Flying soon? Here are some holiday travel tips to keep spirits bright

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) expects airport security checkpoints nationwide will be busy during the upcoming Thanksgiving travel period, which runs from Friday, Nov. 19, through Sunday, Nov. 28, and the agency is prepared to handle the increase in passenger volume for the holiday.

Holiday season is here — and it’s a busy one!  

While the thought of traveling for the first time in over a year for some may seem daunting, studies have shown flying is minimal risk while wearing a mask and that cabin air may be cleaner than most homes, hospital rooms and supermarkets. 

To make the travel process as smooth as possible, we have some helpful tips to relieve some stress. 

Arrive early.  

Please plan for additional time to get to and through the airport. We recommend arriving at least two hours before your flight and three hours before international departures. 

Airports are busier than usual this time of year, which means lines could be longer and slower, congested traffic, and parking is at a premium. On top of that, many of us are traveling for the first time since the pandemic and our savviness might be a little rusty. 

Check out airport guides for recommended airport arrival times, ticket counter hours and cut-off times for check-in and boarding. 

Learn more:

Speed through security. 

You can avoid long airport lines with a trusted traveler program like TSA Pre✓®, Clear or Global Entry. Membership in these programs gives you access to dedicated TSA Pre✓® lanes at more than 200 airports nationwide. 

Departing from Seattle? Alaska Airlines and the Port of Seattle are offering a new way to get you through the general screening security checkpoint faster called SEA Spot Saver. A similar program is also launching in Newark (EWR), called VirtuaLine. Travelers can start reserving their spot(s) in line starting on Nov. 20, for flights departing on or after November 23rd

If you have TSA PreCheck or CLEAR, you can still take advantage of these reservations, but you won’t receive the benefits of those trusted traveler programs, such as not having to remove your shoes and electronics. You’ll need to choose which program you want to use. 

Ensure you have proper ID. Before heading to the airport, travelers should make sure they have acceptable identification. Identity verification is an important step in the security screening process.

Pack smarter not harder. 

Prep for security when packing and ensure that there are no prohibited items in your bag(s)! Know which foods should go into a checked bag — gravy, cranberry sauce, wine, jam, and preserves should all go into a checked bag, because they are not solids.

If you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it, then it’s not a solid and should be packed in a checked bag. As always, passengers can bring solid foods such as cakes and other baked goods through the checkpoints.

Pro-tip: Wait to wrap your gifts—those won’t fly through security! 

It’s okay to bring hand sanitizer. TSA is currently allowing travelers to bring one liquid hand sanitizer container up to 12 ounces per passenger in carry-on bags until further notice. Passengers can expect all containers larger 3.4 ounces will need to be screened separately, which will add some time to their checkpoint experience. Travelers can also bring alcohol wipes or anti-bacterial wipes in carry-on, checked luggage, or both.

Check in, print bag tags at home. 

You can check in for your flight and print your bag tags in advance online or on our mobile app up to 24 hours before departure. For international flights, you can enter your passport information online. This way, you just drop your bag and go!  

Learn more: 

Watch, text and be merry. 

Snuggle into your seat and grab some snacks – we’re bringing you the most movies in the sky*- and TV shows, too – all for free! Choose from over 1000 free movies and TV episodes in our entertainment library. Simply connect to our onboard Wi-Fi network during your flight and visit to browse our extensive library. 

Most aircraft feature our streaming entertainment system, letting you watch free movies and TV shows on your own device.  

Last-minute holiday to-dos? Texting doesn’t stop when you fly with us. Just connect to our inflight Wi-Fi and select “free texting.” 

Learn more: 

Pre-order meals onboard. 

More food and beverage options are now available on board! Snack on favorites like the Signature Fruit & Cheese Platter or try our new menu items via pre-order on most flights over two hours. For guests in First Class, delicious hot meals are back on coast-to-coast and Hawaiʻi flights, plus Boxed Water to quench any thirst.   

Don’t forget to pre-order your meal (if applicable) 20 hours before your flight! 

Learn more: 

Junior jetsetters flying solo? We’ll take great care of them!

If you have kids who will be flying by themselves this holiday season, visit to book their flights and discover the different types of care we offer kids of all ages. 

Pro-tip: Print this travel checklist to ensure the smoothest process for your child passenger.

Book now. Mask up. Let’s go!  

Our commitment to Next-Level Care means we’ve implemented 100+ ways to maintain the highest standard of safety throughout your travels.  

Masks are still federally required during travel. All employees and guests must wear a face mask or covering through the airport and on board. This requirement applies even if you are fully vaccinated. 

Travelers wearing a mask have a .003% or NEAR-ZERO CHANCE of being exposed to the virus, even on a full aircraft (according to a Department of Defense study). 

Learn more: 

Spread joy & kindness 

Remember that everyone is doing their best to make travel as safe, hassle-free and accessible as possible. The holidays are a busy time, and the airports will be filled with many people who fly just once or twice a year. It may seem like a small thing, but a little kindness goes a long way. 

Book your holiday travel today on

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TSA questions? Travelers can get assistance in real time by submitting their questions and comments to @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger. Travelers can also reach the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673. Staff is available from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends/holidays; and an automated service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.