It is a sign the holidays are upon us: long lines and delays at area airports. With health officials signaling vaccinated Americans can celebrate the holidays normally, many are returning to air travel.
"We know there is going to be well above the normal volume, so we are already prepared for that,” said Bob Duffy, the federal security director of the Transportation Security Administration at LaGuardia Airport.
The TSA says travelers should pack extra masks, hand sanitizer and other documentation, like a vaccine card or proof of a negative COVID test. Much of the guidance is the same as before the pandemic, like instructions for packing gifts.
"The trick is, how do you know if it should go in your checked bag or carry on bag? If it’s a solid, it can go in your carry on. If its a liquid or a spread, then it should go in your checked bag,” explained Lisa Farbstein, a spokesperson at TSA.
Most of the advice for traveling during the holidays stays the same, too: Arrive at the airport at least two hours before a flight, account for extra travel time to the airport and make sure not to pack any forbidden items or liquids over the allowed amount.
One concern beyond travelers' control is a staffing shortage. On November 22, in the middle of peak travel week, the federal workers vaccine mandate takes effect. TSA last provided an update on its vaccination rate in mid-October.
Then, it stood at just 60%.
Officials declined to provide an update, but said they do not anticipate any disruptions as a result of the vaccine mandate.
"We are still scrubbing the list if you will to get the final numbers, but we did see a large group of people come in last month to get vaccinated, so knowing what we have to work with, we are in good shape. I am not concerned,” said Duffy,
The MTA said its system will operate on special schedules from Wednesday, Nov. 24, through Sunday, Nov. 28.
There will be extra railroad service and Q70 select bus service to LGA airport will be free.