WILMINGTON — Holiday travel season means more crowded flights and tougher security. So for the sake of time – and of not having a potential gift confiscated – it pays to do a little research ahead of time.
According to AAA, this year is expected to be the highest-volume travel season in at least 12 years. That means longer lines at security.
Getting through security quickly
Erin McNally, spokeswoman for the Wilmington International Airport, noted that ILM now participates in the TSA’s Pre Check program. Enrollment in the program allows passengers to avoid having to remove “shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets.”
The program involves online and in-person components and a $85 five-year membership. Information about the program and enrollment information can be found at the TSA’s Pre Check website.
The Wilmington-area enrollment center is located at 2632 Carolina Beach Road, Suite 4.
All passengers should consider the following tips when traveling through ILM, McNally said:
- Check carry-on baggage before leaving home to remove prohibited items, such as firearms and knives.
- When packing, de-clutter and organize carry-on baggage to facilitate screening.
- Travelers are encouraged to arrive two hours before scheduled departure time.
- Travelers are encouraged to select their travel attire with security screening in mind. Excessive jewelry, embellishments, and other metallic accessories may need to be removed. Also it is recommended to wear slip-on shoes to remove and replace their shoes quickly.
- Pets must be removed from their carrying cases. The case must be screened through the X-ray machine. A leash will help maintain control of the pet but should be removed when carrying the pet through the metal detector.
What can I bring?
TSA guidelines have evolved over the years. Although some prohibited items shouldn’t surprise – handguns, explosives, chainsaws – some surprising things are allowed as carry-on. For example? Parachutes, artificial skeletons (like the one from high school biology) and as many airplane bottles of alcohol as you can fit in a single one-quart bag — just don’t try to bring Bacardi 151, all alcohols over 140 proof are prohibited.
Many items that are allowed do come with special conditions, so things can get confusing (or more confusing). For example, you can bring a bottle of breast milk or water for an infant or young child, and it doesn’t have to be a 3.4 ounce container (you just have to have it ready for TSA inspection). Many other items are allowed, but subject to TSA inspector discretion, which may vary during busy times of year.
The best way to prepare for security is to check the TSA’s “What can I bring?” website. The searchable database has a lot of items, and explains which ones can be carried on, which can be checked, and which you should left at home.
Still aren’t sure? You can send a picture of the item or a send a question to AskTSA on Facebook Messenger or Twitter. Those services are available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.
One important thing to remember during the holiday season, McNally pointed out, was that all items – even if you’ve cleared them with the TSA – should remain unwrapped. So while you can bring as much of Wilmington’s craft beer in a checked bag as you want, don’t wrap it until you get to your destination.
Made it through security with time to spare?
If you showed up early, documents in order and packs ready for inspection, you might find yourself with some time to kill on the far side of TSA checkpoints. If so, there’s always ILM’s bar and restaurant, the Radar Bar and the Jet Stream Burger Bar — they feature local craft beers from around the Wilmington area, and are open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.