SOME 45.2m passengers are expected to fly on America’s airlines during the three-week holiday season that began last Friday. That is 3.5% more than flew during the same period last year, adding volume to an already-high baseline: the days around Christmas and New Year typically see 23% more travel than the rest of the year.

That is likely to exacerbate the woes that plagued American airports in 2016 even when travel volumes were normal. The main problem has been that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), in its wisdom, cut the number of screeners at security checkpoints. It did so anticipating that 25m people would sign up for its PreCheck programme, which allows pre-cleared passengers to bypass some security elements and speed up the process. Instead, fewer than 10m did. The result, predictably, was a worsening bottleneck at airports across the country. (The TSA is so desperate to encourage more people to sign up that it has hired a company to drive coaches around the country recruiting PreCheck members. We’ll see how that…Continue reading