The TSA wasn't kidding when it said it expected a congested holiday travel season for Thanksgiving. It announced on Tuesday that more than 25.6 million travelers and crew members in the 10 days surrounding Thanksgiving – including a record-breaking 2.73 million travelers on Sunday alone.
That makes Sunday the single busiest day for air travel in TSA history. It barely beat the previous high mark set on the same post-Thanksgiving Sunday in 2004.
The TSA had expected a busy week, preparing for an estimated 25 million travelers at airport security checkpoints nationwide. The numbers show even that was conservative, as 2018 Thanksgiving week traffic was up 6% over last year.
“It was all hands on deck during the Thanksgiving holiday week. Close coordination with airline and airport partners, new technology, enhanced screening, and more travelers enrolled in TSA PreCheck, TSA used every tool to secure air travel for the millions of passengers traveling to their holiday destinations,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement.
This traffic surge should be no surprise: More and more Americans are traveling every year. The TSA says the number of travelers it handles each year has grown by 4% over the last several years. And seven of the top 10 travel days in TSA history are in 2018 alone.
Still, the TSA says it kept wait times to a minimum. It said 95 percent of travelers got through a standard security line in 20 minutes or less. Travelers with TSA PreCheck almost universally got through expedited security in 10 minutes or less.
Some members of the Thrifty Traveler team spent part of the holiday weekend in airports. To call it crowded would be an understatement, so these numbers aren't surprising.
Lead Photo courtesy of TSA.gov