The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) saw dramatic changes in 2020 because of the pandemic, according to a Monday (Jan. 4) press release.
Between the start of 2020 and the year’s end, the TSA screened 324 million passengers around the U.S., which was around 39 percent of the number from 2019, when it screened 824 million passengers.
The lowest point came on April 14, 2020, as the pandemic had just begun and people were staying away from traveling. On that day, the TSA screened just 87,500 passengers across the entire country, which came out to around 4 percent of the total at the same time a year prior.
And, during what is historically the most robust time for travel around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, the average travel volume in 2020 fluctuated between a low of 24 percent and a high of 61 percent of 2019 totals.
TSA Administrator David Pekoske said the agency had “implemented significant operational changes” across its checkpoints because of the pandemic with a speed and degree “unmatched” by anything else in its 19 years of existence.
“The flexibility and agility of the men and women across TSA is a testament to their dedication to our collective transportation security mission,” he said, according to the release. “Our entire workforce, including screening officers, canine handlers, inspectors and federal air marshals, continues to do everything possible to protect our colleagues and airline passengers, and I am grateful for their adaptiveness and resilience.”
The TSA also reported modifications to accommodate the pandemic, including new acrylic barriers and Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) units, which allow travelers to scan their own IDs without handing them to someone else.
Going forward into 2021, the agency expects travel volume to continue to fluctuate, though it will likely still be below pre-pandemic numbers for some time, the release says.
The airline industry has been looking at 2020 reports and how to move forward, too, finding global passenger traffic had dropped 67 percent, to its lowest rate since 1999.
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