The number, 1 million, usually conjures up positive thoughts (except in the case of politicians). That person made a million dollars. The Reds drew a million fans. In the case of the airlines, they hit the number on October 18, 2020. It is a story of when 1 million is good and bad.
Transportation Security Administration came into existence through the leadership of Tom Ridge. Ridge was the first person to serve as the director of the new agency, the Department of Homeland Security. Ridge had served as governor of Pennsylvania and was tapped by then President George W. Bush in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to help protect Americans.
Prior to 9/11 airport security was contracted out by individual airports to the lowest bidder. Ridge wanted to standardize and professionalize, airport screening. Of course, prior to the 1970s (and D.B. Cooper) no one was screened at airports. Passengers simply left the ticket counter and walked to the gate with loved ones in tow. Then, with a goodbye kiss, they boarded the plane.
Their Other Role
A separate blog could be written on the growing pains of the TSA. The change in shirt color, the arrogance of some of the screeners. The arrogance of some of the passengers being screened. The “straining at a gnat” by some. In addition to “pat downs” and metal detectors the TSA provides another vital service. They count the number of passengers flying.
When 1 Million is Good and Bad
On October 18, 2020 the TSA screened a total of 1,031,505 passengers. It was the first time that passenger counts exceeded one million since March 16, 2020 when the COVID-19/Corona Virus shutdown began to go into effect. There were days in April that screening was less than 100,000 in a day.
I remember flying in late March. The screener told me that normally 2000 people would be in the screening area. I counted less than two dozen. So, the good news is air traffic is picking up.
The bad news is that it has a long way to go. On October 18, 2020 the day the TSA topped 1 million screenings, it was less than 40% of the totals one year earlier. On October 18, 2019, 2,606,266 individuals were screened. So, looked at from that perspective the news is still bad.
However, I and the airlines will take 1 million over the 90 thousand screened on April 12, 2020. Let’s chose to be thankful over the rebound versus mourning the drop. To see the numbers over the past few months go to the TSA’s site.