TSA Hits Another Post-Pandemic Passenger Highby Daniel McCarthy /
Another week, another new post-pandemic record for the TSA.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Sunday, June 20 screened 2.1 million passengers, setting another post-pandemic passenger high and signaling the continued, steady recovery of air travel over the last 16 months.
The number is 350% higher than the number for the same time in 2020 (590,456 passengers), marking a big recovery out of the depths of the pandemic, but is still about 22% lower than the same day in 2019 (2.71 million).
With the highest weekly passenger numbers typically on Sunday, here is the trend line for 2021 so far, almost six full months into the year:
Staffing shortages across travel
In another sign of rising demand, the TSA this month warned that airport delays, already seen at a number of cities around the U.S., could only get worse this summer.
According to the TSA, staffing shortages will impact 131 airports. The TSA, like so many businesses, is offering incentives for new hires, including a $1,000 bonus for new hires. Reports say that the TSA has planned to hire an additional 6,000 officers ahead of the summer travel season and, so far, has met about half that goal.
And the TSA isn’t the only one warning of the impact of hiring issues this summer.
American Airlines over the past three days canceled hundreds of flights because of similar staffing issues—American canceled 123 flights on Saturday, 178 on Sunday, and 97 on Monday. The carrier now expects to continue those cancellations, albeit at a lower rate, each day through at least the end of July.
The cancellations, which will be somewhere between 50 and 80 flights per day, amount to about 1% of American’s schedule through July.
According to Airlines Reporting Corp (ARC), accredited travel agencies have also seen a big rebound in demand.
ARC data released last week shows a big boost for May airline ticket sales—accredited travel agencies sold $3.6 billion in tickets in May 2021, a 1,914% increase over May 2020 and an 18% increase from last month (April 2021).
The majority of that boost came in U.S. domestic trips (9%) while the remaining (4%) came in international travel. And while domestic leisure is still the biggest mover, ARC has seen some encouraging signs in other segments, too.
“Summer leisure travel continues to boost new ticket purchases. I May, we also saw corporate travel pick up more than in previous months,” ARC’s managing director of data science and research said. “In the coming months, we’ll be watching how the loosening of travel restrictions in Europe impacts international travel originating from the U.S.