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On Thursday, U.S. Air Passenger Numbers Were So High They SURPASSED 2019 Levels

On Thursday, U.S. Air Passenger Numbers Were So High They SURPASSED 2019 Levels

U.S. air passenger numbers broke yet another pandemic record on Thursday as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) revealed it had screened more passengers at airport checkpoints on July 1 than the equivalent day in 2019. And as Independence Day weekend begins, the TSA said it expected more record-breaking numbers at airports across the United States.

On Thursday, 2.14 million passengers passed through TSA airport checkpoints nationwide – nearly 3 per cent more than the 2.08 million passengers that were screened on July 1, 2019.

Pat Stornebrink /

In fact, the TSA says many airports are already regularly surpassing pre-pandemic passenger numbers with popular summer travel destinations proving the busiest airports. In particular, Nashville and Myrtle Beach are outstripping 2019 passenger levels as the continued recovery in travel demand is led by leisure passengers.

Other airports, like Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Phoenix Sky Harbor are all fast approaching pre-pandemic levels and could well surpass 2019 passenger volumes this weekend.

“It’s heartening to see the country taking to travel again and travelling to enjoy the weekend and celebrate our nation’s independence,” commented TSA Administrator David Pekoske on Thursday.

But the dramatic recovery in passenger numbers is causing a crunch and the TSA has urged passengers to arrive at the airport extra early because of long wait times to clear security. Pekoske warned on Thursday:

“We continue to remind passengers to pack their patience and remain calm through the security checkpoint and onboard aircraft. TSA will not tolerate aggressive actions toward our officers; please help us make travel safe, secure and pleasant on this holiday weekend.”

The agency has been on a hiring spree in an attempt to head off any major issues but has had to resort to offering $1,000 welcome bonuses as it tries to fill a shortage of as many as 2,500 officers. Managers and office staff have even been roped in to help out on the frontlines, although they aren’t actually allowed to search passengers.

It’s not just the TSA that has been caught short with airlines also facing staff shortages. American Airlines has trimmed back its schedule by 1 per cent until mid-July in part because of a lack of staff, while both Southwest and jetBlue have offered double pay and other perks to get staff to work extra shifts over the next few weeks.

Photo Credit: Denver International Airport

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