Air travelers should prepare for a slight increase in wait times at airport security checkpoints this busy Fourth of July weekend as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will be shorthanded through the holiday.
According to the Associated Press, approximately 350 employees, including screeners, have been transitioned to the U.S.-Mexico border to assist Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents with the influx of migrants.
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“This is a temporary measure. We don’t anticipate this would be a long-term measure,” TSA administrator David Pekoske told the news outlet, reassuring travelers that the agency can operate with minimal impact “for the next several months.”
The number of employees, including federal air marshals, who are sent to the border could rise to as many as 650 but won’t exceed more than about 1 percent of the agency’s 63,000 employees, a vast majority of which are airport screeners, TSA confirmed.
Last week, TSA announced that it expected to screen a record 12.1 million passengers from Wednesday, July 3 through Sunday, July 7, with air travel peaking Sunday as many Americans return home from the long holiday weekend.
In May, the agency predicted that the 2019 summer travel period would be the busiest in TSA history with an estimated 263 million passengers and crew members passing through security checkpoints nationwide from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. That figure represents a 4 percent increase from last summer.
TSA experienced its busiest day ever on May 24, the Friday before Memorial Day. The agency screened a total of 2,792,525 passengers and crew members. It remains to be seen if that record will be broken this Independence Day weekend.
Regardless, travelers can make it easy on themselves and screeners by arriving early, packing their luggage so that it can be easily screened and leaving prohibited items at home.
As we near the #4thofJuly, here’s a friendly reminder from #TSA to leave #fireworks at home. For more information on what you can and cannot take through airport security visit: https://t.co/KgIn0yXfsr pic.twitter.com/qE0ypz4Wfj
— TSA (@TSA) July 1, 2019