Alaska Life Hack: Forewarned – TSA is about to get even busier



The Transportation Security Administration says it will be the busiest summer travel season ever, with a record number of passengers departing Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

Alaska’s biggest airport will see a 6 percent increase in travelers this summer over last, higher than the national air travel projection, which is expected to grow 4 percent over last summer.

TSA is now screening an average of 50,000 passengers a week in Anchorage, but starting in mid-July, the number will increase to 80,000 a week and stay that way through mid-August.

The busiest days of the week at security checkpoints are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Travelers are still advised to arrive two hours prior to departure, especially if you have to check luggage, which generally must be checked 40 minutes prior to departure.

The TSA’s busiest time blocks in Anchorage are projected to be:

  • 4-6 am
  • 12 noon to 3 pm
  • 9 p.m. to midnight

TSA had its busiest day ever on May 24, when it screened nearly 2.8 million travelers across the nation’s airports.

Anchorage’s airport has some of the shortest lines for the security checkpoints of major airports, according to reporting by the 24/7 Wall Street, which wrote in January that the standard screening line maximum wait is about 10 minutes, and the TSA Precheck line wait is 3 minutes at Ted Stevens International.

In addition, Anchorage air traffic controllers make a concerted effort to make sure that once you’re aboard your plane, there’s very little delay in getting the plane on the runway. In airports such as Atlanta, those wait times can exceed 20 minutes as planes line up for takeoff.

Alaska fliers heading south will find that Seattle-Tacoma International Airport will be extremely crowded, with a 5 percent increase in passengers over last summer. TSA’s passenger screening volume in Seattle is 12th in the nation out of 427 airports.

The heavy travel through Sea-Tac is driven, in part, by the increase in the number of people taking Alaska-bound cruises out of Seattle.

Helpful tips from TSA to make it easier:

  • Unpack your bag before you pack it – at home. By unpacking your bag fully and re-packing it before coming to the airport, you will avoid bringing items to the airport that are prohibited in carry-on luggage. This includes knives; stun guns; self-defense and martial arts items. Use the “What Can I Bring” feature at to help determine if an item is allowed in a carry-on bag or if it needs to be checked.
  • Dress for security screening. Simplify your screening experience by wearing slip-on shoes and avoid bulky jewelry and clothing, scarves, hair accessories and large belt buckles. These types of items may require additional screening. Remember to remove all items from your pockets – including cell phones – and secure them in your carry-on bag.
  • Standard screening preparation. In the standard screening lanes, non-TSA Pre® lanes, organize your carry-on bag so electronics larger than a cell phone can be quickly and easily accessed when at the security checkpoint. All electronic devices larger than a cell phone should be placed in bins for X-ray screening with nothing on top or below. Common examples of these devices include laptops, tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles. Also, in the standard screening lanes, remove your bag of travel-size liquids, gels and aerosols.
  • TSA Pre® screening preparation. TSA operates dedicated TSA Pre® lanes at checkpoints 1 (south end of airport) and 4 (north end of airport). When screened through a TSA Pre® lane, there is no need to remove any items from your carry-on luggage. In addition, you do not need to remove your shoes, belts and light jackets.
  • Enroll in TSA Pre®. It is not too late to enjoy the benefits of a streamlined security process at airports nationwide this summer. In May, 92 percent of travelers screened through a TSA Pre®lane waited five minutes or less to be screened through the security checkpoint at Sea-Tac.


  1. It would be great if Alaska would get on board by ditching TSA and allowing a private security company, like nearly 2 dozen major airports have already done. When the federal government was shut down, those airports didn’t have issue with lack of security showing up to work. And their security is faster and by far superior to TSA from finding contraband.

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