TSA screening numbers are up, but TPG readers are staying home or hitting the road instead

May 25, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Memorial Day weekend has long been considered the unofficial start of the summer. To celebrate the first long weekend, Americans typically celebrate with getaways both near and far. While this years plans looked different for most, TSA screening numbers surpassed 300,000 passengers for the first time since March 23, showing that air travel is gradually picking back up ahead of the summer season.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

These numbers were reported right before the weekend kicked off with 318,449 passengers on Thursday, March 21 and 348,673 passengers on Friday, March 22. In 2019, TSA screened 8x that with an average of 2.7 million passengers screened prior to the holiday weekend.

At this time, all 50 states are in some sort of re-opening. Some have hit the ground running, like Florida and Georgia, while others are taking it slow and steady, like Hawaii and Maine. With that, Americans across the nation are approaching the situation at their own pace. In a recent TPG special report, we found that nearly a third of travelers polled would, in fact, be comfortable with the idea of a summer vacation.

But they weren’t necessarily sold on the idea of flying, with just one in five respondents sharing that they would consider a domestic flight this summer. To get a better idea of what travel looked like this past weekend, we polled the TPG Lounge and TPG Women. Here’s what TPG readers were up to this weekend.

Related reading: How coronavirus could change the future of travel

More than a thousand readers responded to our poll, with a majority of them said they did not travel this weekend and instead, stayed at home.

“We’re avoiding travel until health officials declare that it’s safe.” said Vlada R.

Many TPG readers had plans that were scratched due to coronavirus, Elizabeth H. said, “we made the best of it [Memorial Day weekend] at home.”

People visit Clearwater Beach on May 20, 2020 in Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
People visit Clearwater Beach on May 20, 2020 in Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

While some readers chose to stay home, they still couldn’t manage to escape the crowds. “I live in Clearwater Beach and everyone has come here because Florida is open and everyone acts like nothing happened. No one wears masks. The police make sure everyone on the beach spreads out, but the sidewalks are another story.” said Kayte R.

For those that did travel, the preferred mode of transportation was by far driving. This was reflected in TPG’s special report as well, where nearly half of the respondents said that they would consider in-state or out-of-state road trips this summer versus flying or public transit.

Related: 10 tips for anyone taking a road trip right now

Although driving is the preferred transport method, road trippers are still being cautious and trying to avoid any unnecessary contact by limiting stops and bringing food items with them.

(Photo by Jean-Baptiste Debourle/EyeEm/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jean-Baptiste Debourle/EyeEm/Getty Images)

“We drove to our families cabin in Northern Michigan. Still keeping our distance from others and brought nearly everything we needed with us.” said Amy S.

For the first time in 20 years, AAA didn’t release its annual Memorial Day weekend forecast. However, Paula Twiadale, senior vice president of AAA travel said, “With social distancing guidelines still in practice, this holiday weekend’s travel volume is likely to set a record low.”

Many TPG readers echoed this sentiment, sharing that highways were in good shape and traffic was light.

Related: What it’s like to fly in the U.S. right now

And while a majority of TPG readers said that they stayed home this year, readers who did fly had mixed experiences.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Ashley R., who had to take a last-minute cross-country trip for a family emergency said, “Decreased flight routes forced me into requiring layovers instead of being able to go nonstop from SEA to IAD on United. Currently on a layover at DEN and it’s a ghost town. What’s most striking to me is that travelers are actually following rules and listening to instructions from gate agents about modified boarding procedures and flight attendants about deplaning in an orderly fashion.”

Other readers, however, had more crowded experiences. “I’m at Salt Lake City airport right now and it’s pre-COVID packed…” said Christopher T.

“I flew American Manchester-Boston (MHT) to Charlotte (CLT) and then on to Palm Beach (PBI). Both flights were entirely full. On the first leg, first class was empty but no one was moved up there to help with distancing. I had to gate check my bag on both legs as well.” said Kayla J., “I was traveling because I had to help family move, but I heard many people say they were coming to Florida because it was mostly open and they wanted a vacation.”

Bottom line

The coronavirus pandemic has changed everything, from our daily lives to the way we think about travel. Memorial Day weekend typically sees record numbers of travelers, but those records look different these days. While it’s exciting to see air traffic pick back up, it’s not nearly close to what it used to be and it won’t be for a while. This will be the summer of road trips, national park getaways and beach weekends — and even if it’s not the summer vacation you planned, a meaningful trip doesn’t have to be off the table completely.

The decision to travel is a personal one that forces travelers to take into consideration their personal risk threshold, health and other factors, such as local and national restrictions and entry policies.

Featured photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.