As the United States creeps out of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic shutdown and more people are fully vaccinated, the country is experiencing a renewed sense of freedom to travel. The understaffed Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced on Saturday, June 12, 2021, they screened over 2.2 million travelers at security checkpoints in the United States on Friday.
It was the first time daily passenger screening reached pre-pandemic levels. Nevertheless, yesterday’s uptick was only 74 percent for the same day in 2019 when 2.7 million individuals traveled the friendly skies.
In May 2021, TSA officers screened an average of 1.5 million passengers a day. In contrast, in May of last year, that daily average was under 200,000 passengers.
Executive Assistant Administrator for Security Operations Darby LaJoye indicated the increased number of travelers illustrates their confidence in COVID-19 countermeasures.
Federal Security Directors Keith Jeffries of Los Angeles International (LAX) and Steve Lorincz of Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) agree with LaJoye’s assessment as they have seen the increased confidence firsthand.
The uptick in travel will increase wait times as the TSA is shorthanded. The agency hopes to increase its workforce by 6,000 officers; only 3,100 have been hired thus far. A recruitment incentive of $1000 is currently being offered.
Increased confidence may be increasing air travel, but the United States inflation rates are rising, which will hike the cost of airline tickets.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
NBC News: TSA screens more than 2 million on Friday for the first time since March 2020; by Chloe Atkins
ABC News: TSA warns of staffing shortages at more than 100 airports ahead of summer travel boost; by Mina Kaji and Catherine O’Sanz
Transportation Security Administration: TSA prepared for summer travel surge at nation’s airports
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Thomas Hawk’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy Jasleen Kaur’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License