Day travelers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Millions of people across the country — including hundreds of thousands of travelers in Music City — are expected to board planes over the course of Labor Day weekend.

From Friday, Sept. 1 through Wednesday, Sept. 6, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it predicts 14 million passengers will pass through security checkpoints, including more than 2.7 million on Friday alone, which is projected to be the busiest day.

Traveling Labor Day weekend? Expect lots of company

The agency has reportedly screened about 227.5 million passengers since Memorial Day weekend, averaging approximately 2.5 million per day. Officials said this summer’s travel volumes are higher than they were in 2019, marking the busiest summer travel period on record.

We anticipate this Labor Day holiday weekend will be busy, with passenger volumes nearly 11% higher than last year—volumes that already exceeded 2019 Labor Day holiday travel volumes. We are prepared for the increase in travel volumes and are working closely with our airline and airport partners to make sure we are maintaining our wait time standards of 30 minutes and under for standard screening lanes, and 10 minutes and under for TSA PreCheck® lanes. There are occasions where wait times may be longer, so we encourage you to arrive early, pack your patience and reach out to us before arriving to the airport if you have any questions on our security procedures or items you may bring. I applaud our frontline employees who have done an excellent job throughout the busy travel season to facilitate secure travel for millions of passengers, all while we continue to deploy new checkpoint technology that enhances security effectiveness, efficiency and the passenger experience.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske

Meanwhile, Nashville International Airport (BNA) said it is prepared for a surge of more than 300,000 passengers going through TSA checkpoints over the holiday.

When are the best, worst times for driving to Labor Day destinations in Tennessee?

TSA and BNA offered the following travel tips for anyone planning to fly amid Labor Day weekend:

  • Arrive early. 

    • Airports will be busy, especially on Friday, so you should arrive two hours before your scheduled flight to give you enough time to park your vehicle or arrive via public transit or rideshare, check your bags, and go through security screening before arriving at the departure gate. You are also urged to check your flight status before leaving for the airport.

    • If you’re flying out of BNA, keep in mind that heavier passenger volume means more people will be filling up the airport’s six parking options. If parking in valet, travelers coming from Interstate 40 will only be able to access the area from exit 216B. You can check parking details and availability by clicking here.

  • Pack smart.

    • Use a bag that is already unpacked (and unzip every compartment to make sure it’s empty) when you start packing. Then, check TSA’s “What Can I Bring?” tool to know what is permitted and prohibited in your carry-on, as well as what must go in your checked bag.

    • Make sure there are no prohibited items — or anything that may resemble prohibited items — inside each family member’s carry-on and personal item, especially if your kids are packing their own bags.

    • Water guns or any other replica weapons are not allowed to fly in your carry-on bag. Even though firearms are allowed in checked baggage when unloaded, declared with the airlines, and stored properly, they are not allowed at the security checkpoint, secure areas of the airport, or onboard aircraft.

  • Respect TSA and other frontline airport and airline employees. 

    • “Violence and unruly behavior in the nation’s transportation systems are not acceptable and will cause delays for passengers. Transportation Security Officers (TSOs), along with all frontline airport and airline employees and local law enforcement are all working together to ensure safe and secure travel,” the TSA said. “Assaulting a TSO is a federal offense and will result in penalties and/or arrest. Always follow the directions of flight attendants aboard aircraft. They are there for your safety and security.”

  • Know TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule and avoid a bag check. 

    • Pack liquids, gels, and aerosols larger than 3.4 ounces in a checked bag so a TSO doesn’t need to open up your carry-on bag to look for large liquid containers.

    • If you are traveling with an infant, most items in your diaper bag are actually exempt from TSA’s liquids rule. In other words, breast milk, powdered formula, baby food and snacks, bottles, and sippy cups are all allowed to fly, as well as liquid and cream medications. However, you should still separate these items from your bag and place them into a different bin for X-ray screening. If your item triggers alarms, additional screening may be required.

  • Contact your airline before your flight to make sure your car seat, stroller, or pet carrier is able to travel with you.

    • Remove children from strollers and car seats before going through screening. As for pets, you should follow officers’ instructions and never send animals through the X-ray machine.

    • Make sure sure to remove any loose items and place them in a bin or on the X-ray belt for screening.

    • You should also collapse or fold large items and submit them to the X-ray machine. If your item is too large to be screened via X-ray, it will have to undergo a visual and physical inspection by a TSO.

  • Have acceptable ID out and ready. 

    • Passengers who are 18 or older need to show valid identification at the airport checkpoint in order to travel. TSA has been deploying Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) units to confirm the authenticity of a passenger’s identification credential, flight details, and screening status, all without scanning a boarding pass.

  • Be aware of new checkpoint screening technology. 

    • “TSA uses a variety of security methods and technologies to secure our transportation systems. Screening protocols can be unpredictable and may vary from airport to airport depending on available technology and the current threat environment,” the agency said. “Some airports have installed new state-of-the-art Computed Tomography (CT) scanners which significantly improve threat detection capabilities for carry-on bags and reduce physical searches of bag contents for prohibited items. CT units give TSOs the ability to review 3D images of passengers’ bags and reduce physical searches of bag contents for prohibited items. Passengers screened in security lanes with CT units do not need to remove their 3-1-1 liquids or laptops, but they must place every carry-on item, including bags, into a bin for screening.”

  • Just @AskTSA. 

    • TSA is not only active on most social media platforms where travelers may send their questions — including Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and Facebook — but officials will often provide helpful security tips in a humorous way. Just tweet @AskTSA or send a Facebook message to AskTSA. You can engage with TSA’s virtual assistant instantly or text directly with an AskTSA team member in real-time from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, 365 days a year, at TRAVEL or 275-872.

    • You can also contact TSA by calling 866-289-9673 for automated information anytime or for a representative 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET on weekends and holidays.

  • Request special assistance. 

    • If you or someone you’re traveling with requires special accommodations during the airport security screening process, contact TSA Cares 72 hours prior to the trip. This helpline, which is meant to assist travelers with disabilities and medical conditions, may be reached online, or by phone at 855-787-2227 or federal relay 711.

    • If you’re already at the airport, notify the TSO if a child or family member has a disability, medical condition, or medical device, and advise the officer of the best way to relieve any concerns during the screening process. For example, parents may carry their child through screening to ease the process. The TSO will not remove a child from their mobility aid, wheelchair, or scooter.

  • Travel with ease with TSA PreCheck and ensure you have the TSA PreCheck mark on your boarding pass. 

    • “Our trusted traveler program now has 90 participating airlines, is available at over 200 airports and has two authorized enrollment providers. Most applicants get a Known Traveler Number (KTN) within 3-5 days and 99% of members wait 10 minutes or less in a screening lane. TSA PreCheck passengers travel with ease and keep their shoes, belts and light jackets on and keep laptops, 3-1-1 liquids and food items in their bags,” TSA said. “If you already have TSA PreCheck, your kids 12 and under may join you in the TSA PreCheck screening lane. Children 13-17 may join enrolled adults in the dedicated lanes when traveling on the same reservation and if the TSA PreCheck indicator appears on the child’s boarding pass. TSA PreCheck passengers must ensure that their KTN along with correct date of birth is in their airline reservation.”

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia, TSA reminded passengers about the importance of monitoring for weather impacts on your travel plans, so be storm ready and visit to make your plan today.

For those who have loved ones traveling to Nashville for Labor Day weekend, drivers are encouraged to use BNA’s new cell lot at 1415 Murfreesboro Pike to help alleviate traffic congestion. Not only does the new lot provide ample space, but it also has digital signage displaying real-time updates on incoming flights.

To check the status of arriving and departing flights at BNA, follow this link.

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