iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A record 231 million passengers will take to the skies this summer — a crush unlikely to ease wait times at already-crowded Transportation Security Administration checkpoints, an airline industry trade group announced on Wednesday.
An average of 2.51 million passengers will travel on U.S. airlines every day between June 1 and Aug. 31, according to Airlines for America (A4A). That’s an average of 95,000 more passengers per day than last year.
“We saw airfares fall throughout 2015 and that trend continued in the first three months of 2016,” John Heimlich, A4A vice president and chief economist, said in a press release. “As airlines compete for passengers across an increasing portfolio of markets, air travel is becoming increasingly affordable and accessible.”
Airlines will offer around 2.78 million seats per day to meet the demand, A4A said. But with TSA wait times stretching to three hours or more at some checkpoints, passengers may be in for a frustrating trip.
Although several airlines have “stepped up to the plate” to help alleviate lines — deploying workers to help with non-security functions like moving bins and managing lines as well as allowing passengers to use frequent flier miles for TSA’s expedited screening program — passengers still face “excessive” wait times, the trade group said.
A4A recommends that the TSA make more PreCheck appointments available to fliers and to consider waiving or reducing fees.
The group has also asked the TSA for real-time data on wait times at airports across the country to help passengers plan their travel, but the agency has declined to provide that information without any “justification” as to why, the group lamented.
A4A also disputed the argument that the trend against checking bags has contributed to longer wait times at security check points.
“There is no relationship between bag fees and wait times,” the group noted in its report.
But just last week, officials said efforts to reduce the size and number of carry-on bags are part of TSA’s “aggressive” plan to reduce lines.
No matter what happens, “there will be wait times” at checkpoints, according to Department of Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson.
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