More than a million passengers are expected to travel through Houston’s two big airports over the next week, one of the busiest periods of the year. Local officials say those travelers can make their trips more pleasant by remembering a few simple rules before they get to the airport.
For seasoned business travelers like Ken Allord of Baltimore, navigating the sometimes confusing security checkpoints at Bush Intercontinental Airport is no big deal, a process he’s gotten used to since things were tightened-up after 9-11. “It’s a reasonably smooth process. Somebody else is going to have to make the judgement on how effective it is, but I think the process has ironed itself out. Most of the time, with the exception of holidays, most people know what to do and when to do it. It’s pretty much ingrained in my psyche at this point,” he says.
But people who don’t fly very often and are planning to hop a plane during the upcoming holiday might need a refresher course in what’s allowed and what’s not allowed on airplanes these days. The Transportation Security Administration’s Andrea McCauley says everything that’s been prohibited in the past is still prohibited. “Those things include lighters, scissors, knives, obviously things such as guns, please make sure you don’t bring guns and ammunition to the checkpoint, general things along those lines that we’ve always considered prohibited,” she says.
McCauley says the TSA still confiscates 350 pounds of lighters every week at Houston’s two big airports. So what about shoes? Do travelers have to remove them before they go through a TSA checkpoint? “It is not required, but is highly recommended,” says McCauley. “If you go through the checkpoint and your shoes alarm or they fit a certain profile, then you have to go through a secondary screening, which takes a lot of time. So we just suggest that everyone just take off their shoes because then we’ve already screened them. The chance that they’ll alarm while they’re on your person won’t happen,” she says.
The Houston Airport System’s Roger Smith says road warriors who are used to flying might every week might have to pack the patience as they head out for the holidays. “The important thing to remember is there are a lot of folks traveling during Thanksgiving that don’t travel all the time. If you’re an experienced traveler you need to have a little more patience because there might be someone in the line in front of you who doesn’t move quite as fast as you’re accustomed to,” he says.
Officials are expecting a slight increase in travelers this next week compared to last year.