(NEW YORK) -- Even as experts project that a record 234.1 million passengers will take to the skies on U.S. airlines this summer, the Transportation Security Administration says it's prepared for the travel onslaught.
Last summer -- which saw just 224.8 million travelers, or 9.3 million fewer than are expected this summer -- hours-long lines snarled checkpoints across the country, sparking outrage among passengers and airlines alike.
This summer, industry trade group Airlines for America projects there will be about 4 percent more U.S. airline passengers passing through airports worldwide -- about 2.54 million per day from June to August. (A4A refused to speculate whether the potential expansion of the laptop ban -- already in place for flights from 10 Middle Eastern airports, and under consideration for expansion to other areas, including Europe -- could impact its projections.)
Accordingly, the TSA has bulked up their workforce by 2,000 additional officers and 50 more canine teams, compared to last summer.
“As we approach the summer break, securing the travel of millions of passengers daily remains our top priority,” said TSA acting administrator Huban A. Gowadia. “It is well known that terrorists continue to focus on aviation, which is why the TSA continues to focus on providing robust security screening."
The agency has also collaborated with airlines to provide automated screening lanes at some of the nation's busiest airports, including Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
So what's driving the influx of travelers?
“Rising U.S. GDP, a steadily improving economy, an all-time high household net worth and historically low airfares are proving to be the perfect combination for the expected growth in summer air travel,” A4A Vice President John Heimlich said in a statement. “We continue to see consumers today shift their spending towards experiences and travel, and airlines are making sure to meet this growing demand."
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