According to the Transportation Security Administration, 7.1 million passengers took to the skies over Memorial Day weekend, up nearly 450% from last year.
DALLAS, Texas – The baggage carousels at Dallas Love Field on Friday were surrounded by spectator passengers, patiently awaiting their chance to collect their bags and travel to North Texas for the weekend.
Compared to the start of the year, when COVID-19 vaccinations were slowly rolling out and airports were practically ghost towns, it was a refreshing sight.
One thing is certain: COVID-19’s hold on America is not as strong as it once was. And new figures from the Transportation Security Administration back it up.
During Memorial Day weekend, 7.1 million passengers took to the skies, up 450% from Memorial Day last year.
The agency tracked 1.98 million people on Sunday, a new pandemic air travel record.
And as travel demand begins to return to normal, the agency is struggling to keep up.
The Transportation Security Administration predicts that 131 of the nation’s airports will experience staff shortages this month. TSA Acting Administrator Darby LaJoye is now asking office workers to volunteer at airports for up to 45 days.
The volunteers would take care of functions unrelated to screening, such as onboarding new recruits and managing security lines.
The TSA is also offering $ 1,000 as a recruiting incentive.
Fewer officers means slower checkpoints. Some Memorial Day weekend social media videos showed passengers waiting longer than normal to be screened.
And it’s not just the TSA struggling with staffing; airlines are too.
During the pandemic, many workers were offered early retirement or time off.
Now more is needed, especially booking agents.
Not to mention that ticket prices are increasing.
According to the Consumer Price Index, airline ticket prices are up 7% for the month and 24% from the previous year.
Public health officials urged caution when traveling as new variants of COVID-19 continue to be discovered in the United States
The Centers for Disease Control is now asking citizens to limit travel where possible after the United States reaches 30 million cases of COVID-19.