The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says it will be able to handle the estimated 20 million travelers passing through U.S. airports during the Thanksgiving holiday.
With vaccination rates improving and people regaining confidence in travel, the TSA is expecting to see the deluge of holiday travelers starting as soon as Friday through Sunday, Nov. 28, according to the agency.
Although travel volume isn’t expected to notch pre-pandemic levels just yet, the agency says it will be “notably higher” than what has been seen in recent weeks.
Between 1.9 and 2.2 million people have been screened at security checkpoints nationwide each day, according to the TSA. The figures represent an uptick from last year although it’s still down from the 2.5 million people who were screened daily during pre-pandemic times, not accounting for the holiday travel.
The highest volume in TSA history was on the Sunday after Thanksgiving 2019, when nearly 2.9 million individuals were screened at U.S. airport security checkpoints, according to the agency.
PASSENGER VOLUME AT US AIRPORTS NEARING PRE–PANDEMIC LEVELS AS TSA STAFFS UP
“We anticipate that travel may be very close to pre-pandemic levels this holiday, and we are staffed and prepared for the holiday travelers,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement.
In recent weeks, the TSA has been stepping up hiring efforts at airports around the country as the busy season gets underway.
This coming weekend, the agency is holding hiring events at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Tampa International Airport in Florida, and Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Michigan in order to add more full- and part-time officers.
The agency is also recruiting officers at airports across upstate New York and at the Denver International Airport. As an incentive, it’s offering hiring bonuses upon starting and after one year of service.
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The agency also noted that President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal employees won’t hinder its ability “in any way” to staff up during the busy holiday season.
In a notice to passengers Wednesday, the agency says it’s been working “diligently to implement the vaccine requirement, including by promoting vaccination and ensuring every TSA employee is uploading their attestation information.”
In September, Biden signed an executive order requiring all federal workers and contractors that do business with the federal government to be vaccinated against the virus, citing a “rapid rise in cases and hospitalizations” due to the delta variant.
OSHA SUSPENDS IMPLEMENTATION OF BIDEN’S COVID VACCINE MANDATE UNTIL FURTHER COURT ORDER
“I have determined that ensuring the health and safety of the Federal workforce and the efficiency of the civil service requires immediate action to protect the Federal workforce and individuals interacting with the Federal workforce,” Biden said in a statement.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has put on hold the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for U.S. employers with 100 employees while the Department of Labor, which oversees OSHA, remains tied up in court. However, this does not impact federal employees who are still required to be fully inoculated by Jan. 4.
The mandate impacting federal employees and contractors is also facing pushback in court.
FOX Business’ Breck Dumas contributed to this report