On Sunday, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) marked the beginning of National Travel and Tourism Week by recording a new pandemic air travel record.
Yesterday, 1.626 million passengers passed through security checkpoints in the U.S., the highest level since March 12, 2020 (1.71 million). The TSA, which at the depths of the pandemic was only screening around 100,000 passengers, also has not seen a day of fewer than one million passengers since March 10, 2021 (974,221).
The number from Sunday is only at about 60% of the number from 2019 (2.54 million), but it is still a very positive sign for the travel industry ahead of the summer season, especially as international travel and business travel remain depressed.
Ahead of Sunday’s record, the TSA on Friday extended the mask mandate, which was set to expire on May 11, for all travelers on buses, trains, flights, and at airports through at least Sept. 13, a decision the TSA said is “consistent with this most recent CDC guidance.”
That means that all travelers over than 2-years-old will be required to wear facemasks at airports through the summer, whether they are vaccinated or not.
So far, according to reports, more than 2,000 passengers who failed to follow the mask requirements either at airports or onboard flights have been banned from certain carriers. Those who break the mandate could still face a penalty of up to $1,500
“The federal mask requirement throughout the transportation system seeks to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” said Darby LaJoye, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the TSA Administrator.
“Right now, about half of all adults have at least one vaccination shot and masks remain an important tool in defeating this pandemic. We will continue to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to evaluate the need for these directives and recognize the significant level of compliance thus far,” LaJoye added.