LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – Be extra careful if you are traveling for the holidays. The U.S. State Department said terror groups and individuals could be plotting new violence against Americans here and abroad.
A worldwide travel alert warned U.S. citizens to "exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events." Terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda continue to plan attacks "using conventional and non-conventional weapons," according to the State Department.
"U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation," the alert said. "Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowded places."
Homeland Security officials said there is no credible threat to facilities in the U.S. But nonetheless, security will be beefed up at America's 500 airports during the Thanksgiving holiday period.
The Transportation Security Administration typically screens about two million passengers a day. But during the Thanksgiving weekend, that number is expected to jump by 40 percent.
Former TSA spokesman Scott Brenner said the screening process actually begins before the passenger gets to the airport.
"Our airport security is not designed to catch some body right as they are getting on the aircraft. It is designed to start checking people as soon as they as they start to look for that ticket." Brenner said.
Brenner said passengers are scrutinized for how they pay for a ticket, what route they're taking, and whether they're making a round trip or one way journey. Once you get to the airport checkpoint this week, you can expect to go through a more thorough screening process. Even TSA pre-screened passengers may have to take off their shoes.
Travel writer Johnny Jet is scheduled to fly to France for a travel conference this week. He said he has no intention of cancelling his trip, although he may make some travel changes when he gets there. He recommends other travelers do the same.
"I'm going to go. What I will do is, again, I will just exercise normal safety precautions. Always keep my eye out. I'll try to stay away from really touristy places," Jet said. "I was going to take a train to Paris. Now, after hearing this, I don't think I will be taking the train."
The State Department suggested you stay in touch with your family and make sure they know how to reach you in case of an emergency. And don't forget to register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which is a free service to allow U.S. citizens traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
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