The number of people traveling on Sunday was the highest since the start of the pandemic, a spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said on Monday, surpassing the record set by Thanksgiving travelers just days before concerns were even raised. are growing up about the new variant of the omicron coronavirus.
TSA spokesperson tweeted that the agency examined 2,451,300 people nationwide on Sunday, “marking a new pandemic high.”
That topped the 2.3 million people who were screened on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the busiest day since March 2020.
By comparison, November 28 last year saw just over one million people travel by air, up from nearly 2.9 million in 2019.
20.9 million. That’s the number of people who passed through TSA checkpoints in the 10 days leading up to Sunday inclusive, which is roughly 89% of pre-pandemic levels, according to the TSA.
Air travel for Thanksgiving nearly hit 2019 levels, but was just below TSA forecast that it would hit pre-pandemic numbers. The airline industry has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, with U.S. carriers serving 60% fewer passengers in 2020 than the year before. Covid-19 has resulted in unprecedented losses for the industry, and the devastating financial impact has been compared to that of September 11. Hundreds of thousands of employees have been made redundant, fired or put into limbo by the pandemic, and many airlines have been forced to park or withdraw “a substantial portion” of their fleets, according to US Government Accountability Office.
What to watch out for
Any optimism surrounding the high number of trips is likely to be tempered by the emergence of the new Covid-19 omicron variant. Travel restrictions announced by the Biden administration targeting eight southern African countries in response to omicron went into effect Monday despite opposition from the countries in question.
“Sunday after Thanksgiving, air travel breaks pandemic record” (NBC News)
“WHO signals global risk of Omicron, countries tighten restrictions” (Reuters)
“Here’s where Omicron is spreading: Latest cases reported in UK, Netherlands and Australia” (Forbes)