WASHINGTON: How quickly the expected record number of Thanksgiving travelers this year manage to pass through airport security may depend, in part, on the success of a recent campaign by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to educate travelers about restrictions on carry-on liquids, gels, and aerosols.
In league with the Air Transport Association and the Airports Council International-North America, the TSA in late October began organizing close to 80 media events in major media markets and at airports around the country to provide interviews with security officials and photo opportunities for local and national radio, TV, and print reporters on the restrictions on carry-on gels, liquids, and aerosols set by agency guidelines starting on September 25.
The TSA and its partners held 30 press conferences during the week before Thanksgiving week and planned to hold an additional 29 on the Monday and Tuesday just prior to Thanksgiving, said Amy Kudwa, TSA mid-Atlantic region public affairs manager.
"The formula for those is to invite local media out and set up a display of items that we're actually pulling out of bag checks," Kudwa said. "In Philadelphia we had three tubs' worth of liquids and gels, and that was from one-half of one shift at one of the seven checkpoints. Imagine what that does to wait times, and that's what we're trying to drive home."
Along with press conferences and a first-time ad buy by the TSA, airlines and airports were also working to get the word out about the "3-1-1" campaign - which refers to the three-ounce limit on containers of liquids, gels, or aerosols; the one-quart-sized zip-top bag in which the containers must be carried; and the one-zip-top-bag limit per passenger - by including the information on e-mailed flight confirmations, electronic check-in kiosks, airport banners, and PSAs running on CNN's in-airport news network.
While business travelers may at this point largely know about the restrictions, the Thanksgiving holiday may be the first time many leisure travelers are flying since the new rules were put in place.
"We want people to be educated before they reach the checkpoint," Kudwa said.