A TSA screener at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. (Official DHS photo by Barry Bahler)

TSA Bracing for ‘Record-Breaking’ Crowds This Holiday Air Travel Season

You might want to get to the airport a little early: The Transportation Security Administration is expecting the busiest Thanksgiving holiday travel season ever.

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The U.S. aviation industry is preparing for 31 million travelers projected to fly between Nov. 16 and Nov. 27, with to a surge of daily traffic ranging from 1.7 million to 3.2 million travelers per day. Additionally, the American Automobile Association estimates there will be more than 54 million travelers this Thanksgiving travel season — a 5 percent increase over last year.

“The threats to aviation security are persistent,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said at a press conference at Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport on Tuesday. “And we do expect a record-breaking Thanksgiving travel season…. Over the course of Memorial Day to Labor Day, TSA screened almost a quarter of a billion passengers, and that represents an increase of 5 percent to 6 percent in travel from 2017 and 2018. We expect the same 5 percent to 6 percent increase going into the Thanksgiving travel season, and certainly going into the December holidays.”

The busiest travel days leading up to Thanksgiving are projected to be the Friday and Wednesday before the holiday, with 2.6 million passengers and crew expected on each of those days. On Nov. 25, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, more than 2.7 million travelers are expected to be flying home.

“Please give yourself some extra time,” Pekoske said. “We will do everything that we can to make your security experience as smooth as possible.” 

TSA officials are prepared for the surge, with new technology at security checkpoints, 80 additional passenger screening canine teams and more than 1,200 new TSA officers.

The new tech includes: 

Also: TSA Releases Roadmap for Expanding Biometrics Technology

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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