Since the Covid-19 pandemic ensued, TSA screenings have not been able to surpass 1 million in one day’s time, something that would have been a simple task during pre-Covid days. However, this casual October weekend saw 1.03 million passengers screened on Sunday alone, possibly indicating good news for the future of the airline industry.
According to TSA data delivered today, October 18 became the busiest airline travel day since March. Although still remaining 40% below 2019 levels, the million-flyer mark is representative of the U.S. travel industry’s long-awaited recovery. Surprisingly, it came on a non-holiday weekend barely ahead of Thanksgiving and the December holidays. Some might say the changing of the leaves inspired this fluke—it’s anyone’s guess.
Carriers have pulled back on flying since the late spring when the airline industry began to crumble. Domestic frontrunner Southwest Airlines is set to fly just about 56% of what it flew last October compared to the 73% of last year’s flying it did in August, as per Cirium data.
If these TSA screening numbers do indicate a new travel trend, airlines may be able to pull through with profits come the year-end travel season. This segment of flyers is composed almost entirely of leisure voyagers, as business travel still faces a sharp halt.
The quantity of new Covid positive tests has risen consistently from around 35,500 per day in mid-September to in excess of 70,000 every day on Oct. 16, as per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information. While infections are growing across the U.S., states in the upper Midwest including Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin, are seeing the highest rates of positive tests.
The last time Covid-19 cases broke U.S. records, carriers saw new reservations drop and many were forced to move back new flight plans. However, airlines have not seemed to make a move yet regarding this current wave.
TSA screenings dipped under 1 million on March 17, when 953,699 individuals went through checkpoints. Screening numbers reached the lowest recorded data at 87,534 April 14.