Airport offers insider tips for smooth sailing through security screening

(July 21, 2016) Tampa International Airport’s layout was revolutionary in the 1960’s and its unique design is creating waves even today.  Even with significant growth in passenger numbers, TPA’s Airside-Landside concept means four security screening checkpoints – one at each airside – keep people moving. Tampa International Airport’s security wait times are consistently among the shortest in the nation. Still, insider tips and special programs can make the screening process even easier. 

SIGN UP FOR TSA PRECHECK: Frequent travelers and others desiring an expedited screening process should consider signing up for TSA’s Precheck program.  Once approved, travelers receive a Known Traveler Number that provides access to a special screening lane where passengers don’t have to remove shoes, belts, or light jackets; remove laptops from cases; or remove their 3-1-1 bags from carry-ons. In June 2016, 95 percent of Precheck members waited in line 5 minutes or less. The cost is $85 for five years. To sign up, go online at TSA.gov/precheck, to complete the initial application and schedule an appointment at a TSA Precheck office. In Tampa, those offices are located at Tampa International Airport and at 2525 E. Hillsborough Avenue in the Tampa Festival Centre. At the TSA Precheck office, guests will complete the enrollment process with a background check and be fingerprinted. 

INSIDER TIPS:

  • They will not accept fingerprint cards provided by applicants, even if the process was performed by a law enforcement agency.
  • Precheck office hours at the Tampa Airport location are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., closed 12-12:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., closed from 12 – 12:30 p.m. Walk-ups may be accommodated, but expect to wait.
  • Most appointments are completed in 10 minutes and Short Term Parking is free for under one hour.

Precheck is available only for travelers on certain airlines that have entered into an agreement with the TSA. Access to Precheck lines is not guaranteed and guests with TSA Precheck may still be subject to additional screening measures. You can increase the likelihood of access to the lines by providing your Known Traveler Number when making your airline reservation.

DO YOU FLY INTERNATIONAL? SIGN UP FOR GLOBAL ENTRY: While Precheck is only for domestic flights, international travelers may want to consider signing up for Global Entry.  The Global Entry program, administered by Customs and Border Protection, expedites the process for reentry into the United State. Guests approved for Global Entry are also eligible for TSA Precheck. The cost is $100 for five years and requires an application and background check.  For more information visit CBP.gov.

KNOW THE RULES: Wondering if you can take nail clippers, a jar of home-made jam or a snow globe through security? Check out TSA’s website at TSA.gov/travel for a list of prohibited items and other helpful information. One convenient feature on the website allows travelers to input a keyword and get information on whether the item can be carried onto the plane, packed in checked baggage or is prohibited altogether from transport on aircraft.

Firearms may be carried in checked baggage, but must be unloaded, packed and locked in a hard-sided case, and declared to the airline at check-in. Firearms are NEVER permitted in carry-on baggage, even if the owner possesses a concealed weapons permit except in very specific law enforcement circumstances addressed on the TSA website.

The TSA website is also a valuable resource for guests with questions about traveling with medications, medical devices, and larger amounts of liquids such as baby formula.

INSIDER TIPS:

  • Make sure you know your airline’s rules for carry-on bags. Size dimensions, weight, and free allotment of carry-on bags may vary from airline to airline.
  • All passengers 18 and over must show a photo ID at the screening checkpoint. A list of accepted forms of identification are listed on the TSA website.
  • TSA does not require children under 18 to provide ID when traveling with a companion within the U.S.  Check with your airline for questions regarding specific ID requirements for travelers under 18.

DOWNLOAD THE TSA APP: One of the TSA’s newest tools to assist travelers is the My TSA app.  The app provides keyword searches for prohibited items and current checkpoint wait times as well as airport information such as current weather and any potential delays.  The app is free to download and is available for multiple operating systems.

DO YOU HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS? TSA CARES: Passengers with medical or other special needs can get personalized assistance through TSA Cares. Access the program by calling the hotline at (855) 787-2227.

INSIDER TIPS:

  • Guests are asked to call TSA Cares 72 hours prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the screening checkpoint.
  • You may bring medically-necessary liquids, medications and creams in excess of the 3.4 ounces in your carry-on bag, but the items must be declared before screening begins. They will be screened separately from your other belongings which may require some additional time.
  • Other medical supplies such as ice packs, gel packs, IV pumps, bags and syringes should be presented at the checkpoint and must be screened before being permitted into the secure area of the Airport. Labeling these items can help facilitate the screening process.

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