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TSA reports travel spike ahead of Thanksgiving

written by Hannah Dowling | November 24, 2020

A file image of a Transportation Security Administration officer. (Department of Homeland Security)
A file image of a Transportation Security Administration officer. (Department of Homeland Security)

The US Transportation Security Administration has said it screened over 3 million passengers in the weekend ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, as Americans ignore the CDC’s advice not to travel for the holidays.

The figures show it being the busiest weekend for foot traffic through TSA security screenings since the beginning of the pandemic in mid-March.

The TSA reports that it screened 1.05 million passengers on Sunday, 22 November, 984,369 on Saturday and 1.02 million on Friday.

Prior to this weekend, there had been just three days since 16 March that the number of US airline passengers screened topped 1 million.

While the TSA numbers from the weekend show an improvement in travel demand, screenings are still nearly 60 per cent lower than at the same time last year.

The news comes despite the warnings of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which last Thursday urged Americans not to travel for the upcoming holidays in light of the surge of COVID-19 infections seen in the US.

The public health organisation stated that intimate get-togethers with family and friends are an “important contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases” currently being seen across the country.


Since the announcement, a number of cities and states have issued mandatory stay-at-home orders in an attempt to curb the spread.

Shortly after, executives from a number of US airlines reported a slow-down in bookings and a rise in flight cancellations, as passengers heed the calls of the CDC and state directives.

The US saw its largest daily increase in COVID-19 cases on Friday, with more than 198,000 cases reported within a 24-hour period.

Earlier this month, industry association Airlines 4 America actively encouraged individuals to fly and visit family over the holiday period, and airlines in the US began gearing up for an uptick in travel demand.

“I hope you’re flying somewhere” for the holiday season, A4A president Nicholas Calio said during a media briefing. “I am,” he added.

Airlines had all been hoping for a bump in ticket sales over the Thanksgiving period, with a number increasing flight schedules to account for this.


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