July 4 Air travel exceeds pre-pandemic levels

July 2, 2022 – COVID is still in the air, and so are American travelers. The number of airline customers passing through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints for the July 4 weekend exceeds pre-pandemic levels.

The TSA reports that 2,490,490 people were screened at checkpoints on Friday July 1, up from 2,184,253 on this date in 2019, before COVID-19 gripped the country. The latest figures are around 300,000 on the 2021 figures for this date and 1.7 million more than in 2020.

Thursday June 30 was also a record day. The TSA registered 2,444,471 travelers, compared to 2,088,760 in 2019.

As the number of air travel increased, so did the COVID statistics. The New York Times reported that new COVID cases increased 12% in the past 14 days and COVID-related hospitalizations increased 10% for the same period. The average daily number of COVID-related deaths as of July 1 was 387, an increase of 23% over the past 14 days.

Travelers filled airports as airlines grappled with cancellations, some caused by staffing issues and others by bad weekend weather. FlightAware, a flight tracking website, reported that a total of 586 flights were canceled on Friday to and from the United States, with 7,802 delays in the United States for the day. As of 9 a.m. Saturday, 425 US flights had been canceled.

AAA predicted that 47.9 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home from June 30 to July 4. That would be 3.7% more people than in 2021 and bring the number of travelers just below 2019 figures, AAA said.

“Earlier this year, we started to see travel demand increase and it’s not going down,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “People are ready for a break and despite things costing more, they are finding ways to keep taking that much-needed vacation.”

AAA predicted 3.55 million people would travel by air over the holiday weekend, up from 3.91 million in 2019.