As the pandemic upended travel, the U.S. went more than seven months – from mid-March through mid-October – without seeing 1 million travelers in a day. But as travelers set out for Christmas trips, the U.S. has passed that threshold in six of the last 10 days.
It’s been the busiest days for air travel since the pandemic began, cresting with a record-high 1.28 million travelers moving through U.S. airports on Sunday, according to TSA data. That comes even as public health officials urged Americans to stay home for the holidays as the COVID-19 pandemic enters its darkest days.
While these numbers are still far down from the typical holiday volume, it’s a marked increase in travel in the U.S. Take a look at this interactive graphic we put together comparing TSA travel data from 2020 to 2019.
So yes, travel remains down by more than 50% compared to 2019. But it’s clear that more people are getting on planes than at any earlier point in the pandemic. The graphic below shows a seven-day moving average of the percentage of travelers recorded in 2020 compared to the same point last year.
Some travelers are certainly staying home, but this Christmas week saw record travel numbers even as the pandemic enters its worst stretch.