NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- With many preparing to take to the skies for spring break, officials with the Transporation Security Administration (TSA) are reminding travelers what they can and cannot bring with them through checkpoints.
Nationwide, TSA said travel volumes are expected to trend upward throughout 2023, including during the spring break season which typically runs from mid-February until mid-April.
A TSA spokesperson said roughly 9,000 passengers were screened at Charleston International Airport (CHS) each day between March 3 and March 5.
“We’re going to see that volume continue into this next weekend and really kind of building into the summer where we’ll see upwards of 10 or 11,000 passengers a day,” Mark Howell said.
The influx of travelers has meant more prohibited items are being found at CHS, according to Howell.
“We are seeing more prohibited items and part of that is because we’re having a lot of inexperienced travelers, a lot of first-time travelers, taking advantage of spring break,” he said.
In order to prepare, the agency said it will maintain its commitment to hiring new officers as well as increase signage alerting passenger to potential monetary penalties they could face for attempting to take a firearm through security.
But, TSA officials said there are also steps passengers can take to help ensure an expedited screening process, including knowing what items are and are not allowed on flights.
Firearms, blades, explosives, brass knuckles, and razors are just a few of the items prohibited in carry-on luggage. The same goes for liquids over 3.4 ounces, including popular spring break items like sunscreen and alcohol.
According to Howell, TSA officers at CHS detect roughly 100 pounds of prohibited items per month, not including liquids, gels, and aerosols.
“When we find a lot of prohibited items, it’s going to make the wait times grow along with it,” Howell said.
To speed up the process, TSA recommends travelers start with an empty bag, pack it, and then double-check to make sure there are no prohibited items.
“Be mindful when you travel, spring breakers, to check your bag for any types of loose items,” TSA officer Brenda Grant said.
If a firearm or any other illegal items are found during screening, law enforcement is called and screening on that lane must stop immediately. That is why officials encourage passengers to be sure they know the location of their firearms prior to arriving at the airport.
“Doing that is going to save you time, it’s going to save you money potentially from civil penalties and having to rebook your flight, and it’s going to keep the lines moving,” Howell said.
Sixteen firearms have been detected at South Carolina airports to date in 2023, three of which were found at CHS, according to Howell.
Firearms can be packed in checked luggage, but it is important for passengers to follow the proper protocols when doing so.
For travelers who are unsure if an item is allowed through the TSA checkpoint, check here for specific guidelines.