Milestone number not seen since March 2020
The summer vacation is back in a big way. The TSA scanned more than 2 million passengers through airports on Friday for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March. The total was about four times the volume the TSA handled on the same date in 2020 and about 75% of the 2019 total. Before the pandemic, between 2 and 2.5 million passengers routinely cleared TSA screening on a given day.
“The growing number of travelers demonstrates this country’s resilience and the high level of confidence in COVID-19 counter measures, to include ready access to vaccines,” TSA acting administrator Darby LaJoye said in a news release. “TSA stands ready to provide a safe and secure screening process as part of the overall travel experience.”
Travel has been one of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic with many international borders closed and several states requiring visitors to quarantine. As vaccination rates have gone up over the last several months, state restrictions have eased. International destinations including the European Union have opened up to vaccinated travelers, with vaccine passports rolling out to facilitate multicountry itineraries.
With so many trips canceled and people stuck at home in 2020, pent-up demand has travelers rushing to make up for lost time. While the U.S. won’t reach President Biden’s goal of 70% of adults vaccinated, the upcoming July 4 weekend is poised to be even bigger, perhaps surpassing the 2.5 million daily airline passengers that used to be commonplace on holiday weekends.
A mask mandate remains in place through September 13 for all passengers traveling on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.