NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With Thanksgiving approaching, airports around the country are gearing up for an influx of travelers.
But concerns have been raised about Transportation Security Administration staffing and the looming federal vaccine mandate, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported Wednesday.READ MORE: Holiday Travel Brings Traffic Headaches; When And Where To Avoid Worst Congestion
By Thanksgiving, airport officials expect to see a notable increase in travelers, and they are making sure everyone is prepared.
“If it’s a solid it can go in your carry-on. If it’s a liquid, a gel, something spreadable, then it should go in your checked bag,” TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said.
Farbstein walked CBS2 through the dos and don’ts of holiday travel, as it’s expected many will be taking to the skies for Thanksgiving celebrations.
“We expect to see substantial increase in passengers volumes, which will be approaching the pre-pandemic 2019 volumes that we saw from two years ago,” said Robert Duffy, LaGuardia’s federal security director.
TSA agent Michael Kelley said the lines have been, “very long in the mornings, around 5-6 o’clock, so you guys got to get here about two hours before your actual flight. Be patient because it’s going to take some time to get through the line.”
While many plan to fly, one couple said they plan to drive, noting many reasons, including recent turbulence with airlines.READ MORE: As Holiday Travel Picks Up Again, Lawmakers Call For COVID Restrictions For Domestic Flights
“I wouldn’t want to book a flight for December right now based on the situation with Southwest and American, and the vaccine mandates for staff, and all the flights that are already being canceled,” North Carolina traveler Ethan Barbee said.
The federal workforce, including TSA employees, have until Monday to show full vaccination status or request a religious or medical exemption.
The head of security at LaGuardia said the airport has plenty of staffing to get through peak holiday travel.
“We are not concerned. We are still working through the last of the numbers here because we do have some people that are no longer with us. So we have to call out the master records that we have. But we are in good shape here at LaGuardia, so we’re not concerned about that,” Duffy said.
During a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Tuesday, some lawmakers expressed concerns about travel disruptions. One union leader is trying to get the vaccine deadline pushed for its members.
“Extending the deadline until Jan. 4 will provide consistency and will also provide fairness,” said Dr. Everett Kelly, president of the American Federation of Government Employees.
In mid-October, the TSA announced 60% of its workforce was fully vaccinated. Its administrator, David Pekoske, provided an update Wednesday on CBS Mornings.
“The numbers improved greatly, and I don’t expect the vaccine mandate to have any impact whatsoever on Thanksgiving travel,” Pekoske said.MORE NEWS: Tri-State Area Airports Already Bustling With Thanksgiving Travelers; Experts Say Pack Your Patience
The TSA says the busiest travel days are typically the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the following Sunday.