(NEXSTAR) – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials at U.S. airports screened more than 1.7 million people on Friday, May 7, officially making it the busiest day for passenger throughput since the early days of the pandemic.
Friday’s 1.7 million travelers — 1,703,267, specifically — represent the greatest number of passengers screened at U.S. airports on any single day since March 12, 2020, when a total of 1,714,372 people passed through TSA checkpoints. The global coronavirus pandemic, which was declared only one day earlier on March 11, 2020, prompted a drastic decrease in traveler throughput in the weeks that followed.
For reference, on May 7, 2020 — or less than two months into the pandemic — only 215,444 people were screened at U.S. airport checkpoints. But before the pandemic in 2019, travel throughput on May 7 topped 2.6 million.
The TSA’s latest throughput numbers, however, indicate increased interest in travel as restrictions loosen across the country. And as demand increases, the TSA remains confident in its preparedness.
“The TSA is ready for the rapidly escalating crowds,” a spokesperson for the TSA said in an emailed statement.
To help ensure smoother security screenings during busier times, the TSA also recommends that travelers arrive early, bring valid ID, and review the agency’s “What Can I Bring?” page at TSA.gov before leaving for the airport, to reduce the likelihood of packing prohibited items. The TSA has further mandated that all passengers wear masks at U.S. airports — a requirement that currently extends through Sept. 13.
In addition, the TSA suggests PreCheck membership, which allows members to expedite the screening process.
“TSA PreCheck membership is more valuable now than ever before,” said Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Philadelphia International Airport, in a press release issued Thursday. Spero added that TSA PreCheck “reduces touchpoints during the pandemic and puts travelers in security lines that have fewer travelers and move quicker, which encourages social distancing.”