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Nearly One Million Passengers Pass Through U.S. Airports, Setting New Pandemic Record

Passengers sit at Atlanta’s Concourse F as a Delta Airbus A350 waits for its next flight. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ian McMurtry)

For the first time since March 17, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that the total number of travelers flying in the U.S. has breached 900,000 flyers. Spurred by the Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4’s total number of flyers reached 968,673 passengers throughout the U.S.

This number is still well below the 2,198,828 that flew the corresponding day the previous year but continues to see airline capacity continue to claw back some of the load factor deficits from earlier in the year.

In addition to the new post-COVID-19 traveler peak, the industry also saw a few days where the passengers count topped 800,000 passengers. These days occurred on Thursday, Sept. 3 with 877,698 flyers and on Sunday, Aug. 30 with the first day of the week producing 807,965. This is not the first time that the 800,000 number was surpassed, however, as beginning Aug. 9 days sporadically began to clear the value.

As for the rest of the week, passenger counts varied between 500,000 and 800,000 people. Predictably, the low came on a Tuesday at 516,068, while the weekend travel dates of Thursday, Friday and Sunday would take the top spots at over 700,000 passengers each day. This trend is expected to continue throughout the Labor Day weekend, even as Saturday traffic lapsed back to 664,640 total flyers, a slightly more dramatic Friday-to-Saturday percentile drop to the year prior.

As returning travelers continue to fill up aircraft seats, TSA Administrator David Pekoske stressed patience in the new coronavirus environment, saying, “for travelers who have not flown since the beginning of the pandemic, the TSA checkpoint experience will be noticeably different as compared to Labor Day last year. Passengers also play an important role in helping us ensure they safely and efficiently get through security screening at our airports while wearing masks and respecting social distancing.”

This news of additional passengers also comes as airlines continue to expand and clawback existing services. Southwest Airlines earlier this week announced the first flights to Palm Springs, Calif. and Miami as additional new flights are also expected to come online over the next few months.

Despite the rough October that is expected for airline personnel, Delta has bucked the trend and shown that they will not lay off flight attendants in 2020 as travel demand continued to rise. The airline praised crew flexibility and buyouts of other employees for helping avoid furloughs. On the other hand, United will restore some of its schedule in October to help meet the uptick in demand.

Ian McMurtry


  • Ian McMurtry

    Although Ian McMurtry was never originally an avgeek, he did enjoy watching US Airways aircraft across western Pennsylvania in the early 2000s. He lived along the Pennsylvania Railroad and took a liking to trains but a change of scenery in the mid-2000s saw him shift more of an interest into aviation. He would eventually express this passion by taking flying lessons in mid-Missouri and joining AirlineGeeks in 2013. Now living in Wichita, Kansas, Ian is in college majoring in aerospace engineering and minoring in business administration at Wichita State University.

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