TSA offers tips for smoother holiday travel

SALT LAKE CITY -- The holiday season is one of the busiest travel times of the year, especially if you're flying, but there are things you can do to make your trip smoother.

"We're not exaggerating when we say that we will be very, very busy,” said Lorie Dankers, a public affairs manager for TSA.

At Salt Lake City International Airport they are expecting to see 22,000 passengers each day this holiday season, which is up 15 percent from normal. Experts say travelers should show up two hours early for a domestic flight and three hours ahead of an international flight.

"TSA expects to screen between 2.3 and 2.4 million passengers nationwide every day, so even though you may be departing from this airport and be very familiar with it, I want to warn you that when you go to other airports you're less familiar with, heed those warnings to arrive early,” Dankers said.

Nancy Volmer, a spokeswoman for Salt Lake City’s Department of Airports, also had tips for travelers.

“Starting at home is to print off your boarding pass, or also download it on your phone,” she said. “And then we always recommend that people check the website of the airline prior to coming out to the airport, just to make sure that the flight is on time and is not delayed because of weather."

Carry-on baggage can save time, but don't cram the bags too full.

“Please don't fill your bag to the point of being completely overstuffed,” Dankers said. “If we need to do a bag check on that, you're going to need to remove some of those items, and that can really slow the process down for you, as well as our operation."

The ban on liquids, gels and aerosols larger than 3.4 ounces has been a rule for 10 years, so pack standard size shampoo and other fluids in checked luggage.

Tell officers if you have to carry on larger bottles with medicines, tubes with gel or other special medications. Those will be checked separately.

TSA also encourages residents to wear shoes that slip easily on and off and don’t contain any metal. They say to roll up cords on things like curling irons so agents can get a clear look at the object.

You should also remove your phone and laptop from bags before they go through the scanner, and don't carry-on wrapped gifts, as they'll be unwrapped. Gift bags with tissue paper will be fine, however.

If several travelers are on one boarding pass, go to the airport kiosk and print off a pass for each flyer.

And, when you're ready to board, have everything ready.

“Please have those items out, ready to go,” Dankers said. “We know so many people use an electronic boarding pass, and often times they'll get up to the travel document checker, the phone is dark, and they can't find their boarding pass, and delays of only a few seconds per passenger add up over the course of the day."