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Lambert Airport beefs up security before holiday travel surge

Photo of three dogs and their handlers at Lambert Airport.
Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio

The Transportation Security Administration has increased its security staff at Lambert-St. Louis International Airportby more than 30 people in time for the busy Christmas holiday travel season.  

The boost in personnel this year will coincide with an expected 11 percent increase in travelers, said Missouri’s Federal Security Director Jim Spriggs.

“Our biggest challenge is trying to find the balance of increasing the number of search officers to compensate for the lack of experience of travelers during the holiday period.”

Security staff this holiday season includes 12 explosive-detecting canines, nine with airport police and three with the TSA, which have been working at the airportsince last April.

Spriggs said the TSA’s goal is to be able have the dogs prescreening all airport visitors during peak travel times at both airport terminals.

“We don’t think we’ll have enough for Christmas, but we’re working very hard to make it for spring break.”

The TSA’s layered security approach will also employ behavior detection measures at ticket lines as well as secured areas, he said.

Due to the heavy volume of traffic during the holidays, the TSA recommends the following guidelines for airport visitors:

  • Arrive early. The increase in travel volume has a wide-ranging effect. Consider incorporating additional time in your travel plans for traffic, parking, rental car returns and airline check-in. Arrive up to two hours in advance of your flight departure time for domestic travel and three hours for international flights.

  • Follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule. Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces or less. Basically, if you can spread it or pour it, then it has to be less than 3.4 ounces, however, vitally necessary substances like insulin or baby formula are exempt for the rule. All bottles must fit in a single quart size plastic bag and be placed in a bin for carry-on baggage screening.

  • Prepare for security. Have an acceptable ID and boarding pass out and remove large electronics, including laptops and the 3-1-1 compliant liquids bag, from carry-on baggage. Avoid over packing your carry-on bag.

  • Don’t travel with wrapped gifts. They may have to be opened during screening at the airport. The TSA recommends using gift bags instead.

  • Check the weather. Inclement weather can cause flight delays. Keep in mind the local weather forecast and check with your airline for the most up-to-date flight information.

  • Call TSA Cares. Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll free at 1-855-787-2227 with any questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint 72 hours prior to traveling.

  • Tweet @AskTSA. Unsure if an item is allowed through security? Issues receiving TSA Pre✓® on your boarding pass? Get live assistance by tweeting your questions and comments to @AskTSA, weekdays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and weekends/holidays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Follow Joseph Leahy on Twitter: @joemikeleahy