Travelers await security screening at Fresno Yosemite International Airport. Photo by Frank Lopez.
Written by Frank Lopez
The travel season has taken off with an increase in travelers from Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT).
Officials with the Transportation Security Administration and FAT announced at a press conference Tuesday morning that current travel projections for this summer will exceed volumes seen in 2019, the busiest on record for TSA operations.
According to a TSA press release, passenger screening volumes at FAT are currently more than 120% of 2019—meaning the airport has recovered its travel volume rates by 100%, with a 20% increase since June 2019.
In comparison to other airports, FAT’s recovery ranks at No. 11 nationwide.
“With summer travel upon us, the airport is seeing record numbers in travel,” said Vikki Calderon, spokesperson for the airport. “We are seeing numbers that are well above our 2019 numbers.”
Calderon said that FAT is leading the U.S. Pacific region in passenger traffic recovery.
“The Fresno airport is the second-fastest growing airport in California in terms of small-hub airports, and seen faster growth in terms of seat capacity. From June through August of 2021, we are seeing an over-32% increase in seat capacity as compared with June through August of 2019,” Calderon said.
With the increase in travel at FAT, Calderon advises that travelers arrive a few hours ahead of their flight times.
The increase in travel volumes nationwide has led to an increase in needs for TSA workers and safety measures.
In the months of April and May, TSA screened at least 1 million departing travelers at airports across the nation every day, and the number continues to increase.
On June 27, more than 2.16 million travelers were screened nationwide, a new post-pandemic record.
Lorie Dankers, a TSA spokesperson said that with more flights departing the airports, and larger aircrafts with more seat capacities, more people are travelling during peak times.
The busiest times at the TSA security checkpoint at FAT are 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.. The busiest days to travel are Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday.
Due to the increase in travel, the TSA has hired additional security screening officers at FAT to ensure fully-staffed checkpoint lanes for passenger screening
This spring, the TSA deployed new X-ray technology to screen carr-on luggage. The machine is currently in use at the TSA checkpoint.
The X-ray allows TSA agents to get a full 3-D view to screen for prohibited items.
Dankers said that the technology is present in about 140 airports across the country.
Staff at TSA have confiscated items at Fresno airport ranging from power tools, pocketknives, hunting knives, a sling shot, pepper spray to a samurai sword.
“The checkpoint has a finite number of lanes—we want to keep those lanes staffed, we want to keep them open during those peak times,” Dankers said, “Do know, we are aware that it is busier than usual, and we are aware that this is going to be sustained growth, and we are doing everything we can to accommodate the increasing number of passengers.”
Dankers encourages travelers to enroll with TSA PreCheck for a smoother screening process—eligible travelers do not need to remove shoes, belts, light outerwear, laptops, electronics larger than a cellphone or travel-size liquids from carry-on luggage.
There is an enrollment center in Fresno at 468 E. Bullard Ave., in the Tuscan Plaza.