Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been releasing its daily count of passengers screened at airport checkpoints across the country, comparing them to numbers from 2019. As expected, business has been pretty slow at airports since mid-March; as many states start to gain control over COVID-19, however, it seems like many passengers are ready to fly once more.
On Friday, Sept. 4, the TSA screened 968,673 passengers—the highest number of passengers screened in a single day since March 17. (For comparison, 2,198,828 passengers were screened by the TSA on the Friday before Labor Day last year.) On Labor Day itself, the TSA screened 935,308 passengers, having reported 2,292,985 the year prior.
While we’re nowhere near pre-pandemic numbers for air travel, this Labor Day weekend increase is significant. Air travel hit rock bottom on April 14, with just 87,534 passengers screened, as compared to 2,208,688 in 2019. But the summer months saw a vast improvement, with most daily passenger screenings ranging between 400,000 and 800,000 per day, as compared to two million to 2.7 million per day in 2019.
In other travel sectors, Labor Day weekend was an even bigger hit. Travel platform Guesty, which helps users manage short-term vacation rentals, reported only five percent fewer bookings over the holiday weekend in 2020 as compared to 2019. It’s likely that while some people are comfortable with flying, many more are comfortable with driving, accounting for the extra boost in bookings.
Given the overall travel increase during Labor Day weekend, it will be interesting to see if there’s a corresponding spike in COVID-19 cases to follow in the next couple of weeks. Here’s to hoping things stay under control so we can get back to traveling like normal as soon as possible.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA). "TSA checkpoint travel numbers for 2020 and 2019." September 8, 2020.