people sitting in an airplane

While many parts of the world buried their heads once again amid variant concerns, the United States took to roads, trains and planes to connect with loved ones – for better and worse.

In doing so, a new record was set. The United States TSA, which administers airport security across the nation screened upwards of 2.4 million passengers on November 28th, marking the single largest day since the pandemic began.

The number is still some 500,000 off the pre-pandemic single daily passenger record set in 2019 with 2.9 million passengers, but shows a significant rebound in domestic air demand, from lows of around 1 million in 2020.

people sitting in an airplane

Over the course of the holiday week, from November 19th to the 28th, over 20 million passengers took to the skies in the United States.

Visiting family, friends and relatives is a key driver of domestic travel right now, as is a much needed getaway to somewhere “easy” and warm, without a passport.

Particularly with recent overnight travel bans and added restrictions, people are still hesitant to cross any international borders. That’s particularly true in the USA, where pre-flight testing is required for all traveling to the United States, including citizens.

Someone testing positive abroad, even a false positive, could risk unpredictable isolation conditions. The picture creates an odd situation for airlines, where many of the most profitable international flights remain barren, yet domestic leisure demand, which typically operates with lower margins is booming.

Airlines were just beginning to ramp up “frequency” which refers to adding more daily flights to fit customer needs, as news of the Omicron spread. Uncertainty will remain until more conclusive studies are made available in the weeks to come.

However necessary, unpredictable travel bans continue to crush consumer confidence and further delay any significant international travel rebound, despite clear data of a robust domestic rebound.

Basically, it’s not all good news for airlines, but it’s not all bad news either.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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