PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – As we head into Memorial Day weekend, airlines are expecting to be busy. The TSA says more people are starting to travel again. But if you haven’t flown since before the pandemic began, there are some things you should know as you pack your bags.
From April 2020 to April 2021, Pittsburgh International Airport has seen a 1,200 percent increase in passengers. That is still down drastically from pre-pandemic levels, but about 10,000 people a day are now flying again.READ MORE: Two Of The Three Victims Killed In The Biomat USA Plasma Center Car Crash Were Employees
“I don’t know how I’d feel without the vaccine, but I’ve taken the vaccine, so I feel safe when I travel,” said Shelly, traveling for the first time since the pandemic began.
To prepare for an increase in passengers, the TSA is prepping for summer safety in the airports.
“TSA officers will be wearing masks, they’ll be wearing gloves and they’ll be standing behind an acrylic shield,” said Lisa Farbstein with the TSA. “We’re all about reducing cross-contamination and reducing touchpoints.”
If you haven’t traveled in a while, here are a couple of things the TSA says you can do to speed up the process and increase mitigation efforts.
Instead of taking off your watch and putting your phone and loose change in bins, go ahead and put it in your carry-on.READ MORE: Severe Thunderstorm Watch Issued For Pittsburgh Area; High Winds, Potential Hail Expected
Also, the TSA is allowing you to bring hand sanitizer in up to 12 oz bottles and wipes of any kind and any size, but if you do, expect the process to be a little longer for additional screening.
Meanwhile, the TSA has also found a worrisome trend. The number of guns being seized has doubled since the pandemic.
“More than 80 percent of the firearms that we stop are loaded and these excuses just do not fly,” said Farbstein.
The TSA says there’s a right way and a wrong way to pack your firearm.
“The wrong way is to bring it to the checkpoint; you don’t want to do that,” said Farbstein. “The right way is to take your firearm and one, make sure it’s unloaded. You put that in your case. If you have ammunition, keep it in its original box, put it in a hard-sided case. You’re going to put your lock on there and take it to the check-in counter.”
If you do bring a weapon, once you get to check-in you’ll have to fill out some additional paperwork.MORE NEWS: Consumer Alert Issued For Italian Village Pizza/Shake Shop In Pleasant Hills
The airport says they had their busiest week of travel since the pandemic began during the week of May 9 through 15 with more than 63,000 passengers.