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The United States set another record in terms of the number of air travelers since the pandemic began, although the number of passengers remains well below 2019 levels.
More than 1.6 million people were examined Sunday at U.S. airport checks Sunday, according to the Transportation Security Administration. This was the highest figure that has been examined since March 12 last year, when air travel began to plummet.
However, it was still 35% below the number of registered airport travelers on the comparable Sunday of 2019, according to TSA figures.
Airlines began to see an increase in bookings in mid-February and the TSA has checked at least a million people every day since March 11. Holiday destinations have been the most popular: business trips, which are more profitable for airlines, are drastically reduced.
Government restrictions also drastically limit international travel, another lucrative part of the airline business.
Nearly 50 groups in the U.S. and UK travel industry have urged President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to lift travel restrictions between the two countries. The groups said in a letter Monday that it would be ideal for the two leaders to announce “the full reopening of the US-UK air travel market for US and UK citizens” ahead of the G7 meeting in early June.
Airline executives are cautiously optimistic about summer travel as more Americans are vaccinated against COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is safe for vaccinated people to travel to the United States, although it continues to warn against travel to most foreign countries.
Last week, the TSA expanded its requirement for airline passengers to wear masks. This rule would expire on May 11, but TSA extended it until mid-September.
Passengers should wait for the planes to be fuller. Over the weekend, Delta Air Lines stopped blocking the middle seats. It was the last American airline to limit seats as a safety measure.