Travel in the USA isn’t quite back to pre-pandemic levels, but it’s inching closer.
For weeks, the United States hovered around 1.9 million travelers per day, a figure measured by daily travelers passing through TSA airport security checkpoints. Finally, that number was finally eclipsed, as more than 2 million people passed through TSA airport security in a single day, setting a new pandemic era record.
Even better, it happened again just two days later, with a new air passenger record. Vaccinations are reaching significant milestones and success against variants for fully vaccinated people continues to impress, and people are starting to get on with life in America. That means taking back to the skies.
2 Million US Travelers In A Day
In 2019, roughly 2.6 million people passed through TSA security checkpoints on June 13th, ahead of peak summer. We’re not there yet, but on June 13th, 2021 a pandemic era record high 2,097,033 people went through a TSA checkpoint, up from just over 2 million, two days before. The figures compare to a grim 544,000 people in 2020.
Arenas are returning to fall capacity, playoffs are in full swing, theaters are opening and in many parts of the United States, things are feeling eerily ‘back to normal’.
For many, this also means parting ways with masks, in common places such as food shops and coffee bars, after CDC guidance suggested it was “ok” to do so. Masks are still required on planes and most forms of public transit.
Where’s Everyone Going?
Long haul international travel remains slow, a travelers cite uncertainty around testing, vaccination proof and chance of changing restrictions as key factors.
Regional travel is booming though, including destinations like Mexico, Caribbean and sun soaked US cities. Visiting family, friends and relatives, known in the airline industry as ‘VFR’, seems to be driving the vast majority of trips.
With no entry restrictions, Mexico continues to record higher visitor figures than it did in pre-pandemic times, setting new records almost daily in areas such as Quintana Roo, which is famously home to Cancun, Tulum and other vacation hotspots.
Business travel is slowly recovering in the United States, but travel experts, including GSTP, believe it will never fully reach pre-pandemic levels, due to a myriad of issues stemming from the ongoing pandemic, climate change and corporate responsibility.
Despite rising travel, statistics around the pandemic have remained largely stagnant, as vaccination rates continue to increase. States are even running incentives such as lotteries and vacation giveaways to encourage hesitant residents to get vaccinated.
What About Borders?
Internationally, pressure is mounting this week for President Biden to roll back Trump era proclamations which ban arrivals from the UK and Europe.
Self titled “working groups” have been formed with transport ministers from the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe and the UK, to create safe and easy guidelines to drop entry restrictions, in favor of testing or vaccination proof.
The EU is already rapidly rolling out its “green pass”, which serves as digital proof of vaccination, which Americans will be able to use for trips as soon as July.