airports

Passengers waiting at a security check-in line at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The number of Thanksgiving air travelers this year is expected to rebound to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.

The number of airline passengers traveling for Thanksgiving this year is expected to rebound to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, but the Transportation Security Administration says it is ready to handle the surge.

Administrator David Pekoske said last week he expects agency staffing to be sufficient for what’s traditionally TSA’s busiest travel period.

“We are prepared,” Pekoske told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

He says travelers should expect long lines at airports and plan to spend a little more time getting through security.

In 2019, a record 26 million passengers and crew passed through U.S. airport screening in the 11-day period around Thanksgiving. But that plummeted in 2020 as the pandemic kept people at home.

Pekoske says he didn’t think a vaccine mandate that went into effect for TSA agents Monday would have any effect on staffing for Thanksgiving.

“In fact, implementation of the mandate will make travel safer and healthier for everyone,” he said. “So, we see quite a significant increase in the number of our officers that are vaccinated, and I’m very confident that there will be no impact for Thanksgiving.”

Pekoske told NBC’s “Today” last Wednesday that he remains “very concerned” about the issue of belligerent and at times physically violent passengers as incidents on airplanes have continued.

“The level of unruly behavior is much higher than I’ve ever seen it,” he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration says it has referred 37 cases involving unruly airline passengers to the FBI for possible criminal prosecution since the number of disruptions on flights began to spike in January.