Colonie

Travelers urged to pack wisely and arrive early at Albany airport

The new next-generation CT scanners for carry-on luggage are shown at the security checkpoint at Albany International Airport on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, in an image provided by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.
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The new next-generation CT scanners for carry-on luggage are shown at the security checkpoint at Albany International Airport on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, in an image provided by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

COLONIE — The sleek new high-tech security scanners are in place at Albany International Airport and the TSA officers are putting them to use.

Now all they need is a little more cooperation from travelers.

The Transportation Security Administration said Thursday that officers there are finding an abundance of prohibited items in luggage with the new machinery, which use the same technology as medical CT scanners and provide a similarly detailed three-dimensional image.

Each time someone packs a knife, or tool more than seven inches long, or an oversized bottle of liquid, the bag must be pulled off the conveyor belt and searched by hand for the offending item.

The searches take two-to-three minutes, which adds up quickly at a point in time when Americans are returning in droves to an air travel system that’s not quite prepared for the increased volume of passengers.

“We have started to see a significant increase in checkpoint volume here at Albany,” Bart R. Johnson, TSA’s Federal security director for upstate New York, said in a news release.

“Travel volume here is at about 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels and by the Fourth of July weekend it is possible that we may see the checkpoint as busy as or exceeding pre-pandemic levels.”

Travelers need to be aware of this, he said, and plan accordingly.

Airlines are short-staffed in the wake of pandemic-related cutbacks on air travel, as is the TSA itself — it’s holding job fairs in Albany to increase its ranks.

The five new scanners installed at the airport this spring are powerful tools, and TSA suggested travelers reacquaint themselves with rules on what can and cannot be packed before running their carry-on bags through the scanners.

Knives and gasoline are forbidden, obviously, but can booze be brought aboard? Yes, as long as it’s not more than 140 proof and the bottle is not more than 3.4 ounces.

Aerosol insecticides? No! 

Antlers? Yes!

Bowling pins? No! 

Live lobsters? Maybe! 

Razor blades and hand grenades? If you have to ask, you already know the answer.

The list is extensive, but the TSA website is very helpful with the subtleties. 

With airports increasingly crowded, TSA recommends that travelers arrive at least two hours before their scheduled departure time. 

It said the busiest times at the Albany security checkpoint are 5 to 6 a.m. and 4 to 5 p.m. The busiest travel days are Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays.

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