Tag: Numbers

TSA: Thanksgiving eve passenger numbers high, but less than 2020

A spokesperson for the TSA also said that Wednesday numbers of passengers screened at checkpoints nationwide were at the highest volume since mid-March.

The Transportation Security Administration said early Thursday that Thanksgiving eve passenger numbers at checkpoints across the United States were at just under half of what they were on Thanksgiving eve last year.

As the pandemic slows air travel around the globe, additional guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seems to have possibly made holiday travelers hesitate even more this year before taking a flight.

Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, the CDC recommended that people reconsider travel this year and avoid large gatherings of 10 or more.

TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein announced that as of Thanksgiving eve, on Wednesday, Nov. 25, the TSA had screened 1,070,967 people at checkpoints nationwide. That number comes in at less than half that of last year when, according to the TSA, 2,602,631 people were screened at checkpoints across the country on Thanksgiving eve. 

Despite this, 2020’s Thanksgiving eve passenger numbers were still at the highest volume since March 16, according to the TSA. The agency noted that this is only the 4th time that passenger numbers this year have topped 1 million since March 16.

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Thanksgiving Travel Numbers Will Down, Of Course. But Will Current Covid Spike Make Them Even Worse?

Next week 50 million Americans – about 15% of the nation’s population – will travel to visit relatives or friends, or to otherwise celebrate Thanksgiving, accord to AAA’s annual holiday travel forecast.

Or, maybe, they won’t.

Amidst the recent and continuing spike in the number of Covid-19 cases being reported in most states – along with spikes in Covid-19 hospitalizations and even deaths caused at least in part by Covid-19 – making such a forecast has become a bit of a crap shoot. Like everything else, it seems, in pandemic-disrupted 2020 not only are Thanksgiving travel totals this year going to be way down from recent years’ totals, they’re also subject a potentially large last-minute swing in either direction. While it would seem most likely that the actual total of holiday travelers will fall well short of these “forecasted” numbers, it’s also possible, in theory, that the totals could jump should the spike in reported illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths plummet unexpectedly over the next seven days.

AAA, the nationwide organization that provides service to members who get stranded by car breakdowns on the road, also is one of the nation’s larger travel agencies and, in some states, a major provider of auto and other insurance coverage. For decades now it has issued arguably the most accurate forecasts of the number of people traveling over major U.S. holidays. But even the folks at AAA metaphorically are throwing up their hands in frustration trying to nail down this year’s Thanksgiving travel forecast.

A month ago, AAA’s forecast team was zeroing in on a prediction of 50 million Thanksgiving holiday travelers in the U.S. this year. That would be about a 5 million-person drop from the 55 million who traveled over the holiday in 2009. But given the huge drop in the number of people traveling this year by air, rail and cruise ships – offset by the historical dominance of car travel on the family-oriented Thanksgiving holiday – that seemed to them like a reasonable, even surprisingly-large number.

Despite some health and government officials and organizations urging Americans to tone down their Turkey Day traditions this year, and in some cases to cancel outright their Thanksgiving gatherings in light of the pandemic, the likelihood that 50 million Americans still would risk traveling to give thanks with others this year seemed almost like a triumph of American grit in the face of adversity.

Since then, however, the coronavirus has burst back onto the American scene in a very big way. All but one of the 50 states now are seeing daily increases – big increases in about half of them

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Don’t Be Misled By This Week’s Headlines. The Numbers DO NOT Signal A Comeback In Air Travel Demand

One million people – and more specifically 1,031,505 people – is a lot of people.

It’s enough to fill “The Big House,” the University of Michigan’s Michigan Stadium, 10 times over. It’s enough to fill the United Center in Chicago (the largest arena in the NBA) 51 times, or a big, 100-seat theater at your local multiplex more than 1,000 times.

But if we’re talking about airline passengers per day – and we are in this case– a million people “ain’t nuthin’,” as they say; certainly nothing to get excited about.

Yet the headlines the last couple of days screamed the news that 1,031,505 people – – passed through Transportation Security Administration airport checkpoints on Sunday. That marked the first time that more than a million people cleared TSA checkpoints in a single day since March 16.

That’s a good thing, one supposes, given the context of the exceptional decline in air travel demand this year in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. After all, TSA checkpoint screenings tumbled all the way down to a measly low of 87,534 on April 14 (or just 4% of the 2.2 million people who passed through TSA checkpoint on same day in 2019).

But, by comparison with last year’s numbers, a million such screenings this past Sunday, while better than a poke in the eye, means demand remains down a staggering 60% from a year earlier, on Oct. 18, 2019.

Still worse, with the potential exception of a few holiday travel days around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day, those airport screening totals are extremely unlikely to rise above the “down 50% from a year ago” comparison mark until sometime next summer, at the earliest.

In fact, it will be almost impossible for the number of travelers passing through TSA checkpoints to reach that 50%-of-last-year watermark over the next six to nine months – and maybe longer. That’s because U.S. airlines won’t even offer enough seats each day during that time span for travel demand to reach that high.

Four of the nation’s five largest airlines are offering well below 50% as many seats for sale this month as they did in October 2019 (and remember, on most days they don’t come close to filling even half of the deeply reduced number seats that they now are offering). Though they may have vague hopes of significantly increasing their capacity over the next six to nine months, all indicators are that such rebound is extremely unlikely to happen.

Only Southwest airlines still offers more than 50% as many seats now as it did a year ago. The fabled maverick discount carrier has grown up. It’s been in business 49 years now (and this year will

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