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Travel smart to shorten security wait

Posted May 26

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— With Triangle travelers readying to kick off the summer season, Raleigh-Durham International Airport is gearing up for an influx of thousands.

Transportation Security Administration officials, who must handle that volume without without compromising safety and security, say much depends on the passenger. A prepared traveler who packs correctly, arrives early and knows the rules can ease the wait for everyone around him.

The current advice is to arrive at the airport at least two hours before takeoff, even for domestic flights.

About 18,000 people pass through RDU's security lines each day, with an average wait time of about 20 minutes. "It causes a hassle. It's something that takes longer than it should," said traveler Connor Donohue.

"I do know there is a direct correlation between people carrying prohibited items through the checkpoint and slowing down the checkpoint," TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said.

Last year, the TSA collected more than 1,000 pounds worth or prohibited items like knives, brass knuckles, even martial arts equipment.

"Year-to-date here at Raleigh we have stopped 18 firearms. That is a 100 percent increase over the same period last year," said Sari Koshetz, a TSA spokeswoman.

Some have blamed slow lines on TSA staffing shortages. That hasn't been a problem at RDU, said Koshetz.

"We're at 96 percent of where we want to be, and by the middle of July we will be at 100 percent of where we want to be and we will be ready to handle the summer crowd."

For traveler Donohue, more people means more stress and more cost.

Across the country, transportation officials say 220 million passengers are expected to pass through airport security checkpoints. They are also pushing the TSA Pre Check program, which allows travelers to pay a fee, fill out some paperwork and become eligible for a shorter line. For $85, approved travelers can gain 5 years of accelerated security clearance.

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