Airline passenger counts in the U.S. are continuing an upward trend that’s been marked since the start of Spring Break season, signaling a steady rebound in travel. While air traveler numbers still aren’t as high as they were on corresponding dates in 2019, they’re miles ahead of where they were this time last year.
As if to underscore the point, Thursday, May 6 registered another pandemic-era record high of 1.64 million people who passed through TSA airport checkpoints, making it the busiest day for American air travel since March 2020, just before the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was felt.
The previous pandemic-era high was witnessed just four days earlier, on the Monday ahead of Mother’s Day weekend. As we draw still closer to the actual holiday, Thursday’s record number is also likely to be quickly surpassed, the Associated Press speculated.
During April and May 2019—almost a year before COVID-19 brought the aviation industry to its knees—typical air passenger traffic was around 40 percent higher than it is at present. Still, considering that, on this day last year, the TSA screened just under 191,000 air travelers (compared with over 2,555,000 in 2019), things have undeniably improved.
Airlines began noting a distinct uptick in bookings when schools’ Spring Break holidays began to arrive in mid-February, continuing through early April. Thanks to the so-far success of the nation’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which is inspiring traveler confidence, and the responsible reopening of many warm-weather leisure destinations, the upward trend seems stable.
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