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Wednesday
Nov162011

Traveling This Holiday Season? TSA Offers Tips for an Easier, Safer Trip

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- With the holiday season about to kick into full gear, millions of people will soon be flocking to airports, which can lead to a rather hectic experience for travelers.

John Pistole, the administrator of the Travel Security Administration (TSA) is offering passengers tips that will hopefully make their travels a lot easier and safer for the holidays.

“Obviously we’re expecting a large number of people traveling over the holiday season, [with] Thanksgiving coming up, we’re expecting perhaps as many as 3 percent more people traveling than last year,” he said.

People traveling this year can anticipate a few changes while going through security lines, especially while traveling with children.

“Children 12 and under will be allowed to keep their shoes on generally, we’ll still do random and unpredictable [checks] in case there’s something suspicious, but that addresses a lot of the hassle factor if you will, the inconvenience especially with small children if they have tie shoes and things like that,” Pistole said.

The other change is the “privacy filters,” which are simply the generic outline of a person going through the imaging machine.  Currently, the TSA has the privacy software upgrades on the Millimeterwave technology, which is used in more than half of the estimated 500 Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines in place at airports.  TSA officials say they will begin testing the privacy software on AIT Backscatter systems later this year.

Privacy however, still remains a concern for many passengers dealing with security at airports.  TSA is working on better technology so passengers can keep their shoes and jackets on, and that showing “too much” in these body imaging machines will one day no longer be an issue.

Already, the TSA Pre-Check “Trusted Traveler” Program is currently being implemented in four airports.  Passengers who have voluntarily given out their information in Detroit, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Miami, and Atlanta airports no longer have to take off their shoes, jackets and belts.

“The more we know about people who are traveling, the better judgments and decisions we can make,” Pistole said.

And if you're traveling with gifts, leave the expensive gift wrap at home.

“There’s not too many ways of resolving [it] other than opening up the package, so for example last weekend, we found two Christmas packages, wrapped packages, one had probably 50 pounds of marijuana in it,” Pistole said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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