The federal agency that now oversees security at the nation’s airports offered tips today for travelers who’ll be heading out for Thanksgiving travel. Transportation Safety Administration security director Tim McDonald is in charge of four Iowa airports, including the state’s largest in Des Moines. McDonald says he’s often asked the “hidden secret” to get through security screening fast. He says getting to the airport two hours early is a good idea on normal days, he says, and on Thanksgiving and Christmas…especially the day before Thanksgiving… the traffic’s very heavy. McDonald says you should go through your pockets while you’re waiting in line to go through the security gates at your local airport. When you get to a security checkpoint, take anything you have that’s likely to set off the alarm in the walk-through metal detector, and put it into the plastic bin that will roll through the x-ray machine. He says if you’ve traveled before, plan ahead.From his own experience flying, McDonald says he known which belt, shoes and other items of his are likely to “alarm” the detectors, and he’ll take them off and send them through the x-ray machine to help the screeners. McDonald says there’s always the “laptop factor” in the security screening. Business travelers especially may have a laptop, which they recommend taking out and putting into a separate bin. McDonald says there are times of day when you can typically expect airport traffic to be at a peak. Those are 6-9 A.M. weekdays, 11-1 and from 4-5 P.M. but during holidays they assume peak times will be longer and it’s another reason to get there early. The Des Moines airport expects a three-percent increase in traffic from last year’s winter holidays. For a list of items still banned from your carry-on luggage, you can phone the Transportation Safety Administration at (866) 289-9673 or go on-line to www.dsmairport.com.
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