At Albany Airport, TSA Officials Predict Busy Summer Travel Season
With much of the country in pandemic recovery mode, the Transportation Security Administration expects thousands to travel over the Memorial Day weekend. Albany International Airport officials say they’re ready for the holiday surge.
As Americans by the thousands take to the air, the TSA wants to educate passengers about its COVID-19 safety policies. All passengers will be required to wear a mask per the federal mask mandate regardless of vaccination status.
TSA's Federal security Director for Upstate New York Bart Johnson says the agency's officers will hand you a mask at the checkpoint should you forget yours. He adds the officers are ready to handle the influx of holiday travelers.
“We're fully staffed. We have overtime, we have the ability to move schedules around. So we're ready. The officers are honing their skills over the past couple months being trained up. We have overtime that we could pay out, they know what the mission is. They know what the job is, and they know what their responsibilities are. So they're ready. What we would like the public to do is also be equally as ready. It's a shared responsibility. We have our responsibilities, and I believe the passengers also have their responsibilities.”
Johnson says TSA is now allowing travelers to bring one liquid hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces per passenger in carry-on bags. Individually packaged alcohol or anti-bacterial wipes are also permitted in carry-on or checked luggage.
The agency is also encouraging travelers to enroll in TSA PreCheck.
"It's $85. For five years, you don't have to take your computer out. You don't have to take a light jacket off. There's a whole separate line to go through. It's much faster, it's much expedited, because you're a trusted traveler. We already know you, know who you are, your situation. And then you're provided TSA PreCheck."
If you're not in PreCheck, Johnson says you should be at the airport at least 90 minutes before your scheduled flight.
"What happens is when you get here earlier, you're more relaxed, you're more prepared. Believe it or not, you're more cooperative, because just imagine if you get here, 20 minutes before your flight, running up the stairs, out of breath, trying to find your ID, going through the system, asked to do something, and it never works out very well."
According to the Associated Press, airline executives say domestic leisure travel is at pre-pandemic levels. Albany International Airport CEO Phil Calderone:
"This past Sunday, we saw nationally over 2 million travelers, the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic, beginning to travel again and feel that it was safe. And we think we've done our part here at Albany International, you know, traveling on Sunday, last Sunday, was back to 90%, nationally of what it was in 2019. At our airport, we're probably averaging around 60%, of where we were in 2019. But every day that number is improving."