TSA prepares for potentially record-breaking travel season
MINNEAPOLIS – With TSA projecting some 243 million passengers and crew passing through security checkpoints around the nation, Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport is preparing as well.
If you’re flying somewhere the week before the 4th of July or between August 5 and 11, don’t be surprised to find crowds.
“Parking lots are going to be crowded, shuttle buses are going to be crowded, airline ticket counters are going to be crowded,” Minnesota TSA Federal Security Director Cliff Van Leuven said.
TSA Supervisor Mike Thomas agreed, and said that’s just the joys of summer. Thomas has 16 years of experience, 10 years as a supervisor. He said he knows that the lines can get long and the waiting a little boring.
To break up the monotony, he said he makes it a point to greet passengers.
“Just a ‘Hi, how are you doing,’ is enough to get people out of the trance of, ‘Oh, I’m in line and it’s horrible,'” Thomas said.
He added he wants people to know that the TSA does everything it can to work quickly and that the agents want you out of the line and moving as much as you do. To make the process pass quicker, they also use canine agents to screen passengers in line.
The TSA agents are also full of tips and tricks.
“I know they have to have ID to get through security but we don’t need the rest of that stuff,” Thomas said. “If you don’t need it through security, throw it in your bag. If we ask you to take it out, take it out. It helps us immensely.”
Thomas said despite the fact that he is busy, his favorite part about the job is meeting the passengers.
“I have a different passenger every 20 seconds, 10 seconds someone new comes up,” Thomas said. “If I look at them as, ‘Oh, it’s 1,000 passengers,’ I’d have a boring job.”
Around 35,000 passengers make it through MSP International Airport daily. The airport has handled 60,000 during the Super Bowl and 50,000 during spring break.
Van Leuven said with that kind of experience, he’s hoping summer is going to be a piece of cake.
“We’re kind of getting used to that kind of volume,” Van Leuven said. “Summer is not all that bad because the travel days are spread out and the folks do an amazing job.”
Van Leuven suggests arriving at the airport at least two hours before departure time to cut out some stress from the experience of traveling.
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