Travel’s recovery continues.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Friday screened 2.02 million passengers at security checkpoints in the U.S., marking the first time that more than 2 million passengers passed through U.S. airports since March 7, 2021.
The TSA followed up that high mark from Friday with another 1.81 million on Saturday and then a new 2021 record, 2.09 million, on Sunday.
TSA passenger volume has been steadily increasing since it reached its pandemic low of 87,534 on April 13, 2021. Just in 2021, the TSA screened 567,401 passengers on Jan. 13, followed by 900,699 on Feb. 13, 1.22 million on March 13, 1.08 million on April 13, and then 1.74 million on May 13.
While volume has been able to recover many of its COVID losses, Sunday’s 2.09 million is still 20% lower than the same day in 2019 when the TSA screened 2.642 million and was above two million for all of April, May, and June outside of three days.
Because of the volume increase, the TSA is continuing to warn passengers about longer than normal wait times at checkpoints around the country. Travelers flying out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, for instance, were greeted with a two-hour wait at security earlier this month.
Part of that is the rebound in travel demand, but another reason that wait times have increased is because of a shortage of TSA agents nationwide. The TSA is currently looking to add 6,000 new officers and is running a hiring program that includes a $1,000 bonus for new hires.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced last week that vaccinated travelers do not need masks outdoors at airports or train stations, which is not the case for most airports. The TSA is continuing to warn passengers that mask mandates remain in place through Sept. 13 for all passengers traveling on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of transportation in, within, or out of the U.S.