Travelers should expect longer security lines at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport this summer, according to a Transportation Security Administration official.
TSA New England’s Dan Velez greeted travelers Friday in front of the security checkpoint at a table full of knives, wrenches, spiky hairbrushes and other items whose confiscation creates long lines at security.
Although some of the items seemed like flagrant cases, the assortment represented just 2% of the airport’s collection of similar contraband items, according to Colleen Kiernan, TSA Stakeholder Manager at MHT.
“We have another seven full boxes downstairs,” Kiernan said.
MHT was Velez’s last stop on a tour of New England’s six major airports: Logan International Airport in Boston, T.F. Green in Providence, Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn.; Portland International Airport in Maine; and Burlington International Airport in Vermont.
Velez said airport travelers should be aware of higher numbers of people in the airport this summer after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The numbers continue to rise,” he said.
Southwest traveler Donna Lydon of Kansas City, who spent the past month in Portsmouth with family, said her first flight since the pandemic was more crowded than she expected.
“We were packed in like sardines,” Lydon said.
The number of passengers through MHT has increased from around 500 a day in January to more than 1,800 in July. On June 19, the airport had its biggest day since the pandemic began, with more than 2,000 travelers.
Lydon said Southwest staff did a good job keeping her safe despite the large number of people aboard her Boeing 737.
“It was an excellent flight,” she said.
Velez said protecting against COVID-19 is still a priority at MHT.
Federal mask mandates remain in place for all people from the time they enter the airport until they leave, and TSA staff continue to wear gloves and masks. Acrylic barriers, installed at MHT last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, will remain, he said.
TSA is also implementing new 3D scanners to search bags without physical contact, which will reduce lines at security, according to Velez.
Velez had several suggestions for travelers hoping to speed through the security screening process.
One time saver is to register for TSA Pre-Check, he said.
“I’m always amazed. When I am flying, there usually are two or three in the Pre-check line vs. 100 people in the regular line.”
Putting all loose items in a carry-on bag ahead of time rather than in bins also saves time and hassle for others waiting in line, Velez said.
“It goes a lot quicker,” he said.
Velez said airport traffic numbers are expected to plateau going into the fall, as travel returns to pre-pandemic levels at MHT.