TSA is expanding the use of screeners to help at busy airports

COPPELL, Texas >> The head of the Transportation Security Administration said Tuesday his agency has quadrupled the number of staff who could support policing operations at airports that are becoming overcrowded this summer.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske said nearly 1,000 employees volunteered to be dispatched to other airports if needed.

It’s part of the agency’s plan to manage what is expected to be a busy holiday travel season.

“We expect this to be a busy summer and we’re prepared as best we can,” Pekoske said at a news conference near Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. “We will probably significantly exceed the 2019 numbers at some airports.”

According to Pekoske, the TSA — which has 47,500 screeners — is trying to predict when wait times in standard screening lanes will be at least 30 minutes, or when wait times for PreCheck travelers will be at least 10 minutes. When that happens, he said, volunteers will be dispatched from less crowded airports to reduce wait times at busy airports.

The TSA screened an average of more than 2.1 million travelers per day in April and May. That’s about 90% of the people featured in the same period of 2019.

Airlines expect summer crowds to be similar to 2019, when more than 2.5 million people per day poured through US airport checkpoints.

Airlines have released ambitious plans for the summer holidays, although some have recently cut back on those plans over fears they will not have enough staff to operate every flight. International travel is also well below pre-pandemic levels.

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