Thanksgiving travel rush returns: Airport screenings reach pandemic high

Written by on November 26, 2021

Airports are busy again, and air travel is inching closer to pre-pandemic levels.

Driven by pre-Thanksgiving travel, 2.3 million people passed through airport screenings Wednesday in what the Transportation Security Administration said was its busiest day since travel plummeted to coronavirus lows in April 2020.

That is more than double the 1.1 million people who went through TSA checkpoints a year earlier on the day before Thanksgiving, according to a TSA database.

It’s also 12 percent below the number of travelers screened on the equivalent day in 2019, when TSA checkpoint workers saw 2.6 million people a few months before the pandemic.

The day before Thanksgiving is typically among the busiest travel days of the year, along with the days after the holiday as people return home.

The TSA has hired 6,000 new officers this year and has enough staff to deal with the increase in passenger volumes, Lorie Dankers, a TSA spokesperson, told Reuters.

“So staffing, while we are hiring, will not slow people down this holiday season,” Dankers said.

Still, airlines advised passengers to arrive at airports early in case of long security lines. Delta Air Lines suggested two-plus hours early for domestic flights and three-plus hours early for international flights.

David Ingram covers tech for NBC News.

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