The Transportation Security Administration says air-travel hit a post-COVID record as over 2.3 million Thanksgiving travelers took to the skies on Wednesday – the largest figure since March 2020.
According to the TSA, the agency screened exactly 2,311,978 people at airports across the country, making it busiest at security checkpoints since the pandemic began last year, CNN reported on Thursday.
That figure accounts for 88 percent of the air traffic, or 2,624,250, the same time last year back in 2019, a year before the coronavirus pandemic.
This year’s air travel is more than double the number of people TSA screened compared to the day before Thanksgiving in November of last year, which stood at 1,070,967 fliers.
Meanwhile, Wednesday proved to be the seventh consecutive day that the agency screened over 2 million air travelers, according to CNN.
NEWARK: A line of passengers waits to clear security at the New Jersey airport on November 24, with 2.3 million taking to the skies in the busiest day for US air travel since before COVID
LOS ANGELES: Passengers wait security screening at LAX’s Terminal 6, as US air travel finally begins to approach levels last seen before COVID ravaged the country 2
LOS ANGELES: Travelers crowd around United’s check-in area at Terminal 6. Masks remain compulsory across all US airports
CHICAGO: Passengers stroll through Chicago’s O’Hare Airport ahead of the biggest travel weekend in the US calendar
CHICAGO: A little boy waits to cross through security at O’Hare Airport, as they and 2.3 million others jetted off for Thanksgiving weekend
This table shows air travel in the US over the last seven days – with more than two million travelers taking to the skies on every one of them
David Pekoske, TSA’s seventh and current administrator, told the outlet that the agency was well-prepared for the pre-Thanksgiving Day travel surge this year.
‘We’ve looked at passenger volume projections, we’ve worked with the carriers and with the airports, and collectively we’re ready for the Thanksgiving holiday,’ he said. ‘
‘Our goal is to make it as safe and secure and as enjoyable for people as we possibly can.’
Passengers have been hit by widespread delays in recent months, with SouthWest, Spirit and American all forced to cancel hundreds of flights.
There were fears that impending vaccine mandates for airline staff would cause shortages and chaos, but so far there have been 1,064 delays across the US on Thursday, with just 60 cancelations.
Amidst ongoing cases of passengers’ outbursts and acts of violence, often over traveling mask mandates, the Justice Department said it plans on finally curbing such instances.
To that effect, Attorney General Merrick Garland has directed federal prosecutors to intensify their focus on charges against violent or unruly passengers.
CNN reports the Federal Aviation Administration has received over 5,300 cases of unruly passengers, and has issued $1.6 million in fines amidst more the 1,000 of its own investigations.
However, a handful of aviation groups have questioned the Justice Department’s authority in pursing criminal charges while calling on federal prosecutors to intervene.
Despite those complaints, the FAA has turned over 37 cases to the Justice Department, the agency said.
In September, President Joe Biden announced a new policy that doubles the fines TSA agents can hand out to unmasked passengers, up to $3,000, while adding ‘if you break the rules, be prepared to pay.’
Last month, DailyMail.com reported on an anti-masker boarding a United flight who got hauled off a plane by cops after he screamed at a flight attendant and threatened fellow flyers when he was asked to put on his mask.
The unidentified passenger went on a foul-mouthed tirade on the Los Angeles-bound flight, warning someone who tried to diffuse the situation, ‘I’ll break your neck!’
An anti-masker threatened to break a passenger’s neck after he attempted to intervene in the argument between him and the flight attendant
An anti-masker was seen screaming and threatening other passengers and yelling at a flight attendant after he was asked to hang up his phone and put on his mask 4 times
The incident was the just the latest in a series of verbal and physical assaults by passengers who refused to comply with the mask mandate.
In August, a woman on a JetBlue flight from Palm Beach to Hartford was arrested and taken off the plane on a wheelchair after she refused to comply with the mask mandate.
The incident, recorded by Tik Tok user Brooklyn DeGumbia, was fighting with JetBlue staff and police officers and had apparently delayed the flight for three hours.
Another woman in July also refused to wear a mask on an American Airlines flight from New Orleans to Dallas.
Passengers witnessed the woman screaming and throwing a tantrum, even after she was removed from the flight.
The woman was arrested for disturbing the peace and simple assault after she aggressively resisted being taken off the plane by staff and officers.