For months, travel has been on a slow-yet-steady rebound after hitting rock-bottom this spring. And finally, the U.S. has hit a major milestone it hasn’t seen in months.
More than 1 million travelers were recorded moving through U.S. on Sunday, Oct. 18, according to data from the TSA. It’s the first time the U.S. has hit that threshold in nearly seven months, since March 16.
Yet even as travel continues its slow recovery, those numbers are still down by more than 60 percent from the norm. And with coronavirus case counts still on the rise across much of the nation, airlines warn it will still be years before the travel industry returns to normal.
Look at this interactive graphic we put together comparing TSA travel data from 2020 to 2019, and you’ll see just how far air travel has come in the last few months – and how far travel still has to go.
Back in May, Delta CFO Paul Jacobson warned that the recovery in travel was shaky at best. And after a strong June, many airlines reported ticket sales had slipped. Airline industry experts don’t expect travel to return to 2019 levels until 2024.
“We really can’t afford to have false starts,” Jacobson said during an airline analyst conference.
The rebound in travel is a work in progress. But the U.S. finally hitting 1 million travelers this weekend is significant – especially compared to the sub-100,000 numbers we saw in the early spring.