The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) is hosting some special guests this week who are helping to keep the public safe and secure leading up to and in the days after Super Bowl LVII.
More than 25 TSA explosive detection canines and their TSA handlers are in Phoenix to assist in security operations at key venues at PHX and throughout the Valley of the Sun. These working canines are specially trained to detect explosives and explosive components. Some of the teams work regularly at PHX while others have come from airports from across the country.
At the airport, TSA’s use of explosive detection canines significantly enhances the efficiency of the security screening process, serving as an added layer of security. Away from the airport, the dogs can work in a variety of locations and use their keen sense of smell to augment existing security efforts.
The canines have been trained to navigate among large groups of people to pinpoint the source of an explosive odor, often without the source being aware and even if the source is mobile. The handlers are trained to read the dog’s behavior when it indicates an explosive scent has been detected. If a dog alerts its handler to something suspicious, TSA follows an established procedure to resolve the alarm.
TSA’s canines are regularly tested to ensure they maintain excellent scent capabilities. While they are sociable, they are working canines so they should not be petted or fed by anyone except their handlers.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has classified Super Bowl LVII as a Special Event Assessment Rating (SEAR) Level 1, which qualifies it for extensive federal support. More than 650 DHS personnel are currently involved in dedicated security operations in and around the Phoenix area.
Post-weekend travel rush
Following the football game Sunday night and the conclusion of the Phoenix Open golf tournament Sunday afternoon, TSA is prepared for an influx of travelers at PHX. TSA projects that on Monday, Feb. 13, it will screen more than 78,000 departing passengers and crew at PHX’s security checkpoints, making it potentially the busiest day ever for TSA screening operations at PHX. Currently projections indicate that Tuesday will be nearly as busy.
“We have been planning for the post-Super Bowl and Phoenix Open travel rush for more than a year. These two premier sporting events bring tens of thousands of additional travelers to the airport, but we are expecting them and we will be prepared,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Arizona Jerry Agnew. “The entire TSA team will be focused on our security mission to ensure that every traveler and their belongings are screened in the most efficient manner to ensure a safe and secure trip home.”
Starting Sunday evening, TSA will keep two security checkpoints open overnight including the checkpoint in Terminal 3 and checkpoint A in Terminal 4. This will allow travelers to have access to all gates in each terminal.
On Monday no later than 4 a.m., all security checkpoints in Terminal 4 will be open to screen departing travelers. To increase the efficiency of screening operations, TSA will have dedicated TSA PreCheck checkpoints in Terminal 4 on Monday. Travelers can find those at checkpoints B and D; standard screening will be offered at checkpoints A and C only. Standard screening and TSA PreCheck screening will be offered at the security checkpoint in Terminal 3.
TSA will be supplementing its local security operations with more than 100 security screening officers from airports around the country to ensure that all lanes are open to screen departing travelers. Travelers can also expect to see explosive detection canines working in and around the security checkpoints, adding an additional layer of security at the airport. Checkpoint operations are expected to be extremely busy throughout the early morning all the way into the late afternoon.
For travelers who have purchased souvenir programs from the weekend sporting events, please pack those in your carry-on luggage. Placing programs in checked luggage may cause the security screening equipment to unnecessarily alarm and potentially cause delays in checked baggage operations.
With the number of people expected to travel over the next several days, TSA is advising that all travelers to plan to arrive at the airport early and prepared for every step of the travel process including security screening. Please be aware of the contents of carry-on luggage to avoid bringing prohibited items to the security checkpoint. In addition, ensure that liquids in carry-on luggage are in quantities of 3.4 ounces / 100 ml or less. Any liquids over this quantity should be placed in checked luggage.
TSA recommends travelers download the myTSA app, a trusted source for travel information. It provides travelers with 24-hour access to the most frequently asked questions. It also features a searchable “Can I Bring” database where you can type in the name of an item and learn whether it can travel in a carry-on bag or if it needs to be checked. The app is available from the App Store or Google Play. Travelers can also Tweet or Message AskTSA to get answers to their questions. Live assistance is available daily including weekends and holidays from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. MST.