Airports across the U.S. are preparing for a record Thanksgiving holiday travel rush. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) expects nearly 27 million travelers to go through U.S. airport checkpoints over an 11-day period beginning Friday, November 22 and wrapping up Monday, December 2.
St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) is preparing for a three percent increase in departing passengers over those 11 days. During that time, STL’s security checkpoints could screen more than 208,000 passengers, an increase of more than 6,000 passengers over last year.
STL will have six days with more than 20,000 departing passengers going through airport checkpoints during that 11 day period. November 27, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, may narrowly eclipse the Sunday after the holiday, December 1, for the peak travel day (24,000 projected passengers versus 23,400 passengers). Tuesday, November 26 will likely be the third busiest day with 21,483 passengers projected to clear STL checkpoints. On the kickoff day, Friday, November 22, more than 20,500 passengers are expected to start their travels from St. Louis.
Terminals and gate areas will be even more crowded with passengers connecting through STL. Connecting passenger traffic, which are those passengers who have already cleared security at their originating airports, is 23 percent of STL’s passenger departures. Total connecting traffic is up four percent in the first nine months of this year. STL has served nearly 12 million passengers through the first nine months of 2019, which is a 2.3 percent increase from 2018.
In advance of the holiday travel season, STL has reconfigured the Terminal 2 Departures Drive layout for parallel lane drop offs. That parking and roadway layout change has doubled the passenger drop-off spots to more than 40. New ADA-accessible loading zones along the curb were also added.
STL is coordinating with our airlines, the TSA, and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to maintain safe and efficient operations through this busy travel period. Passengers are encouraged to arrive early, at least two hours for domestic flights, due to the volume of travelers this holiday season.
The TSA offers these five travel tips:
1. Pack smart. Prepare for security when packing and ensure that there are no prohibited items in baggage. As always, passengers can bring pies, cakes and other baked goods through the checkpoints; however, liquids such as eggnog and maple syrup, and gels such as preserves and jellies, should go into checked bags. Liquids in carry-on must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule.
2. Get your TSA Pre✓® membership. Individuals who do not have TSA Pre✓® should enroll now to get TSA Pre✓® benefits, available at more than 200 U.S. airports, in time for their holiday travel. Travelers enrolled in a trusted traveler program, like TSA Pre✓®, do not need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets.
3. Ask for passenger support. Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and/or medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll free at 855-787-2227 at least 72 hours prior to flying with any questions about screening policies, procedures and to find out what to expect at the security checkpoint. TSA Cares also arranges assistance at the checkpoint.
4. Ensure you have proper ID. Before heading to the airport, travelers should make sure they have an acceptable ID. Identity verification is an important step in the security screening process. Travelers are also reminded that REAL ID enforcement is less than 1 year away. Beginning October 1, 2020, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the United States. Review the list of acceptable identification.
5. Have questions? Ask TSA. Travelers can get assistance in real time by submitting their questions and comments to @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on weekends/holidays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. Travelers can also reach the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673. Staff is available from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends/holidays; and an automated service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) is the primary commercial airport for eastern Missouri and southern Illinois serving nearly 16 million passengers annually. STL is an Enterprise Fund Department of the City of St. Louis. It is wholly supported by airport user charges. No general fund revenues are used for the operation, administration, promotion or maintenance of airport facilities. For more information on flights and services at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, log onto www.flystl.com.