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TSA Expecting to Screen 20 Million Travelers Over Thanksgiving as Vaccine Mandate Deadline Looms

TSA Expecting to Screen 20 Million Travelers Over Thanksgiving as Vaccine Mandate Deadline Looms

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says it expects to screen as many as 20 million air travelers over the Thanksgiving holiday period which runs from November 19 through Sunday, November 28.

Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the busiest periods for air travel in the United States and in 2019 the TSA recorded the highest number of travelers screened in a single day o the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

While the TSA doesn’t expect to break pre-pandemic records this year, air travel demand has surged compared to 2020 and a recent uptick in COVID-19 infections across the U.S. isn’t expected to dampen the mood of Americans who want to travel and see friends and family.

“We anticipate that travel may be very close to pre-pandemic levels this holiday, and we are staffed and prepared for the holiday travelers,” commented TSA Administrator David Pekoske on Wednesday.

Pekoske has been facing difficult questions over the TSA’s preparedness for an upcoming vaccine mandate deadline for Homeland Security employees. Late last month, 40 percent of the TSA’s workforce, including airport security screeners, still weren’t vaccinated.

Pekoske, however, isn’t concerned that the November 22 deadline will impact operations over the Thanksgiving period.

“We have deployed technologies that enhance detection capabilities and reduce physical contact, and it’s equally important that passengers are prepared with travel tips for the most efficient checkpoint experience,” Pekoske commented.

“With overall vaccination rates improving nationwide and greater confidence in healthy travel, there will be more people traveling so plan ahead, remain vigilant and practice kindness.”

The effect of the vaccination deadline shouldn’t have any immediate impact on staffing levels as the Biden administration has laid out a progressive approach to deal with employees who don’t heed the vaccination mandate.

Employees will first be directed to counseling before managers even consider disciplinary action such as suspension and dismissal.

Some workers groups have, though, called for a deadline delay – similar to those introduced by several airlines – to avoid even the remotest possibility of. staffing crunch over the holiday season.

Delta Air Lines says it expects to fly as many as 5.6 million people over Thanksgiving – while down on 2019, the number of travelers is still 300 percent above last year’s dire figures.

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