TSA plans for summer travel rush

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(NewsNation) — With airports across the country only getting busier, TSA says it’s stepping up its efforts and bringing in more TSA agents to help alleviate the long lines.

In Miami, there are more than 150,000 travelers a day — that’s up 17% from last month.

More people are traveling, and the summer rush hasn’t even started yet.

AAA officials are predicting 60% more people will travel this year than last year — that’s about 37 million people — almost to pre-pandemic numbers.

On Memorial Day alone, nearly 2.5 million people will board a plane. That’s why TSA officials say they’re rolling out a new plan to put more TSA screeners in bigger, busier airports.

The chief of the Transportation Security Administration said Tuesday that his agency has quadrupled the number of employees who could bolster screening operations at airports that become too crowded this summer.

Nearly 1,000 employees have volunteered to be sent to other airports if needed to help passengers get through security lines faster. And travelers say long lines won’t be a deterrent this summer.

It’s part of the agency’s plan for handling what is projected to be a frenetic vacation-travel season.

“We expect this to be a busy summer, and we are as ready as we possibly can be,” Pekoske said at a news conference near Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. “We’re likely going to exceed in some airports by good measure the 2019 numbers.”

TSA currently has 47,500 employees at security checkpoints throughout the country. It says when the lines get longer than 30 minutes, more help is called in.

Pekoske said TSA tries to predict when wait times in the standard checkpoint lanes will be at least 30 minutes, or when waits for PreCheck travelers will be at least 10 minutes. When that happens, volunteers from less-crowded airports will be sent to help reduce the waits at busy airports.

TSA has screened more than 2.1 million travelers over the last month. That’s almost as much as 2019 — and travel experts say they expect this number to drastically go up over the next few weeks.

Airlines are expecting summer crowds to be similar to 2019, preparing for the busy season by posting ambitious schedules for the summer vacation months. Some airlines have recently trimmed those plans out of fear that they won’t have enough employees to operate every flight.

International travel is still far below pre-pandemic levels.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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