Grandma’s homemade gravy will have to find a different way home for travelers hoping to get those holiday favorites through airport security checkpoints.
Dallas Love Field and DFW International Airport are expecting their biggest crowds for the holidays since 2019, including thousands of infrequent travelers, families and other types of travelers who pose challenges at security checkpoints.
“We see someone bring their family’s prized carving knife through security [that] they say they absolutely need to bring to their Thanksgiving dinner,” said Kriste Jordan Smith, the federal security director for the Transportation Security Administration at DFW International Airport.
DFW is the nation’s second-busiest airport and could see more than 260,000 passengers on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which is expected to be the busiest day of the season. That includes about 70,000 people going through security lines that day, Jordan Smith said.
Smith said some prized culinary treats are among the most frequent offenders at the holiday season and may end up in the trash if they are found in carry-on bags going through security lines.
“Some of our holiday favorites are treated like liquids or aerosols like cranberry sauce and gravy,” she said. “Pack that in your checked bag.”
For gravies, sauces and any other kinds of liquids, they must be in containers of 3.4 ounces or smaller and placed together in a single, clear one-quart resealable bag to be taken through security checkpoints.
Wrapped gifts should also be checked with airlines, TSA officials warn. Otherwise gift-givers may see their meticulously wrapped present unceremoniously opened by TSA agents.
“If you have presents, please don’t wrap them,” Jordan Smith said. “If you need to, make sure you can wait until you get past security and then you can find a place to wrap them.”
And of course, firearms continue to be a major issue at TSA checkpoints. TSA agents have already found 339 firearms at security checkpoints this year, already surpassing the record of 317 found last year.
TSA has been aggressively hiring more security agents to cover the influx in passengers this year. DFW’s passenger traffic is up 21% since last year through September. Total passengers for 2022 are still slightly below 2019 levels, but there were more total passengers in September than in September 2019, according to DFW International Airport.
DFW has 15 security checkpoints, and wait times are expected to be no longer than 20 or 30 minutes during most periods. Passengers can view see checkpoint wait times online, giving them the chance to walk to another checkpoint in the terminal if one is particularly busy.
But there may be longer lines early in the day, and passengers are encouraged to arrive at the airport a full two hours in advance.
“If you are flying early in the morning, expect to need those two hours to the fullest,” Jordan Smith said. “Especially at Thanksgiving, we have people with multiple flights to take.”