Jul 2, 2022 -- COVID is still in the air, and so are American travelers. The number of airline customers passing through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints for the July 4th holiday weekend is exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
The TSA reports 2,490,490 people were screened at checkpoints on Friday, July 1, compared to 2,184,253 on that date in 2019, before COVID-19 gripped the nation. The latest figures are around 300,000 over 2021 numbers for that date and 1.7 million more than 2020.
Thursday, June 30, was a record-breaking day, too. The TSA recorded 2,444,471 travelers, compared to 2,088,760 in 2019.
As air travel numbers rose, so did COVID statistics. The New York Times reported that new COVID cases rose 12% in the last 14 days and that COVID-related hospitalizations went up 10% for the same time period. The average daily number of COVID-related deaths for July 1 was 387, a 23% increase over the last 14 days.
The travelers packed airports as airlines struggled with cancellations, some caused by staffing problems and others by weekend bad weather. FlightAware, a flight tracking website, reported that 586 total flights were cancelled on Friday into and out of the United States, with 7,802 delays in the U.S. for the day. As of 9 a.m. Saturday, 425 U.S. flights had been cancelled.
AAA predicted 47.9 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home from June 30 to July 4. That would be 3.7% more people than 2021 and would bring the number of travelers just under 2019 numbers, AAA said.
“Earlier this year, we started seeing the demand for travel increase and it’s not tapering off,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “People are ready for a break and despite things costing more, they are finding ways to still take that much needed vacation.”
AAA predicted that 3.55 million people would travel by air for the holiday weekend, down from 3.91 million in 2019.