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“Blinking Red Lights Everywhere:” Why You Should Arrive Earlier for Your Next Flight

We’ve all been there – cutting it close, racing against the clock to make it to the airport just in the nick of time, especially for domestic flights. It’s a habit many of us share, but it might be time to reconsider, especially with the looming possibility of additional TSA screenings this holiday season. Why? Well, it’s a reality we haven’t had to face in years – terrorism.

FBI Director Christopher Wray recently dropped a bombshell during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, revealing that the terror threat facing the United States has skyrocketed since the October 7th attack on Israel. In response to Senator Lindsey Graham’s inquiry about the current “threat matrix,” Wray emphasized the unprecedented nature of the situation, stating, “I’ve never seen a time where all the threats or so many of the threats are all elevated, all at exactly the same time.” According to Wray, “blinking red lights are everywhere,” signaling a heightened state of alert.

While the TSA doesn’t disclose specifics about their screening procedures, frequent flyers I’ve spoken with are reporting a marked increase in random secondary screenings at airports. Even if you’re enrolled in TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, it isn’t a foolproof shield against these additional checks (though it could mitigate to some extent). I won’t name the airports where this seems to be most prevalent, as that would be bordering on sensitive info, but be prepared to allow an extra 15 minutes or so in case you find yourself selected for additional screening. You should probably be doing that anyways, thanks to the introduction of those horrific Analogic CT scanners.

TSA’s official stance, as stated on their website, reinforces the notion that all travelers are subject to screening, and no one is guaranteed expedited processing. Unpredictable security measures, both seen and unseen, are being implemented throughout airports to ensure safety.

TSA uses unpredictable security measures, both seen and unseen, throughout the airport. All travelers will be screened, and no individual is guaranteed expedited screening.

Transportation Security Administration

Despite these heightened security measures, it’s crucial to remember that air travel remains statistically safe. Fear shouldn’t dictate your decisions, as succumbing to it only means the terrorists have achieved their goal. The U.S. intelligence apparatus has vastly improved since 9/11, and advancements in screening technology, reinforced cockpit doors, and enhanced training for airline crews contribute to a safer travel environment. And remember that security isn’t a spectator sport – if you see something, say something. And of course, leave a little extra time for enhanced screening before your next flight; if you don’t end up needing it, that’s time for another drink at the lounge.

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