TSA warns of crowds at Anchorage airport, gives advice on how to get through screening

The TSA is expecting crowds at the Anchorage airport this summer.
The TSA is expecting crowds at the Anchorage airport this summer.(ktuu)
Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 4:15 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Summer travel is picking up at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, and Lorie Dankers, Alaska spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration, said passenger numbers are back to 90% of what they were in 2019 before COVID-19 hit.

“The reasons behind the recovery, we believe, are pent-up demand and the success of the vaccination effort nationwide bringing people to Alaska,” she said.

But with more traffic, lines at the security checkpoints are only expected to grow. It’s a combination of fewer screeners, and more people flying. Dankers said airlines are adding more flights as well as using bigger planes. At times, she said, it may seem like there are more people in line than TSA screeners can handle.

“So don’t be surprised if the number of people coming to the check point can exceed capacity for a short period of time, but by planning ahead that really shouldn’t impact you, if you arrive early.”

According to the TSA, the busiest times through the security checkpoint in Anchorage are 5 a.m. to 11 a.m., noon to 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. to midnight. The busiest days are Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. Dankers said passengers should plan on being at the airport two hours ahead of departure times, especially on busy days.

At a news conference Monday, Dankers showed off new technology the TSA is using at the Anchorage airport. New scanners to check people’s identification can tell whether an ID is valid or fake. The scanners connect to a secure database that pulls up flight information to make sure the right person is getting on the right plane.

There’s also a new way to check carry-on luggage. Dankers said the CT scanner, the only one in the state, takes a 3D X-ray image of what’s inside a carry-on, which screeners can then manipulate on a computer screen. The scanner eliminates the need to take items out of the bag before screening and can cut down on hand searches of carry-on luggage.

Dankers reminded people that many items are not legal to put in a carry-on and should be checked instead, including blades of any kind, firearms, and most tools. The TSA has made an exception when it comes to hand sanitizer which can now be brought onboard, as long as it’s 12 ounces or less.

Finally, Dankers said, the TSA is hiring. They’re looking to fill 80 positions in Anchorage with starting salaries ranging from $18.99 per hour in Anchorage to $30.35 in other parts of the state, as well as signing bonuses. The TSA is holding a two-day hiring event in Anchorage this Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Anchorage Sheraton Hotel. No appointment is necessary for those interested in applying or learning more about the positions.

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