Soaring Numbers of Air Travelers Expected Weekend Before July 4

(Bloomberg) -- Buckle up. The Friday before July 4 may approach a record for the busiest day ever for U.S. airports, the head of Transportation Security Administration said.

Traffic for the day could top 2.6 million passengers, making it “potentially one of the busiest in TSA history,” TSA administrator David Pekoske told reporters on Wednesday. TSA says nine of the top 15 days in the past 16 years have occurred since May 2017 and the peak day last year was on the Friday before Independence Day, when 2.65 million people flew.

Airlines for America, a travel industry association, projects that air travel this summer will rise by 3.7 percent to an all-time high of 246 million passengers. TSA is preparing for the increased volume of passengers by adding 1,600 officers during peak days across the top 50 U.S. airports, notifying fliers of changes in regulations, such as additional screening for powders, and rolling out CT scanners in some airports that provide better screening of luggage.

“People are wanting to get through as quickly as possible and we want to make sure that there is a good level of security, so just listen to the officer and give yourself enough time,” Pekoske advised travelers.

In hopes of a “safe, secure and enjoyable holiday period,” Pekoske offered the following recommendations:

  • Travelers are encouraged to arrive on time and consider potentially longer lines for TSA screening during peak days when wait times can increase to 45-60 minutes.
  • Expect regular security measures prior to arrival at the airport, such as checkpoints in parking lots and public areas.
  • Consider enrolling in PreCheck, a pre-screening program the agency operates that costs $85 per passenger per year, and, if traveling internationally, Global Entry.

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