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TSA warns Spokane International Airport will be busy Thanksgiving weekend

A security screening area at Spokane International Airport, November 21, 2022.
Transportation Security Administration
A security screening area at Spokane International Airport, November 21, 2022.

The government agency that operates airport security checkpoints says today and tomorrow will be unusually heavy travel days at Spokane International Airport.

The Transportation Security Administration says more than 6,300 passengers are expected to pass through screening lines today at Spokane International, and more than 7,100 tomorrow.

TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said during the holidays every step of the travel process takes longer, so travelers should plan on being at the airport earlier than at any other time of the year.

“We’ve been staying away from saying arrive a certain number of hours before departure time,” Dankers said Monday. “But we remind travelers to review all the steps that need to take place when they travel. Everybody has a little bit different experience. So I’d say the most important thing is to be prepared.”

That means wearing “checkpoint-friendly” clothes, such as footwear that’s easy to slip off and on, and coats that can be packed into luggage. Passengers should leave prohibited items at home. And remember that not all foods and beverages travel well. Baked goods can ride along in carry-on luggage, but liquids and semisolids, such as jams, jellies and preserves, require a different approach.

“If you can spread it, spill it, pump it or pour it, and the quantity exceeds 3.4 ounces, pack it in a checked bag,” TSA said in a release.

Being prepared also means showing up at the right TSA checkpoint. At Spokane international, the A and B checkpoint serves Allegiant, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Sun Country and United. The C checkpoint serves Alaska and American. And unlike many airports, Dankers said, passengers can’t get to every gate from every checkpoint. If a traveler shows up in the wrong line, they have to get out and go to the correct screening line, which eats up even more time.

“Keep in mind that modern airlines are boarding the aircraft forty to fifty minutes before departure,” Dankers said.

Because many passengers leaving Spokane are going east or trying to make connecting flights, peak congestion at security lines will be at very early hours: 4:00 to 6:00 a.m. for the A and B checkpoint, and 4:00 to 8:00 a.m. for the C checkpoint.

Busy periods are also anticipated from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (A and B checkpoint), and noon to 2:00 p.m. (C checkpoint).

Dankers said there will be something of a mirror effect over the weekend, as travelers who come to the Inland Northwest for Thanksgiving leave again. In fact, perhaps in even greater numbers: TSA expects more than 6,600 passengers Saturday and more than 7,400 Sunday.

Brandon Hollingsworth is your All Things Considered host. He has served public radio audiences for nearly twenty years, primarily in reporting, hosting and interviewing. His previous ports-of-call were WUOT-FM in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Alabama Public Radio. His work has been heard nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here and Now and NPR’s top-of-the-hour newscasts.