TSA says travel volume will near pre-pandemic levels through December

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The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) expects the volume of passengers at airports throughout December to near pre-pandemic levels despite growing fears surrounding the omicron variant of the coronavirus. 

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The TSA's projection comes after the agency screened 20.9 million passengers at airport security checkpoints nationwide during the 10-day Thanksgiving travel period. This is approximately 89% of pre-pandemic levels, according to TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein. 

In fact, the Sunday following Thanksgiving, Nov. 28, broke a pandemic record with more than 2.4 million individuals screened at airports nationwide on a single day. 

"We see a strengthening in the airline travel industry toward pre-pandemic levels and our goal is to ensure you as the passenger have a safe and secure flight," said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. "We work hard with our airport and airline partners to achieve this by ensuring screening operations meet the upcoming demand."

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The holiday season is normally very busy for airports, even in the midst of a pandemic.

The agency is encouraging travelers to sign up for TSA PreCheck, "in order to keep screening lanes moving quickly throughout the holiday season." 

Passengers enrolled in the program do not need to remove their shoes, belts, 3-1-1 liquids, laptops, or light jackets, the TSA said, Without the extra steps, "94% of members waited less than 5 minutes" in line even in November, according to the TSA. 

The TSA noted that if passengers apply now, they may be "accepted within 5 days, just in time for the holidays."

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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