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Spring break surge: TSA reports its busiest day since March 2020

March 14, 2021
4 min read
Woman wearing protective face mask looking over shoulder while standing at airport
Spring break surge: TSA reports its busiest day since March 2020
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U.S. air travel is coming back to life. Daily Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screenings have now topped one million people for eight days this March. And on Friday, March 12, the TSA screened the most people at airport security checkpoints since March 15, 2020.

In particular, the TSA screened 1,357,111 people on Friday. This number is still down 24% compared with the nearly 1.8 million people who passed through TSA checkpoints the same day one year ago. And this number is down 46% compared with the over 2.5 million TSA screened on the same day two years ago.

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While these comparisons aren't entirely fair because it's not a Friday-to-Friday comparison, the takeaway is that passengers and workers are increasingly returning to U.S. airports.

Several factors contribute to increased air travel in the U.S. right now. First off, although some schools canceled spring break, many are still celebrating the holiday. For example, TPG's Summer Hull took off late last week to celebrate spring break with her family on the ski slopes.

If you're taking a spring break this year, check out the following content:

The second factor likely contributing to increases air travel in the U.S. is COVID-19 vaccinations. After all, the CDC says fully vaccinated people can gather indoors without masks. And some destinations now allow vaccinated travelers, often requiring digital health passports.

Half of Americans say travel affects their decision to get vaccinated. And 49% of travelers would prefer to visit a destination requiring a COVID-19 vaccination. However, many Americans are still eagerly awaiting their turn for the vaccine. Luckily, all adults should be eligible for their first shot by May 1. If you're struggling to get an appointment, check out our real-world tips for successfully booking the COVID-19 vaccine. After all, you may be able to use some of the same skills that help with finding flight deals and booking award travel to snag a vaccine when it's your turn.

With U.S. air travel on the rise, I strongly recommend booking trips now. After all, it's currently possible to snag inexpensive flights on many routes and low-cost hotels in many destinations. However, as travel demand increases, I expect many of the deals we've seen will vanish. I've snagged dynamically priced IHG awards as well as dynamically priced Hilton Honors awards while prices have been low. And I've booked mostly paid Marriott Bonvoy stays to lock in low cash prices.

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I expect we'll continue to see TSA screenings increase, especially on Fridays and Sundays, through the summer. After all, while business travel may remain stunted, many Americans are excited to take trips as temperatures rise and more of the U.S. population becomes vaccinated.

Related: 7 reasons to get TSA PreCheck now — even during a pandemic

Featured image by Getty Images/Westend61
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.