The Transportation Security Administration says it screened 1,128,773 people at airports nationwide on Saturday, the latest sign traveling public is not staying home for the holidays despite warnings from health officials.
The new number is close to Wednesday’s pandemic record when nearly 1.2 million people flew — and represents the third-busiest day for US air travel since it cratered in March.
While Saturday TSA traffic was just 45% of the air traffic a day after Christmas a year ago, it means many people are still traveling — something Dr. Anthony Fauci called “concerning” when speaking to Wolf Blitzer last week. Earlier this month, the CDC ratcheted up language urging people to not travel.
Air travel has spiked over the past week, when US air travel numbers hit near or more than a million passengers for six straight days. TSA numbers show that, about 9 million people were screened at TSA checkpoints since the holiday rush began December 18.
Prior to Wednesday, the previous pandemic record was set the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
The increase in air travel is stoking new fears from health the experts that there will be another spike in coronavirus infections, similar to a spike recorded after Thanksgiving.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans to stay home to avoid spreading coronavirus. The increase in air travel is stoking new fears among health experts of another jump in Covid-19 infections, similar to a spike recorded following the previous pandemic air travel record set around Thanksgiving.
The uptick in travel also comes as executives from several airlines look to bring back thousands of workers who were furloughed in the fall because of depressed travel numbers.
Congress’ latest Covid-19 relief bill includes an extension of the airline industry’s Payroll Support Program, which sets aside $15 billion in assistance to rehire more than 32,000 United (UAL) and American Airlines (AAL) employees furloughed in September. The companies say the additional funds are enough to pay those workers through March 31.